Practicing Self Love with Venus Retrograde

Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.
— Lucille Ball

Venus stationed retrograde at 13 Aries on March 4th, and will station direct at 26 Pisces on April 15th.

First of all, I apologize for not writing or posting about Venus retrograde ahead of time. I've been struggling with my own self-love journey. But this retrograde lasts for 40 days, so we have some time to reflect on what happened in the last week and continue consciously through this transit.

The full Synodic Cycle of Venus lasts for eight years. Every eight years, Venus passes between the sun and the Earth five times, completing five synodic periods. Her movements through the sky as viewed from Earth form a pattern that looks like a five-pointed star, or "venus rose."


When Venus stations retrograde like she did on March 4th, she is in the last phase of a synodic period. She will begin a new 584 day synodic period mid-retrograde, when she makes what is called an inferior conjunction to the sun, creating one point or petal of the Venus rose. This will happen on March 25th.

What does this mean for you? The 40 day period of Venus retrograde is always a time for reflection. It's a period before renewal. Mythologically, the cycle of Venus is related to Inanna's journey through the Underworld and back. In the Sumerian myth, Inanna, Queen of the Heavens, goes to the Underworld to visit her sister Ereshkigal, who is mourning her husband's death. Instead of welcoming her sister, Ereshkigal strips Inanna of the royal finery that gives her power, kills her, and then hangs her corpse on a meat hook. Two emissaries are sent from the heavens to rescue Inanna. They turn themselves into flies and sneak through the seven gates of the Underworld, and when they reach the throne room, they find Ereshkigal moaning with grief. They moan with her. The Queen of the Underworld, having finally received the empathy she was craving, offers the emissaries any gift they desire. They ask for Inanna's body. Then they revive her with the food and waters of life and bring her back up to the Heavens. But Inanna must find a substitute to serve her time in the Underworld first. She chooses her husband Dumuzi, who did not mourn her when she died.

If we interpret Ereshkigal as Inanna's shadow-side in this myth, she descends into the Underworld to meet herself. She is stripped naked, revealing all of her truth. She lets a part of herself die. Then she is in mourning. When she revives, she sees her self and her relationships clearly. Before she can rise, she must leave behind something that is no longer useful to her.

This retrograde period, while Venus/Inanna is in the Underworld, is a time to let go and mourn the parts of yourself that you no longer relate to. It's a time to strip yourself of all of your outer layers of identity and face the inner self, the truth about yourself. People often talk about self love as self care. We're encouraged to speak affirmations, take a bath, take a walk, eat a nourishing meal, make eye contact in the mirror and say "I love you." I think these are excellent tools for practicing self love. But I think real self love happens when you can take an honest look at who you are, size up all of your shit, and love yourself anyway. If you can own your flaws and take responsibility for your actions, and still accept yourself, warts and all, that's self love. It's not only the way you treat yourself or talk to yourself, although that can be telling. It's self-knowledge, and going through a process, periodically, of shedding what is no longer needed. It's self-awareness, and then loving everything about yourself, the way you can love other flawed human beings. And as the brave and funny Lucille Ball reportedly once said, you really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.

Because most of this Venus Retrograde happens in the sign of Aries, the sign of "Me First," it's a wonderful cycle for practicing this kind of honest self love. As the first sign of the zodiac, Aries is entirely about the Self. In the journey through the twelve signs of the zodiac, it's the seventh sign of Libra that introduces the Other, and then the zodiac continues through the twelfth sign of Pisces, where we've evolved from Self/Other to Everyone. For the archetypal Aries, self-love is a given. The Ram moves immediately from saying "I am" to initiating new projects. We all have Aries somewhere in the chart. Think of that house as your "Me First" place.

(When I talk about archetypes, I'm not saying that Aries people are egotistical or selfish. The archetypal Aries is not selfish, he's self-loving and self-actualized; he uses his identity to initiate new projects. And every person has a full chart, with planets in different signs. Even people with many planets in Aries aren't pure archetypes, because we're all wounded somewhere and we all have experiences that shape us.)

During this Venus retrograde, focus on your relationship to yourself. What armor are you wearing that prevents you from being vulnerable? Take that off. What have you been presenting to the world that is no longer authentic for you? Take that off. Continue stripping away the layers until you can look at yourself honestly. If an old part of your identity needs to die, let it die. If something happened to you in the past that you still haven't mourned, take the time to grieve. Give yourself the compassion you crave. Maybe you have a literal Dumuzi, someone you were in a relationship with who didn't respect you, and you can emotionally let go of that person. Maybe what you need to let go of has more to do with your inner Dumuzi, and your own disrespect for yourself. When you're ready to rise, leave Dumuzi behind.

Becoming yourself, and learning to love yourself, is a process that takes a lot longer than 40 days. This cycle is just one part of that process. Whatever is coming up for you, think about it in terms of your relationship to you. You might be reflecting on your relationships, your career, your creative process, your family, or your finances. Consider that everything in your life is an expression of your relationship to yourself. If you want to change your relationship to something or someone in your life, start with yourself first. Once you start to love yourself, everything else falls into line.

Where is Aries in your chart? What's coming up for you during this Venus Retrograde? I would love to hear about it in the comments!