Pleasure, satisfaction, harmony and balance. These are just some of the meanings of Venus, the famous planet of Love and Beauty. Its rays shine upon us, sending on Earth all the delights of romance, as well as its pitfalls.
Lady of the Arts, she enchants us with her call, drawing us towards the mystical and the sublime. And in doing so, she instills in us all the nostalgia for the lost world of the Spirit, to which every creature longs to return eventually.
In this article we are going to talk about the The 8-year cycle of Venus, focusing in particular on its Retrograde Phases. We are also going to talk about the Cosmic Rose, the Pentagram and the relationship that this important symbol has with Mars.
The Cosmic Rose
The 8-year cycle of Venus
In Astrology, we mainly consider the planetary cycles from the geocentric perspective. This because we are particularly concerned with how the planets influence life on Earth. Let’s take a look at the movement of Venus around the Earth.
In the video below (click to play) you can see a simulation of the motion of Venus (green), as it moves around the Sun (yellow) with the Earth at the very center of the scene (geocentric perspective).
The grey lines radiating from the center corresponds to the sky division according to the twelve signs of the Zodiac. This means that when Venus or the Sun cross one of them, they’ve changed sign.
As you can see Venus, moving around the Sun, traces in the sky a five-pointed star, or more accurately a Cosmic Rose. Isn’t it beautiful? The rose is indeed the flower of Venus, and it’s so appropriate that the planet of beauty and harmony traces such a stunning figure through outer space.
Venus completes this star-shaped cycle in roughly 8.5 years, during which it goes through 5 retrograde periods. They are the five petals of the rose. We discussed about it here, in regards to the 10-petalled chakra. In the article we also mentioned the inferior and superior conjunctions between Venus and the Sun, check it out.
The Five Pointed Star
As we said, the Cosmic Rose is also the five-pointed star—a symbol of crucial importance throughout all the Western Spiritual Tradition. In fact—in a sense—we could say that the rose is for the West what the lotus is for the East. This symbol is so simple and elegant that can be found basically in any civilization. Ancient Egypt, Babilonia, Ancient Greece, early Christianity, you name it.
As we mentioned in the article about the Four Ethers, in Hermeticism the pentagram represents the Four Elements plus the Etheric, the quintessence of the alchemists. It is a symbol of balance and harmony, and in this sense it is a Venusian symbol.
In Anthroposophy the pentagram is on one hand a symbol for the Third Logos, the Holy Ghost, which manifests in the Astral World as the Sophia principle, the Wisdom of God. On the other, it is the symbol of Mankind as the Microcosm.
But beyond the symbolic interpretations, Rudolf Steiner introduced the pentagram as a real representation of the archetype of the human etheric body. In the picture above you can see the currents crossing the Etheric body forming this shape. When the limbs bend the currents bend accordingly. The description of these currents was also a part of the third of the Six Exercises Steiner gave for the development of the Heart Chakra. The third exercise in particular refers to the development of equanimity and the education of feelings and emotions, again a Venusian (and Lunar) quality.
Venus and Mars
This being said, we need to point out that the pentagram is not just a Venusian symbol. Every rose has its thorn, as they say. Where the thorns can represent the trials we must overcome to reach the rose, the top of a spiritual path of purification. For this reason it is more appropriate to talk about the pentagram as a Venusian and Martial symbol. This because Mars is the ruler of pain, challenges, and struggles that life puts before us.
This relationship between the masculine (Mars) and the feminine (Venus) is also pointed out by the number 5, understood as the sum of 2+3. Being Two the number of the feminine, and Three of the masculine. Their mystical union in a balanced harmony is the 5. In Pythagoreanism the pentagram (or Pentalpha) was held in high regard as a sacred symbol, since it conceals the mystery of the Golden Ratio (harmony and beauty).
Instead, if we want to consider the pentagram as a martial symbol, we need to look at Hermetic Qabalah, where the planetary spheres are associated at their respective number. Five is the number of Mars because it corresponds to the fifth sphere. This means that on one hand opposites can fight each other (Mars). On the other, they can become complementaries (Venus).
Getting back to our Cosmic Rose, we can interpret the petals also as thorns. In fact a retrograde planet often comes with challenges we need to overcome. Let’s now take a look at the retrograde periods, considering them as one fifth of the whole 8-year cycle of Venus.
As we mentioned in the article about Mercury Retrograde, when a planet inverts its motion it goes against the natural flow of things. And the opposite—or rather complementary—principle of Nature, is always the Spirit.
While natural impulses always go from the inside towards the outside, the spiritual component of the human being can only manifest when we start focusing on the inside.
In this regard, Venus is predisposed to this direction. Being in fact the planet of feelings, Venus—and the divine feminine in general—is a gateway for the Spiritual World. More appropriately, Venus is a planet belonging In its essence to the Soul World, a dimension in between the Spiritual and the Physical.
Venus Retrograde Meaning
When Venus is direct, feelings are more susceptible to the world of the senses. Meaning that they are excited by external beauty and sensations more easily. Visual aesthetics, good smells and aromas, harmonious sounds. All of them blend together in a single feeling. Here the Arts and aesthetic research thrive.
On the contrary, when Venus is retrograde inner images replace the role of the senses. Here feelings are more stimulated by a world of imagination and fantasy, and the core of our creative process shifts from the outside to the inside.
In a sense, this Venus is more in touch with the Moon, which rules dreams and fantasy. But instead of dealing with simple emotions that mirror our needs, Venus is more concerned with elaborated feelings. Emotions and feelings are indeed very different, as their function.
The function of Venus is judgment, in terms of a value-giving faculty. In a philosophical sense, it is the Aesthetic Judgment. In general, we can say that whenever we like something—when we get pleasure and gratification from it—it has value for us. And the same happens with people, especially when we have feelings for them. Of course this is especially true when we are in love.
But when Venus is Retrograde we start second guessing the value of things and people. We begin asking ourselves: do I really like it? Do I really love them? Our evaluating function step back from the world, focusing more on inner images. We start remembering back past experiences, comparing the way we felt back then with our current feelings. Astrologically, this weighing or comparing function belongs to Libra—one of the two Venusian signs.
In addition, Venus Retrograde as a transit could literally manifest as people from the past returning to us. I say literally, because the planet is retracing its steps, coming back to us just like those people. Again, this has to do with the fact that images from the past are paying visit to us. Hence, a brief encounter with a person we’ve not being seeing in a long time is just a trigger for our memories to start this process.
Venus Retrograde Phases
- Direct: we have our starting point on the right, in yellow. Venus is moving direct here and it still has enough speed to make things flow and connect properly in the outer, natural world.
- Pre-shadow: Venus enters the loop space into which it’s going to be retrograde. It’s still direct but it’s entering what in modern astrology we call the pre-retrograde shadow area (pre-shadow in short). From a classical astrology point of view, Venus is getting slower and slower. Meaning that the energy of the planet projected in outer nature is getting weaker and weaker. This phase lasts until Venus reaches its first station and eventually stops.
- Retrograde: in red we have the core phase, the retrograde motion. As you can see in the picture, here Venus is retracing its steps back. This is the period of time when we start second guessing things and relationships to revaluate them. The cosmic forces of love, pleasure and beauty aren’t directed outside to enjoy life. On the contrary, a process begins where the pros and cons of situations are weighed in order to find a new conscious compromise. This phase lasts until Venus reaches its second station, where again it stops.
- Post-shadow: in this phase Venus is direct again. However, it doesn’t have enough speed to make things go back to normal yet. This means that we might still experience the aftermath of the previous phase. This is a settling phase that ends when Venus goes beyond the ST1 longitude.
- Direct: all back to normal. Venus has gained enough momentum to go back to its usual speed. Or at least enough speed to make things go back to normal.
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I consider myself a free researcher in western spiritual disciplines, in particular Rudolf Steiner’s Anthroposophy and the Neoplatonic Hermetic tradition. I have a three-year training in Astrology at the CIDA delegation of Trieste, the Italian Center for Astrological Disciplines. I graduated in Computer Engineering from the University of Trieste.