I don’t know what brought me there, but there I was — scrolling through old Facebook messages between myself and a guy I talked to back in my college days.
He was a Leo — charismatic, handsome and F U N N Y — the kind of guy who was comfortable enough with himself to admit that “call me maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen was his favorite song.
We met during a summer study abroad trip to Jordan — we went to the same university — and he left shortly after we got back to Boston to do an international internship in Dubai.
Looking at those messages between us now, exactly eight years later, I can feel the Venusian Gemini energy radiating from my side of things — “haha! You’re so funny! I’m going to keep making you laugh but I’m also going to keep being vague about how I feel about you because I also am not sure!” — and a sweeter, more “I miss you” type energy coming from him. I don’t know what his Venus sign is, but that’s the energy I picked up on.
This deep dive into an old flame of my past — someone I honestly haven’t thought about in a really long time — came the day after I found myself sobbing on my couch.
I was sitting there, work email open, the “Cats” soundtrack playing in the background and then I don’t even know what triggered it but before I knew it I was sobbing for literally 20 minutes straight about a feeling for someone that was still completely palpable even though the last time it was real was more than two years ago.
This is what I mean when I talk about the energy of Venus retrograde. Feelings we once had for people who live in our past never feel more real or within our grasp than they do during that time.
‘Okay,’ you might say, ‘sure. You’re thinking about your past. But what is all this hooplah about Venus retrograde? Venus can go retrograde too? I only just learned about Mercury retrograde and now you’re going to try to throw another thing at me?’ Take a deep breath, people. I will try to break this down in the most palatable way possible.
What is a retrograde?
When a planet goes “retrograde,” it appears to move backwards. Why doesn’t it actually move backwards? I don’t know, I’m not a scientist, but I assume that would cause some sort of apocalyptic cosmic shift (not like we’re not living in apocalyptic times already, but whatever).
In astrology, retrograde means that instead of moving forward in degrees, it planet backtracks. Once it starts moving forward again, it’s revisiting a part of the sign where it has actually recently been before. Think of it like ironing your pants or your jacket a couple of times in different directions just to make sure you get out all of the wrinkles.
Cafe Astrology breaks it down on a technical level. According to the website, Venus entered its “shadow,” or pre-retrograde period, on April 9 when it was at 5 degrees Gemini 20′. It officially went retrograde on May 13 at 21 degrees Gemini 50′ Rx.
Once it arrived back at the 5 degrees Gemini 20′ where it was at the beginning of the shadow period — which in this case, happened June 25 — it goes direct again through the zone of Gemini it just went backwards through.
It was out of the shadow period and moving into entirely new terrain starting on July 29, when it once again reaches the 21 degrees Gemini 50′ spot it was in at the beginning of the retrograde.
So that’s what a retrograde is. Revisiting old terrain and really taking the time to reflect and figure out where we’ve been and how we want to move forward.
Now, Venus — I probably don’t have to tell you Venus is the planet of love. When you think of Venus you probably think of romance, hugs and maybe even Cupid shooting his bow directly at your butt on Valentine’s Day. But it’s also about beauty, how you relax, what you treasure and what you value.
And then there’s Gemini. The sign of curiosity, the sign of learning a little bit about a lot of things, the side of intellectual stimulation, the sign of “ok you’re boring I’m moving on to the next, more exciting person or conversation.”
Venus is Gemini is expressing love through conversation, through learning, through fun and playfulness. People who were born when Venus was in Gemini (like me) tend to be the people who count staying up all night and talking among their love languages.
So what should we be aware of during Venus retrograde? Well, like any retrograde, issues or things from your past might have started to resurface. In this case it will probably be ex-lovers. You might strike up a conversation with an ex, meet one of them for a drink or just start thinking about them again.
This is all normal. It’s good to reflect on where we’ve been. But that’s what it’s about — reflecting. It’s not about jumping back into something you know already hasn’t worked for you. It’s about “why didn’t this work for me and what can I take from that relationship to bring into the next one?”
Astrologers will tell you that Venus retrograde also usually isn’t a great time to do any primping work, like get a haircut or a facial or plastic surgery. Maybe that’s why my skin was looking pretty meh despite the fact that I drank a lot of water and did my skincare routine morning and night — I started a new retinol cream during the retrograde and decided it wasn’t agreeing with me.
It’s also not a great time to start a new relationship or to make any big love-related moves — like get married or get engaged. This is because this is a time when we’re supposed to reflect on what we want out of love, what’s working and not working for us in either our approach to love or in our relationships and what we can learn from past experiences to gear us up for what we really want in love going forward.
Personally, besides scrolling through old messages from exes, this past Venus retrograde was about me hearing from people I used to date and realizing why I no longer date them.
It was also a helpful time to examine my own relationship patterns in a way where I think I can now move forward.
When I was a teenager, I mostly used astrology to check and see if I was compatible with someone I had a crush on. A sense of panic would rush over me once I realized my Sagittarius crush would probably grow tired of me, or when astrology.com told me I was barking up the wrong tree by going after an Aquarius.
I would always stubbornly push ahead, convinced that no matter what my gut or astrology.com told me, I could make it work with anyone. But I never stopped to think to myself — do I want to do this? Do I really want to mold myself into whatever shape I think the person I like wants, or should I instead honor myself and wait for someone who already fits with me, who I don’t have to contort myself for?
That’s what I learned during the Venus Retrograde in Gemini, and once the planet of love and beauty went direct once again, I took those lessons with me.
Other than that, I’ve been absolutely stunned at the amount of former flames I heard from since the shadow period began. I cut ties permanently with the toxic ones, chatted in a friendly way with some I haven’t heard from in years and even went through a back-and-forth cycle with someone who I ignored in the past and now doesn’t have anything but purely carnal interest in me. And I know I’m not the only one.
Oh, and that guy I met while studying abroad? It turns out we got together during the last Venus Retrograde in Gemini, in May/June 2012. If my love life starts heading in the direction it was in around then, but with eight years of extra wisdom and life experience thrown in there, that wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.