Updated: Jun 7, 2020
As we moved into the Venus Retrograde period this week, I started paying special attention to what came up with regard to re-evaluating relationships and money. So far, for me, nothing has arisen about money. What a relief! However, an interesting angle on relationships has emerged. I think it’s attributable to the fact that Venus is retrograde in Gemini, the sign of communication.
My new insight is that Venus Retrograde might be a time for making amends. Amends could be called apologies, atonement, or promises to do something different next time, depending on a person’s context, culture, or philosophy. Whatever they’re called, the essence is that we pay attention to things we wish we’d said or done differently, things that might have hurt or discomfited someone else . . . and take some action about them.
When I used the Venus Retrograde energy to scan my relationships and interactions over the past decade, three big instances popped up. I’m sure there are many more smaller moments but these are the ones that emerged in my reflections. They had been nudging at my conscience and the time had finally arisen to address them.
In acknowledging them and thinking about how to make the amends, I happened upon a simple paradigm:
· I’m sorry that I ____________.
· I wish I’d had the insights or skills to _________ instead.
· If you feel like it, would you share how it came across to you?
· What might I do to make it up to you now? Going forward?
In one case, I contacted someone that I offended with an insensitive comment years ago. It has bothered me ever since. Even though we’ve had many good interactions since then, it didn’t sit well to leave that comment on the table. So, I called her and apologized. She acknowledged that it had been an awkward, hurtful moment, did not need to process it any further and, thankfully, accepted my apology with good grace!
In another situation, I re-listened to the recording of a client session because I feared that I had said something in a way that was hurtful. It turned out that I hadn’t (whew!). This reminded me that checking the facts is always a good idea. Although we rarely have an actual recording as a reference, we can mentally review incidents in our minds. Replayed from a thousand feet up, past moments can sometimes be evaluated more clearly.
In the third example, I discovered that I really needed to make the amends to myself, not to the other person. Looking back, what I did/said was not so terrible and I did apologize at the time. However, my self-blame had a huge impact on me for months following the incident. The key factor was “I wish I’d had the insights or skills to _____ instead of _____.” And the amends involve accepting that I didn’t have the wisdom, then, that I have now. Yes, I wish I’d handled the encounter differently. And, in the future, if this ever arises again, I will. For now, I can stop beating myself up for past lack-of-awareness. Instead, I can emerge from the mire of “shoulda-woulda-coulda” and embrace (or even celebrate!) my current level of awareness.
As I processed through these interactions, I recognized that I could not even consider making amends unless another Venus attribute was intact: self-esteem. I needed to be able to separate my inner value from my behavior and words. Essentially, I needed to remember that owning and acknowledging something I'd done is not the mark of a worthless or fatally flawed human. Instead it's an indicator of someone who made a mistake and is rectifying it. Making amends is different from taking the blame and wallowing in shame. This is not about apologizing for our very existence or taking on all the responsibility for a relationship that foundered. Instead, it’s about self-awareness and accountability. Ultimately, it’s about integrity.
Ultimately, I think this process of making amends, is situated solidly in what cultural-anthropologist Angeles Arrien called the Four-Fold Way: Show Up, Pay Attention, Tell the Truth, & Let Go of the Outcome (originally, “Don’t be attached to the Outcome”). You can hear her speak here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kDRRBK95no. Or, read her books. As you can see, in addition to being a world-respected academic, she was also a student and teacher of the Tarot.
Once, decades ago, when I heard Angie speak at a Tarot conference, she quoted from Rumi. This particular quote has stayed in my mind and I think it, too, speaks to the healing power of transcending shame and blame to make amends: “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I'll meet you there.”
For a PDF of this blog, go here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1lsxi5NipN6ZtQqqMqONHnsIaWFO37Jfu/view?usp=sharing