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CULTURE

What It Means, What to Expect

Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photos: Getty Images

Summer’s been hitting differently this year, and not necessarily in a … good way? Maybe it’s the air quality or the WGA/SAG strikes or just the general never-ending all-consuming existential dread or … whatever it is, if you’re patiently waiting for everyone’s favorite season to figure itself out, the stars might have you waiting a little while longer. On Saturday, July 22, Venus — the planet of love, beauty, and values — stops, pivots, and begins going backward in the sky. Yes, friends, I’m talking about Venus retrograde. This one is in the sign of Leo and it will last until September 3.

But before you cancel summer entirely, let’s break down this infamous transit. Because, believe it or not, Venus retrograde isn’t as bad as you think. Promise.

Does the word retrograde send shivers down your spine? If so, you’re not alone! As popularized by our ongoing fascination (obsession?) with Mercury retrograde, the “r-word” has become synonymous with calamities, disasters, and major inconvenience vibes. But there’s so much more to a backward spin than just doom and gloom.

Retrogrades are part of the intrinsic rhythm of the cosmos — in fact, every planet in our solar system appears to spin backward. Of course, in actuality, retrogrades are optical illusions: The planets only seem to move in reverse from our perspective on Earth. Nonetheless, for thousands of years, we’ve recognized this celestial about-face as a powerful energetic shift: an invitation to reassess our reality, dive deep into our truths, and embrace soul-searching. Retrogrades are a unique opportunity to realign our actions with our truth, so when a planet goes backward, we can expect to see the world a bit differently.

Venus is the aesthete of the cosmos — think Oscar Wilde meets Marie Antoinette (yes, that decadent). In our charts, Venus represents our idealized version of romance, money, beauty, and luxury. But it’s important to note that Venus represents what we want, not necessarily what we need.

Venus Retrograde occurs every 18 months, and lasts for 40 days and 40 nights. Sound familiar? Many scholars actually believe that all those references to “40 days and 40 nights” in the Bible were directly inspired by Venus’ backwards spin. Interestingly, all of these Biblical allegories share themes of trials, tests, penance, and redemption. In a way, that’s exactly what we can expect from Venus retrograde.

At first, we might be challenged by what we discover, but eventually, we’ll recognize a timely shift in perspective is actually invaluable. We’ll be invited to reimagine romance, aesthetics, friendships, self-esteem, resources, desires, pleasure, and even creativity. If our priorities have become a bit warped over the past several months, Venus retrograde will help us get back on track by illuminating what really matters in your life. For example, if you keep dating unavailable people, you might be unavailable yourself — this is an excellent time to unpack what you’re actually looking for in a relationship, taking accountability for your emotional well-being. But keep in mind: Venus retrograde has a track record of resurfacing exes or other toxic people or habits, so be prepared — and don’t make the same mistake twice!

This year (and for the first time since 2015), Venus retrograde will be moving backward through Leo. (From 28º to 12º of the theatrical, courageous sign, to be exact.) Leo, a fire sign represented by the lion, is known to be incredibly courageous, playfully performative, and unapologetically over the top. Which means you’ll be called to examine themes of confidence, vitality, loyalty, visibility, personal style, and authenticity. This is a great time to explore bold — and maybe even somewhat ostentatious — fashion choices and modes of self-expression. You may also feel pulled to experiment with new and unexpected matters of the heart: If you’re single, consider going out with someone who’s not your typical “type.” If you’re coupled, maybe you’ll add some adventurous date nights and weekend getaways to your summer cal.

While Venus retrograde in Leo encourages us to experiment with love and beauty in new and exciting ways, it also has the potential to unearth some deep insecurities. Venus in Leo values loyalty, quality time, and affirmation, so when this planet moves in reverse, fears surrounding love and self-worth may bubble up to the surface. While it can be uncomfortable to face these anxieties, it’s important to make room to process your emotions through journaling, sharing your experiences with a trusted friend, or exploring a meditation practice. Ultimately, spending time with your shadow will bring you a greater sense of clarity.

Overall, this period will challenge you to explore your sense of authenticity and self-worth. Venus in Leo loves to be seen, affirmed, and appreciated. So, with this reverse energy lighting up the sky, it can be tempting to deny your innate truth and desires in the pursuit of acceptance. However, this Venus Retrograde invites you into the vulnerable space of owning your truth and your desires, shedding anything that makes you feel less than, and investing in the relationships and practices that support the entirety of your truth. Don’t be afraid to have honest conversations, set important boundaries, or — perhaps most importantly — do things differently. Stepping outside your comfort zone is highly recommended during Venus retrograde. After all, you won’t know what you’re missing until you try it yourself!

If you haven’t calculated your birth chart yet, check out an astrology app like TimePassages or visit astro.com. Then use the below table to read what’s in store for both your Sun and Rising signs for a comprehensive look at how you’ll be individually impacted by — i.e., what areas of your life you’ll be asked to reflect on and maybe even change — during this upcoming Venus retrograde.

  • Aries Sun/Rising: Reevaluating creativity, passion, romance
  • Taurus Sun/Rising: Reevaluating home, family, tradition
  • Gemini Sun/Rising: Reevaluating friendships, rumors, communication
  • Cancer Sun/Rising: Reevaluating money, expectations, security
  • Leo Sun/Rising: Reevaluating identity, self-worth, personal needs
  • Virgo Sun/Rising: Reevaluating intuition, memories, core beliefs
  • Libra Sun/Rising: Reevaluating technology, social media, extended social groups
  • Scorpio Sun/Rising: Reevaluating legacy, career, opportunities
  • Sagittarius Sun/Rising: Reevaluating travel, expansion, philosophies
  • Capricorn Sun/Rising: Reevaluating resources, intimacy, psychology
  • Aquarius Sun/Rising: Reevaluating partnerships, contracts, allies
  • Pisces Sun/Rising: Reevaluating health, wellness, day-to-day routines


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