This post is part of my Creative Coaching series, Unleash your Creative Genius. In each post I explore a different part of the creative process, inspired by the seasons (earthly or astrological), or by whatever I am working through in my own process. This is with the belief that the creative process is not only relevant to artists, but to everyone, as active creators of the best people we want to be, and of the best lives we want to live.
Venus Retrograde is upon us! This post breaks down the Venus Retrograde cycle in the context of love, loss, break-ups, and what this might teach us about how to best unleash our creative genius.
In astrology, the 5th house is named both the house of lovers and creativity. Why? They be the same thing, friends! Or more specifically, the part of ourselves that gets lit up and energized when we fall in love is intricately connected to our creative expression. Opening ourselves up to loving and being loved, as well as putting our creativity out into the world (whether that’s an art/writing/performance piece you’re working on, or just being unapologetic and bold about your style or gender expression), both love and creativity are risky and rewarding, terrifying and elating. What we learn from our love lives can help us a lot to manifest our creativity, and vice versa.
Venus will go retrograde in the sky from March 4 – April 15 2017. Venus is the planet of love, pleasure, beauty, art, attraction and relationships. It goes retrograde about every 18 months and during these times, just like in any retrograde cycle, our relationship with the qualities of that planet can get a bit wonky. A planet’s retrograde motion means that its energy within us and around us is moving backward or inward; it’s murky and a bit confused, instead of moving in a direct or straightforward motion.
I don’t like to think of retrogrades as taking backward steps in the wrong direction – although it can definitely feel that way when you’re in the thick of it! Rather, retrograde cycles are important reminders for you to take regular, intentional time to slow down, turn around, and look at the kid who is waving their hands behind you. Look at the kid who has wrapped themselves around your ankles, begging for your attention, as you try to walk out the front door.
Retrogrades ask us to pay attention to the build-up behind us that is probably slowing us down. It’s a time to clear out whatever you don’t need anymore, so by the time the planet is ready to turn direct, you are also ready to take a breath of fresh air and move forward lighter and more free.
With Venus, the stuff that wants clearing has to do with our relationship to relationships, intimacy, our values, our earnings, our money, our sense of beauty/style. It’s really about re-evaluating our sense of what we’re worth to ourselves, and what we want to invest in.
Venus Retrograde has this notorious reputation as a time period when it’s more likely for us to bump into old lovers and friends; or when past relationships are likely to magically appear back in our lives. I’ll admit it. I used to have these romantic, secret fantasies that Venus Retrograde would send me some old flame knocking on my door unexpectedly, drenched from being caught in the rain, with an “I want you back” poem and a single tear streaming down their cheek.
(The only reason I’m admitting this to you now is because I thankfully have moved on from this phase and now have radically differently fantasies which will remain, at least for the time being, untold!)
Either way, I wish you luck with with your exes. But the point in astrology is to take whatever we are experiencing externally as a reflection or manifestation of the deeper issues we’re working through internally. Whatever, or whoever, comes up during Venus Retrograde, is really asking us to look at something within ourselves worthy of our attention.
You may gain insight by looking at what was going on for you the last time Venus went retrograde, which was July/August of 2015. You can look even further back to the Spring of 2009, which was the last time Venus was traveling retrograde in Aries/Pisces – the signs it’s traveling through this time around. Whatever seeds were planted back then are re-visiting us again now.
Don’t worry, if you’re having troubling remembering what you had for breakfast this morning, let alone what was happening in Spring 2009, I got you. Allow me to bridge those memory gaps with a story of my own!
Let’s start with July/August of 2015. Back then I was in the thick of all-the-break-up-feels. (Which eventually turned into a lovely book of poetry, break-up affirmations!) At the time I was sick and tired of feeling heartbroken. I just wanted the love of my life to show up already! I kept telling the universe, “I’M READY DAMMIT I’M READY” …kind of like this…
Did any exes barrel back into my life to confess their undying love for me during Venus Retrograde? Nope. But I did get into an epic email fight with one of them, so I guess that’s something…
When I think about Spring 2009 I just want to bust out my wooden stake and garlic and holy water and yell, “I cast you out, Demon!!” During that time I was heading into a personal rock bottom. I was in a destructive and doomed relationship. Although it was causing me an incredible amount of pain, I had a lot of love for this person and it took me a long time to reconcile leaving and letting go. During this time I began therapy for the first time and wrote my first book of poetry. It was the beginning of a beautiful new phase of transformation, personal growth and creativity.
Back in 2009 I would make the choice to hang onto a horrible relationship as if my life depended on it, because it really felt like my life was on the balance. I was a warrior against the reality of loss, because I didn’t want to lose myself. The seeds of healing that were planted in 2009 emerged again during 2015. During Venus Retrograde 2015 I felt like I was in heartbreak hell, and I allowed myself to take an even deeper look at my monsters. I allowed the heat to melt my bones and change me into a radically different person.
I am now a person who is okay with relationships ending. Now I believe that a break in a relationship doesn’t have to mean a break in self. Now I know I don’t I have to wait for my perfect person or scenario to drop into my life; instead I can choose who and what that is for myself, every day. It doesn’t mean I’ll never feel heartbroken again, but I am committed to a process of learning to trust that my emotions won’t kill me.
I was recently watching an interview with the brilliant, stunning Kerry Washington (star of Scandal), and she said something that really struck me. She was speaking about a period in her life where she experienced a lot of loss, professionally and personally. A time period where she allowed herself to be open to change in her personal life.
She says: “It made me ready, as an artist, as a person, as a business person, to receive Scandal.”
See the full video here: Kerry Washington’s Top Ten Rules for Success!
When we experience loss, we can feel hopeless and helpless, like everything just falls away and nothing ever stays. Kerry Washington’s words are so inspiring to me, because she offers a different way to think about loss. It’s like a clearing. A preparing. The universe’s way of saying:
Alright, you want that dream job? You want that dream career? You want your dream love? You want your dream art? Well you’re gonna get it. It’s gonna take some time though. First we gotta clear this stuff out of the way. The stuff that doesn’t fit your body or style or in your closet anymore. It doesn’t fit your way anymore. Let it go. Don’t hang onto it. You gotta let yourself become the person you’re growing into, so you can receive that dream opportunity that is truly just around the corner.
After we go through a break-up, or experience some kind of significant loss, we inevitably enter into a liminal, extra-terrestrial space, a great void. Like a worm-hole, a cosmic tunnel. It’s neither here nor there. In it, we are neither the person we used to be or the person we’re going to be. That thing that once took up space, time, energy, presence in our lives is no longer there. Whether that’s a person, a situation, a dynamic we participated in, or ingrained habits or actions we took to sustain, give or take from whatever it was. It’s gone. We can sometimes sense its presence but, like a ghost, it disappears when we turn on the light. We can be devastated that something ended, or it can be a relief, or a combination of both. Either way, what we’re left with is empty space we don’t yet know how to fill.
Even if we are happy about ending a relationship/situation/dynamic, the void will likely still be uncomfortable. Might even be scary, unsettling, and destabilizing. Literally, a structure has crumbled and disappeared that was holding together a piece of your life. Even if it was a faulty structure, you have to move through a temporary period where you want to re-build something better, but don’t yet know how to do it.
If we’re not conscious of the inevitably and the necessity of the void, we can try and run from it like hell. We can fall back into old patterns, beg our ex to come back, or doubt our sound decisions.
What if, instead, we approached the void with curiosity and a sense of adventure: What do I get to do next? What is it that I can do now that I didn’t have the space to do before? What did I feel or experience in the old dynamic that I didn’t enjoy or receive benefit from? What brings me joy, pleasure, comfort, inspiration, that I didn’t have time or space to do before? How can I reconnect to those things now?
Loss might still be sad, aching, heartbreaking. At the same time it offers us the opportunity to fill a new space with what really matters to us. Like the gift of a blank canvas or an empty studio room that we can make beautiful however we choose. Here, you don’t have the answers, and you may not even know the questions.
The crux of the creative process relies on our not knowing, on our willingness to find out. Who are these characters, what do they desire, what are they willing to do to get it, and what will they learn about themselves and the world in the process? We can ask these questions of ourselves too. As creators, all we need to do is be a witness to this process, and give it time.
Let Venus Retrograde help you this Spring reconnect to what is beautiful to you. As someone named Bjork once said: “twist your head around, all is full of love.” Turn your focus in another direction. See the things you deeply value that you may have been disconnected from. Gather them close to you and feel how that love begins to change you. Acknowledge the things that have ran their course and are finished – thank them for what they gave you, taught you, and leave them behind with gratitude.
The great void is a beautiful place to create from. It’s just you in a black hole, sitting with the universe. In a float tank, a womb. Where all external stimuli disappears into darkness, stillness, nothingness. And what you find is you. Your essence, your returning, your home-coming. To once again, create from the beginning.