What are We Longing for?

Venus has been languishing, and the current square with Neptune reminds us of all the small pleasures that have been put aside during quarantine- no meals out with friends, no after work gatherings. I see new shades of gray on women, while men’s haircuts remind the observer of a dandelion gone to seed. And shopping is limited to essential services, at least in France. While these small graces may not really matter in the long run, that do matter deeply to Venus.

For weeks now Venus has been at her brightest, high in the evening sky. Sometimes in Paris, the sky deepens to a particular deep blue, that brings out her brilliance even more. Venus is so elevated that she is beyond the line traced by the Sun’s path against the sky, a condition we call out of bounds. The wildness often associated with out of bounds planets is breaking out in parts of the world. Many are beginning to feel that staying at home, sheltering in place, is an infringement of their liberty. The last New Moon was conjunct revolutionary Uranus, and many are reclaiming their ‘freedom’.

Venus is unbounded in yet another way- square to Neptune, a planet of the infinite. This square awakens dreams and longing. It also increases sensitivity and heightens our sense of vulnerability. One side of Venus-Neptune is unlimited pleasure, the need to plunge into sensual boundlessness, to dance all night long, to shop without restraint. In Gemini, Venus moves between two opposite impulses. Neptune also brings such exquisite vulnerability, such longing for love, that it can be overwhelming. Some may choose to stay inside even longer, protected from the wave washing over the world outside. Neptune with Venus activates the soul’s longing for beauty.

Normally an aspect like this lasts just a few days, but Venus is slowing down and about to turn retrograde. Because of this she stays in close aspect to Neptune until May 25th. The retrograde of Venus comes as restrictions begin to open here in France on May 11th when people can circulate freely, up to a 100 kilometers from home. But restrictions will still apply, especially in the area around Paris (and the east of France) where the infection is still very much present. I will still need a mask, but I will be able to leave my neighborhood and see friends.

And I have been lucky. I live in a country with a strong social safety net, which means that the wave of financial insecurity is less palpable. No one close to me has died of the virus, though some have been ill. And like many astrologers, my work has thrived during this time. But for those who have lost their incomes or their loved ones, Venus square Neptune brings a wave of unbearable loss, an overwhelm of almost unfathomable dimension.

At its best, this aspect increases our awareness of others and opens our hearts to the divine. As we sorrow for what might have been or suffer for others, we also dream for ourselves.

Which side of Venus-Neptune touches you just now: the need for release or the careful tending of your dream? You may find your care goes to the inner world that has blossomed under confinement. Or you may be only too aware of all the pleasures lost under lockdown, of the absence of love in certain areas of your life, of loneliness, of the longing for touch, especially for those who have been on their own or in difficult emotional territory. This aspect calls us emotionally. In many ways Venus-Neptune draws our attention to what is missing, what we would wish to have, to the ideal of love each of us carries inside.

Venus turns retrograde on May 13th and will be lower in the sky each evening at sunset until she disappears on May 30th to reappear 8 days later in her other identity, that of the morning star. Her 8-day visit to the underworld is the inspiration for many myths, including the story of Inanna, queen of heaven, who makes a perilous visit to the underworld. Venus’ descent is also mirrored in the story of Isis and Osiris.

This time, during the heart of her disappearance, at the moment of the inferior conjunction with the Sun on June 3rd, Venus will be square Mars, planet of conflict and desire. So the cycle begins with longing and sparks of desire, then Venus reemerges in the morning light. This is a very different Venus than the one we see at the beginning of the retrograde. She is active and vibrant, determined and warlike. For the Maya, Venus as morning star brought the danger of war. The aspect with Mars during Venus’ inferior conjunction with the Sun may increase the power of desire.

We will be seeing Venus against the stars from an entirely new perspective by June 9th. This powerful descent into confinement means each of us will emerge differently. The coloration of Neptune, of longing and loss, of tender dreams, remains though, throughout the cycle, since it was present at the beginning . What is it we really want for ourselves and the world around us in the time to come?