Aphrodite’s Mirror, Looking Inward

Retrograde cycles are some of the more profound times for honest self-reflection on the inner workings of that planetary archetype. When Aphrodite’s mirror turns inward, we more clearly see our contribution to the relationship, money and self-esteem issues which have been troubling us. The relationship and self-worth issues that ‘return’ during this period will likely re-trigger an old pattern or wound so that we can examine it more deeply. During Venus in Aries retrograde, one of my clients described the unusual feelings she experienced on a shopping trip with a romantic interest; he offered to buy her anything her heart desired, and instead of being able to receive this generous gift, she was filled with shame and inadequacy. She didn’t believe she deserved to be beautifully adorned, and as she went deeper into this, she realized this extended back to a relationship to her beauty and self-worth that was unhealthily modeled by her mother. Her mother had always told her to ‘cover up’, transmitting ambivalence about her young daughter’s sexually precocious energy. Now as an adult my client said she still wore her hair back because (according to mom) loose, free and wild hair communicated the wrong message.

Society, media and advertising, even ‘feminism’ or a well-intentioned mom can shame our relationship to our body/sexuality, leaving Venus pocked with ‘beauty’ scars and wounds. As Aphrodite’s mirror turns inward, we have an opportunity to root out inadequacies about our attractiveness, how we embody sexual or sensual energy and our self-worth. Now when we look in the mirror, we’re more easily able to see body image distortions we’ve carried for years. For this reason, I never advise scheduling cosmetic surgery during Venus retrograde. This may sound obvious but isn’t it amazing how many people want to change their appearance right before or during Venus retrograde? I’m not debating the merits of surgery, just noting that we relate to our self differently during retrograde; what and who we feel strongly about today may turnaround tomorrow (after retrograde).

Turning Relationship Patterns Around

In my experience, if single and looking, we attract colorful characters during Venus retrograde. Often these new love prospects seem to be in conversation with the Devil himself; they know your precise formula for self-sabotage, have the secret password for breaking and entering into your inner Venus sanctum, winning your affections. Right before they push the red button (the one you don’t want them to push) you go, duh…here we go again.

During a Venus in Gemini retrograde I met my Trickster -and unraveled a troubling lifelong relationship pattern, a real victory for love.  Yes, I met someone new, and against my own astrological judgment, I attempted to date him. When I began to recognize this character was the same version of those who had gone before him, and I still wasn’t breaking it off, I decided that there was something for me to learn from this guy. One evening, when we were at Sushi and he was openly flirting with the waitress, I decided not to react and instead witness (Gemini) the pieces fall. When I got home, I got out my journal and wrote down every thought that came to me from that exercise. I processed out old betrayals and wounds, and realized that he was one of a long line of men who I didn’t even like nor care about, because if I I cared, they would eventually leave me, anyhow. Boom, there it was. I had finally unearthed a lifelong issue.

A groundbreaking time for discovering new ways of looking at old relating questions, is at hand. This applies equally to questions of committed relationship and friendship, too. What relationship patterns would you like to change? Ask Venus for guidance; she has unusual answers to these when she’s in the underworld.

The Difference Between Perceived Value and Actual Worth

My friend Emma happened upon a ‘great offer’ during Venus retrograde, a lavish top shelf shampoo and conditioner for free. Try now!, it read. She did. Little did she know costs of shipping, and her acceptance of a gift tied her into a long-term contract with shampoo that ‘makes my hair feel like straw.’ While Venus is retrograde, luxury items, things that make us feel good look are almost irrationally alluring.  Our pleasure psyche, our want for comfort & joy, absolutely needs more pampering and attention now, which easily translates as: ah, a lovely bauble! I want! I want! Desires that would satisfy take on a seductive quality, affecting our judgment.

On the other hand, astrologer Lynn Koiner says, “It’s a fine time for buying antiques, flea market items and secondhand goods wherein you know the true worth and value of the item but the seller does not.” If you excel at seeing past the hypnotic glamour of your own desire and easily perceive real value, take note bargain shoppers (By the way, click on Lynn’s name. It links to a fantastic article peppered with her own Venus rx findings).

Which brings up the subject of perceived value and worth, and the economics of happiness. Just as everyone has different anger triggers (as my husband uncomfortably & recently pointed out) what I buy and makes me happy, is different from what will make you happy. In other words, the ‘psychic value’ I receive from my  fiat spider may not be the case for you. In an O Magazine article, Martha Beck suggests that understanding which things and activities hold psychic value for us, is the key to financial happiness- and that can only come from truly knowing our own unique inner heart responses (our Venus!) to what we buy. There’s value in identifying what our heart truly desires. She even gave us a cool and easy financial strategy system to make better financial choices (see pic) from those heart values, and since I’m a right-brained financial planner, love it. Awhile back, when decorating my home, I decided I only wanted to be surrounded by things that made my heart smile – things I loved. This motivated a set of whimsical, lovely purchases. It’s analogous to life; if we collect, buy into, hang out with those things, ideas and people we’re not wild and crazy about, we may end up with a life that’s just okay.

More Venus Rx ideas:

-Jettison old betrayals and wounds. Paper and pen. Just. Process. Them. Out.

-Love Thyself. Clearly we can never ever ever (did I say ever?) get enough self-love. Just look at the way your partner, or friend or co-worker lights up when you compliment them. We are love-hungry children, and many of us are starving for affection.

-Get new relationship tools. How many relationships suffer (or actually end) because the partners don’t have the tools they need to succeed? As a relationship counselor, I ponder this one a lot. The answer is, a lot. Exploration of relationship, astrologically, through synastry or otherwise, is one of those great tools.

-Surrender control. You simply can’t control what other people are thinking or feeling, so why try. This is difficult for me, too, but when I remind myself a la Byron Katie that ‘there’s only two people’s minds I need to be in, mine and God’s’, I don’t try and anticipate whether my husband is upset or cranky, and try to make it better (a Pluto in Libra, Libra rising thing). Instead, I stay in my center and mind my own business.

-Do love alchemy.  Venus retrograde is designed for transformative inner work. Many of my own Venus retrograde tools and techniques, for example mining your past relationships for gold, are in my book.

-Examine ‘weird’ responses from others. An acquaintance of mine can come off socially coarse; I can easily imagine that they will offend, be ‘forced’ to change up their strategy during this time. If interpersonal feedback you’re receiving sounds more like reverb noise than beautiful music to your ears, read your feedback. Alter your approach.

-Cultivate inner serenity. A sunset, a shared dinner, hanging out in a zen garden – what’s your guilty little pleasure, your Venus valium that frankly sometimes makes life plain old bearable? Do you anesthetize yourself with television, junk food or addiction, all pleasure substitutes, robbing your self from true pleasure? Aestheticize your self with plenty of good art, inspired beauty and by hanging out with people you truly love, instead.