With Venus in a retrograde cycle (March 4 to April 15) I’ve been studying the myth of Inanna and Ereshkegal. A Sumerian myth of descent, loss and rebirth, I have connected deeply to the archetypal meaning of the planetary transit and found transformational magic with it.
Studying archetypal meanings attunes me to the movements of the larger cosmos, and how the archetypes are enacted in my life. Through synchronicity, I see my microcosm mirrored in the macro themes, and feel part of something much bigger than myself.
Venus symbolizes the Goddess: Inanna, Ishtar, Aphrodite and Venus. Pre-patriarchy, Venus was a goddess of fertility, love, and war. A feminine warrior who loved passionately and fiercely, she was highly sexual, fertile, beautiful and powerful. Venus fought passionately to protect what she loved. Modern Venus has been watered down. Quoting Chani Nicholas, she was “sterilized, stripped, pacified and packaged in a way that would be pleasing to patriarchal male-fragility. She became innocent, docile, vulnerable and soft. She was no longer a threat to the construct of male power.”
But let us not forget that Venus is a strong, feisty fighter.
The retrograde cycle, when a planet appears to cease forward motion and move backward in the sky, symbolizes introspection and reassessment. It is the act of looking back in order to move forward. Looking inward in order to live more fully in the outer world. Honouring our deep self in order to be in authentic relationship with others.
Astrologically speaking, the house or place that Venus transits through in your natal/birth chart represents the area of your life in which you will experience these combined energies.
I have retrograde Venus transiting my 7th house of ‘partnerships’. Not just symbolic of marriage and significant others, the 7th also rules business relationships, contracts, legalities, negotiations and agreements. It is through our interaction with ‘partners’ in the 7th house, that we become more whole. Putting the parts together, I have been reassessing how I love and fight for people who are my partners.
In early December, I discovered that my lover of two years had an ad on Plenty-of-Fish, looking for a “positive, kind and confident woman” to “share life with on all levels”. He placed this ad while living in my house, and engaging in a mutually articulated monogamous relationship. While still sharing meals, sex, adventures and deep conversation with me, he was looking for someone else.
I spent the dark winter season shrouded in the pain of rejection, loss and betrayal. I floundered, unable to comprehend the deception. Shocked that he sought to reject the reality of an ongoing relationship with me, for a tawdry, one-dimensional, sexualized fantasy of female companionship.
“I just wanted to feel desired” he said, “It was a fantasy. You are reality.”
I struggled to understand this betrayal. Constantly processing the event with my therapist I finally got to the question: How could I choose a man who is capable of such deceit and duplicity?
On March 4th, when Venus first stationed retrograde, I started to get the answer. I had a chance encounter with my estranged mother which opened up a chasm of loss: she left me when I was 6; she removed my from my father’s home when I was 11 and situated me in an apartment while she lived elsewhere with her lover; recently, when she moved she didn’t tell me where she was moving to.
Like Inanna I heard the calling from the underworld, the plaintive call of historic betrayal, abandonment and loss connected to my earliest partner, my mother. I answered the call, taking the symbolic journey down into my psyche.
In the days that followed, as Venus began her descent in the sky, I descended into my pain surrounding my earliest experiences with ‘partnership’. I felt fearful and vulnerable. I saw where I learned to give love and trust to people who did not demonstrate love, care nor respect for me. Like Inanna, I died (emotionally) at the hands of those who were supposed to love me.
In the days that followed, I extrapolated the historic pattern to the present. I gave my love and turst to someone who did not demonstrate care nor respect for me. I chose a man who was incapable of meeting me as a partner. In the end I was lied to, deceived and betrayed.
I saw the pattern, and named it. I asked him to move out of my ‘in-law’ suite where he had been residing, symbolically severing my ‘care’ and ‘sharing’ with someone who did not demonstrate care for me. No more playing ‘partners’.
Maybe if I had been more the ‘modern Venus’ – loving and giving, innocent, docile and undemanding, the relationship would have continued. I would still be giving love, care and attention. But my hurt aligned me with the ‘old-school’ Venus. My hurt boiled out – strong, opinionated, demanding and fierce.
The Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh reminds me that “everything we seek can only be found in the present”, that “to abandon the present in order to look for things in the future is to throw away the substance and hold onto the shadow.” As we begin Venus’ ascent cycle archetypally, I carry this understanding with me. I will honour my Venusian energy. Transformed by this journey, I will love myself enough not to settle for less than a true partner.
And I will leave the shadows to those who choose to throw away my substance.