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The Courage to Love from the Heart

Updated: Aug 16, 2023

Venus begins her ascent from the depths of the underworld, whilst the New Moon at 23° Leo on Wednesday 16th August @10:39am BST, brings high drama and invigoration to the sphere of passion, love and authentic self-expression.

Venus Retrograde Overview

Venus has been retrograde in the passionate & romantic sign of Leo since July 12th, stationing at 28° Leo conjunct the Persian royal fixed star Regulus; ‘The Heart of the Lion’ considered the most noble and regal star in the sky.

The Goddess of Love, Connection and Beauty turns retrograde once every 1.62 years (the number representing the Golden Ratio), across 5 different signs, making her 5 pointed star across the zodiac as she creates a Venus star point at the Sun Venus conjunction in the middle of each retrograde. Every 8 years she returns to the same sign for her retrograde transformation marking the end of one complete zodiacal cycle and the beginning of a new.

It is during Venus retrogrades that we re-evaluate and re-set the Venusian areas of our lives, whether that be romantic and sexual relationships, friendships, our self-worth, creative projects and our expression of beauty.

Usually it is the case that a Venus retrograde that occurs over your Ascendant, Sun, Moon, and Nodes are going to have a much more potent effect than those that don't.

As always we would look to our natal Venus placement and the houses she rules for more personal insights, but here I aim to give you the deeper stories behind what can otherwise seem a superficial time.

For those here for a quick New Moon overview you can jump straight in here.

Venus Retrograde in Leo

Venus was last retrograde in Leo in the summer of 2015, before that, 2007, 1999, 1991 and so on.

For those with Leo placements such as Sun, Moon, Venus or angles between 12 and 29° of Leo particularly, but also Aquarius, Taurus and Scorpio to a lesser extent, these summers should reveal a clear pattern of relationship or other Venusian themed events an re-sets.

Venus and her Significations

Venus is deeply concerned with connection to others, our relationships, and specifically our style and experiences of relating. She also rules over justice, fairness, social cohesion and equality, music, singing, indulgent pleasures such as wine, sweet deserts, fabrics, jewellery, sex, dancing, the senses, aesthetics, fragrance and flowers. When we think of our ability to connect, to find pleasure and happiness, to create joy and art, we look to Venus in our birth chart. She describes our sense, appreciation and expression of beauty. She also speaks to our ability to give and receive love, linked directly to our sense of self-worth.

Our modern day significations for Venus however can sometimes leave out some of the kinkier sides of Venus as seen here in Abu Ma'Shar's 9th century text 'The Great Introduction' translated by Dr. Benjamin Dykes.

Inanna's Descent

When Venus is in the first half of her retrograde, she draws nearer to the Sun, becoming hidden beneath his bright and blinding rays and disappearing as the beautiful Evening Star in our post Sunset western skies.

This initial phase of the retrograde is what many astrologers link to the Mesopotamian myth 'The Descent of Inanna', an earlier incarnation of the archetypal Roman Goddess Venus or the Greek Aphrodite.

Inanna, Goddess of Love & Fertility and Queen of the Heavens visits her sister Ereshkigel, Queen of the Dead in her realm of the underworld, to attend Ereshkigel's now deceased husband's funeral. Accompanied along her passage from the heavens to the outer limits of the underworld by her trusted servant Ninshubar, Inanna is dressed in her crown, several laces of beads around her neck, her breastplate, golden ring and carries her scepter, the rod of power.

Inanna and Ninshubur reach the outer walls of the underworld where Inanna knocks at the gates. She announces herself to the guards as Inanna, Queen of Heaven.

Incensed at her sisters unwelcome visit, Ereshkigel orders the guards that Inanna should enter alone before passing through 7 gates along the steep descent into the underworld. At each gate she must remove a garment or adornment. Inanna is warned by the guards than not many people ever return when they visit the underworld. Inanna understands and gives instruction to Ninshubar before she turns back, telling her to seek help from Father-God Enki, should she not return.

As Inanna now begins her decline through the 1st of the 7 gates, her power weakening along with the removal of her regalia, it is here that Venus begins her retrograde, slowly losing her brilliance and reign as the most beautiful jewel in our evening sky.

Our links to Venus' and Inanna's loss of power

During the onset of Venus' retrograde motion particularly, like Inanna, we can begin to become aware of our fragility. A retrograde Venus is turned inwards and is self referring. Non more so than when in the self referring sign of Leo.

We tend to look back on our past relationships, the woulda coulda shoulda beens, the exes, the departed friends, our unfulfilled creative expression or pleasures that seem a thing of the past. We can feel that like Venus in the sky and Inanna in her descent, that we too are drawn inwards. For those with a prominent Venusian nature shown in their chart and life, this can create the question of 'Who am I without [insert Venusian thing here]?" We can begin to question or reassess our sense of worth, to realign with the things we want and love. This transit always comes at just the right time for an inner realignment to the outer. Our relationships are in need of renewal, and we must dig deeper to understand what we want that to look like.

Navigating a potent early Venus retrograde period can be supported by allowing vulnerabilities to surface and embarking upon a certain amount of deeply honest reflection, being mindful not to turn these sensitive feelings and memories into a concrete narrative to weaponise against ourselves or others. We have the opportunity now to begin to see where we might overly glamourise those things that we perceive we no longer or cannot have, or place too high a value on things or people that are not aligned to our own desire for authentic connection and growth, abandoning our selves and our desires, handing over our sense of worth to the external world.

Instead, we are encouraged to grasp the opportunity to ask ourselves what it is that we truly want, and not let Leo pride get in the way of this deeper humble acknowledgement that we are looking for something different, more alive, authentic and whole.

Inanna and Venus become invisible

As Inanna descends further and Venus moves closer under the Sun's beams, both are now invisible in the outer world. Both are losing, or perhaps we can say 'shedding' their outer beauty, reflecting on their cherished collected stories or love, joy and beauty along their journey. They know that they must soon face themselves, naked and alone in the darkness. Whilst this early phase can be an emotional and tender time, this is a well trodden path of renewal.

Finally arriving in Erishkigel's great hall, is Inanna, indeed naked and wholly vulnerable. She is ordered to bow low at her sisters feet. Erishkigel is furious that Inanna, Queen of Heaven who lives a life of Riley up in paradise with everything she could ever desire, should come down to the underworld to mourn with her long suffering sister.

For it is Erishkigel, that has been banished to live in the darkness, to reign over death, to dwell with the heartless cruel criminals and monsters in the dank and dangerous shadows of the unseen realm, living a life denoted by abandonment, aloneness, death, rage and pure misery. 'How dare my Miss Perfect of the Heavens sister, come parading her jewels and perfect life of love, joy, beauty and connection in front of me and mourn MY loss.'

Erishkegel orders a panel to judge Inanna, and upon being found unanimously guilty is punished with death and hung on a meat hook to rot for all to see.

This slow stripping of Inanna's powers and her passage into the unknown, dark and scary depths of Eriskigel's realm, is of course a depiction of our own direct contact with our own Venusian shadow. Ereshlikgel and Inanna are one and the same being, with Ereshkigel representing our discarded unacceptable desires, disowned parts of a perceived unloveable self and our deepest fears. Inanna, represents our societally acceptable visage of love and beauty, that for which we are easily loved and accepted. In order to renew, we must connect the two and reintegrate as one. We must sit with Ereshkigel, without judgement, and hear her pain, and her resentful wrath.

When Inanna did not return to the Heaven's, Ninshubur followed the commands Inanna gave her, seeking help from Enki, and receives two `Galla', two beings created "neither male nor female", to aid her in returning Inanna to the earth. The Galla enter the underworld like fire-flies and, following Enki's specific instructions, attach themselves closely to Ereshkigal.

Ereshkigel, The Queen of the Dead is seen in distress as she is in painful labour with her deceased husbands child and with no-one to comfort her. For down here, no-one is much capable of compassion and love, not that Ereshkigel could ever trust such a person anyway...

The Galla are not noticed immediately by Ereshkigel, though she wonders where a sense of calmness and a feeling of being held has descended from.

The Galla gently make their presence known and listen, sympathising with Ereshkigel's pain, hurt, rage and fears. For perhaps this disowned and banished Queen can be understood with compassion, and her rage seen as appropriate in the circumstances.

Ereshkigel successfully gives birth to a healthy child, and in never having been held in such a supporting and gentle way before, feels her cold and resentful heart become warm. She feels seen, and accepted. She thanks the Galla and offers them anything they want in return.

They would like to take Inanna back to the Heavens. Ereshkigel agrees, that if the Galla can revive Inanna, they may return her home, but on account that there must be a replacement sent, someone else must hang on this meat hook in her place as per the law of the underworld.

Once revived by the magical Galla, Inanna speaks with her sister, coming to a new level of understanding and acceptance. As Inanna ascends from the underworld, she regains her regalia piece by piece at each of the 7 gates, thus regaining her strength whilst emerging reborn as a Morning Star, and preparing to become visible when she exits from under the consciousness giving light of the Sun's beams.

She must decide who to send to the underworld in her place. Not an easy task for such a gentile people pleasing figure, but this connection to her wholeness gives her the confidence to make bolder choices with empowered boundaries.

Upon Inanna's return and throughout the welcoming celebrations, she observes and hears tales of her lover Demuzi's indifference, or even joy, at her absence and likely death. Having given her love and time to this man, she recognises that he does not value her appropriately or in accordance with her self value.

Inanna wastes no time in ordering her now ex-lover to replace her and hang on Ereshkigel's meat hook, for she will no longer waste her love on those who do not value her.

When we are stripped of our transient Venusian adornments, and connect with our inner Ereshkigel, holding space for her with love and compassion, we no longer misappropriate our worth to transient outer beauty, accessories, talents or validation from others. Whilst these thing are of value, and should of course be enjoyed as the gifts they are, they must not be confused with our deeper worth.

We instead recognise our own true beauty lay in our ability to see, hold and celebrate life in its fullness, in ourselves and in others, inclusive of the complexity and liminal spaces between darkness and light. We might find the flower of a plant most beautiful, but we cannot love it without appreciation of its thorny stem and hidden chaotic roots, or we would have no flower.

Beauty is wholeness. And wholeness is freedom. Freedom for an eternal tail spin of chasing value in the wrong places, which leaves us depleted and only capable of superficial connection. Loving ourselves warts and all, enables that same deeper connection with others, our acceptance and appreciation of others, higher self-worth, higher quality relationships, and more, not less joy. To my mind, or should I say, heart, there is nothing more beautiful and connecting than two people respecting each others complexity and allowing it to be.

This creates an environment of closeness and relating that transmits a higher form of love and reveals the depths beneath Venus's seemingly skin deep exterior.

Venus Retrograde Romances

It is during the beginning and first half of the retrograde in which we see events and personal encounters take place that will come to shape our unfolding and realignment in Venusian matters across the fullness of the transit.

Whilst there are a myriad of ways the Venus Retrograde can manifest for us, denoted by the entirety of our personal charts, I will focus here on the classical manifestation of romance.

Often, it is during the early retrograde that people experience romantic encounters that can create a tremor in latent or repressed desires and any imbalance in our self worth. These liaisons reveal the cracks, fears and insecurities in our current methods of relating.

For those that meet new romantic partners during the early period of a Venus retrograde, it is often the case that whilst this person captures the imagination and stirs the heart, their role is better understood as a fated catalyst for realignment, and may not be someone that remains in our lives by the end of the retrograde. Understanding this pattern ahead of time can offer us a deeper insight, and the ability to meet the experience at it's higher intention.

In these well fabled Venus Retrograde fated encounters, where a temporary lover unwittingly wanders into our lives, they help us to notice that our way of relating is more aligned to an outdated version of ourselves and no longer rings true to our burgeoning selves. We are realising that what we thought we wanted in relationships, in fact is no longer the case. We are due an upgrade. We have grown, and this person helps us recognise it with an emerging clarity. Our future partners and relationships must now reflect our evolution. Whilst this person doesn't always last the course, and this can be disappointing in the midst of the transit if we don't understand what is happening, their impact is potent and far reaching.

Sometimes it is an ex-partner that makes a reappearance, or someone with whom you feel there is a strangely familiar energy between you. In these instances it might be the case that there is something to be resolved between the two of you on some kind of karmic plane. Acceptance, grace and recognition of that person in their wholeness is the aim, enabling you both to move on, seen as you are.

In other cases and if the individual charts are aspected in certain ways, then these encounters do endure, but a sense of moving forwards usually doesn't come until Venus herself is moving forwards, and only then if, once the two individuals have communicated their changing needs, they both decide they are still a suitable match.

In ongoing relationships that began during a previous Leo Venus retrograde, papered over cracks can also reappear deeper than ever, calling upon us to renew our relationship in some way. Perhaps there are desires that have not been communicated to the other and have reached a point where our need for more fire and passion can no longer be ignored and left unmet. Everything that comes up during this time is there to be transformed from the cazimi point onwards.

The Venus Cazimi

A cazimi is the name given for the configuration when any planet meets the Sun in an exact 0°conjunction, meaning they occupy the same degree of the 360° sky. When cazimi, a planet is thought of as in the ‘Heart of the Sun’ or ‘In the arms of the King’, purified and renewed by the Sun’s fire. Every month when the Moon meets the Sun for example, though we often refer to it as the New Moon, the Moon is in cazimi when within the same degree. The cazimi marks the end and death of the previous Soli-Lunar phase, and the birth and beginning of the new one. The Sun is in many ways as the centre of our Solar System and in its self generating warmth and light of consciousness, God. A Cazimi planet is returned to its centre, purified and reborn in the arms of its life giving King.

In our story of Inanna, it is the Venus cazimi point at which Inanna is revived by the Galla, and integrates her shadow side of Ereshkigel for transformation before ascending back to the heavens. For Venus, after the purifying cazimi she emerges on the other side of the Sun, slowly making her ascension from under the Sun's beams, where she becomes visible as Venus Morning Star, rising ahead of the Sun in the pre-dawn skies.

The Venus cazimi also marks the broader 8 year cycle in relationships and other Venusian areas. Events, our intentions and actions at this time form the seed of everything that is to come in love, laughter, creativity, and value for the next 8 years, until the next Venus retrograde in Leo in 2031. So it is worth making it count.

New Moon in Leo

By this point in the retrograde and at the time of writing, the cazimi has already occurred on August 13th at 20° Leo. So not only have our initial catalysts for change shown themselves, but we are now slowly but surely ascending from our transformative depths. Whilst there is more to unfold with a Uranian curve ball at the New Moon, we should at this stage, know mostly, what we are dealing with.

What the Venus in Leo retrograde and New Moon really comes down to, is what do you really, really want? Not what do you want with your head. This is not about responding with narratives of limitation, practicalities and endless other reasons why your burning desire must always be put on the back burner, but what do you really want in your Leonine heart of hearts? And do you have, or can you find, the courage, wholeness and self-worth to allow it?

The New Moon in Leo on Wednesday 16th August is conjunct our hidden diamond of the sky Venus, whilst also making an exact square to Uranus the Awakener. In the tense square aspect, the high octane Uranian charge will no doubt cause fireworks in existing relationships that are at a make or break point, whilst bringing breakthroughs for those who are sitting on the fence regarding a special someone. Uranus square the Sun is an all or nothing type energy not averse to risk taking.

Uranus is the lightening bolt, the high voltage electrical current that serves to strike and shake things up from any state of stagnancy. If your Leo house in your chart is running on the stagnant side and you have been holding off on bringing about needed change, Uranus may just force it for you. This shake up can be the straw that breaks the camels back if we remain resistant to change, or used more wisely and leaned into, it can be harnessed as the more beneficial injection of innovation, invigoration and excitement needed. Uranus is known for bringing moments of genius, and radical progressive ideas too. Leo is attracted to vibrant exciting energy that can push one towards to its creative potential, and so there is the opportunity to turn somewhat jerky and abrupt energy, into something creatively electric and original.

Whilst Uranus does indicate there is disruption and sudden and somewhat shocking events on the cards, this certainly isn’t overly negative energy for most. With Leo ruling royalty and leaders, it wouldn't be surprising to hear shocking sudden events around such people. Leo also rules the heart and spine, so stories involving these areas are also likely to be part of any such stories, physically or metaphorically.

As always, New Moons mark new beginnings and the planting of a seed in the area of our chart in which they fall. With the 'still in play' renewal of the cazimi, extra renewing and reinvigorating energy from Uranus, we have a triple dipped seed of bold and daring manifestation on offer right here.

For those with the courage to love life fearlessly, the overarching energy of this Leo New Moon offers a passionate, zany, big hearted and renewed zest for life with exhilerating and exciting possibilities for the future birthing at this time.

Wishing you all bright and beautiful, heart centred, fiercely loving new beginnings. You're worth it ✨

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