Flirt with Layaway, but Dodge the Checkout Counter


If you can put those fabulous boots on hold instead of buying, or postpone the home redecoration project a couple months, you might be happier with the results in the long-term. Why? Because Venus is the lovely planetary lady who allows us to determine the relative value of objects, traits and people in our lives, and Venus begins a six-week retrograde period this Monday, convoluting our abilities to valuate accurately.

In other words, no, maybe you shouldn't paint the ceiling of your bedroom chartreuse, and yes, perhaps those pants do make your butt look big. Act hastily now, and you could feel stylistically challenged for months or years to come.

We know 'retrograde' best from the thrice-a-year periods when Mercury goes through it, appearing from our perspective to move backwards in space and representing a time when Mercury-ruled communications often flow in reverse logic. Venus turns retrograde less frequently, once every 18 months or so (read about the last time in Oct-Nov 02), leading us to reconsider our relation to whatever we hold affection for.

Venus rules our affections, what we find valuable and what pleases us. On the material plane, this includes our all-time favorite things—the expensive couch, the fancy car, the antique jewelry box passed down for generations, that super-comfy sweater—as well as the money and other financial resources that enable us to procure such pleasing things. Its same principle also applies to people, in that Venus draws those we love to us and promotes the connections at the heart of these relationships. Venus loves love. In our own personalities, Venus represents those characteristics and innate talents (we've all got 'em!) that we deploy whenever we create or appreciate.

When Venus goes retrograde—May 17 to June 29—all these elements of our lives undergo a momentary shift in perspective. Importance shows itself to be super-important or hardly important at all; a tiny blip on the radar becomes amplified to major-event status, justifiably or not.

Venus retrograde is not the most favorable time to make major purchases or investments, to remodel or refinance, to get rid of belongings or to accurately assess the financial viability of business plans. Your aesthetic sense is temporarily orbiting far-left field, which is great for taking creative (and reversible) risks but less opportune for deciding on colors or designs that will stay with you for a while.

You don't know how much anything is really worth—there's the list price, the sale price, the super-sale price, the member's-only price and the markup, and when you eventually discover what others have been paying, you might not be happy with the 'bargain' being thrown your way. Of course, if you spot a gem priced dirt-cheap, you might consider that the proprietor has also fallen victim to Venus retrograde and doesn't realize his mistake—snatch it up, so long as your investment is minimal and can't possibly cause later financial stress.

Within our relationships, Venus retrograde can reveal truths we've been unwilling or unable to see until now. Have we been settling for routine mediocrity or self-sabotaging inertia in one or more important romantic or friendship couplings? Have we been overvaluing? Have we overlooked key interpersonal bonds from our past and only now are able to appreciate them for what they were/are? Have we been undervaluing?

New wisdom gleaned from such abrupt epiphanies or gradual realizations is useful. Store the data. Experiment tentatively with it, in small playful motions. Just don't make any drastic life-changing movements as a result. This is not the ideal time to sever long-time bonds or suddenly betroth yourself to a resurrected love from days gone by. When Venus goes direct again, another reconsideration may prove itself in order. At that time, you'll still remember what you're learning now. But you can't know now what you'll clearly see then.

That amazing-and-new, too-good-to-be-true Man or Woman of Your Dreams, the one who has suddenly shown up at your doorstep or local café, as if delivered by fate and gilded in gold? If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it could be a duck… or a duck-billed platypus. Dilly, dally, twiddle, trifle, flirt and skirt—just don't commit, at least until July or August.

This go-around of Venus retrograde transpires in Gemini, our zodiacal ambassador to the multiplicity of available options. The Venus-retrograde experience combines with Gemini's energy to bombard our senses with glimpses of alternate realities: two or more appealing business dealings, cars or homes to buy on the spot, outfits to wear to the prom, soulmates to share our lives (or at least the next few passionate hours) with.

However, the key word is glimpses, for Gemini is also known for its ability to entertain multiple conflicting notions by only revealing a portion of each one's whole picture. And partiality can be a hazardous outlook upon which to base decisions. At its worst, Venus retrograde in Gemini fosters a suspension of big-picture thinking, leading to two-timing or two-facedness, the exploration of additional opportunities through the squandering of existing ones. Combat this by being upfront.

There is no doubt Venus will be bringing various frenetic snippets of surprising delight into our lives over the next couple months. And with Venus retrograde in Gemini, the air sign of so much information that it's occasionally too much information, be prepared to receive a proliferation of details without necessarily being able to rank them in order of relevance.

Take note: The rest of the current astrological profile weighs heavily toward earth and water, the 'passive' elements less prone to intellectual abstraction or behavioral haste. Mars in Cancer and Mercury in Taurus, feeding off of Jupiter in Virgo and Uranus in Pisces—this combination supports thorough, practical consideration and active prioritizing of emotional health and universal compassion over fleeting fancies. This overall climate of calm and careful caregiving is easily overwhelmed by the Venus-powered overabundance of distracting pleasures, none of which has the lasting significance to warrant ignoring the true emotional tenor of our lives.

The contrast I highlighted last week, between the end of Friends and the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal, is a great example of the potential conflict between entertaining the entertaining details and tending to truly important practical and emotional concerns. To the detached channel-surfer, images of these two vastly different things are flattened into lateral glimpses of 'what's on TV'. While enjoying the heightened stimulation of Venus's retrograde through Gemini, take care not to adopt a misleading relativism, mistaking the various bits of life you encounter—treasures and trash, flirtations and forevers, sitcoms and worldwide human-rights struggles—as equal or equivalent in value.