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40 Days and 40 Nights in the Wilderness with Venus

Venus, the planet, goes retrograde (backwards) less frequently than Mercury, about every 18 months, and lasts 40 days. Because it is less frequent, it is more difficult to understand and wreaks more havoc than a Mercury retrograde. Mercury affects communication. Venus affects possessions, relationships, women's issues and most of all values. Venus asks, 'What is it that you really value?'

Many astrologers also believe that Venus affects the stock market. The next Venus retrograde period begins May 17, 2004. Also check back to October 10, 2002 to see what was happening in your life during the last Venus retrograde so you can draw some conclusions as to how you handle these transits.

A client wrote me during an earlier Venus Retrograde: 'I've been reading your eZines and wondering what the 'difficult time' we are all having is. Then, I experienced it with a deep, fast plunge to the bottom complete with a few extra bumps to round out the full force of impact. Whew! I haven't been down here in awhile. '

A student in my ongoing Tuesday night astrology class wanted to know, 'How can a dinky little inner planet like Venus cause so much trouble?'

Well, these are very good questions.

The answer is partly imbedded in the relationship of the planet Venus to the esoteric properties of the Number 5. Let's take a closer look at this planet, Venus and the Number 5!

The physical planet of Venus (in the sky tonight) is a strange amalgam. Named after the Roman Goddess of Love, nonetheless, she is surrounded by such a noxious yellow atmosphere that life is impossible (permanent greenhouse effect). It doesn't surprise us, then, to know that the Roman goddess herself had several epithets. One of them was 'Venus of the Sewers'. Venus also rules venereal disease.

The ancient Aztecs had a Venutian goddess who walked the earth as a man for the 40 days of the retrograde cycle. The warlike Aztecs declared war when Venus went retrograde.

These are some of our clues as to what lies beneath the surface of a Venus retrograde transit and why it can be so disruptive on a very personal level.

In transit, Venus goes retrograde five times over a period of eight years, coming back to the same sign in which she started at the end of five 584-day cycles (or eight years). This is Venus' cycle to herself. She is working her way in stations back through the zodiac, 2 to 3 degrees earlier in each sign, each time.

The stations of Venus form a quintile (five-ish) pattern against the backdrop of the zodiac. A diagram of Venus stations across a horoscope actually makes an image like a pentagram.

The quintile aspect reminds us of the other quin in astrology -- the quincunx aspect (signs that are 5 houses before and after one another). As every astrologer worth her salt knows, the quincunx is the most difficult aspect of all to reconcile within an individual's chart (psyche). It is also very difficult to 'read' in a chart other than saying there are 'irreconcilable differences'. There are certainly good ways for the professional to interpret this aspect but that isn't within the scope of this article.

For a good grip on the qualities of the Number 5, take a look at the 'fives' in the Tarot deck. The Fives are ruled by the Major Arcana V, The Hierophant, the Teacher of Hard Life Lessons.

One of the meanings expressed by the Hierophant is that apparently there are some things in life that can only be learned in the School of Hard Knocks. People with a #5 Birth Force learn through doing not by reading books or listening to lectures.

Five is also known mystically as the "Number of Man". It represents the ability of man to understand things of an esoteric nature and is most familiarly represented in the drawing of Leonard DaVinci showing a male figure with arms and legs spread against a circular background. I remember seeing a very dramatic presentation of Marlowe's Faust in San Diego where this figure was cast in stagelights across the floor of the Dr. Faust's study as the curtain opened and Our Hero - Everyman/Faust began his mythical struggle with his own nature.

There is a good book written for professional astrologers about retrograde cycles, including Venus Retrograde, called 'Retrograde Planets' by Erin Sullivan, published by Penguin Books in 1992 which explains the basic characteristics of Venus as she 'turns her back' on us. The effects of this transit are among the most difficult to predict (and describe) perhaps because it is one of the very most unique and personal to each individual. This makes generalities very difficult.

Here are some examples of things that have happened to real clients of mine during Venus retrograde transits in the past.

Retrograde Venus through the 1st house:
- widow moves out of 5,000 sq ft home to downsized residence and begins to realize that house and relationship were prisons and that she is well rid of both;
- elderly woman resolves long standing issue with IRS who removes lien on her house and frees up her CD.

Retrograde Venus through the 2nd house:
- husband gets self and wife new cell phone numbers after five years with the old ones (?)

Retrograde Venus through the 3rd house:
- walls close in on man as he realizes he might lose his wife, mistress and home, all in the same month!

Retrograde Venus through the 4th house:
- Consultant breaks up with woman 15 years older, moves to another city to start over with a woman 15 years younger;
- heiress' brother announces divorce, completely upsetting family power structure;
- married boyfriend goes back to his wife with no explanation;
- woman vacillates between declaring BK, selling house and selling heirloom family jewelry

Retrograde Venus through the 5th house:
- middle aged woman comes to terms with death of mother and estrangement from brother, releasing her own intense creativity

Retrograde Venus through the 6th house:
- obsessive love for a younger man triggers long repressed memories of tragic first love in manicurist;
- boyfriend who is in the Diplomatic Corps leaves for South America for a year, triggering deep depression and abandonment issues in young girlfriend

Retrograde Venus through the 7th house:
- PhD candidate stops studies when his girlfriend is almost killed by a hit-and-run driver and hover for weeks between life and death

Retrograde Venus through the 8th house:
- husband of college professor suddenly offered opportunity for work as interpreter with a government 'provider' believed to be involved in undercover work in a foreign country if he will leave with two days' notice and without knowledge of exactly where he is going

Retrograde Venus through the 9th house:
- young housewife with 2 year old baby joins metaphysics class and finds terrific outlet for her social nature and brilliant mind

Retrograde Venus through the 10th house:
- young man has Tarot card reading, discovers reasons behind many of the mysteries from his painful past

Retrograde Venus through the 11th house
- gifted intuitive artist attends Jonathan Edwards demonstration and has experience afterwards that convinces her she is going completely mad

Retrograde Venus through the 12th house:
- elderly woman seriously considers selling her home (which is free and clear) to get really free and clear!

As you can see, many of these events have to do with the areas of life which are ruled by Venus, possessions and desires.

Another mystical thing about Venus Retrograde is that the cycle lasts for 40 days. It is as if we all wander in the wilderness with our Christlike selves, and return with greater conviction about who we are and greater dedication to our selves and our purpose, some through the act of denying temptation.

During this cycle, the creative and the destructive are so closely interacting with one another it may be hard to tell the difference as ridiculous as this sounds. Feedback from trusted friends or a professional astrologer can help if you think you might be throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

During a retrograde cycle, you may have no idea which end is up. But by the end of the cycle, a New Order is revealed, and order forms out of chaos. Venus retrogrades are intensely introspective and even anti-social transits that bring forth great bursts of personal creativity when complete. This is the kind of creativity which produces an art, the palette of which is life itself.

About the Author
Nancy R. Fenn is a professional astrologer in the San Diego area.

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