I write this dispatch from late in the day on Mother’s Day. It has been sweet and warm today, after much ado about a potential frost last night, which I don’t think materialized, at least not from what I could tell from my garden. Today marks the end of our 7th week of “social distancing,” staying home, cooking at home, working from home, gardening at home. I am not grateful for the massive harm that is befalling so many millions of people around the world due to this pandemic: people ill, people dying, people trapped in unsafe situations. But I am grateful that, here on our little plot of earth, we three are thriving. I’m wildly grateful for this.
After breakfast and opening some sweet gifts from my family, I walked down the street, basket in hand, to find the bush, and thankfully, the person who lives at the house belonging to the rose bush was outside.
Since we moved to this neighborhood 7 years ago, I have admired this rose bush every time I pass it. Sprawling decadently over the sidewalk and spilling hundreds of blossoms and a rich, damask scent all throughout the spring and summer, I think this rose must be as old as the original houses on this street that were built at the turn of the 20th century. I asked and was granted permission to harvest, and I filled my basket to overflowing with just the spent petals that I could easily pull off the stems.
Roses are sacred to Venus, the ancient Goddess of love, beauty, sexuality, and fertility. How fitting, then, to be working with them in the days leading up to Venus’ retrograde* in Gemini.
“Retrograding every 18-months, the myths associated with Venus’s backward motion are of the goddess’s great descent. Venus was known as Inanna by the Sumerians. Her famous underworld journey is a tale of reckoning, awakening, and integrating the powerful material of the unconscious into consciousness.” -Chani Nicholas
Retrogrades, those times of slowing down and looking back, are much-maligned in our culture, but they provide a built-in, essential course correction, necessary for any forward motion. One step back, two steps forward is the pattern in nature, in the stars, and in our lives. When we relax into these patterns, we flourish. When we go against them: disaster (the word itself means “against the stars;” dis [against, opposite] + astro [star, planet]). On Wednesday, May 13, Venus stations retrograde at 21° Gemini. She will travel backwards through Gemini until June 25, when she stations direct at 5° Gemini.
Gemini rules communication, and Venus rules what we love and value in our lives, so this transit is a time to look back, reflect, and re-evaluate the themes of how you communicate with, to, and about what you love and what you value in your life.
Venus retrograde is a chance to re-negotiate worn-out assumptions and agreements. It’s a chance to re-evaluate relationship parameters. It’s a chance to re-commit to a practice of self-love. You can begin with this simple ritual: making Venus Retrograde Rose Petal Marmalade (don’t @ me; I know it’s not a true marmalade without citrus peel. But Jam doesn’t rhyme with Retrograde, now does it?) You may find that you want to set an intention for this recipe, even one so simple as “appreciating beauty” “making something delicious” or “sharing with my neighbors.” Every recipe is a spell if done with intention. This recipe came to me by way of my friend Kendra, who got it from Bill Smith of Crook’s Corner, who I think got it from some monks in Greece. Sounds about right.
Rose Petal Retrograde Marmalade:
2-3 cups loosely packed rose petals, rinsed
juice of one lemon
1 cup sugar
Massage the sugar and lemon juice into the rose petals until you form a thick paste.
Bring to the boil:
1 cup of sugar
1 1/2 cups of water
Add the rose paste to the sugar water and simmer gently for 30 minutes. Pour into jars and keep refrigerated. This sweet, delicate, syrupy jam is beautiful swirled into plain yogurt, added to tea, or spread onto toast with cream cheese.
I hope this missive finds you safe and healthy, and that this Venus Retrograde cycle provides an opportunity to shower yourself and those you love in beauty and pleasure.
Wishing you luck and love,
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*When a planet goes retrograde, it means that from the perspective of Earth, the planet stops moving, then begins moving in the opposite direction from its normal path for a while, then stops and begins moving in forward motion again. In the case of Venus, retrograde happens when Venus “laps” us on her orbit around the sun. Because Venus is closer to the sun than we are, it takes her less time to orbit around the sun than it does Earth. When Venus passes us and then begins to go around the “track” on the opposite side of the sun from us, it appears as though she’s going backwards in the night sky.
Thank you to Kendra Penland for the recipe, and to Wren my neighbor for the roses.