By Amanda Moreno
The first week of Venus retrograde is just about done. I have noticed that the body seems to be front and center for many people in my life. At a class I taught about the retrograde period the other night, I encouraged participants to really tune in to the wisdom of their bodies this week.
Venus spending an unusually long time in the first degree of Virgo seems like an opportunity to prepare what I’m framing — in typical dramatic Leo fashion — as an underworld type of journey. My understanding of this retrograde phase is that Venus as goddess of love and war will be showing all of her faces.
Just about the time Venus went retrograde, I pretty much went all out with dietary changes and a big-time focus on self-care. It wasn’t planned to coincide with the transit. I’ve been experiencing gastrointestinal problems off and on since a bad bout of food poisoning last summer, and I finally just hit my breaking point.
I’m no stranger to elimination diets and whatnot. I’m one of those people who thrives on the challenge and finds it fascinating to spend a few weeks really tuning in to how my body is working, giving it a break from alcohol, sugar, grains and other common allergens. This time around, however, everything but non-starchy veggies, some organic meats, hazelnuts and seeds are all that’s on the menu. And you know… a week in I have to say it’s been shockingly easy. Thank you, Virgo.
It’s got me to thinking quite a bit about the inner side of Venus (the Taurean side) and body love. I have been blessed with an overweight body probably since the age of six, round about the time my dad died. I’ve also been blessed with the ability to love my body, regardless of what it looks like. When it comes to being naked in front of lovers, for example, I figure — hey, they chose to be here, why hide? Swimsuit season…eh, who cares? People might judge, they might not, but I wanna feel as much water on bare skin as possible.
Body love in our culture is something that is praised on the one hand, and then shunned on the other. Wouldn’t want to be too confident or arrogant, after all. I’ve often felt extremely uncomfortable in situations with female friends who are picking their bodies apart and shaming themselves together. It’s as if that act has become some kind of social bonding ritual.
That’s not to say I don’t believe there is a time and place for discussing or confessing our insecurities about our bodies, which is just as important as confessing our love for our bodies when and if it arises. I’ve just never known quite what to do while amongst friends, usually all of whom are a good 50-100 pounds lighter than me, who are lamenting their bulges. It can be awkward, sad and somewhat confusing and frustrating.
Recently, as I work with my own body holding patterns, I’ve been reviewing and releasing several patterns that crept up on me somewhat unexpectedly. The first is the way I have internalized quite literally the guidance I was given from a young age to “suck it in,” referring of course to my belly.
I had no idea what the actual size of my belly was until last fall when I had my first cranio-sacral massage session. Several hours later, I was standing in my bedroom, and felt all of my abdominal muscles relax — and there it was: a bulging belly. I was horrified and concerned that there was something wrong with me. Thus began an emphasized period of being unable to hold it all in.
As I move through a phase in my life where the predominant theme seems to be one of ‘letting go’, I’m fascinated by just how literally my body has been trained to hold it all in, with so much pressure surrounding those abdominal organs. As I learn to release and relax those muscles, while still paying attention to what posture feels strong to me, I’m also releasing the emotions stored in the “I have to hold it all in” complex and in those organs.
The personal revelations coming from such a pronounced focus on my stomach, the energetic interplay between my sacral, solar plexus and heart chakras, my emotional body and the foods I eat have all kind of come together this week. As this Venus in Virgo energy really seems to be demonstrating to me the inner side of Venus, associated with Venus in Taurus and themes of self-worth, self-esteem, values and resources, I have been brought to a new level of body love. I am cherishing taking care of my body right now. Even as I carry on with lots of client work and grant writing, putting my physical health first has been a full-time job — and it feels like a worthwhile investment.
I am finding patience with myself that I never knew I had. I am listening to my instincts surrounding what I should be putting in my body, and I am loving every extra moment of self care I can find, from detox baths to slowing down my walking speed to feeling the way movement is flowing. For someone who has been learning how to self-parent at the emotional level for a while now, really being able to bring the body to the mix gives me a sense of grounded presence that I can’t say I’ve ever really experienced before. Full-fledged parenting.
Another theme that has arisen is that of truly committing to being here, in this body and on this Earth, and loving all of me enough to figure out how to make the physical vessel that is Amanda a place that is comfortable, strong, healthy and capable of doing whatever it is I’m supposed to be doing to follow my path. I was somewhat shocked when that theme came to the surface, as I’ve always considered myself someone who loves life. But there it was — a little part that is still quite resistant to being earthbound, who feels like being stuck in a body is the worst fate of all. There can be so much pain associated with being in the body.
But then the sense of really, truly realizing what I’m worth, which is a lot, while at the same time realizing that I am my greatest resource, that I am the only one who can save myself — with support from others, of course. Committing to myself, to being fully embodied in this life, feels pretty monumental, even at the same time as it feels obvious and understated.
Part of the reason it feels monumental is because I never fully realized that explicit commitment was a step I apparently needed to take. But I wrote that, and then this article by Margaret Atwood , titled “It’s Not Climate Change, It’s Everything Change,” graced my inbox via a dear Planet Waves colleague.
I then remembered: committing to being here and now, present and alert in a physical body, might actually be a very difficult thing to do. Balancing the fact that there is so much good in the world with the fact that it is an incredibly fucked-up place to be alive and alert is a daunting task. Choosing to keep our eyes open and pay attention to what is going on in the world is something that likely very much triggers the parts that are holding it all in, trying to keep it all together. For me it also triggers the part that is pretty convinced that if she lets go, the rug will get pulled out from under her once again — and avoidance of that level of physical and emotional pain can be fairly hard-core.
I return to this style of personal writing this week because it is what is flowing, but also because I hope some of you can relate. Within each of us lie so many paradoxes and complexities, steps forward and then steps back. All of that is quite beautiful, and I do so strongly believe that learning about the depths of our own beings, and loving ourselves through it unconditionally, is vital for us to be able to join hands and face all that is going on in our world.
Sometimes the focus needs to be at the personal level, and other times the focus moves out. Luckily, when one of us is focused in, we can be sure another is focused out so that nothing will be missed. That is somewhat along the lines of what Venus’ dual rulerships teach us, right? In Taurus, we learn how to hold ourselves and build a container of self-love through the act of realizing what we’re worth; in Libra we get to the extend from that foundation out to the other to see their side from a place of security.
As for Venus in Leo…well, I have no doubt our lovely community astrologers here will have much more to say about that, and I’ll keep you posted as well. What I will say for now is that as Venus ends her time as evening star, disappearing from the sky on Aug. 11, we can use the time to get in touch with our needs and wants and desires.
If you’re so inclined to pay attention to such things, what has your body been telling you? What needs and desires have been repressed? Let’s perhaps pave the way for some celebration of our bodies, shall we? Maybe that’s easier said than done for some of us, but if it feels right, why not?
Lovely and powerful embodiment, Amanda. Thank you for this revelatory look at ‘sucking it in’ and living in the resistance to life. Very freeing article – I relate on many levels. I am grateful for this body. I am grateful for your heartfelt personal writing style that reflects the deep inner experience.
In Loving Gratitude and Oneness,
Thanks, Kyra. I’m grateful for YOU!
If you’re interested you can read what a bio mechanist says about the havoc that sucking in your stomach does to your body.
Thank you! I’ve been looking around for information on that topic. Youch!
My mother taught us to walk as if we were balancing a book on our heads and holding a dime between our butt cheeks!
Really relates to the moment. To let go or keep trying to hold it together. Seems like the core question of our journey right now.
Amanda thank you for bringing your body into your exploration of your spirituality. You are not the only one, and it is so easy to talk about being in your body and listening to your body, all from a place somewhere in your head. So keep reminding us. I hope you’ll share more of your embodied practice throughout Venus retro.
Holding it in creates armoring that weakens us. Bellies and pelvic floors are numbed, in spasm, flaccid, and in chronic tension. The results are physical, emotional, and spiritual. We don’t know who we are. We are sealed off from ourselves. Digestion and sex suffer. This is so big and I am so glad you are writing about it. So excited. Bubbling over.
April thanks for Katysays.com article. A paleo movement friend had mentioned her over a year ago, and I forgot to look. Good material!
Now I must get up off this couch, where I am typing with bad posture and a numb butt. Time to move and let my belly hang low.
Embodiment is everything! Thanks for your words and encouragement.
I’m amazed at how difficult it can be to figure out how to simply let my belly rise and fall as I breathe at this point. Only sometimes ,but still. Learning to inhabit my body in a different way is so interesting, and sometimes frustrating.
I’ve definitely been having a hard time sharing the more personal writing in a public forum, as part of what I’m going through also has to do with wanting to keep my field as clear as I can, and putting myself out there in these ways doesn’t always feel honoring of that desire. But hey, we’re back in Leo season, so….there’s a good chance there will be more to share
Good point, Amanda. Not every moment on of our personal practice needs the light of Leo sun shining on it. You’ll know when your moment is for the collective and it’s safe to share.
Another resource you may have heard about is Tami Lynn Kent’s book The Wild Feminine. It’s a guide book to your pelvis. I revisit from time to time. She’s a physical therapist focusing on women’s imbalances in their pelvic area, and the creator of Holistic Pelvic Care ™.
“I’m amazed at how difficult it can be to figure out how to simply let my belly rise and fall as I breathe at this point.”
Yes, me too. I seem to go through phases of “remembering how to breath” (usually because I have decided I need to), and realizing that I seem to have forgotten.
The kicker with re-learning how to breathe — how to let the belly rise and fall, how to breathe with the diaphragm — is that as soon as we are told (or tell ourselves) to simply *notice* our breath without trying to change it, our awareness automatically means that we’re no longer breathing in a relaxed, natural way (even if it was not the “ideal” way).
Such a catch-22! Drives me nuts sometimes. I get the sense that no matter what a person’s weight or body shape and body image, we ALL do a lot of unhelpful/unhealthful belly-holding in this culture. It’s not an easy thing to undo.
This is so beautiful to read, Amanda, and I relate to so much of it, as you intuited. It does require commitment to be in the body fully (something I also find hard to do), and I have also rediscovered a desire to nurture my body which has also resulted in a new way of eating (not dissimilar to yours – sugar & carbs are generally out, good fats, veggies and proteins generally in). It feels real and the change in the way I feel since I started this 3 weeks ago is amazing – I have clear and clean energy all day. However this clean and clear energy also means insights I was able to avoid or “carb” away are now asking to be faced – with gentleness and compassion.
Good for you!
The “clean and clear energy” bit is SUCH a relief for me. The gastro pain has definitely gotten better, but still flares, but I’m more than OK with it because my mood and energy levels are so much better. This is also the first time in my adult life I have gone more than two weeks without alcohol, caffeine OR marijuana so that’s pretty interesting too. I’ve also added in a daily sit at my altar where I pretty much just say “ok, who wants to cry now?” and allow for emotional release — although it comes at other times too. Empowering. Fascinating. And I’ll probably have to remind myself of those things as I keep going with this because the coffee aisle in the grocery store sure did smell extra amazing today…
Just returned from Harbin Hot Springs, a clothing optional retreat center outside of Middleton California. I went to experience a watsu (water Shiatsu) massage. The whole experience, the wilderness location, the community there and most wonderfully, the massage, had the effect of unwinding a very tight place deep, deep within me.
I felt a shift on an energetic level, and now my body (which I nourish consciously and exercise joyfully) has a more peaceful yet enlivening buzz to it. Yes, Eskimobee, I feel clear and clean energy. Perhaps Pholus played a role in all this along with that Aquarius Full Moon. I have natal Moon, Sun And Mercury at 6,7, and 8 degrees Aquarius.
Much resonance Amanda, thank you!
Oh, man… I love Harbin so much!
Ahhh, Mary — LOVE Harbin. That’s where I took my teen daughter for her first massage; she was all agog at the guy raking leaves, nekkid. A few days before we’d gone to the mud baths and came out puddles of contentment. Soooo lovely, and all that before it was trendy. You refreshed dear memories for me today, kiddo — thanks a million!
And thanks a million for your insights Judith, you inform and engage me!
Wow, that’s incredible that you have been holding so much in. I empathize with you. I feel as I’m reading what you’ve written here that the progress is real. I feel impacted. It is a “monumental” feeling, as you put it, to be fully present in the body. Furthermore, to have gone through the work it takes to get there, is indescribable. I’m happy for you.
goodmorning !! I came along this fascinating story which hit me whic ht home I couldn’t believe I’d love to know I was born February 13th 1957 I’ve been planning on a procedure for August 13th 2015 I’m a little nervous about the procedure hoping it’s the right time I’ve been thinking about it it’s not something that I just plans its been in the process but in the interim I just found my sister is selling her home I don’t want to cancel my procedure something I’ve wanted I’m flying into South Miami August 12th I hope I’m not making a bad judgement because have 1 understanding this time going retrograde not that familiar Friday here not to make any body changes this is something I’ve wanted not to be true I’m trying to think positive but I’m scared now because of the retrograde not to make any changes from what I understand this please help me very nervous
Came to this piece rather late, dear Amanda, because I was away with my sister over a long weekend (and no Smart phone, so no access to Internet) – just want to say that I found it so very beautiful and moving. It has many layers to it – so I look forward to reading it again with more care. Also want to add that I was hanging out on an Italian beach, full of Italian families – and though Italian women are totally obsessed with looks, they’re much more at home in their bodies than the Brits (etc) are. Thus, middle aged, no longer slender women wander around in bikinis, with no worries about ‘sucking it in” – and without any self consciousness – though they do treasure their deep summer tans. And yes, this Venus etrograde is so very powerful – think that my biggest self-esteem block has finally become clear and is ready for release (just in time for Eric’s Art of Living reading..).
I love no smartphone/internet access weekends! I’m headed into one myself… Thanks for sharing your insights and experience. And thanks for prompting me to ponder the question of what MY biggest self-esteem block is! Huh! I hadn’t thought on that one…
Have a lovely WiFi-less weekend, Amanda – and good luck with pondering your biggest self-esteem block!
PS Although for me, it was more a case of writhing in agony, rather than pondering, as big family demons came up over these days, during the time spent with sis… But really felt like this stuff was saying – enough already, time to let the past go (here’s hoping..). xx