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Venus retrograde in Leo (exploring the Rose of Venus, the 5th harmonic, and the inconjunction)

Venus is retrograde after stationing on July 22nd at 28º of Leo. It will station direct in Leo at 12º on September 3rd and will finally advance, leaving the sign of Leo and the post retrograde shadow on October 8th.


It's important to understand a few things about this particular Venus retrograde and her cycle as a whole:


This Venus retrograde in Leo is activating our Venusian houses as well as the house that Saturn in Pisces is transiting as this is the sign of Venus' exaltation, but there is another reason too. Leo and Pisces, while they seem separate, are related through inconjunction, a very crucial part of any Venus retrograde.


"Inconjunct" also known as a "quincunx" is a term that typically notes the alien, yet hypocritical nature of two signs towards each other.


The core themes of Leo and Pisces, as different as they appear, are compassion, forgiveness, and acceptance. These are the main themes of this Venus retrograde, Saturn in Pisces, and the next Venus retrograde. What emerges now will not fully integrate until the next Venus retrograde in 2025.


Why?


The next Venus retrograde is in Pisces. Well, Aries and Pisces as it will retrograde between the two.

Graph from Retrograde Planets by Erin Sullivan (pg.89) White arrows filled in by me

astro-seek.com

Venus works in a "penta" and therefore dodges between quintiles when we look at the cycle as a whole, but the stations move in order between inconjunctions. The last Venus retrograde in December 2021-January 2022 was in Capricorn, the other sign that is inconjunct to Leo. As you can see from the ephemeris on the left, this continues and the cycle repeats every 8 years creating the rose shape (the last Venus retrograde in Leo was in 2015, 8 years ago) and while the next retrograde in 2025 is in Aries trine to Leo, it shares the retrograde with Pisces who is inconjunct Leo and the next retrograde in 2026 begins in Scorpio, the sign that is inconjunct to Aries continuing the pattern. It ends in Libra, finishing with another inconjunction to Pisces.


So, even while Saturn is moving on into Aries by 2025, Venus still has unfinished business in our Pisces houses and with this theme of compassion. I imagine that right now, we are loosening, trying to find that understanding and forgiveness (maybe even for ourselves) while next Venus retrograde, we are having to rework and backtrack if we have pushed compassion too far into boundless territory.


If that felt confusing, don't worry, I laid this out just for the sake of introducing the symbolism of the inconjunction and the number 5 found in the quintile.


Venus retrograde brings out our most basic human instincts and behaviors. This is the face of Venus that is uncivilized, unpolished, revealing the most hidden but the most natural of inclinations. Hunger and desire devours her in the realm of the underworld– We'll explore the "faces" of Venus later.


Our need to be seen, our need to be recognized, our inner child is dying to be validated right now. A Venus retrograde transit reveals those ugly, greedy feelings that we all have within us somewhere, wanting to elevate ourselves, shoving others to the side to get to the top. Jealousy that leads to arrogance. Desire that may be immoral, but not unnatural. It could even be the egoic "No one cares about me" or "It's all my fault" showing up. First we must recognize that just because we aren't receiving love and attention, it does not mean that we aren't deserving of it. This is something that is trying to integrate itself from the last Venus retrograde in Capricorn. We must remember that at the end of the day, these are cycles, they aren't as separate as we may be inclined to believe. The last retrograde always carries into the next, in fact, it may be helpful to examine the summer of 2015 as this was the last time Venus was retrograde in this sign.


*Before we get into this next section, I want to be clear in saying: When I refer to a sign and its dilemmas or lessons, I am not talking about every Leo Sun, or every Capricorn Moon, etc. I am talking about the daimon or the soul of the sign. Remember that signs ≠ people and that there is a complete birth chart to consider. Think about these concepts in terms of the themes you have seeing or experiencing in your life over the last year.


Let's examine the two signs that are inconjunct to Leo to understand how the retrograde in 2021-2022 and the one in 2025 play into the one we are experiencing this summer in 2023:


Leo and Capricorn could not be more different. One is a fixed fire sign, a warm visionary. One is a cardinal earth sign, a cool realist. What is this core theme that Leo and Capricorn share? These two bond over the father and the ego involved in responsibility.


With every sign, it starts with the family fate, the original pain of a matter. Leo, the Sun's sign, is seeking identity and what "role" it plays in its own story and within another's often by exclaiming, "What about me?!" and it first runs into this dilemma with the father.


This poses the question– why do fathers leave? Now, of course, not everyone's father abandons them physically, but there are many faces of abandonment just as there are many faces of what a "father" looks like. Looking into the archetypal nature of the father, it is built into his own daimon to teach an aspect of detachment from the nurturing mother and awareness of what it takes to survive, and we cannot learn this with a protector ever present. Perhaps this also teaches the sheer mortality of the father revealing that he can't be everything we need him to be at all times. The relationship to our parents generally is often the first encounter we have with disappointment. This lesson may hit harder for the Leo and Capricorn dominant individuals or for the house that the Sun or Saturn rules and resides in.


When a father leaves, he relinquishes responsibility, allowing us to step into our own role– whatever that may be. There is very often a theme in Leo and Capricorn's life, "Doing what the father (or the parent generally) could not" and therefore building a separate identity on that principle. There is deep pride in this identity that the father does not have a right to, but there is still a lost boy within that has never truly gotten over its lack of acceptance.


Leo is more about being seen whereas Capricorn seems to question what it deserves.


Leo wants to be acknowledged, heard, understood and Capricorn wants to be enough, worthy of its desires, it will fall into the trap of, "if I just work hard enough then...". Both of these signs descend into the ego by decorating themselves with achievements because their rejection wounds run deep. These two deal with accountability and standards.


I have met many Capricorn placements that roll their eyes at Leo because they abhor their vibrant confidence that Capricorn regards as hubris. What Capricorn doesn't realize is that they are annoyed at Leo because they embody all of the rejected parts of themselves; Leo might remind Capricorn of a time where they tried to embody confidence and were brought to their knees by Saturn, a planet that invokes the harshest nature of this world when an individual forgets its binding to the flesh. Capricorn may actively take on too much responsibility because it subconsciously tries to feed that egoic nature of accomplishment, hoping it will create a sense of worthiness. Making promises and fulfilling them proves something. Leo may dislike the nature of Capricorn because it reminds it of a time it was rejected for being authentic. Or because it is competing with its own need to prove that it is enough.


Either way, these two bond over the ego. The ego is not bad, it is what keeps us alive. The ego is the one to tell us when something hurts, when something is dangerous, when something is necessary. But it is also our egoic self that says, "What about me?" or "It's all my fault." or maybe "I guess I wasn't good enough." Placing yourself at the center of failure as though you could prevent every shortcoming or that you could somehow be more than you already are is elevating the self in a way that is beyond the bounds of this world and the flesh. This is the Leo-Capricorn inconjunction and this is the theme that conjoins the last Venus retrograde with this one.


The last Venus retrograde in Capricorn (December 2021- January 2022) is trying to integrate itself now with this Venus retrograde in Leo (July-September 2023) by examining the work we have done over the last 18 months. Did you raise your standards? Were you able to believe that you are deserving of more? Did you put in the necessary effort to cultivate Venusian love, resource, and whatever is truly valuable to you... or did you in fact, try to take the easy way out, avoiding confrontation and responsibility? Have you confronted your relationship with self acceptance and what you personally feel responsible for? Have you allowed your ego to take over in response to rejection, or have you grown in love? Do you still feel as though you have to prove that you are worthy of love or money or recognition? Have you confronted your own shame and guilt around these matters? Venus retrograde in Capricorn was truly about the limits of love and resource and what we must do to create the kind that we want.


During the last cycle, you may have found it easy to fall into blame, shame, guilt, disappointment, and giving up. If you rose (no pun intended) to the task like Venus intended, there is so much accomplishment and love in the knowing that you have accepted your own failures and shortcomings, using them to better yourself, creating a more mature approach and perspective. This Venus retrograde in Leo puts all that you learned to the test because at the root of your own rejection, there is a small child weeping for acknowledgment. It is not your fault that this inner child was not taken care of, but it is your responsibility to take care of them now that you are here, conscious and grown.


Let's examine the other inconjunction which you may find more relevant to what you are dealing with in the present moment in 2023:


Leo and Pisces may appear to be different on the surface, one of a fiery, solar nature and the other of a watery, lunar nature but the inconjunction suggests that however many differences they have, there is a core thematic similarity that is not apparent at first.


To riff off of the father abandonment theme mentioned before– to heal the childhood rejection wound found here, compassion and acceptance must emerge. There has to be a humbling moment in response to a moment of pique so that Leo can truly understand where it has been insensitive and inconsiderate before now. It realizes the father as a person, often by running into the same circumstances that the father did to truly understand why he felt he had to run (or ignore, yell, fight, or abuse) in the first place. This is what I mean by "the many faces of abandonment", I think that yelling, avoidance, neglect, inappropriately handling conflict, and in extreme cases, abuse, ultimately abandons respect. This kicking and thrashing of the ego is the ugly opposite of compassion. To be clear, Leo is full of compassion, but only when it rediscovers what it means to be genuinely compassionate instead of seeking attention in exchange for care.


Leo best embodies self compassion and self care that is necessary to life force and survival. Pisces may struggle with Leo's blinding self acceptance when Pisces is conditioned to only project compassion outwards instead of inwards. Leo has a harder time considering others because of its internal alarm for individual survival. For Leo, it is often "every man for himself" in childhood.


Pisces must learn about the will and clarity embodied in the sign Leo. Pisces usually carries so much compassion that it betrays itself or maybe, Pisces is the father that escapes from the reality of the child. The burden of chaos may be too great to bear. This sign meets its fate of chaos within itself or within one of its own parents (very often the Mother) and because of this, it struggles to meet a reality that Leo confidently embraces. Leo very well could be too grounded in a world it can tangibly see, while Pisces has one foot out the door into a reality unseen that is truly just as important. Pisces is an echo of all that has been, seeing the subtext of every situation and this is where it meets overwhelm. This sign meets its downfall when it disobeys its own truth and the only reason why it would do this is because it is a truth that feels nonsensical or indeed, mutable!


This sign commits to what it cannot fulfill. Just because you have compassion, just because you feel the love, just because you have a deep empathy for the soul of a situation, it does not mean that you can commit to its upkeep. It's like deeply caring for every sick puppy that finds its way to you and before you know it, you have 10 sick puppies to care for, bringing a chaos that is unfair to submit yourself or anyone to. Pisces can put itself at a detriment because of its great, big love. What it is truly here to learn about is the clarity of what is and the will to tackle those things. This is difficult. To hear the cry of the sick puppy and finding yourself unable to go to it. Giving up care for all 10 puppies completely because Pisces cannot bear the load it already has and becoming selfish within that deception of a forever home. How cruel to give a taste of compassion before escaping into the night.


Pisces and Leo are both selfish signs (and I do not mean this in a way to shame either, I have an Aries stellium for god's sake!) learning how to embody compassion in a way that does not betray itself. With Saturn in Pisces, there is an added layer of guilt for honoring yourself instead of others. This guilt, this deception, this betrayal happens because Pisces has not fully felt the range of emotions before committing to care. Many of us have likely seen these themes in our Piscean houses already along with encountering those similar predicaments as the father or the one who abandons. This is how we can fully relate these three Venus retrograde cycles, in my opinion.


Selfishness, responsibility, and compassion. They all run into each other now in all of their complexity.

 


The quintiles that create the Venus star or rose demands that we look at the 5th harmonic and the "fives" in Tarot– I feel these cards perfectly encapsulate a Venus retrograde.


To understand the number 5, I have quoted Erin Sullivan's commentary from her book Retrograde Planets: Traversing the Inner Landscape (pg. 90):


"Quinary symbolism traditionally represents man after the fall, in his profane Pandemic state. Esoteric schools can see the power of the number five as the cause, not the effect, of the five digit contact points on our human extremities. It has always been associated with man's innate capacity to understand, and to create something from that comprehension. The quinary is associated with material understanding of arcane or esoteric truths, and is symbolic of the whole of the material world. The fifth element in esoteric work is ether, the 'cosmic glue' which transports thoughts (idea) to the lesser, but manifest, body. As far back as Egyptian hieroglyphics the five-pointed star signified the concept of 'rising upward to the point of origin' and formed part of word groups meeting 'to teach', to 'bring up' as in to raise a child, and the 'teacher'.”


What Sullivan means by "Pandemic state" here, is the face of Venus as a representation of Taurus. Aphrodite or Venus is said to have two sides, the goddess Pandemos is one face of Venus as a "dual goddess" and the goddess Urania to the other. Aphrodite Pandemos means, "common to all the people" and Aphrodite Urania means, "heavenly". Sullivan relates Pandemos to Taurus and Urania to Libra, the two signs that Venus governs, and alludes the darker sides of the Pandemic archetype to Venus in her retrograde cycle.


This makes a lot of sense, Libra and Urania are a representation of Venus as a social conformist, a cultured and intellectual balance that pleases the self and others. This face of Venus reminds me of the early modern period and its expectation (not that the expectation has changed much since) of high society women to be fluent in a variety of things– painting, sewing, music, dancing– to be worthy of marriage, also a theme of Libra.


The Pandemic representation of Venus is closer to that of Taurus and physical pleasure, the sensual nature of Venus that is universally experienced by all human beings. We all may indulge in various kinds of pleasure (food, nature, sex, texture, etc.), but we all universally experience some kind of pleasure. Fluency is curated while nature is well, natural. As I said at the beginning, when Venus is retrograde, these natural inclinations and desires seem to take over.


Now, how can we connect this all to Sullivan's interpretation of the five?


The Hierophant card in the Major Arcana of Tarot is ruled by the sign Taurus and therefore, the goddess Pandemos. While Taurus is known for its natural, sensual state, the Hierophant is better known for its role as a pristine teacher. This depiction of Taurus as a pope is full of symbolism, the idea that our natural human inclinations (Taurus / Aphrodite-Pandemos) must be structured, corrected, even repented for (Religion / Society).


Take children, for example, as a representation of the 5th house in astrology where Venus rejoices. When we are children, we must learn what is appropriate and what isn't. The root of teaching is to impart wisdom and understanding upon an individual, and for a child, it is to teach them how their society works, what is moral and what isn't, and how to survive.


The problem with this is that they are not only learning how to cultivate and grow their own nature– say in learning how to create a meal, maintaining good hygiene, how to communicate and express themselves properly– but they are also taking in all of the conditioning that shames their very nature too. Young girls, especially, are conditioned to be perfect. From the time they are born they are consuming information about what is expected of them and what they are "allowed" to do and what they are not. We can say the same for young boys who learn quickly that their natural emotional reactions are not allowed. I think that the root of the 5, the root of the Hierophant may very well be designed to come back to our very nature ('rising upward to the point of origin'). This is where the relearning happens.



In Tarot, the Five of Wands, the Five of Swords, the Five of Cups, and the Five of Pentacles are all teaching moments that answer to the Hierophant, Taurus, and the number 5. Again, as Sullivan said, "Quinary symbolism traditionally represents man after the fall, in his profane Pandemic state. Esoteric schools can see the power of the number five as the cause, not the effect, of the five digit contact points on our human extremities."


The Five of Wands is ruled by Saturn in Leo, a lesson we've already discussed at length in this article, and presents a battle of the ego. The Five of Swords ruled by Venus in Aquarius may represent a battle with jealousy and comparison. The Five of Cups ruled by the Moon in Scorpio is a battle with loneliness and disappointment. The Five of Pentacles ruled by Mercury in Taurus is a battle with resource and worthiness. Each of these cards are the cause of both success and doom. Each of the "five" cards lead to the Six of Wands, Swords, Cups, and Pentacles reuniting the previously frustrated, compromised, disappointed, and the empty with success, freedom, satisfaction, and abundance. Even more, these moments of failure are teaching moments that not only build to the success, freedom, etc. that was desired in the first place, but they also learn how to sustain it all in the Seven.


The "five" is us living out the most basic, human flaws and experiences. It's normal to experience an ego blow or deep disappointment. It is normal to envy or to lack as long as we don't stay in these states, learning what the origin of this "flaw" is. It very well could be that the flaw emerges from the conditioning we've been subjected to, shoving down true nature instead of deciphering what it may be trying to tell us. This is what I feel the 5 and Venus retrograde is truly about.


This is a time where we are witnessing our flaws, learning and seeking out the origin, moving forward post retrograde now that we know better.


This Venus retrograde in Leo, examine where you have been conditioned to distrust your own body, to dim your individual light, to expect shame in response to authenticity, to doubt your worthiness when you are not selected.


On August 13th, Venus reaches her inferior conjunction with the Sun where she transforms into a morning star, leaving behind the contemplative, introverted evening star and moving into a fresh cycle where we become pioneers.


Everything that we found ourselves questioning from June 18th to July 22nd is now up for review and reflection until September 3rd while Venus is retrograde. We will move forward, committing to integration from September 3rd until Venus leaves the sign Leo on October 8th.


 

References


Encyclopedia Mythica. Pandemos | Facts, Information, and Mythology. (2006, March 2). https://pantheon.org/articles/p/pandemos.html


Meyer, M. R. Venus Morning Star - Venus Evening Star. Astrodienst. https://www.astro.com/astrology/in_mrmvenus_e.htm


Sullivan, E. (2000). Chapter 5: Venus, Dual Goddess. In Retrograde Planets: Traversing the Inner Landscape (pp. 77–90). S. Weiser.




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2 Comments


Guest
Jul 31, 2023

What a wonderful, thoughtful piece, Katie! I have been reading lots of materials about this retrograde, but your piece really brought it into focus for me. Thank you so much for writing and sharing it with us!

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Katie Ussery
Katie Ussery
Jul 31, 2023
Replying to

Ah, that means the world! This is exactly what I hoped this piece would do. Wishing you all the retrograde blessings!

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