Thursday, May 17, 2012

Planetary Gemstones of Venus

[Polished specimen of native copper.]


Although mostly forgotten today, there are ancient connections between astrology and the mineral kingdom. The 20th century lists of birthstones echo a much older belief that each planet and zodiac sign had stones associated with it, used to counter balance difficult astrological aspects or maximize beneficial ones. Confusingly these listings vary but do follow a simple rule: each material has a symbolic connection with the planet and therefore can serve as a vehicle for its energy.


Both the planet Venus and love goddesses across cultures are associated with copper. The word comes from the Latin Cyprium aes, meaning “the metal from Cyprus”; not only was the metal famously mined there in antiquity, the island was sacred to Aphrodite. The ancient Egyptians associated the planet Venus with Hathor, goddess of fertility, beauty, and the arts. Her sacred colors were blue and green, like the life giving waters of the Nile and the green rebirth created by its annual flooding. Hathor was also the patron of miners, especially the copper mines of Sinai. Minerals like malachite, turquoise, and azurite are found near copper deposits, since they are produced by weathering, the chemical interaction of groundwater and the metal below. Because of their color and associations with copper, these were sacred to Hathor, along with the dark blue mineral lapis lazuli, imported from Afghanistan. They were powdered to produce paint and cosmetics, not only used for beauty but medicinal reasons.

Not only copper, but green and blue minerals, many of them colored by copper, continue to be associated with Venus today:

  1. Copper
  2. Green and blue minerals, like lapiz lazuli, especially those derived from copper: malachite, turquoise, and azurite.


Not only do the planets correspond to certain areas of life, each is traditionally associated with specific animals, plants, and minerals. For example, the 16th century German astrologer Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa lists the following materials under the rulership of Venus: (The notes in italics are mine.)

Amongst metals, silver, and brass, both yellow and red (red brass has more copper, so is reddish in color); amongst stones, the beryl (referencing aquamarine historically, not the mineral family), chrysolite (peridot), emerald, sapphire, green jasper, carnelian, the stone aetites (“eagle stone”, a hollow geode that rattles, popular in antiquity for childbirth), the lazull stone (lapis luzuli), coral, and all of a fair, various, white, and green color.”

We know the reason for brass, an alloy of copper, and lapis lazuli. The others make sense once their symbolism is explored:

  1. Materials associated with the ocean: aquamarine and coral. Other historical sources include shell and pearl. Silver is usually linked to the moon but reflects like water. While Venus was originally a Roman goddess of gardens, fields, and vineyards, Aphrodite was born from the sea in Greek mythology.
  2. Green and blue minerals, like water and fertile plant growth, the original definition of abundance: emerald, peridot, blue sapphire, and green jasper. Of all the green stones, emerald would became the most associated with Venus in the West.
  3. Minerals associated with attraction, sexuality, or fertility: carnelian and eagle stones. Alabaster jars were historically used to hold perfumes, so symbolizes beauty. Other historical sources include lodestone, a natural magnet, pyrite, which sparks when struck, and antimony, a metallic gray mineral, used in antiquity for cosmetics, although known to be toxic today. A component of the mineral stibnite.


Because of its brilliant white appearance as the evening and morning star, colorless stones represent Venus in Hindu astrology, rather than green and blue. There is a long tradition of using gems in India to counter balance problems with both the natal chart and transiting planets. Large, flawless stones, usually set in specific metals are prescribed. Each planet has a primary gemstone, if one of sufficient size can not be found or is too expensive, then an alternative in a similar color is used. The primary stone of Shukra (Venus) is diamond and its substitutes are also colorless and transparent: clear quartz, white sapphire, white topaz, goshenite (the colorless variety of the mineral beryl), and zircon.

  1. Because of Venus' brilliant appearance as the evening and morning star, diamond and other colorless translucent stones: clear quartz, white sapphire, white topaz, goshenite (the colorless variety of the mineral beryl), and zircon.

Astrological texts rely mostly on gemstones known in antiquity. Many new minerals have been discovered, others have become readily available, and familiar ones have turned out to be more than one species. For example, red spinel was identified historically as a variety of ruby. Many other minerals now have associations with Venus:

  1. Rutilated quartz. Known poetically as fleches d'amour (French, “arrows of love”), hair of Venus, or Cupid’s net.
  2. Over time, the color pink has increasingly become associated with love, beauty, and the feminine. Contemporary metaphysical sources also associate green and pink with the Heart Chakra, the center of love, one on one relationships, and self acceptance. Both historically familiar pink stones like rose quartz and relatively new discoveries like kunzite, rhodochrosite, and rhodonite, all first documented scientifically around the 19th century, can be used to connect with Venus today.


Indian sources are very careful about selecting stones for astrological purposes, often leaving it entirely in the hands of the astrologer. Most Western sources are completely the opposite, leaving it to the reader. The sensible medium is to select something for yourself with intention. Try a few different options until you get the strongest energetic response. You can determine this by sensing the energy personally, using a divination tool, or asking for spiritual assistance from a guide.

Finding a stone is just the beginning. Gemstones are believed to work by channeling and building up spiritual energy, influencing the way it flows around and within us. This charge is maintained by meditation, prayer, or ceremony and keeping the stone cleansed, through techniques like smudging.

For more information about Venus retrograde, see:

Venus Retrograde (5/15/12 – 6/27/12)

For an introduction to the properties of minerals, known historically as the "hidden virtues" of gemstones, see:

The Hidden Virtues of Gemstones

Copyright C. L. Matthews, 2012

[Image Source: Wikipedia Commons]

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Venus Retrograde (5/15/12 – 6/27/12)

VENUS RETROGRADE (5/15/12 – 6/27/12)


“Watch the stars, and from them learn. To the Master's honor all must turn, each in its track, without a sound, forever tracing Newton's ground.”
~Albert Einstein~

What does retrograde mean?

The word comes from the Latin retrogradus, “to move or step backwards”. The regular movement of the planets was traditionally seen as a symbol of order in the universe, a retrograde planet goes against this. It appears to be moving normally, then slows down to a stop, moves in reverse, then slows to a stop again, to correct its direction. These changes are actually an optical illusion created by differences in the relative orbital speeds of Earth and the other planet involved.

How is retrograde motion experienced energetically?

The changes in the planet's motion reveal its energetic qualities:

1. STRONG: When retrograde, a planet is at its nearest point to the Earth and appears very bright in the sky, if visible. Things ruled by the planet become prominent, both their faults and the means to address them.

2. ILLUSIONARY: Since retrograde motion is an optical illusion, things ruled by the planet are easily misperceived now or our own misperception of them finally becomes apparent.

3. REPEATED: The planet passes through the same part of the sky three times: once before it stops, backwards when retrograde, then forward again after correcting its motion. Things ruled by the planet are repeated, delayed, or feel inevitable. Since the planet is retracing the same ground, the past can return to be addressed, while new projects move in unexpected ways, or lose steam until after the planet corrects its motion. Often things from the recent past are repeated, especially the few weeks just before the planet turns backwards, after the planet crosses the degree where it will eventually correct its motion. (For this Venus retrograde, events after April 11th, 2012.)

4. REORIENTATION: Exactly halfway through its retrograde motion, the planet makes an aspect to the Sun. Most planets form an opposition but Mercury and Venus form a conjunction, since they are closer to the Sun than Earth. Planets in opposition to the Sun move like the Full Moon; they rise at dusk, are visible during the night, and set at dawn. The Sun represents our conscious mind and the night, the unconscious. Just as the planet will now move from night to day, we must reintegrate the elements of our own psyche that the planet represents.

How long does it last?

Venus goes retrograde about every year and a half, for six weeks. It is proportionally the shortest retrograde, when you compare the length of its reversed and direct motion. Confusingly we often feel it before and after the dates listed, since they only represent the planet's change in direction. When a planet moves in or out of retrograde, it slows to a stop, called a station. Venus stations for ~12 days, changing direction in the middle of it. These motionless periods, and the slow motion that precede and follow them, are often the strongest part of the retrograde cycle.

May 15th, 2012: Retrograde Station at 24 degrees Gemini (Venus appears to stop, then moves backwards. ~May 9th to May 21st is the true length of its retrograde station.)

June 5th, 2012 Venus Conjunct Sun/Venus Transit at 16 degrees Gemini (Venus directly crosses the face of the Sun.)

June 27th, 2012 Direct Station at 7 degrees Gemini. (Venus appears to stop, then corrects its motion. ~June 21st to July 3rd is the true length of its direct station.)


"...Bless these rites, whether radiant in the heavens, or presiding in the temples of Syria, guiding your golden chariot over the sacred floods of Egypt, or dancing on the azure shores by billowing seas... Come, divine union, for you I call with holy, reverent mind."
~Orphic Hymn to Aphrodite~

Isn't a retrograde planet bad?

Retrograde is an astrological buzz word with lots of fear unnecessarily projected on it. When a planet turns retrograde, it gets close, bright, and makes a loop in the sky. The motion of Venus is slightly different. For months it has been the evening star, staying slightly later each night. When it turns retrograde, it quickly passes from sight, disappearing in the glare of the Sun, and reappears as the morning star. The retrograde planet is trying to get our attention, highlighting certain areas of life, just like it appears to circle parts of the sky.

What can be expected during Venus retrograde?

The planet of abundance, relationships, and ethics, Venus asks, "Who and what do you value?" The next six weeks are an opportunity to reevaluate your finances, matters of the heart, and personal integrity.

A: LOVE AND RELATIONSHIPS: An adjustment of our one on one relationships, from romantic to business partners, including people we have open conflict with. An opportunity to resolve unfinished personal business, deepen a connection, or finally see things as they are, sometimes leading to the end of a relationship. People can experience pressure interpersonally, often because of misunderstanding. The realm of love makes unexpected turns as old friends and lovers reappear, suppressed feelings resurface, or we are tempted by a fling. It is traditionally an inauspicious time to get married, unless you are renewing your vows, marrying the same person again, or rescheduling a delayed ceremony.

B: THE FEMININE AND SOCIAL INTERACTIONS: Personal interactions can be awkward, tense, or lack courtesy, group events like meetings or parties may not go as planned. Traditionally women and relationships with women are especially charged. Since agreements are ruled by Venus, resolutions in ongoing diplomacy, business negotiations, or legal issues can have an odd momentum. For example, something from the past finally gets resolved but the results of current discussions gets delayed. We can misread new personal contacts, from romantic to business partners, only seeing them clearly when Venus turns direct.

C: VALUES AND VALUABLES: A fruitful time to take stock of our money and material resources, careers, and things of a more intangible value like our self worth. We examine not only who and what we value but our values themselves, and the things that influence our conscious actions, like our mentors. Both spending and earning money can have odd movement; money owed from the past unexpectedly appears but future projects temporarily stall. Because our perception of value can be skewed, we should carefully consider large investments, purchasing luxury items, or beginning beautification projects like home renovations. However, for the same reason, people often score great deals, especially on art, jewelry, or other things of beauty.

D: BEAUTY AND PLEASURE: There are fluctuations in life force. Some feel a deepening of creativity, especially for delayed or incomplete projects, suddenly having creative breakthroughs, others feel no inspiration at all. There can be excess in consumption, purchasing, or sex, often as a coping mechanism for increased emotional sensitivity. The need for affection, desire, or our sexual identity may need to be addressed. There is often a strong desire to change our appearance, surroundings, or possessions. However, since Venus rules beauty, this does not always turn out as planned, needing to be redone or altered.


“Throughout the ages, stories with certain basic themes have recurred over and over, in widely disparate cultures; emerging like the goddess Venus from the sea of our unconscious.”
~Joan Vinge~

Where am I most likely to experience this Venus retrograde?

Because Venus is turning retrograde in Gemini, look for its themes in our thoughts, perceptions, and communications with others, our everyday environment, business transactions and short distance travel, interactions with neighbors, siblings, and extended family, and early education.

What if I must do something Venus related now?

We are often given advice like “Don’t sign that contract during Mercury retrograde!” Life is rarely that accommodating, especially since Venus retrograde lasts six weeks! If you must do something Venus related now, honor its repetitive movement by examining it thoroughly. We can misperceive value and taste during Venus retrograde, thinking we like something only to find out later we do not. Be sure you know how you really feel and its true value, both in the monetary and less tangible sense. Expect things to potentially move in an unexpected way in the future, when Venus turns direct.

Who are the most likely influenced?

Not everyone directly experiences an astrological influence, most people will just see these themes around them. Those with Venus retrograde in their natal chart experience it less intensely. Since they are ruled by Venus, both Sun sign Libra and Taurus are sensitive to its changes generally.

Since Venus is turning retrograde in Gemini, those with planets or points in the mutable signs (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces) are the most likely influenced, especially at the degrees where Venus is stationing retrograde and direct: 24 degrees Gemini, 7 degrees Gemini. (And the same degrees in the other mutable signs.)

For gemstones to harmonize the influence of Venus, see:

Gemstone Cures for Venus

C. L. Matthews, 2012

[Image Source: C. L. Matthews, 2012]