Tuesday, March 28, 2017


I think there's something to be said for this Venus retrograde.

The astrologers I follow have been keeping track of her path as she disappears from the night sky. Ancient Greeks mythologized the descent of Venus with the story of Persephone, the beautiful daughter of Zeus and Demeter, who was abducted to the underworld by Hades.  While she was trapped there, winter lingered on the Earth.

These archetypes -- Venus and Persephone -- resonate in our bones.

Venus is the planet of love, associated with beauty, refinement, relationships and union.  She has the energies of art, balance and harmony. When these go underground, we feel bereft.  The kidnapping of Persephone, daughter of Olympian God and Goddess, leaves heartbreak and barrenness.

Even hardy New Endglanders are weary of winter, with her overcast skies, her chilly drizzle and her mantle of snow still blanketing the shady corners of our lawns.

Around mid-march Venus disappears from our night sky.  By the 25th she is in the underworld. During this time, several strong, talented, sensitive and optimistic women -- including me -- have hit the wall, so to speak.  Our store of inner resources has dwindled. Our muses are silent.  Low-grade anxiety that simmers over the winter months comes to a boil and screams like an untended teapot. Depression steals in like early-morning mist clinging to the forest floor. Our usual magic doesn't dispel it.

The descent of Venus below the horizon mirrors our descent into the shadow psyche, where we see all our hidden motivations and mechanisms -- the below-deck dynamics that often rule our actions and choices.

As we peer around in the dark, we see that the engines are cumbersome, outdated, grimy -- and fueled by our tiresome, outmoded beliefs.

It's a mess down here!

Slogging in these damp dungeons, I'm privy to the secret psycho-emotional-spiritual machinery that powers my very being -- ceaselessly operating below the level of my awareness and undermining my best intentions. Derailing dreams and visions.  Sabotaging plans.  Disrupting relationships.

So it is with reverence that I honor these days in the underworld.  I send out blessings to my friends near and far who have shared the shadowy state of their souls.  I  marvel at the sheer courage of the women in our JOURNEY TO SELF (anxiety and depression) group -- examining their automatic thoughts by inquiring, Is it true? 

They share stories of loss and anguish. At first they were reluctant; now they're candid.  Together, we're dismantling the below-deck machinery, the unconscious belief systems that have not always steered us toward happiness.  We're learning to formulate alternative thoughts in response to challenging circumstances.  We're becoming skilled at tracing our thoughts back to beliefs that no longer serve us and choosing new beliefs that relieve suffering and feel truer than what we grew up believing about ourselves and the world.

This is the work of the spiritual warrior.  We're not battling something out there; we're taking steps toward self-mastery.

We're cleaning up below deck.  Overhauling the engine room.

Visiting the underworld is not for the faint of heart.  Peering into the shadow aspects of our selves requires bravery and compassion.  Our circle of women provide these generously when one of us falters.  As we re-work our inner dynamics, we feel the ship of self begin to sail on it's own power, inspired, toward what we may not have thought was possible.

But here's the real magic about Venus, that sparkling star who ventured through hell -- on March 31 she emerges in the morning sky!  The evening star rises with the sun.

I expect all of us who are doing our shadow work -- willingly or not -- will feel the shift as Venus graces the pre-dawn skies at the beginning of a brand new day. Maybe then it will finally feel like spring.

Persephone promises to return and when she does the earth flourishes. May we align with the great creative forces of the earth and sky and do the same.

*If you're interested in JOURNEY TO SELF:  Beyond Anxiety and Depression, a therapeutic group for adults combining cognitive behavioral therapy and holistic healing, look for us on Facebook.

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