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Venus Retrograde: Something Old, Something New 

We are hours away from the southern solstice, when the Sun aligns with the Tropic of Capricorn. That's also known as the Northern Hemisphere winter solstice, or summer solstice for our readers in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

For those of us in the northern side of the globe, we are pointed as far away from the Sun's rays as we will get—therefore, we're having the shortest days of the year. Then the Sun appears to rise and set at the same position on the horizon (sol + stice, the Sun seems to stand still), and if you have not noticed yet, winter begins.

The short days and seeming remoteness of the Sun create what I call a compression effect, which is sensory (fewer hours of sunlight, cloudier days, standard time imposed on us), nutritional (vitamin D starvation, unless you like super chilly nude sunbathing or supplement heavily), plus emotional and psychic, as the Earth reaches an extreme of its annual cycle. The days fly by this time of year even more swiftly than usual. It's not just because of the holidays.

Despite the cold weather, the Earth is actually closer to the Sun this time of year. This reminds me of Ali G's interview with Buzz Aldrin, the astronaut who accompanied Neil Armstrong to the Moon the first time people went there in 1969.

Ali G: Do you think man will ever walk on the Sun?

Buzz: No. The Sun is too hot. It's not a good place to go to.

Ali G: What happens if they went in winter, when the Sun is cold?

Buzz: The Sun is not cold in the winter.

Entering Capricorn, the Sun jumps onto the cardinal cross, where it will make aspects to many other planets positioned there, including nascent Mars in Libra, the Uranus-Pluto square and Jupiter in Cancer.

This year the solstice comes with a special twist—Venus stations retrograde a few hours later. Just as the Sun enters Capricorn, Venus stations retrograde in Capricorn. Venus retrograde lasts about six weeks, ending on Jan. 31. Venus is retrograde least of all the planets, just over 7 percent of the time. By contrast, Mercury is retrograde 19 percent of the time, and it sure seems that way.

Note that this is the first Venus retrograde since the Venus transit of the Sun in June 2012—that day when Venus could be seen walking across the surface of the Sun (even if we can't do it, she can).

Venus retrograde is one of those conditions that tends to evoke the past. Old lovers and friends can reappear, or you might find yourself visiting old places or remembering things that you have not thought about since you experienced them. In Capricorn this can feel nostalgic, or like family karma can be being stirred up (and it may be, especially with Pluto in the neighborhood), so make sure you wear your psychologist hat to family gatherings rather than your 'they push my buttons' hat.

Images of Venus retrograde in Capricorn include romantic relationships with older people (which implies older people having relationships with younger ones), spending time with older people in any context, seeing the value in prior ways of doing things, curiosity and passion for history and poring through old photos and nostalgia. (Remember this for your late holiday gift purchasing—here are some hints).

I have a theory, somewhat supported by experience, that the more unusual the astrological event, the more unusual is whatever it represents. At the end of its retrograde, Venus stations direct in Capricorn on Jan. 31; this seems to be something that happens every eight years in our era. However, for all of those Venus stations direct in Capricorn going back many decades, the retrogrades started in Aquarius and ended in Capricorn.

I had to go back to the Venus retrograde of 1802-1803 to find one that happened exclusively in Capricorn, to the days when Pres. Jefferson was in office. So we're about to experience something that has not happened in about 210 years.

Around this time in 1802, a war between Sweden and Libya (then Tripoli) ended. In January 1803, Almanach des gourmands was published, naturally, in France—forerunner of Zagat, the first guide to restaurant cooking (the Italian restaurant had not been invented yet). The inventor of the "first practical steamboat" demonstrated his invention, in Scotland. And speaking of France, future president James Monroe headed to Paris to discuss purchasing New Orleans -- and completed the Louisiana Purchase.

Venus retrograde in Capricorn will remind us that the past is not as far away as we like to think, try as we may to escape, pretend or forget what we have learned. As William Faulkner famously said, "The past is never dead. It's not even past."

For the coming weeks you might discover that it's very much alive.

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