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Venus Retrograde and the Synodic Cycle

Imagine a circle. Imagine this circle represents 2920 days. Divide that circle into ten equal parts. Split these parts into alternate divisions of dark and light (or black and white) and voila, you have reproduced the elegant design of the Venus synodic cycle.

The Venus synodic cycle (VSC) is a natural work of near-perfect symmetry, a celestial tracing of humanity’s most universal symbol, the five-pointed star. (1) Venus is the brightest light in the sky after the Sun and Moon, and knowledge of its patterns and phases is no less fundamental to the development of astronomy than the cataloging of solar and lunar eclipses. The astrological study of the VSC goes back at least to the Babylonian era (2nd to 1st millennia B.C.), predating and contributing to the emergence of horoscopic astrology.

2920-day pattern

Since the 2920-day VSC is nearly the length of eight years (2922 days), solar return charts cast at eight-year intervals following birth always place Venus close to its given natal position. Moreover, the synodic cycles of Venus and Mars coincide in the 32nd and 64th solar returns, in which both planets are in close proximity to their respective natal positions. Nativities with a pronounced dynamic between those two planets, whether that means having them in close aspect in the nativity, or because the Ascendant / Descendant axis is under their rulership axis of Aries / Libra or Taurus / Scorpio, often see their astrological Venus / Mars dynamic come to life at these milestone ages.

Rising and setting phases

Within the 2920-day cycle, Venus alternates between its rising and setting solar phases a total of ten times, five for each phase. (2) Venus shifts between rising and setting phases every nine and a half months, and every successive shift begins with a Venus-Sun conjunction, alternating between exterior and interior conjunctions. (3) When Venus shifts from a rising to setting phase, it has accelerated toward the Sun, disappearing from its morning star phase toward its exterior conjunction with the Sun. However, when Venus shifts from its setting to rising phase, it has slowed down to a stop and reversed course in a twist / swirl motion back toward its interior conjunction with the Sun.

Different astrological traditions offer differing distinctions between morning and evening star Venus, but in my experience the truth is more nuanced than many of these claims. I’ve seen a fairly even distribution of both morning and evening star Venus amongst the hundreds of nativities of politicians, military leaders, revolutionaries, artists, sports figures, etc., that I’ve studied closely. The difference between the two becomes acute when considered in individual nativities, where Venus’ placement in one of the four quadrants of a chart provides necessary context.

Backward in zodiacal order

Since the duration of the VSC falls just two days shy of an exact eight-year solar cycle, the point at which the cycle completes itself always occurs about 2-3 calendar days and 2-3 zodiacal degrees earlier than the previous return. For instance, Venus’ next interior conjunction with the Sun occurs on January 9, 2022 at 18°43’ Capricorn, whereas eight years ago it occurred on January 11, 2014 at 21°11’ Capricorn. Eight years prior to that it stationed at 23°40’ on January 13, 2006, and so forth. With this pattern, the tropical signs where Venus retrogrades occur shifts backward in zodiacal order every 120 years. The Venus retrograde transit in Capricorn happened in Aquarius through most of the 20th century, and then in Pisces back in the 19th, and so forth. It takes 251 years for the retrograde and direct stations to land on the same zodiacal degrees.

Retrograde station conjunct Pluto

Transiting Venus will station retrograde at 26°29’ Capricorn on December 19th, whereas eight years ago it occurred at 28°58’ on December 21, 2013. However, this upcoming retrograde interval is unique relative to its precedents because the station occurs within a degree of conjunction to transiting Pluto at 25°32’.

The transit cycle alignment of Venus retrograde and Pluto comes and goes in phases about twice per century, although Venus stations occurring this close to Pluto are considerably more rare. Venus stationed direct within four degrees conjunction to Pluto in Scorpio, back on November 25, 1986, and most other Venus retrograde and direct stations that have occurred close to Pluto have maintained a range of 4-6 degrees orb. However, Venus did station retrograde exactly conjunct Pluto in Cancer on July 25, 1916, a period in history so grim it makes 2020 look like 2015. In the midst of the First World War, it was a period of particularly horrific military engagements that I hesitate to detail here.

The last time Venus stationed retrograde conjunct Pluto in Capricorn was on December 20, 1770 during a slight pause in an impending outbreak of the bubonic plague in Russia.(4)Most likely carried by soldiers returning from war in Turkey, it reached Moscow in late 1770, but was thought to be contained until a cold spell subsided. Soon enough, the disease was killing 800 Muscovites daily. (5)

Revolution and change

Venus represents social consensus, the accepted norms that most citizens can agree on. The Venus retrograde transit, occurring once every nineteen months for a duration of about 40-42 days, marks a time when this consensus comes up for review. New standards are set as outdated values are reformed, behavior that might be taboo for one generation is advocated by the next. Global society leaves 2021 with some understanding of what it means to adapt to a “new normal”, but who can say how anyone might react to the “newer normal” 2022 has in store?


(1) “Synod” is derived from the Greek synodos for “meeting place”, in this case referring to a cyclical relationship between two bodies.

(2) Venus is in its rising phase when it precedes the Sun in zodiacal order and therefore rises into view on the eastern horizon prior to sunrise. Venus is in its setting phase when it follows the Sun in zodiacal order and therefore sets on the western horizon following sunset.

(3) Exterior conjunctions, also known as superior conjunctions, refer to a horizontal alignment placing the Sun centred between Venus and Earth. Interior conjunctions, also known as inferior conjunctions, refer to a horizontal alignment placing Venus centred between Earth and the Sun.

(4) With a wider ten-degree orb in this instance.

(5) Rounding, Virginia. Catherine the Great (pp. 226-227). St. Martin’s Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Bio: Nick Dagan Best was converted to astrology while on the road to Damascus on January 17, 1995. He trained with a variety of astrology teachers in the NYC NCGR program between 1997-2000. In the summer of 1999, he was introduced to Hellenistic astrology at a series of Project Hindsight conclaves. Inspired, he soon began focusing his studies on planetary synodic cycles. An avid researcher, Nick has amassed a Solar Fire database of event and natal charts totalling over 40,000 entries. He is available for consultations at


  1. Venus conjunct Pluto on December 19, 2021 will be totally conjunct my Ascendant…..what would I expect….OMG…

  2. You have had Venus retrograde cross over your Ascendant every eight years of your entire life. I would think back to where your life was in the early months of 2014, 2006, 1998, 1990, 1982, 1974, 1966, etc., and reflect on whatever patterns might emerge. As for Pluto, combined with Venus there is often a theme of triangulation. Three’s a crowd. Happy holidays!

  3. Interior or inferior conjunctions are “New Venus” while exterior or superior are “Full Venus”. The most advanced Venus astrology is the Maya approach as documented in the Dresden Codex. Love, love, love.

    • Thank you.

  4. I have Venus/Pluto conjunct the ASC in Leo.
    And this aspect has been a blessing in my life. I can tune in to what people feel around me. And I subscribe to the definition of Alfred Witte.>>> Pleasant and harmonious (Venus) transformation (Pluto) –
    The transit in Capricorn in December signals a ‘change of culture’ in society and the business world. Powered by the recent years of #metoo movement, new sets of behavior and rules will emerge in companies. The glass ceiling and patriarchy(Capricorn) starts to crumble.

  5. Nice to see this in text, I am listening to a 2015 podcast where you discuss this very issue!

    • I’ve spent most of my time since 2015 developing my work on Venus Retrograde, so I’ve come a long way since that podcast. I have so much material to share, and my main plan is to produce a series of video essays on the subject. Chris and I plan to take up the subject on the podcast again sometime soon, so stay tuned.

  6. Venus / Pluto station in Capricorn also has to do with economic issues. I wouldn’t be surprised to see inflation become serious along with government sovereign bond problems. Evergrande is most likely in default but MSM has been hiding this issue (one of the largest real estate companies the world based in China). This transit comes close to the Pluto return of the USA and several charts from 1776 that have the Mercury Pluto opposition (think trusts vs trustlessness). Mass defaults around the globe are probable, though I don’t really expect a US government default this winter, at least not until Sept 2022 (around the autumn equinox).

    However, I can’t rule out a serious issue this winter regarding government bonds and revaluation of gold / silver in order to prop up the US debt and other sovereign debts. Maybe this doesn’t happen in the USA just yet, but abroad. I have to say that this is more of a hope than an astrological judgement as this conjunction totally looks like worldwide economic collapse (it’s just hard to admit it to myself as happening this soon). Later on as the reserve currency of the world collapses (USD) due to a cascade of national fiat collapses around the globe, damning secrets will be revealed because the “hush money” to pay off against revealing damaging info dries up.

    Another aspect of Venus / Pluto is social structure (especially in Capricorn), and this seems to be indicating the breakdown of society in ways that we’ve never seen before. Agreements, many of which are based in finance will get rescinded. So expect social structure breakdown which will likely have profound implications for the legal profession. The medical profession may also see a lot of blowback due to their handling of the pandemic, especially if biowarfare is proven legally.

    Get prepared (food, water, shelter). Supply chains are screeching to a halt and it will likely get worse. If you want to understand why this is happening google “Build Back Better, Klaus Schwab” or visit my blog on Hive:

    • Thank you, Curtis. Excellent contribution, as usual. Nice to reconnect.

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