As I started the research for this article on May 2012’s Venus Retrograde in Gemini (and the rare Transit of Venus that occurs on June 5), I quickly opened up a rather large can of worms. For it seems that in June of 2012, we have the makings of a perfect astrological storm. You see, when we look at key moments in history, we almost always find dynamic planetary transits bunched up in clusters around those same dates. It’s in those times when many key transits occur simultaneously that we tend to find more outward events – landmarks for memorable moments in history where we find sea changes, shifts, beginnings and endings of cycles. In June of 2012, we find one of those clusters that suggest June could be a month in which important formative outer events transpire. The conditions for the storm start to form in May when Venus goes retrograde.
Historically memorable events serve as bookends that we can use to compartmentalize segments of time. They help us organize the chaos that is daily existence into quantifiable, understandable bits. This way of organizing events into cycles is one of many processes that give us an experience we like to call sanity. In truth, the sheer enormity of paradoxical and contradictory data in the world is mind-blowing. It’s just too much for any one person to objectively synthesize. We need a way to organize the data, and to then create meaning out of it.
This information-sifting is a crucial step in our individual evolutionary processes, helping us to find meaning and make decisions. The planet Venus represents a crucial organizational process that occurs within the psyche. We’ll have a chance to learn more about this process during the current Venus retrograde cycle.
Information can be organized in many ways. A Virgo style of organization might express itself as compartmentalizing the facts of life into neat folders (one for all of the frightening facts, one for the pleasant thoughts, etc.). A Sagittarius style might express as organizing the data into systems of thought, big picture philosophies, and broad sweeps of holistic understanding. Venus relates to an organizational process that results in art. More than just compartmentalization of facts, the organization that Venus refers to is endowed with her signature principles of proportion, balance, and grace.
Venus alerts us to that mysterious process of artistry that we can observe miraculously in nature as well as through those creative works which are shaped by the gifted human hands that channel Venus’ grace.
Every 8 years, Venus will retrograde through the same sign. Erin Sullivan points out in her book Retrograde Planets that when we draw a map of these points in the 8-year cycle over time, we’re left with a visual representation of the 5 pointed star. And when we map the cycles of Venus over long periods of time, we find a beautiful symmetrical image that we might describe as a 5-petaled flower enclosed by a large circle of artful gentle brushstrokes (image below by Neil Michelsen from Tables of Planetary Phenomena. So in tracking Venus movements in this way, we discover something innate to her nature. The celestial pen in Venus’ hand draws strokes of beauty across the heavens, pointing to the presence of graceful order that can emerge in the midst of a chaotic universe. Venus relates then to the principle of organization that creates art out of the muck. Like a lotus flower growing out of a sludgy pond, Venus signifies that which draws beauty out of the raw (and often sludgy) materials of human existence.
Venus’ association with the number 5 and thus, the Golden Ratio, points us to her link with the idea of proportion. Venus has to do with “equal” proportions. But Venus also has to do with those proportions that give us a sense of warmth, comfort, relief and peace. We find these expressed through the Golden Ratio in the chambered nautilus, the piano music of Debussy, and the five fingers of (wo)man. The Swiss architect Le Corbusier, whose birth chart is overcome with Venusian influence, is described as centering his designs on “systems of harmony and proportion.” [i] He explicitly used the Golden ratio in his work, and influenced an entire movement of architecture.
We like to say that Venus rules art, but art is a huge subject that doesn’t necessarily come under the jurisdiction of one planet. Art takes many forms and has multiple intentions. Some art is meant to shock or provoke. Not all art is created with peace or beauty as a goal. But purely Venusian art surely does. For Venus is most concerned with rapport above all else. She will sacrifice much, including truth and honesty, to achieve harmony. As she expresses through each sign of the zodiac, and in concert with her relationship to the other planetary bodies, we encounter real complexity, and diverse expressions of art and beauty. But if we attempt to dilute Venus’ essence into something we can understand, we find the impulse to create artful proportions, and to connect with others in harmonious relationship. Beautiful art forms out of the organization of disparate raw materials into something radiant.
During her retrograde cycle, these issues will undergo a revisioning process. The part of ourself that is concerned with balance, grace and proportion goes underground, in search of a new way of understanding and relating to these Venusian principles. Where Venus engages our chart in this cycle, some part of us is going inside, comparing the ideal to the real, and taking notes for adjustments that need to be made in the concrete realm once Venus collects her energies and moves forward again. This process will help us bring into focus the ways in which we personally relate to the concepts of balance and equanimity.
Not all of us innately feel compelled by a stated goal of finding balance. Some of us have Venus in complex, edgy relationships with other planets in our chart, or in tension through a particular sign and house placement. Others find Venus in comfortable and more unchecked expression of her full nature. So when we say that Venus relates to balance, this isn’t to say that Venus automatically grants us balance, but that balance becomes an issue when Venus is prominently figured (natally or by transit).
For example, a person with a Uranus+Venus contact may be carving out new territory through their exploration of the concept of proportion. In this case we might see an expression of distorted proportions, or asymmetry – qualities that may take root within the psyche of such a person in order to further their evolution. Sometimes to create something new, we must dismantle harmonious structures to get there. These individuals may be charged with such a task. So Venus is about proportion, but whether those proportions are expressed as symmetry depends on her relationship within the chart.
The current Venus retrograde cycle began on May 15. Venus will station direct on June 28. One image I like for thinking about the retrograde cycle is that of a person taking a hike on a trail through the woods. The person emerges from the trail into the light only to realize that they’ve either lost something along the way, or came out of the forest at a different spot than they intended. They now have to backtrack to find what was lost, or find a new way out of the forest. Retrograde cycles send us back in some way – back to look at the past, back to reclaim some piece of ourself that we need to move forward, back to find some new inspiration, or back (and down) into hidden aspects of ourselves that need attention, adjustment and revision. When Venus is retrograde, we may be revising our values, our likes and dislikes, our ways of relating to and being in relationship with others, and our approach to Venus’ artful principles of organization.
This Venus retrograde occurs in the sign of Gemini. Venus entered Gemini in April 2012, and moves into Cancer at the beginning of August. While in the sign of Gemini, where she’ll spend an unusually long time due to the retrograde, Venus is naturally fickle. I say this with a light and playful smirk: Venus can be a bit of a tart, and Gemini enjoys playing trickster. The perfect flirt, Venus in Gemini loves mastering the art of catching the attention of the other and uses her wry gifts of language and agile communication to do so. Venus in Gemini’s idea of the perfect date likely looks something like the romance that unfolds in the films Before Sunrise or Before Sunset, both of which capture a couple in the midst of a magical and engaging all-night conversation. The mind ignites the heart for the Venus in Gemini lover, who above all is seeking not just to speak, but to be truly heard by another.
So during this retrograde cycle, to various extents we are all working out issues related to communication – especially in the context of partnerships with others, loving friendships, and romantic pairings. With her sight set ultimately on rapport and balance, Venus is taking us on an inward journey through which we may need to readjust in some way in order to more clearly express her energy once she turns direct. We’ll be finding better ways of asking for what we want, and of clearly expressing our needs. And in the interest of building rapport, we’ll uncover better ways of listening to others, and speaking in ways that make it easier for us to be heard. But while the process is unfolding, keep in mind that rapport might seem far out of reach.
For better or worse, we seem to learn the most in challenging situations. So through discomfort, lack of peace, and edgy interactions in which we don’t communicate clearly, or don’t feel heard, we’ll gain insight into what this transit has to teach us. Have patience with yourself during this time, and know that it’s a learning process. Have compassion for wherever you find yourself, and set your sights on acquiring more knowledge. Venus in Gemini suggests that we need more information. If you feel stuck, ask questions, get feedback, and be sure to pursue a variety of sources.
This transit might also have to do with the concept of truth, and with the issue of duplicity. Speaking of which, it was no coincidence that last night while thinking about this article I found myself watching a film called just that – Duplicity. In it, two distrustful lovers attempt to figure out if each other’s intentions are truly honest and transparent. This is a good segue into talking a little about the darker side of Venus in Gemini. Because Venus is so motivated by finding rapport, she will sometimes do so at the expense of honesty. And Gemini the trickster has a flair for untruths. Put these two together and it’s easy to imagine situations in which we’re saying things we really don’t mean in order to attract the object of our affection, or even just to maintain a feeling of peace. We’ll use our cunning to figure out just what the other wants to hear, and then use our silver tongue to deliver just that on an enticing platter. But if we succeed, what are we left with? A shallow relationship built on lies. In the end, such false rapport will always crumble into what Venus fears most – discord.
So what does all this have to do with the Perfect Storm of June 2012? This Venus retrograde cycle is the context in which the first of several conditions unfold that just might lead to a very interesting month. And this particular Venus retrograde is unique, taking on even more importance. Though Venus retrogrades every 584 days, she retrogrades in the same sign every 8 years. And on very rare occasions, she does so while transiting the sun. Now the word transit here has a different meaning than the one we’re used to. Here we refer to the astronomical meaning in which Venus will actually be visible from earth crossing in front of the sun – this year on June 5.
Every transit of Venus has 2 bookends – they happen in pairs (remember Venus in her element likes symmetry and also company). The first bookend of the current cycle happened in May of 2004 (the last time that Venus was retrograde in Gemini). Each pair of these transits of Venus is separated by either 105 or 122 years (alternating between the 2). The next time Venus will transit the sun will be in 2117. In other words, this is a momentous occasion. See Steven Forrest’s May newsletter to learn more about the Transit of Venus.
Steven points out that if we take a look at the time periods enclosed by these Venusian bookends, we find standout movements in art and culture. [ii] But usually we need a little distance from these cycles to identify and name what was birthed. Musically I’m aware of one definite “new” expression of music that arose between 2004 and 2012. Given names such as neo-folk, freak-folk and others, this genre includes creatively expressive artists such as Sufjan Stevens and Fleet Foxes, whose works were often noticeably collaborative in new ways. The music itself is both an expression of earlier forms and a fusion of styles that gave birth to something new – a true artistic expression of the zeitgeist. If I’m right in identifying this as one of the expressions of this Venus Transit cycle, it’s no accident that in February 2012, just before the end of the cycle, one of the artists from this genre, Bon Iver, humbly and somewhat reluctantly accepted a Grammy for his work this year. The award was important in two ways. It marked both the first artist of this genre to receive a nod of approval from the “mainstream,” and also one those rare moments that a truly independent artist received recognition from the Grammys, not just for their sales, but also their artistry. This was a true turning point in the way the Grammys assigns value to its awards. Ironically this award may also signify a peak for the neo-folk form. For historically it’s these moments, when the fringe becomes mainstream, that a movement both crystallizes and begins its denouement.
This June we’re on the completion side of a cycle that we’ll later be able to look back on and identify. We’ll be able to do this by taking a look at the art of the time, and we may be able to look back on this time in our relationships and see something that looks like a bookend or turning point. We may recall this as a time when we understood something more about the feminine and the role women play in society. It’s commonly said that Venus has to do with the feminine. I’d like to broaden that and say that Venus has to do with gender, though a complete discussion of that subject is too big for my purposes here. But Venus does have a correlation with women, and it’s no accident that we are now seeing a renewed engagement with what’s being called “The War on Women.” This issue could heat up even more in June, while another ingredient in the perfect storm brews: Mars square Venus. The square happens on June 5, the same day as the Transit of Venus.
In Mesoamerican cultures, the heliacal rise of Venus signaled a time to march into battle. For them, Venus had to do with war. When we consider that Venus seeks rapport, it’s easy to flip the coin and understand a “besieged” Venus (by transit or natally) having an association with the opposite of rapport. Bruce Scofield has reported that in mundane events, the heliacal rising of Venus (which occurs just before she turns direct) “often corresponds to a time of failure or resignation on the part of leaders and often coincides with a major accident or storm.” [iii] When we consider that during the retrograde cycle, some of Venus’ natural graces are withdrawn (so that they might undergo a process of renewal) it makes sense that skirmishes ensue during such a time. I like to think of Venus retrograde as a time when Mars has more freedom to act out unchecked because Venus isn’t around to help him chill out. Add in the Transit of Venus, and Mars square Venus, and we have a recipe for some feisty action in June. But wait, there’s more!
Just to fog up the glass a little, Neptune adds to the mix on June 5 by stationing retrograde in Pisces. Will there be issues of deception at play? Will it be hard to get to the bottom of things? Will we all be totally confused? Those are definitely potentials. During a station, the energy of that planet intensifies. With Neptune in Pisces we find the potential for sacrifices being made that shouldn’t be. But one high potential for Neptune in Pisces can be found in the concept of enlightenment, Buddha consciousness, or Christ consciousness. If conflicts arise, the way out might be a higher form of spiritual understanding and compassion. Globally, things have been steadily heating up around Israel. Neptune in Pisces in this mix may highlight spiritual differences in the conflicts that arise. If you’re reading this, direct some intentional energy into the idea that we have an opportunity for greater spiritual growth that day, and let’s vote that we achieve higher states of union through thoughtful action. Carve out as much time for meditation and prayer as you’re able to on June 5, and align deeply with that Neptune in Pisces energy for the greatest good. Then let go of attachement to outcomes and leave the rest to the higher power(s) to work out.
And…there’s still more. June 25-26 is another key moment to keep an eye on. Because on June 26, 2012, we have the first direct pass of the much anticipated Uranus square Pluto aspects. Metaphorical (and maybe literal) earthquakes and lightning bolts are on the menu. Adding to the mix of the perfect storm, on June 25, grumpy old Saturn stations directin Libra. On June 28th Venus also stations direct (in Gemini), and on June 29th the sun moves into a T square with Uranus and Pluto, setting up a trigger for intensification of the tense energy in the air. What does all of this mean? On a personal level, watch your trigger finger, because Uranus in Aries is reactive and its first impulse is to bolt in the face of conflict. Access your best resources and respond to what arises with the most maturity and diplomacy you can muster. Talk things out and work hard to undrestand both points of view before pulling the trigger.
Saturn’s prominence suggests that we should take a good look at reality, but try not to despair if it looks bleak. Saturn usually makes the obstacles seem more insurmountable than they are. Remember that Jupiter (and the concept of hope) is real. A strong Saturn influence can make it hard for us to get access to that fundamental truth. Know that even if you can’t see it, there is some way out of your trouble. Sometimes you have to have a lot of patience to make it over the hurdle, but one of the gifts of life is that things keep changing, and with patience, we can overcome quite a lot. Adding in Venus at this point looks like the cherry on top of the sundae – and just maybe, the perfect recipe for a perfect storm of transformation that will leave your value system refreshed, renewed, and forever changed. What will that look like? I can’t wait to find out…
[i] Wikipedia: The Golden Ratio http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_ratio. Le Corbusier has the Sun+Uranus in Libra in the 5th, and Virgoan Venus in the 4th widely trine Neptune in Taurus (chart via Astrodatabank http://www.astro.com/astro-databank/Le_Corbusier).