Retrograde: Validating Our Values
Kevin B. Burk, author of The Relationship Handbook: How to
Understand and Improve Every Relationship in Your Life.
I'm personally not a big fan of New Year's Resolutions. The main reason for this is that unless you happen to have been born within a week of the New Year, New Year's Resolutions have absolutely no connection to your personal cycles of intention, which is why they so often fail. (Birthdayresolutions, on the other hand, are a serious matter, and more importantly, they've got teeth. Intentions you set on your birthday do shape the coming year for you.)
This year is a little different, however, because this year, we're in the middle
of a Venus Retrograde cycle. The resolutions we made at New Years don't have
any more chances of surviving through Valentine's Day than usual. What's different,
however, is that we have the opportunity to explore why we chose certain
New Year's Resolutions in the first place-and this can have some lasting value.
Retrogrades occur when planets appear to slow down and change direction in the sky. Other than the Sun and the Moon, every planet has its own retrograde cycle. The end of 2005, however, contained a very unusual (and unusually frustrating) series of simultaneous retrograde cycles. We're still in the final pass of the Mars Retrograde cycle (you can read the article on that online at http://www.AmazingRelationships.com), and while Mars was retrograde, we also endured a Mercury retrograde and changes in direction of Uranus (to direct motion) and Saturn (to retrograde motion).
The good news is that this sort of thing happens only very rarely, and we're through the worst of it. This was certainly the roughest holiday season in recent memory.
The "bad" news is that we've still got more work to do. I suppose I could phrase that differently-such as, the "better" news is that we have another opportunity to advance along our spiritual paths for the next month or so-but if I did that, I would have trouble sleeping at night.
The truth is that the past few months have been the pits, and even though we're through the worst of it, it's not over yet. The challenge is that this Venus retrograde period is, as Venus retrogrades go, apt to be reasonably painless. We're still integrating the lessons of the Mars retrograde, not to mention all of the other heavy energy going on, and we could simply coast through this last cycle and avoid doing the work because frankly, we're tired.
We do have this option. However, we would be missing a very worthwhile opportunity-one that could provide us with some much needed and long overdue rewards in our lives.
As we live our lives and have our human experiences, we advance through two very different but complimentary processes: growth and evolution. We spend most of our time in the cycles of growth. We travel around the circle and each time we complete a cycle, we begin that cycle again at an incrementally higher level of awareness. It's perhaps best to picture the cycle of growth as a spiral. We do, however, experience brief opportunities for evolutionary leaps where we are able to move up a rung on the spiral without going the long way around.
I won't get too deep into the astrology, mainly because I don't have anything other than my own personal beliefs to back this up. However, I believe that when we move forward through the signs, we are following the cycle of growth, and when we move backwards through the signs, we follow the cycle of evolution. The more I work with retrograde planets and retrograde cycles, the more convinced I am that during the planetary retrogrades we have the opportunity to make evolutionary leaps in our experience and understanding of the energy of the retrograde planet.
Retrograde planets definitely behave differently than planets in direct motion. The most common perception is that retrograde planets tend to be more introspective. The nature of the retrograde cycle also means that we usually have to go back and revisit things we thought we were done with during planetary retrogrades.
When a planet is retrograde, it is physically as close to the Earth as it ever gets. If we choose to work with a retrograde planet, we can communicate directly with it during the retrograde, perhaps make an evolutionary shift.
Retrograde cycles are always about asking questions-about going within, and waiting in the stillness for the answers to come. With Venus retrograde, the questions have to do with the things that we value, and also with the items on our Validation Checklists. What are the things that we love and appreciate? What are our personal standards of value and integrity? What are the things that we want to attract into our lives?
These questions may seem vaguely familiar, especially if you chose to take advantage of the Mars retrograde. And indeed, Mars and Venus compliment each other. However, the Mars questions (What do I want and why do I want it?) relate to the things that we want to pursue. Mars is active and expressive. Mars is how we expend energy to go after the things that we want. Mars is the force of cohesion-of opposites attracting. Venus, on the other hand, is the force of cohesion-of like attracting like.
Venus is passive and receptive. While Mars goes after the things it wants, Venus simply sits back and waits for the things it wants to come to it.
Venus retrograde invites us to question and validate our values. While Mars retrograde asks us what it is that we want, Venus retrograde asks us, on the most fundamental level, what it is that we love. Venus is not about desire; in fact, Venus is what exists on the other side of desire. Venus is how we appreciate the things that we have and the things that we are.
Venus is, of course, the planet most associated with relationships. Venus is in charge of our Validation Needs, which are, essentially, our relationship needs. In every relationship, we need to feel Safe and we need to feel Validated. Our Safety Needs (ruled by the Moon) are more important than our Validation Needs and apply continuously in every area of our lives. Our Validation Needs, however, only apply to our relationships.
Of course, we're alwaysin relationship. Relationships are the entire point of this human experience. Even if we were stranded on a desert island in the middle of the ocean, we would still have the two most important relationships in our lives with us: our relationship with ourselves and our relationship with the Universe. (That these two relationships are the most important in our lives and are alsothe two relationships most of us pay the least attention to is a topic for another article.)
Remember the UNIVERSAL LAW OF RELATIONSHIPS: Our Partners are our Mirrors; They Reflect Our Own Issues Back To Us. In relationships, it's never about the other person. It's no coincidence that the symbol for Venus looks an awful lot like a hand mirror!
The opportunity of Venus Retrograde has three steps. First, we identify the things that we value. Second, we discover those qualities within ourselves. Third, we attract more of those qualities into our lives. Let's explore each step in greater detail.
STEP 1: IDENTIFY THE THINGS THAT WE VALUE
This process is not quite as simple as it may seem. Our values shift and evolve over the course of our lifetimes. Or perhaps, it's more accurate to say that over the course of our lifetimes, we learn to discard the values that we adopted because other people told us we should, and discover the things that we truly value ourselves.
Consider the items on your Validation Checklists. What qualities do you most want to be loved, appreciated and validated for? What accomplishments do you most want to be recognized for?
Now, ask yourself if these qualities, these accomplishments really matter to you, personally.
The best way to determine this is to imagine yourself being loved, appreciated and acknowledged for each one of the items on your Validation Checklist. If the item actually connects with your personal values, you'll experience a deposit in your Validation Account simply from imagining yourself being loved and appreciated for having that quality. If, on the other hand, you don't feel a rush when you imagine that quality in yourself, that quality may not actually be part of your individual value system.
Putting it another way, this process is about discovering what actually makes you happy rather than what you have always believed shouldmake you happy. Of course, this means that we have to confront a lifetime of social conditioning, so please remember to be gentle with yourself! This is an ongoing process-however, during Venus retrograde, we have an opportunity to make significant progress.
In our culture, we are conditioned to wantthings. We look to Mars to make us happy. If we could just have that new car, or that new job, or that new relationship, we believe we would be happy. We're always looking outside of ourselves, and we're told that bigger is better and too much is not enough.
In our culture, we are tremendously out of balance. We put too much emphasis on Mars and not nearly enough emphasis on Venus. Venus teaches us to appreciate what we have, and helps us connect with the truth that we always receive everything we need when we need it.
Ask yourself whom you admire, and make a list of the qualities you most admire in them. Ask yourself what you would do with your life if you never had to worry about money. What is your call to creative expression? Would you write? paint? compose? dance? Would you travel the world? Would you join the Peace Corps? Would you live on a farm or in the wilderness? What are your fondest, most personal, private dreams? What are the fantasies that, when you think about them make your heart open and your spirit soar? In other words, what are the things that truly make deposits in your Validation Account?
These are the things that you value. These are your personal standards of integrity. These are the things that support you and your ability to live the life you were born to live.
STEP 2: DISCOVER THESE QUALITIES WITHIN YOURSELF
This step can be the most challenging, especially when we discover that we have been living our lives based on a value system that upon reflection has no actual value to us. Once again, we make use of the Universal Law of Relationships: it's never about the other person.
This means that every one of the qualities that we admire in others is actually within us, and all we have to do is discover them and embrace them.
Most often, we dismiss these qualities because we believe that they operate in small, insignificant ways in our lives. The only way to allow these qualities to express in bigger, more noticeable ways, however, is to embrace and nurture them as they are.
Consider "creative" as an example. You may admire others for being creative, and see this quality in the artists, musicians, designers and writers you appreciate. These individuals express "creative" in significant ways. You, too, can learn to express "creative" in significant ways; but first, you must accept that the seed of "creative" is within you. This must be true because you notice and admire it in others.
Consider all of the ways that "creative" shows up in your life. Perhaps you express "creative" when you cook-you make little changes to recipes, for example. You may express "creative" in your choice of birthday cards or gifts. "Creative" may be a part of your sense of style-look at the décor of your home or office, consider your wardrobe and notice how "creative" is an integral part of these areas of your life. Acknowledge, validate and appreciate yourself for the ways that you embrace and express "creative" in your life right now-and then give yourself room, because "creative" is about to become a much bigger part of your life!
STEP 3: ATTRACT THE THINGS YOU VALUE INTO YOUR LIFE
Step 3 doesn't require anything other than our willingness to experience more of the things that we truly love and appreciate in our lives. Once we align our intentions with the things that we truly value, we become a magnet and draw these things to us in marvelous and unexpected ways.
The one New Year's Resolution I invite you to consider is to resolve to take advantage of this Venus Retrograde cycle and actually do the work. We only have a small window of opportunity left-Venus goes direct on February 3, 2006. But if you're willing to make the investment in yourself now, you could start to see a return on that investment-and reap the rewards-by Valentine's Day.
May you each learn to attract more of the things you truly value into your lives in 2006.
Kevin B. Burk is the author of
Relationship Handbook: How to Understand and Improve Every
Relationship in Your Life.
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