I have just survived the first Venus retrograde of my career as a magician working with planetary forces. Not coincidentally, it was also the first such planetary movement I was consciously aware of. If I were a better keeper of journals, it would be interesting to go back and see what, exactly, my experience with such retrogrades had been before being aware of them.
Speaking only for myself, I believe that I passed through this retrograde period relatively unscathed. Perhaps my talisman protected me. Perhaps I just had my ducks in a row (unlikely). Or perhaps I was just too busy dealing with other people’s Venus-related explosions that I didn’t have time to stress out over my own.
There was the gender-violence-explosion of the HPF main ritual. At two separate house parties, people decided to introduce rape as a casual topic of conversation, triggering survivors near and dear to my heart. No fewer than three friends and acquaintances have shared with me their status as survivors of rape or other violence in the process of or in the fallout after these events, bringing the fraction of my female associates who have survived rape or sexual abuse up to something like 80%. Old demons, believed to be cornered if not conquered, have surged to the forefront of people’s lives once again. Old lovers, love interests, and rivals have been coming out of the woodwork like termites in a condemned house. Life decisions have been questioned and re-questioned. At every turn, I have been called upon to stoke or extinguish fires across my social landscape.
My own, personal, struggles have seemed insignificant by comparison. My temper and patience have not been so short in years: at the first rape apologia party I literally threatened the offending parties with physical violence (an irony which is not lost on me) when my first two attempts to change the topic were steamrolled. I have struggled to resist the temptation to hex closed the bowels of everyone who has crossed my people: first the Sacred Experience Committee, then the emotionally abusive families of my lovers, the rape apologist in our extended social circles, and—and, just today—the nice-seeming gentleman from the homophobic church who employed me to engrave his jewelry. I have struggled to reconcile my life in Indiana with my life in Kansas City—particularly as the division relates to my relationships with Aradia and Sannafrid, and Sannafrid’s recent visit. I have struggled with accepting the idea that, while other people may have had a worse time of the retrograde, it’s still okay to acknowledge the ways in which it sucked for me.
Perhaps most significantly, I have struggled with the very authenticity of my own emotions—love or hate, joy or sorrow, everything beyond or between—in the shadow of my masculine social training. How much of my drive to squeeze restitution from the SEC was the result of my genuine hurt and political ideals, and how much was a sick, paternal attempt to protect/avenge the ladies (myself and Aidan being the only men present) of Camp WTF? Likewise my attempts to reason with the rape apologists peripheral to my social circle? Am I really capable of loving anyone at all, let alone several someones, or do I just enjoy the attention and the sex? If I am capable of love, why don’t I seem to feel loss as keenly as others do? Why do I struggle to give up what privilege I can, to hold myself to any moral standard for that matter, instead of just taking what people give me and whatever I can snatch, besides? Although the people around me may not have been able to tell, I’ve actually been on the verge of tears for days.
Now that the retrograde period is finally ending—with Venus moving direct, but still crossing territory already dredges so very recently—I feel like I’ve been hollowed out. Drained of all vital essence. The sensation is almost physical: I’ve been struggling against an internal and external pressure for so long that, now that they are receding, I’m collapsing like a leaky balloon.
Some of the fires are still burning. Others have left scars both on the landscape, and on everyone who was within the blast radius of the initial explosion. Fundamental questions remain unresolved. Of them all, one stands above the rest: as a feminist and radical queer, what degree of ideological purity do I require of my friends?
There are no easy answers.