Even if you know nothing about astrology, you've probably heard of the word "retrograde" before. And although Mercury retrograde tends to be the most infamous, every planet in our solar system goes retrograde — or in other words, appears to move backwards in the sky — at some point or another, and they all affect us in different ways. Among the most intense ones, though, is Venus retrograde.
The Planet of Love retrogrades roughly once every 18 months for around 40 days at a time, wreaking havoc on all things ruled by Venus: relationships, affection, money, pleasure, and art. (More about the upcoming Venus Rx, which kicks off on December 19, here.) Venus is one of the closest planets to Earth and it retrogrades less often than other celestial bodies, meaning that its retrograde is more powerful than others — it's even been described as more powerful than Mercury retrograde (eek!). Narayana Montúfar, senior astrologer for Astrology.com and author of Moon Signs: Unlock Your Luminary Power, says this is why astrologers often warn that Venus retrograde is not a good time to get married, begin a new relationship, buy big-ticket items, or even get a makeover.
Of course, one of the things to be most impacted by the Love Planet's retrograde is... love. But this retrograde isn't necessarily a bad thing for relationships, Montúfar says. "It will only bring up underlying issues that need to be addressed and healed, and while things might feel super hard in the moment, Venus does help us clear baggage so we can later on move forward on a better note," she says. "If a relationship had no potential from the get-go, Venus would end it — and all we can do it trust that it wasn’t for us in the first place." This transit is basically like an older sister giving us that hard-hitting, "dump them" love advice we need to hear. It may be brutal, but in the end it's worth it.
While we see a ton of breakups and make-ups, Venus retrograde also brings back — you guessed it — exes. "Sometimes old lovers from the past can return if all the issues are not resolved," warns Madi Murphy, the co-founder of The Cosmic RX and The Cosmic Revolution. "My advice to you would be, remember why they’re an ex!" And if you're the one who was causing all the drama in the partnership, Murphy says to "use this time to take accountability for your actions or behaviors that may have caused the relationship to end the first time, see where you may need to apologize, and take ownership or seek closure for your own healing." Again, brutal — but ultimately, getting closure in your romantic life will help you move forward in a healthier, more well-rounded way.
Besides love, Venus also rules our values. When the planet is retrograde we we may be able to define what our true values are more clearly, says Leslie Hale, psychic astrologer at Keen.com. "This can affect life on many different levels depending on where Venus is located and transiting through your personal chart," she explains. "In the collective, we may also go through a period of defining what our values are as a society in particular concerning money, women, and social interests."
Taurus and Libra are the two signs that are hit hardest by this retrograde, thanks to Venus being their planetary ruler. You can see where Venus retrograde affects you the most by checking out which of your 12 houses is ruled by these two signs (a simple birth chart calculator can tell you that info). For example, "if your fifth house is ruled by Taurus, you can expect to feel it in your dating and creative life and if you have Libra ruling your twelfth house, you may feel like hibernating or unseen during the transit," says Lisa Stardust, the author of Saturn Return Survival Guide and The Astrology Deck.
Although intense, Venus retrograde isn’t all that bad. It’s a time of reflection and understanding what you want in relationships. "There is a beauty in looking backwards at partnerships, because our intuition can guide us toward deeper understanding and compassion," Stardust says. To get through this retrograde, pledge to not make any impulsive or definitive decisions regarding love (and other Venusian things). Instead, take it easy and wait until the end of the planet's backwards dance to decide what's right for you.
When we look back at a Venus retrograde, Montúfar says that we may feel a sense of rebirth, not only in relationships but also our sense of self-worth and creativity. Although intense, Venus retrograde asks us to learn from our past mistakes and move forward in a way that truly serves us. Trust me — if we can get through this, we can get through anything.