The King of Hearts Vs. the Inner Critic

Wednesday night at about 11:30 pm EDT (Thursday 3:30 UTC), the Sun entered Leo, ushering us into the middle month of the season. This sets the general tone astrologically (and it’s a warm, golden one), but another significant event Saturday is contributing an undercurrent you’ll want to begin working with consciously: Venus stationing retrograde in Virgo.

Photo by Amanda Painter.

Photo by Amanda Painter.

Let’s start with the Leo action. Leo is the sign of kings, but monarchy is not a terribly relevant construct these days.

At its essence, Leo is not about lording over all you survey and being bowed down to, though some Leos can get caught up in that unfortunate posture. In its most evolved state, Leo is about leading through love — which can seem to take courage, especially in this era where personal online PR is everything.

Now, Mercury joins the Sun in Leo at 8:14 am EDT (12:14 UTC) and the two form a conjunction about seven hours later. Having the planet of the mind so close to the Sun (consciousness) can really boost communication in positive ways. It can also make it hard to see what your ego is up to; so far, I’ve not heard of anyone making polarized sunglasses for the psyche.

So the question is: How often do you actually fill the role of ‘spiritual royalty’ — that is, not by your own ego’s assessment, but through unassuming actions (leadership) clearly guided by your heart?

Thankfully, the Sun and Mercury are conjunct the asteroid Eros. Eros’ main theme is love, especially in erotic form. The message here is that there’s support in being loving, especially if you’re willing to shine it out on others, rather than waiting to ‘get some’.

Please read that last sentence again — seriously.

Across the zodiac from the Leo cluster is Ceres, goddess of agriculture, food and the seasons (among other things), in Aquarius — a sign closely associated with social groups and technology. An opposition is a confrontation, but you can take this one as a pair of questions:

Do you mainly interact on the Internet to feed your ego? Or do you let your true heart-fire shine out there, where it might sustain and nourish others (even if you never know the effect you’ve had)? It’s so easy to rush in with our egos and passions and sense of justice or wounding, while our ‘thinking hearts’ lag behind — even for those who try to be more mindful offline.

These questions matter, but not so you can beat yourself up over every time you’ve mis-stepped. The question of a compassionate inner guidance system matters because Venus is spending a lot of time in the first degree of Virgo on either side of its station retrograde on Saturday, at 5:29 am EDT (9:29 UTC).

Chances are you’re about to get acquainted with your internalized critic — and the ways you’ve let it undermine love. Any planetary retrograde usually implies a review of the past and a deep look within. When Venus stations retrograde in Virgo, you may notice where in your life you tend to value perfectionism over love and creativity.

If you have an inner critic — and most of us do — it likely showed up at a young age. It might be so enmeshed that you don’t even realize when it’s operating, or to what degree. When does the desire to do a job thoroughly and beautifully cross the line into ‘never being good enough’? What happens to vulnerability and intimacy when that dissatisfaction rebuffs others’ appreciation of you, or gets turned on loved ones?

The inner critic, and the act of externalizing it, shapes our relationship dynamics. You may be more or less aware of this in your life, and more or less aware of the vital need for self-forgiveness. If you struggle with control issues, especially with your parents (or people who seem to act like them), pay particular attention to these themes, and what you discover.

You may very well realize that listening to your inner critic has rarely brought you joy, or anything else terribly helpful or healing.

Venus will backtrack into the tail end of Leo on July 31, to help you reclaim your heart and self-compassion, which you’ll have the opportunity to carry with you when Venus is in forward motion again. Till then, stay fluid emotionally, physically and creatively. A little gentle flexibility can go a long way toward letting joy through.

29 thoughts on “The King of Hearts Vs. the Inner Critic

  1. Leilani Curry

    OMG, as a Leo sun with five Virgo planets, this rings so true for me, Amanda. After 22 years in a disappointing marriage, I have finally found a beautiful soul mate, but I’m so scared of sabotaging our love with my critical ways. It’s like learning to go against myself, and my usual patterns. But you know what, this love it worth it!!!

    Thank you

  2. Lizzy

    Beautiful words, “Or do you let your true heart-fire shine out there, where it might sustain and nourish others (even if you never know the effect you’ve had)?”
    Thank you so much for this piece, Amanda – and gorgeous photo.My inner critic and I are having quite a tussle these days – and it’s putting up a good fight.

    Good for you, Leilani! Your words are so inspiring (resonated very deeply with me) – sounds challenging but wonderful.

  3. Barbara

    Thank you……….quite a bit to think about…………love the polarized sunglasses for the psyche bit….and the carnival theme between you and Danielle…………..

  4. Geoff Marsh

    Leo-gogs – Planet Waves’ polarized sunglasses for the psyche. It’s a Kickstarter project if I ever I saw one, Amanda. Congratulations, you’ve just filled the company’s coffers for the rest of the summer. Perfecto! Oops, sorry, a bit of Virgo crept in there. Tsk, tsk.

    Leo-gogs is, of course, an anagram of ego-logs, the sort of thing you burn mid-winter when the heart-fire is traditionally at its least emotional.

    The synchronicity continues unabated. An article I was reading before this one concerned food banks and how they’re here to stay, even in my relatively wealthy corner of western Earth. Ceres in Aquarius? Perfect…oops.

      1. Geoff Marsh

        Thank you for the beautiful words that sparked it off, Amanda, and for your perfect photo for a summer night.

        I don’t think there’s anything wrong in striving for perfection even though it’s generally considered unattainable. It gives the inner critic something to get its pointy little teeth into. I’m suddenly remembering the final line from “Some Like It Hot,” which is, itself, very nearly absolutely perfect!

  5. sojourn

    Thank you for this piece, Amanda. I have been working on this subject (inner critic) for a screenplay project over the last 6 months…or more. The most challenging part is figuring out how to ‘Show’ (visually) the protagonists internal struggle, externally. Not an easy task when I have to battle my own inner critic in the process – “perfectionism over love and creativity.” That truly is the battle.

  6. Pisces Sun

    Thank you so much Amanda. PW writing staff is dead-on with the cycle of my life this past week and the foreshadowing of more energy to go thanks to similar alignment in the universe with Venus’ upcoming retrograde tells me to be ready this time. I definitely have been mulling over and over my reaction to the deep emotions that surfaced last week when my ego was so unexpectedly wounded by what would seem to all to be the most benign of things. The protagonist was so close to me however and unfortunately opened deep wounds that the schism reappeared that, at least for me, caught me by surprise. To continue to make the journey to and fro means to cross the great divide and the question is, how large is the rift and will it grow or settle again (especially when I thought it had closed ages ago). My own inner critic has taken this issue head-on and continued to fret each day over the matter, not only trying to make sense of it all but also thinking to have it out once and all, thinking I had lost all of my power–hence the ego and Leo thing. I have Leo rising- the individual in question Leo Sun. We love each other, this is important. I read in Sarah’s tarot important words: “Be careful of judging others without regard of their humanity.” I am taking this as my talisman. It resonated me. A few weeks ago, PW posted a piece on forgiveness and how changing that is for any situation. I am a believer of that. It is more empowering than anything, even if they do not know you forgave them. This is different than avoiding another confrontation. It is acknowledging their humanity and the fact that they too, are going through their stuff and to let them have their space in the “between time,” as Sarah described it (or someone on the staff did). So, I will not let the inner critic drive me crazy with mental machinations and calm my own spirit and give this person their space but I will also honor their humanity and place in the universe. Thank you, all of you here at PW!

    1. Cowboyiam

      Powerful story Pisces Sun. Sprinkled throughout is the clear evidence that you know how to do this. Follow that intuitive guidance system of yours.

      Thanks for sharing with us. It makes a difference.

  7. Cowboyiam

    This subject is so energized right now and your powerful detailed comprehension and expression is so beneficial and empowering. Source energy – you are conveying – and that is what we truly need to be tuning to always, and especially now.

    We are granted vision and understanding, right now, for this most deeply held wound, and so, we may more easily notice the specific behavior, or patterns of consciousness, connected to it. We have here now another chance to grow and possibly overcome a little more of this very deep wounded place in our internal construction.

    Your diagnosis is just really spot on and it amplified my inner life vividly, allowing me to focus intently. That is causing a feeling of safety to settle on my mind and body. I wondered why I was feeling so stressed and now I understand completely. I have been here before and I know how to deal with this little aspect of me. Thank you for the heads-up, Amanda.

    While writing this I felt as if I was overdoing on the descriptive, and a bit mechanical, but while proofing it I am aware of the depth of where my expression is emanating. I hope this transit resonates with many, as it is with me.

    1. Amanda Painter Post author

      “I wondered why I was feeling so stressed and now I understand completely. ”
      Exactly, Cowboy. I think if we can all recognize it for what it is, we’ll be able to navigate it easier.

  8. Cowboyiam

    This is a particularly sweet spot that I want to inhabit with all my heart. There is this point of knowing, where I really get my absolute innocence. It is a state beyond debate. It simply knows its truth. After this point the debate has been over; no longer am I conflicted on this subject. So why does it still appear that I am?
    I sense, in this moment, that it is only the patterns I deal with. They unfortunately seem difficult to manage – but maybe now is a great time to practice this mental management. It is clear that I know this debate is over. I am innocent. That is the thought that is pervading my background noise today. Now to make it a permeate fixture. 😉
    As I walk through my world feeling innocent and free I find that I no longer feel differently about any other. This is the state of peace I crave. I am becoming more at peace with my world every day. What a great life this is.

  9. Amanda Painter Post author

    Leilani, Lizzy, Barbara, Geoff, soujourn, Pisces Sun, Cowboyiam and Hugging Scorpio: thank you all for adding your thoughts and experiences here. As always, I am grateful to know this piece is helpful and is resonating with so many people.

    I know for myself, when it comes to work and art (whether that be acting in the theater, photography, writing), it’s always been important to me to do as well as I can, and to work to “get it” better. For example, when I’m rehearsing a character, I might be happy overall with how a performance has gone (mistakes and their improvised solutions and all), yet I’m always trying to get deeper into the character’s emotional reality, and can get frustrated when I feel like I’ve “plateaued.”

    To me, this is normal — to, for example, look at one of my photos and say, “Yes, it’s nice, but I wish I had done [X] with the composition…”

    And somehow it surprises me how often my partner will listen to me and say, “You are so hard on yourself!”

    So where is that line? I think if I’m letting my drive to do the best I can slip into feeling bad about “falling short,” that crosses the line into inner critic.

    For sure, when I let my dissatisfaction with some facet of myself get projected onto my partner or another loved one, that undermines the relationship and can become toxic. I’ve been there in spades in past relationships. And it can be sad to think about how much I let that inner critic run the show then; how much I let it depress me and pick on the past partner.

    So, I’m keeping my eyes open (or trying to) on that potential, that dynamic, and especially any guilt or shame that might surface attached to it. *Those* two things — guilt and shame — I suspect threaten to cause more soul-damage than the actual mis-steps. But I anticipate I might get a view of something unexpected, too; it can be hard to see the inner critic for what it is. It is so very good at disguising itself as a true part of oneself, or something acting “for our own good,” or so that we won’t disappoint others.

    On another note: yesterday definitely made me think there’s potential for Venus retrograde in a Mercury-ruled sign to take on some Mercury retrograde-like characteristics. At least, during the storm phase, which we’re certainly in. “Clusterfuck” seemed to be the name of the game. 🙂 Thankfully, an hour and a half at the beach soothed and revived. Water was too cold to go in, but that’s okay.

    So: easy does it, everyone! (Unless, as Len suggests in his post today, a little intensity is called for.) Most of all, easy on yourself. We’re all in this together. 🙂

  10. P. Sophia

    “After this point the debate has been over; no longer am I conflicted on this subject. So why does it still appear that I am?
    I sense, in this moment, that it is only the patterns I deal with. They unfortunately seem difficult to manage – but maybe now is a great time to practice this mental management. It is clear that I know this debate is over. I am innocent. That is the thought that is pervading my background noise today. Now to make it a permeate fixture. ;)”

    Cowboy I am ..same space. Not emotional, or mental any longer tho. It is just a physical pattern objectively recognized now. Probaly the last repercusions of an ancient historical habit of the pattern, as a final goodbye.. then totally free!

    1. Cowboyiam

      There is that powerful feeling that I am moving beyond something. It feels as though this layer of old programing is really ready to be peeled off and left behind; like the lie is just too obvious to ever hold a space of power again. Sophia, I guess, as you suggest, it is physical in its essence. Right now I see it as a mechanical device that simply needs to be turned off. I have no attachment to this old pattern and all of the surrounding thoughts. I like seeing when I am not thinking honestly and feeling the clarity of noticing that. The sky is bluer – the grass is greener.

  11. Cowboyiam

    ” it can be hard to see the inner critic for what it is. It is so very good at disguising itself as a true part of oneself, or something acting “for our own good,” or so that we won’t disappoint others.”

    Amen. Amanda. This little me, I like to call it is a pervasive player in the personality complex. What I am finding is that it doesn’t have much of a role to play if we strip it off shame and guilt.

  12. marie hawthorne

    Thank you, Amanda

    This has been a favourite of mine since i was a child, and now i’m trying to remember to say it to myself every time i hear ‘something-i-don’t-like-the-sound-of’, inner critic included. Yep, good medicine for my Leo-ness.

    Things that go ‘bump’ in the night
    Should not really give one a fright.
    It’s the hole in each ear
    That lets in the fear,
    That, and the absence of light!

    Spike Milligan

    1. Amanda Painter Post author

      What a fun and useful rhyme, Marie! And yes, I’d say it’s applicable to the inner critic, and all kinds of things we encounter and project as adults.

  13. Pisces Sun

    I will return to this blog often, I believe for the next few days, as I know that I am in the “between time,” and although I am grateful cowboyiam for your faith in me, “I ain’t there yet,” for I still have to confront the challenge again. I have yet to find the calm that both you and P.Sophia describe and only hope to be able to calm the stir that may arise when thus confronted again. I love the poem and hope to commit it to memory, Marie, for light is truly a higher energy source, which is what is called upon in the moment of reacting…for me, fear is the absence of love or light, and love is the highest vibration of all! Forgiveness, grace, mercy all come from that space, that is where I must chose to draw my energy. We have the universe to guide us but we always have choice, I expect the energy pattern of behavior I am confronting is many lifetimes, the DNA referenced by Sarah and others here at PW, but also in our DNA is choice or else we’d be in a cycle over and over, I prefer to spiral and helix and move like a slinky, then chase my tail, too boring and uncomfortable within time, or life times…

    1. Cowboyiam

      PS – you have been an inspiration to me often this past year or so and I know you have extreme depth at work in your conscious expressions. I fully believe you are where you want to be – and regardless of the outcome – something big is transpiring.

      Again – I say PS – your knowing is sprinkled into what you speak. Notice how, in the midst of this storm, which is obviously very traumatic, there is an inner KNOWING expressing a peaceful acceptance. I just hope to help focus you a bit more on the inner peaceful accepted place of what comes next.

      Or maybe you will freak out and fall apart doing all the things you don’t want to do, which we all do sometimes, but I do doubt that scenario.

      I am listening to the Dead’s Terrapin Station. Interesting experience

      1. Cowboyiam

        I am listening to the Dead’s Terrapin Station. Interesting experience. Kind of sounds like a Beatles tune from Sargent Peppers or something from that era. Really slick and compelling tune. Not a Dead that I knew, and no I haven’t known much – until lately. They are a true inspiration suddenly….. Strange how we touch each other from a distant place in time. Even after we (Jerry) are gone.

      2. Pisces Sun

        Thanks cowboyiam, you have been particularly poignant and poetic these past few days and gracious in your encouragement, thank you. Glad to read the everyday humor piece too, it made me laugh! I tell myself that it is all a life lesson one way or another, I just want to move in peace this time, and i have to chose to do so, the energy force of the opposing party is particularly strong though. So alert and attuned, I will be, & stay away from the wine, dulls the senses!

  14. Cowboyiam

    This is a splendid moment for me. Mercury my most powerful planet conjunct the Sun at 1Degree of Leo and with Eros in exact conjunction there as well! – while Venus comes to a stop at 1 degree Virgo.
    Wow what a moment in time. I feel just fine. Could it get any better? I think so. But it doesn’t really matter from here. Looking to the future with fearless joyful expectancy. Wow. Life is good.

  15. Barbara

    I found myself in an “a ha” moment a few days ago….still sifting through the messages from Mercury….(Rx)……………what a swirl……..I call it the Chaos ClusterF***……just hang on and keep moving……….(that is an interesting image)…..the New Moon and Venus party had my back…..I recall saying…..”there’s no place to go”….not out of belief…but of other dictates……and then I saw the beauties in the west……contemplating the subjects of love…self love…unconditional love…empathy…forgiveness…up against the brashness of criticism (self and the culprit at large)…discernment has been called upon…….I see the bridge……………

    Amanda….I want to thank you for this pc….I admire your work and that of all your “Buds”…….I’m sure you have the stage “GOING”……………………………..

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