In keeping with many if not most of my astrological colleagues, I am both pleased at the upswing in popularity and scope that social media has brought to our field, and alarmed at the careless way that the art and craft of astrology is often used in the public realm.
Many of us have invested much time, effort and expense into becoming qualified and responsible practitioners. A number of us, including myself, have gone on to teach and mentor upcoming students who are studying with reputable schools. Some of us, myself included, have been involved in astrological practice, teaching and mentoring for decades.
I feel a particular sense of responsibility toward those young folks who are at an early stage in their investigation into astrology, and currently going through what those of us seasoned practitioners have gone through ourselves: increasing fascination, reading, realising the vast scope and depth of a practice way beyond the Sun Signs of its popular face, which has been part of human experience for at least 6000 years, exchanging exciting new ideas with others, maybe going to local or online classes, usually practising on friends, family, and whoever would like their charts “done”. Hopefully along with increasing knowledge and practice also comes an increasing awareness of the power of the art of astrology and an accompanying sense of responsibility to the sensitivities and vulnerabilities of those upon whom we practice. However– we all know that this is often not the case…
However – and this is a big however – that old cliche “He who increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow” will kick in at some point as one slowly walks the path toward competence. Astrological symbolism can scare us as well as excite us. Astrology well and responsibly practised can be a healing art of deep value. But astrological knowledge can also be wounding. That is part of the risk we all take on, in moving deeper into such fascinating symbolic territory. However, as with most adventurous and life-changing journeys, we are often not aware of certain risks until we are well down the journey’s road.
In my recent collection of 60 essays, articles and columns, Postcards to the Future, p 128, there is a long study called “Astrology as a healing and a wounding art..” In that essay, to which a number of my students and clients contributed, I explore this sensitive topic in some depth.
An encounter with precisely this topic occurred for me this week, via an enquiry from a young person whose own astrological journey had brought up an issue of some concern to her. I have asked her permission to use our email conversation since I thought it might be of value to other young ( and perhaps not-so- young! ) folks who are beginning to experience the more challenging facets of astrology as their explorations continue. I am most grateful to “Jessica” – she chose her own pseudonym at my request! – for being so willing to share our exchange.
Here it is:
Hello. I’ve been reading your website for a long time. Recently I was reading a book by Liz Greene, and I had a question. I decided to look for her students to ask this question, and found out that you studied with her. So I decided to write to you. Liz Greene in her book said this about retrograde Venus: “When Venus is turned inward in this way, the capacity to express erotic love on the body level may be somewhat inhibited”, “Often there is a kind of shyness or social clumsiness about a retrograde Venus, since the elegance and skill of a more extraverted Venus will operate on the inner, cerebral level rather than the outer one. There may also be considerable awkwardness in sexual matters, because the beauty of the fantasy may supercede the pleasure of physical encounter. A retrograde Venus does not thwart the capacity for sexual pleasure. But it may not be the most important aspects of relationship, and there may be inhibitions which need to be honoured because of the inner richness of feeling which results”.
My Venus will soon become retrograde in secondary progressions. It will be retrograde for more than forty years and I’m twenty-one. Please tell me, does this mean that all these negative effects will occur to me? Thank you very much.
thank you first of all for following my writings. I really appreciate that, and it’s good to hear from my readers…
Liz Greene is a brilliant astrologer, teacher and writer: I consider it a great privilege to have studied with her throughout the 1990s. I don’t know what the specific context is of this quote. In any case, all astrological writers know that what they say in print can only be general, and to have a specific personal “tuning” requires a reading of your actual horoscope constructed from your date, place and accurate time of birth. There are many other facets to Venus than the sexual dimensions focused on here, depending on Venus’ location, aspects etc in your horoscope – and in any case any statement made about any planet /angle/house/ aspect/ node/asteroid either natally, by transit, or by progression can only be general unless the writer is examining a specific horoscope.
So – I really don’t think you should worry unduly about this, but take yourself off to an experienced astrologer and discuss the Venus retrograde issue with them. I realise that will involve cost, but as in everything in life, you get what you pay for, and a good astrology reading is worth saving up for – or you could perhaps ask for one as a birthday/special occasion gift. I’m enclosing some recommendations at the end of this message, since I only read charts now in the context of work my zoom mentorees wish to discuss with me.
Here’s a personal story which may help: a few years ago now, I noticed that Mercury (my ruling planet) was going to go retrograde in Scorpio in the third house – for the rest of my life! Professional astrologers are not immune to getting rattled by what they see coming up in their own charts, by the way. However, I thought I’d work WITH the grain of this shift, and got down to going over my many essays, articles, columns, blog posts etc which I ‘d written and published over the years, and make a selection of 60 of the best of them. That resulted a couple of years later in my book Postcards to the Future, which has gone down well and been very well reviewed. I am currently mining all my writings on The Moon’s Nodes going back over many years, and hope to produce that as a book as well in due course. And other material from my ‘back catalogue’ Also, during the covid lockdowns, which followed on my husband’s death in January 2020, I found that the deepening self-sufficiency and introspection brought by that retro Mercury by sign and house, was a huge help to me in coping with quite a bit of reflective time (and in my case, time for mourning) which we all had during the pandemic lock-downs. There have also been other benefits flowing from this retrograde turn – but I’m sure you get the idea!
In essence, try to go WITH the grain of whatever comes your way symbolically through your astrological studies, and work with these energies as best you can. In that way, you will find riches rather than affirmation of your fears. Astrology is indeed double-edged: with the wonderful enlightenment it can bring, it also can make us fearful – often unnecessarily. I have lost count of the things I worried about over the years of my studies and practice, that never happened! Now I am much more laid-back…
I ‘ve copied and pasted my standard letter to enquirers below my name in this email. I have confidence in all the practitioners I’ve recommended, and know them personally.
Hope this helps – and enjoy your studies.
Dear Anne, Thank you SO much for such a detailed answer! You have helped me a lot ♡
©anne whitaker 2023