On December 19, 2021, Venus in the skies will appear to stop then start travelling backwards in her orbit. This optical illusion is known as a ‘retrograde’. Venus will be retrograde until January 20, 2022.
The retrograde period represents times when we internalise the qualities of the planet concerned and go on an inner journey. Most people associate Venus with the planet of love but she also is about money, self love and self-esteem. She’s our tastes, both in food and people – the things we like, the things we don’t like. She shows what attracts and repulses us. She also show us our core values, the personal truths we live by and the code of conduct that governs our actions and decisions. Feeling frustrated, disconnected or otherwise unhappy may mean that a personal value has been suppressed. We also can hold negative core values, typically those that we inherited in childhood. They may not be negative per se (for example ‘financial security’) but if it goes against or is prioritised over your own core value of say ‘charity’, this again can cause mental, emotional and psychological blocks as well as an underlying deep sense of unhappiness.
When Venus goes retrograde, it is a time when we re-evaluate how we feel. Typically it’s a time to ask ‘is it worth it?’. Who or what is worthy of your time and attention? Do you feel spiritually, emotionally or materially rich? Where have you felt devalued? How high is your sense of self esteem? Do you love yourself?
Maybe an old love reappears or you find yourself thinking of someone you used to be with. These are nudges from Venus that perhaps closure is needed or that there is something worthwhile that needs examining – even if it’s only to bring about a better understanding of your love nature. Note that in astrology, traditionally this is not considered a good time to begin a relationship but it is a positive time to work on problems in an existing relationship.
In the Tarot, the Empress corresponds to the planet Venus. In fact, in the Rider Waite-Smith deck, the symbol of Venus appears on the card itself, adorning a heart shaped cushion beside the Empress’s luxurious throne. The Empress represents the Mother in the Tarot. She is earthly love and Mother Earth.
The Empress is surrounded by lush vegetation. Trees in full leaf stand in the stately background and wheat or corn grows golden at her feet. We get the impression of prosperity, contentment, fulfilment. This is a card of fertility inside and out. The Empress is a creator and creative. I can just imagine her sitting quietly in the fields painting or sketching, singing and or sewing. Whilst she may have financial prosperity, her true value is rooted in the natural world, simple pleasures that money can’t buy. The life of the Empress is abundance in all its forms.
When a retrograde occurs, it’s like reading the card in reverse. What happens when we turn the Empress upside down? Well, for a start, she’s going to fall right off that throne! So we get a sense that something that normally supports or sustains us is removed. Falling off the throne may link to the idea of losing money or security. Sometimes, when Venus goes retrograde, things that made us feel happy or secure on the outside may be removed or distanced so that we are forced inwards to nurture self love. What was once valuable, may now seems worthless so we question ourselves about what we really want.
Plus, the reversed Empress is going to fall head first! She may have lost her connection to the Earth. Perhaps she is too ‘in her head’ instead of in her heart. Venus retrograde shows us too where we may have ignored the heart’s call. Sometimes the Empress reversed can represents ignoring material needs, feeling disconnected from the body, body loathing or dysmorphia.
The Empress is life-giving but reversed she can become the wicked-stepmother. She may be more like Lilith in mythology who devours her offspring. The shadow side of the Empress may seek to control rather than care. She may also manifest as the smothering or interfering Mother who cannot bare to let her children have their own lives. Sometimes the Empress reversed represents haunting empty nest syndrome.
The Empress, like every other card in the deck has a shadow side but we need to address these shadows – these things that keep us from loving ourselves and expressing and sharing our love, abundance and creativity with the world. The Venus retrograde provides a window of opportunity to tune into the cosmos and dig deep into the rich earth to discover the treasures that lay beneath.
A Tarot Spread for Venus Retrograde
Below is a tarot spread I have devised for this retrograde period. Use it as a sounding board to meditate or journal your thoughts and feelings. I have created it in the shape of a pentagram as the cycles of Venus create a beautiful star pattern. I have included the cards I received in my own reading to illustrate the spread.
1. What did I learn from my Mother?
This card says something of your relationship as a child with your own Mother and consequently your own internal Mother. Note that if you had a difficult experience with your Mother or she was absent from your life this too will have made an impression upon you.
My Example – Eight of Cups
This card has many layers of meaning for me in this context but briefly, my Mother was unfulfilled. Her hopes and dreams were eclipsed both by the time she lived in perhaps and her health. As a child I felt eclipsed by her health problems. I think very early on I resolved never to accept second best and to do what I wanted to do. I was unfulfilled and emotionally exhausted by my family and walked away to protect my own soul. Finding little satisfaction in the world of family, I set out on a spiritual path to find that ‘missing piece’ of me. I really notice the missing cup in the top layer of cups in this card. Something essential was missing in that relationship and consequently, my inner Mother has something ‘missing’. I find it difficult to ‘Mother’ myself. Positively speaking, had I not had a difficult childhood, I may never have learned the strength to follow my own path. My Mother taught me to find myself by making me feel lost.
2. What am I learning about love?
Love in all its forms – think love of your siblings and friends, romantic love, self love.
My Example – The Sun
This made me smile. The Sun card is always my best friend in my own tarot spreads and it is fitting that as he is like the brother I never had, it should follow the card about family. He loves the child in me unconditionally – whether she’s kicking and screaming or we are giggling over a silly joke together. His unconditional acceptance of me means I can be just who I am with him. The Sun in astrology relates to identity. What I learn from him about love most of all is that I need to be myself. I don’t need to be someone else in order for someone to love me – I just need to be me. And that has been a very challenging lesson given childhood experiences that consistently told me ‘I’m not good enough’. Through his warmth, he teaches me to love that inner child, to celebrate who I am and to hold my arms out to the world in anticipation that only good will come. He’s one of the main people in my life to show me that love can be as constant as the Sun. On a very simple level, love is the light in my life.
3. What have I neglected that I need to embrace?
Maybe it’s a relationship, your creativity, a specific project, your health
My Example – The Star
This also made me smile as I know this is a little cosmic message telling me to get the hell on with writing my astrology books! On a much deeper level, what I have neglected or need to embrace is my faith – faith in myself, faith in the future. It may seem strange coming from someone with a deep spiritual practice and an ability to read cards and astrology but again, what I was taught in childhood was that the future is a scary place. Because of the ‘missing pieces’ initially, I didn’t have that fundamental place of safety within to rely on. Nothing told me – it’s going to be OK. You’re going to be OK. But I’m learning this, with the help of my Sun card friend who also in a way represents all those I am closest too and who have championed my own hero’s journey.
4. What do I need to know about my core values?
Your core values are fundamental to how you express yourself in the world. If you are out of touch with or not expressing your innermost truths, this can breed discontent. This card can help you to identify some of the core values you hold.
My Example – The Emperor
Interesting as this represents the Father figure. I balked initially looking at this as it’s clear that I have inherited some values from him – some positive, some negative. Whilst that relationship was extremely challenging, what I did positively learn from him was about wanting to be in control of my own destiny. My Father was self-employed for most of his life and like him, I never settled working for anyone else. ‘Being in control’ is one of my core values although this is a double edged sword. I don’t need to be in control of my friends or people I love but I do need to be in control of my environment and myself. When that doesn’t happen for whatever reason, it can feel thoroughly destabilizing. It can tip over into negative belief systems and shadows so it’s one I need to be consciously aware of. My immediate thought is ‘being in control’ is not the same as self love. This is a very masculine figure – the absolute opposite to the Empress.
But still, my core values relate to self control, providing for myself, stability and structure. I live by my rules, not those imposed on me by the outside world aside from adhering to the general laws of the land. The Emperor is also about authority and I recognise a desire to be my own authority. I prefer to lead rather than follow.
5. What will bring more abundance into my life?
This could be money, creativity, love or anything else you define as abundance
My Example – Four of Wands
Ahhh, I do love this card. This is a card of celebration. Wands are about creativity and spirituality and I know this is where my sense of abundance comes from. Four’s (notice the repetition of the number 4 with the Emperor) are about establishment. So abundance – whether financial, spiritual or creative abundance, comes from being established in my field and feeling established in life. I’ve always had a very faint tether to the ‘real world’ but in recent times, I have sought to create a stronger bond to the physical realm and this I must continue to do.
There is also something here about needing to recognise the achievements I have achieved and celebrate milestones. I have a tendency to focus on what hasn’t been done rather than what has. My Sun friend reminds me of how hard I am on myself at times!
I notice this spread has three Major Arcana cards out of five cards which is a lot. These are important messages. Each of the Major Arcana cards present are also masculine energies. The Sun is Leo, the Star Aquarius, the Emperor Aries. So this is an interesting observation considering this is a spread based on the Empress. Whilst my Father was a difficult man, my connection to him was stronger. Perhaps this is a subtle reminder to say that to develop the self love the Venus retrograde encourages, I must find that missing cup of the Eight of Cups within. Perhaps I will meditate on the Ace of Cups to take me deeper into this journey with Venus.
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