The planet Venus and its cycles were closely observed and honored by many ancient civilizations and shamanic cultures like the Celtic at New Grange Ireland, the remains of the Sumerians, the Babylonians and Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem; best known is the Mayan calculation.
The ancients were attracted to Venus because one it was fairly regular in its orbit, two close to the earth and easily observable and three its unusual pattern. This allowed them to based ceremonies and rituals what has since been called the “Cosmic Pentagram.”
A complete pentagram is formed in the sky by Venus in 8 years, in other words, from any degree point of contact Venus will return to that point in exactly eight years.
As Venus orbits the sun approximately every 225 day but as it is seen from Earth, the planet appears to move back and forth relative to the sun in a cycle that lasts 584 days. Five of these oscillations—2,920 days—are almost exactly as long as eight solar years. You may have noticed this in your Solar Returns that every eighth birthday return Venus will be within a couple of degrees of its natal position.
On Saturday, March 05 2017, Venus turned retrograde at 13 Aries 07. The Sabian Symbol is “a serpent coiling near a man & a woman.” Fast forward to March 2, 2025 ( almost 8 years hence, less 3 days) we see in the ephemeris Venus Retrograde @ 10 Aries 50 that has the symbol of “A canoe approaching safety through dangerous waters.”
The Venus cycles are amazingly regular, but not quite exact; that’s life for you — the charts are below: black and pink are for 2017, green and pink for the 2025 return.
Now take any Venus superior conjunction (an Earth-Sun-Venus alignment) or any inferior conjunction (an Earth -Venus-Sun alignment) and elapse 584 days in either direction (forward or backward).
If there is inferior Sun-Venus conjunction on March 25, 2017 (Aries) add 584 days via the website Time and Date’s calculator. The site will return the date for the the next inferior conjunction which is October 30, 2018 (Scorpio). If instead we want to see if the star above works, subtract 584 days, and this time Time and Date site will return the previous inferior conjunction or around August 19, 2015 (Leo) — it is actually August 15th four days off. Subtract again and you get 12 January 2014 (really January 11th Capricorn) and one last time gives 7 June 2012 (June 6th or Gemini).
Keith Hunter’s website, The Mayan-Aztec Mysteries, has further detail but 584 timeframe is an approximation, it is better to use this, from the British Astronomical Assocation, for the inferior dates.
A listing of both the superior & inferior dates is at the Venus Cycle-1 document.
On January 9, 2018, Venus has a superior conjunction with the Sun at 19 Capricorn 23 giving us the Sabian symbol of a “Church with no service,” highlighting the harmonizing elements underlying experience. A superior conjunction is when the inner planets — Mercury and Venus are the inferior planets to the luminaries of the Sun and Moon — can be observed from the Earth.
Now that we have covered all the background material, I want to focus primarily on the mythological/ritualistic aspect of the Venus cycle. As previously mentioned the Maya used the Venus cycle to create a sacred 260-day calendar.
It was based that Venus spends about 260 days as a morning star and 260 as an evening star, the two phases separated by a 60 to 70 day period in the ‘underworld,’ i.e. when Venus is invisible. When it emerges from that phase, it is now the evening star.
The Sumerians identified Venus with their central religious figure, Inanna; the Mesopotamians called her Ishtar. They were interested that during the morning and evening star phases of Venus as has 7 or 8 successive conjunctions with the Moon that they called ‘Gates.’
In the myth, Inanna, queen of heaven, the goddess of light and love and life, has set her heart upon visiting the nether world, perhaps in order to free her lover Tammuz. She gathers together all the appropriate divine decrees, adorns herself with her queenly robes and jewels, and is ready to enter the “land of no return.”
The Queen of the nether world is her elder sister and sibling rival, Ereshkigal, the goddess of darkness and death. Fearing that her sister will put her to death for trespassing, Inanna instructs her messenger, Ninshubur, who is always at her beck and call, that if after three days she fails to return, he should go to heaven and cry for her in the assembly hall of the gods.
The descent into the Underworld begins just after the retrograde station of Venus when Venus disappears into the Sun’s glare. This happens near the Vernal Equinox on March 20 so on the 25th, Venus meets up with the Sun & makes an inferior conjunction @ 4 Aries 57, symbol a “Triangle with Wings,”an image borrowed from the Freemasons but that looks just like the picture below if turned upside down, as Inanna will later hang (see the Hanged Man card in the Tarot for this motif as well.)
When Inanna, daughter of Sin, goes into Council with the Sun (i.e. Venus is conjunct the Sun), she disappears from the sky. Mythologically this means that she goes into the Underworld & then renews herself in its light. Her backward and inward retrograde motion symbolizes a need for for self-examination, meditation & renewal.
After the initial Sun conjunction, Inanna will encounter the Moon for each of following seven months. Every contact represents one Gate of initiation and at each gate, she must relinquish either a power or possession. When she finally reaches the 7th Gate, she will be stripped bare. and and on bended knees bbrought before Ereshkigal and the seven Anunnaki, the dreaded judges of the nether world. They give Inanna their “look of death,” whereupon she is turned into a corpse and hung from a stake.
So pass three days and three nights.
On the fourth day, Ninshubur, seeing that his mistress has not returned, proceeds to make the rounds of the gods in accordance with his instructions. As Inanna had foreseen, both Enlil of Nippur and Nanna of Ur refuse all help. Enki, devises a plan to restore her to life. He creates the kurgarru and kalaturru, two sexless creatures, entrusting them with the the “food of life” and the “water of life,” with instructions to proceed to the nether world and to sprinkle this sixty times on Inanna’s suspended corpse. This they do and Inanna revives.
Her experience represents the spiritual journey everyone must make in the quest for personal transformation.
On March 31 Venus/Inanna emerges from the Underworld, a heliacal rising, as the Morning Star; the planet Neptune rises a few degrees ahead of her. The meeting with the Sun inaugurates a new mission, a new plan, a new period of activity, that is actualized during this cycle. This particular cycle is characterized by the archetype of Neptune, the sea god, who was first discovered in 1847, almost two hundred years ago. Neptune, astrologically, represents fantasies, daydreams, music & propaganda but ultimately duty.
The central challenge then is learning to maintain a healthy balance between one’s sense of obligation as it is shown in one’s natal’s house and elevating that into the greater duty to one’s social circle i.e. family and community.
There may be a tendency to become so idealistic in serving a higher cause that the sense of self is lost and the challenge becomes setting long-range goals to avoid getting lost in the minutia of the moment thus losing all perspective of your purpose.
On April 15th, Venus’ backward (retrograde) motion ends. It will be stationary direct @ 26 Pisces 55, a degree symbolized by “a harvest moon rises in the east” suggesting a heightened awareness of a need to visualize the nascent self and communicate with one’s values.
The turn from backward to forwarding motion symbolizes an awareness of what has been learned from communicating with the outward world and then bringing that home into the self.
On April 23rd, around the beginning of the Sun’s ingress into Taurus, the First Gate is reached & Venus and Moon meet at 28 Pisces 18 that has the symbol of ‘a prism’ which is suggestive of an act separating something into its essential elements, as nothing can be completely known and understood until all its constituent parts are revealed.
Thus, at this first Gate, the process of dismantlement of the false personality is initiated so the True Self can emerge.
This gate is related to the Crown Chakra and is connected with Heaven. Venus is stripped of her Queenly crown, the symbol of her natural authority as ruler, but for us, the democratic man, it is the symbol of one’s ego identification that has to be eliminated, for as long as the self is tied to something material, it becomes stagnant for it entrenched defending and maintaining that status quo & that is not the way of growth.
The Second Gate is at Gemini on May 22, 2017. This will occur at at 16 Aries 26 corresponding roughly to the Sun’s ingress into Gemini.
The Sabian Symbol for Venus here is “Brownies (a fairy) dancing in the sun,” and corresponds to Inanna losing her third eye or magic. More on this later.
Kramer, Samuel Noah, Ph.D, The Myth of Sumerians, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, PA. 1944.
Tammuz, was loved by Ishtar, the amorous Queen of Heaven hence the similarity to Aphrodite – Venus. When the beautiful youth died the Queen was so grief stricken that she mourned for him and gave the earth no sun and light until he returned to life again.
He plays a prominent part in the religious life of the Babylonian people for like Osiris of Egypt, he was an agricultural deity, and gave the Babylonian the gift of rivers.