May 13 - June 24
This Venus retrograde, to me, feels like back in the day. Which particular chapter of life it will bring up will be different for each of us, but there is a certain nostalgia to this transit, or at least a quality of reflecting and revisiting old times.
Life is full of initiations—transformational experiences, firsts, core-shakers, game-changers—and those to do with love are often some of the most profound. Each planet’s cycle brings with it some kind of life lesson, and Venus teaches to our hearts. Venus, when she stations retrograde, takes us back in time to some version of our uninitiated self: who we were before a spiritual or emotional growth spurt changed us. By the time she stations direct, if we are paying attention, we will have learned something about ourselves and our relationships. As she goes through her rite of passage through Gemini this year, past Mercury and through the heart of the Sun, from evening star to morning star, we will all be given opportunities to examine the ways in which the experiences of the heart and mind have contributed to our individuation and our evolution.
In classical art, the goddess Venus (or Aphrodite) is often pictured gazing into a mirror. For the goddess of beauty and relationship, the mirror is not just a symbol of vanity or a surface for admiring her lovely face. It also represents the Venusian Other, as the goddess expresses herself best when there is an object of her affection. Gemini, too, seeks a counterpart, to share and exchange ideas with, through dialogue and repartee. For Venus in Gemini, looking in the mirror becomes an act of curiosity, leading us toward self-discovery.
How do we learn who we are? Of the countless formative experiences in life, the majority of them feature other people (a statement so obvious because it’s so universally true). From the time that we’re old enough to go to school, and the influence of our parents becomes less all-encompassing, life becomes punctuated by a series of characters and relationships that hold up a mirror to us and that shape our picture of ourselves. When did you first learn about romantic love, or platonic love? Who did you gossip with, tell stories with, reminisce with? Who taught you to think? Who showed you how to get along with others? Think back over the best friends, the sibling relationships, the confidantes, the first loves, the companions, the peers and the teachers who have left an impression on you, for better or for worse. Memories of them, dreams about them, or they themselves, may reappear during this time. And with them will come the memory of who you were when they were a part of your life, before you became the next version of yourself.
Venus retrograde also asks us to look at how we define ourselves through our tastes and values. What are your favorite books, music and movies? What is your personal style? What do you find attractive in another person? And by that same token, what do you find unattractive, offensive or uninteresting? How and when did those preferences form? How have they perhaps changed over time? These things inform what we surround ourselves with and what we expect out of life: We are what we like.
We experience a Venus retrograde every 1.6 years, and we have one in the same sign every 8. So, the last time Venus was retrograde in Gemini was May-June of 2012. What will we learn about the connections in our lives this time? Start by finding 5-22 degrees Gemini in your chart. What house they fall in and any natal planets there will give you some idea of what to expect (and as Venus has been in her shadow period for a while now, you may have already had a preview of events). Now, think back to this time 8 years ago. And then 8 years before that. What were you reading, watching, or listening to? Who was your best friend? Who were you in love with? Who were you hanging out with and what were you interested in? And who were the most influential people in your life? They played a role in making you the you of today, and—good or bad—they taught you something. What is happening now is, in an archetypal sense, a version of what was happening then.
Who are the current mirrors in your life, and do they make you like what you see? Do they bring out the best parts of you or the worst? If the latter, then it sounds like shadow Venus at work: jealousy, vanity, superficiality, infidelity, possessiveness. Can you find an analog to this current relationship in one of your past ones? Maybe there is a pattern unfolding, and this is an opportunity to identify it and change it. The standard wisdom during a Venus retrograde is to hold off on starting new relationships or rekindling old ones. It’s sound advice. But if you must, try to be as transparent with the other person and as unattached to the outcome as possible. Same goes for new purchases or changes to your appearance. If, during Venus’s time in Gemini, you have undertaken some form of new learning, creative endeavor or writing project, this retrograde could be a time to go deeper and see what you learn about yourself.
This transit is asking us to look at what it is we like and what it is we want, and to learn how to communicate that while at the same time respecting others’ desires and feelings. And if it hearkens back to past experiences, it is a reminder that to self-actualize is, ironically, a lifelong process of engaging and connecting with others. Cheers to those whose trust, love and support has set us up for success.
Today, Mercury comes back home to Gemini, where he will be until May 28, sharing stories with the other planetary and asteroid travelers, of his experiences throughout the zodiac for the past year. These stories show up in our conversations, our thoughts, our written words, our media reports and our internet searches. With Venus, the talk is about relationships and money. With Vesta, home and family. With Proserpina–women’s voices, the beauty of spring, protecting our children. Hygeia—health and wellness. Metis—wisdom, science and knowledge. The north node—the future of data and how we digest information. Feels busy, right? Mercury in Gemini has a lot to say.
On Wednesday, Mars goes into Pisces until June 27, and will not feel so at home. In the depths of the water sign, his will and focus become diffuse and scattered. Anger simmers or comes out in the form of tears. Or, for some, great art and poetry. Either way, it’s hard to see clearly, so whether that’s the virus or somebody’s emotions, we’re having to feel our way through fraught, changeable territory.
There is a collab forming between Gemini and Pisces that forms the backdrop of the month, the headliner being the Venus-Neptune square. From ocean waves to brain waves, the feedback loop can be stimulating to our dopamine receptors, but we should be careful to know the difference between high and happy. With so much emphasis on the mutable signs, and Neptune’s reality-bending influence, things are likely to feel blurry, confusing, inundating, headache-inducing, hilarious and inspiring from one moment to the next. Mercury, squaring Mars in Pisces (the Ten of Cups), tells us to enjoy the good times in the moment, and to beware of illusions, fantasies and false hope, whether that’s to do with the information we are consuming or the relationships we are having. This could be a great time for creativity, but there isn’t much of a solid foundation (earth sign-wise, there’s only one more week of Taurus season and Capricorn is having its own issues right now). The world is in flux and on shaky ground, so maybe hold off on long-term planning and investment. Just try to keep an open mind, an open heart, live in the moment and ride the wave.
Today, the lunar nodes move from Cancer and Capricorn into Gemini and Sagittarius, where they will remain until January 2022. With this shift will come new stories and experiences for us to marinate in individually and collectively. The south node in Sagittarius will bring up the shadow, as well as the potential for growth and healing, associated with that sign. Sagittarius presides over travel, higher education, law, religion and spirituality—our philosophies of the world. Ruled by Jupiter, which will be in Capricorn and Aquarius for the duration, the south node story will center around society and the collective, with themes of freedom versus restriction, expansion versus contraction, and innovation versus orthodoxy. The north node will show us how to balance those Sagittarian energies, and what the collective soul is in need of. In Gemini, it is pointing us toward a new relationship to information: how we consume it, how we process it, how we share it, and how we handle the rapidly-changing nature of it. Mercurial Gemini rules the intellect and language—how we translate that which we perceive—and rules over institutions such as school, literature and the media.
The last time the nodes were in Gemini and Sagittarius was October 2001 - April 2003. In the US (and much of the world), we were reeling from the shock of 9/11, and it was a time that radically changed travel protocol, government oversight, political discourse, and our relationship to the Muslim world. It was also the heyday of reality TV, the blogosphere and 24-hour cable news. People started carrying cell phones. Colleges offered online degrees. With this particular nodal polarity, one can see an exciting sense of democratization and personalization taking place, with potential for great storytelling, mobility, and exposure to new and different ideas. But there is also a cautionary tale in there about dogma and ideology, and its power to cause otherwise rational people to be swept up into unfounded and ungrounded belief systems. And there is also another one about unsustainable growth and unfettered appetites—for money, for fame, for the “supersized” option (another peak concept of the early 2000s) of consumables.
To see where in your life this transit will take place, find Gemini and Sagittarius in your chart. If you have any natal planets there, or in Pisces and Virgo, they too will get activated at some point. If you were born with the south node in Sagittarius, you will be having your nodal return! You bring with you into this life the soul memory of having been carried away by zealotry or dogmatism, or of bring ruled by passions and impulse. You likely paid the price of putting the demands of your heart above those of your head. And so, your work in this life is to be curious and open to learning new things; to ask questions and engage in dialogue. Siblings, children, or the archetypes of the Sister, Brother or Twin, may play a key role in pulling you out of the karmic comfort zone and toward new spiritual horizons.
We can expect the cosmic nodal conversation above to be reflected below in new approaches to teaching and education, travel and aviation, youth culture, social media, the news media, and governmental attempts to weigh personal freedom against public safety. The global society will be in tension with the local community. Ultimately, the Gemini-Sagittarius axis represents the archetypal experience of the mind as it progresses through life, and how what we learn informs what we believe. It contains the polarity between the young and the old, the near and the far, the details and the big picture. But what the two signs have in common is an embrace of the changing nature of life and a desire to move on to new things. How we navigate this next period will have to do with how well we keep our eyes, minds and hearts open. To stay in the balance means to see both the forest AND the trees.