The rules of retrogrades + the gifts of the here and now

Two of Wands Cosmic TarotHow are you doing?

Personal planet Venus started its retrograde period earlier this month, on Friday, October 5. We have a month left of this retrograde, and this can be a good time to check in with yourself to see how it’s affecting you.

For me, astrology, tarot, and other forms of divination all straddle a gray area between prediction and intention. I always encourage people to operate from the latter category as much as possible.

“While the stars impel, they do not compel,” says Rabbi Philip S. Berg in his book on Kabbalistic astrology, The Star Connection. I love this quote because it reminds us that planets don’t make us do anything. They do not think on our behalf. They do not take responsibility for our actions.

We can look at astrology to get a sense of what is possible, and what themes, thoughts, or energies might become more pronounced under certain transits.

But it doesn’t mean that a transit will be the same for everyone – or even be felt by everyone.

We are all living our own stories, and we can choose to tap into the flow of the universe and determine how those external energies may apply to our own personal lives.

I see so many “rules” about what not to do during retrograde periods, as though these things become universal law for all. But I prefer to be practical about it all, rather than having a knee-jerk reaction that only repeats old ideas – or superstitions – about what astrology will do within a given timeframe.

The truth is, no one can say for certain how an astrological event will impact all, or few people. Yes, we can make predictions, but that is all they are – theories and estimations based on what is most probable given the energies of a day, or season.

Some people have laundry list of things to avoid during Venus retrograde: Don’t get a haircut. Don’t get any spa or cosmetic treatments. Don’t buy any new clothes. Don’t get married. Don’t fall in love. Don’t commission any creative work. Don’t change your appearance too drastically. Don’t plan a wedding.

The list can go on. We see the same thing with Mercury retrograde, when people are advised not to sign contracts, travel, or make any major purchases.

But are these rules the best use of astrology? I always say that if it works for you, by all means go for it. But I also say that no one should feel they need to put their lives on hold because of astrology, either. Rules are really just guidelines, and they can be loose ones at that.

Should hairdressers and spas close shop for the 40+ days of Venus retrograde? Are we suggesting that hairstylists, artists, and estheticians suddenly lose all power, skill, training, and ability during that time?

Are we suggesting that each of us doesn’t have jurisdiction over our own hair, appearance, and maintenance?

Should we hide inside all day, say no to every social engagement, and just wait out a retrograde?

Our own thinking, capability, and decision-making can’t, and shouldn’t, go out the window for the sake of astrology. Instead, it’s best to use these times purposefully by paying attention to what seems to matter most now.

It’s also important to remember that many other influences are at work, too, not just astrologically, but within our own personal lives.

I have gotten tattoos during Venus and Mars retrograde and they all turned out just fine, thank you. I am going to two weddings this fall, neither of which I am worried about.

A marriage is not built out of a single event. These people have already made their commitments to each other long before they ever planned their weddings. I would never tell someone to call off a wedding date because of Venus retrograde.

If you are worried about how Venus retrograde, or any retrograde period for that matter, will affect you, you can always remind yourself that we live through retrogrades again and again. Venus retrograde occurs about every 18 months, though last time it was in Aries, which is a different energy than Scorpio.

When I think back to the last two times Venus was retrograde in Scorpio – fall 2002 and 2010 – I had new work opportunities come my way each time. Choices were made, and I got clearer about the paths I wanted to take – just as we see in the choices that are held in the tarot’s Two of Wands.

Previously, I also found myself doing some deep work to move on from older aspects of my personality that I no longer wanted to put forward. I was learning to make new impressions on the world, but first I had to let go of my old ways.

You might feel that you are making similar choices as the days roll on. Or, you might find yourself thinking back to past experiences, too, and finding new connections and points of growth.

This week’s energies indicate new awakenings around what it’s time to shake up, or break up with. I also find that retrograde periods can bear many gifts, if we choose to notice them.

The important thing is that you pay attention to what feels relevant for you right now. Don’t let someone else’s list of do’s and dont’s dictate your own destiny. Astrology can give direction, but you’re the driver.

Until next time,

Liz xo

p.s. My new online course, Tarot for Self-Recovery and Reclamation, begins next week. If you want to deepen your tarot practice through ritual, healing, and personal growth, be sure to register before it’s too late:

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