Astrology with Alice: It’s Solstice!

Plus, July will take us down memory lane, thanks to a Venus retrograde

Words by Alice Smith

Astrology with Alice: Welcome to Astrology with Alice, a monthly astrology column aimed at helping readers understand the vibes of the month ahead in plain English. As a Taiwanese immigrant who grew up in Los Angeles, I specialize in combining western astrology with eastern philosophy. I’ve taught modern astrology through the lens of Buddhism and Taoism, and I also draw from the principles of traditional Chinese medicine. Knowing the movements of the planets can help us make decisions around our careers, relationships, family. As the planets move around in the sky, they shift the energetic vibes we experience on Earth, and I believe in flowing with energy instead of fighting it—to work smarter, not harder. So join me on our monthly planetary lowdowns and learn how you, too, can ride the cosmic waves!

Chinese traditions teach that the energies of yin and yang ebb and flow throughout the year. As one rises, the other falls. Yin energy is receptive, quiet, and cool. Meanwhile, yang energy is assertive, active, and hot. And the sun, being our primary source of heat, is associated with yang energy.

The summer solstice is the longest day of the year—the day when we’ll enjoy the most daylight—is a big yang energy day, collectively speaking, but our personal yang energy will also peak that day. Conserving your energy on the solstice and not overextending yourself can also help ensure that you have the reserves to make it through the end of the year. It’s not that big of a deal for most people—especially the people with a lot of fire in their birth chart—but for those of you with more water in your chart, it’ll be important to keep energy conservation in mind so that you don’t squander all that precious yang energy on solstice day. (Think of the solstice like getting a direct deposit of yang energy—you don’t want to spend it all before you move it into the 401k.)

For those of you with more water in your chart, it’ll be important to keep energy conservation in mind so that you don’t squander all that precious yang energy on solstice day.

The people this applies to the most are the folks with water rising signs—Scorpio rising, Cancer rising, and especially Pisces rising. The rising sign represents your physical constitution, and water signs on the rising ascendant of a birth chart often indicate weaker constitution and ability to fend off illness. (If a kid brings home the crud, chances are that the water rising family member will catch it.) If you don’t know what your rising sign is, get your free birth chart here.

Chinese traditional teachings also assigned sounds to the seasons, and the sound associated with both fire and summer is laughter. The assigned emotion to this time is joy. Venus and Mars, the planets of love and passion, are also in the sun’s own sign of Leo this month–which loves to enjoy life and play–so the vibe is even more fun loving!

July’s Venus retrograde is coming

Sounds like the makings of hot girl summer, right? Sorry, my friends, but shortly after the solstice, Venus is going retrograde on July 22, so we’re heading into some majorly introspective territory.

(Yeeeaaah, planets other than Mercury also go retrograde—sorry to be the bearer of that news!)

Back in May when Mercury retrograded, we discussed what a retrograde is and what it does astrologically. The general points still apply, but because Venus rules different aspects of our lives, the specifics will play out differently.

Whereas Mercury rules communication, our thought processes, travel, and technology, Venus rules our values. And since our values determine who we deem worthy to spend time with and what we deem worthy to spend money on, Venus affects our relationships and our money.

So, what happens when Venus goes retrograde? Well, my three Rs of retrograde still apply: reflect, reconsider, and reevaluate. We’re going to perform internal audits on our friendships, our relationships, how we show up in relationships, how we make money, and how we spend money. When it comes to Venus, I’ll even throw in an extra R, which is to revisit. We’re going to mull over the past—past loves and past passions—so that we can better evaluate our present situation. People from the past may even pop back into the picture. (Warning: Venus also retrogrades longer, so it’ll last until Sept. 3.)

Even shy folks and introverts need to know that they’re valued and appreciated. Venus retrograde will hone in on that need to be recognized.

With this Venus retrograde happening in the sign of Leo, we’re going to be asking ourselves whether or not we’re getting the recognition we deserve in relationships and in our jobs. Leo is the sign of the king—the celebrity—and Leo is all about attention and praise. Even shy folks and introverts need to know that they’re valued and appreciated. Venus retrograde will hone in on that need to be recognized. If you’ve been passed over or pushed aside too many times by the people in your life, Venus retrograde will move questions that you’ve avoided asking in that regard from the back burner to the front burner.

Just like when Mercury goes retrograde, the energy hits the planet on a meta level, but each sign will feel this pull to reassess their values particularly strongly in certain areas of life. Here are some prompts to ask yourself based on your sign:

Aries: Are there issues from the past that you still need to heal from before you can move forward in love?

Taurus: Is there a home improvement project on the horizon? Have you outgrown your home, or do you need to downsize?

Gemini: Are you feeling the need to reevaluate your communication style? And if you’re distant with a sibling, you might be thrown in each other’s paths during this retrograde, so consider what you might say.

Cancer: Does what you do for money fulfill you? What can you change about your relationship with money so it’s not just a monetary transaction?

Leo: Are you showing up in the world as the most authentic version of yourself? Do you need to address a limiting belief that you won’t be accepted for being yourself?

Virgo: Do you need more “me time?” What is the thing that you need to address that your busy life conveniently helps you to avoid thinking about?

Libra: Are you surrounding yourself with the right people? Have you outgrown your friend group?

Scorpio: Is your current career supportive of the greater legacy that you hope to build?

Sagittarius: Are you starving for new experiences or wanting to develop new skills? How could travel or education broaden your horizons?

Capricorn: Is it time to sit down with your partner or with a financial advisor and make sure that your goals and your current financial practices are aligned?

Aquarius: Do you find yourself thinking about past relationships? What about them worked? What didn’t work?

Pisces: Do you value your body and take care of it as you should? Also, are you valued for your contributions at work?

The last time Venus went retrograde in Leo was the summer of 2015. Think back to what was going on for you back then. What were you doing? Who were you with? What was the state of your relationships? How was your career? The last Leo retrograde can provide clues as to how this upcoming Venus retrograde might affect you. 

Let’s also remember that mythological Venus is also the goddess of beauty. Traditional astrology warns against doing anything related to personal aesthetics during Venus retrogrades. I wouldn’t go that far—I know plenty of people who’ve gotten perfectly lovely haircuts during Venus retrogrades. However, I would advise against scheduling serious procedures during this time. If you’re thinking about microblading, permanent makeup, facial surgery—I would hold off until after Venus turns direct again in September. The retrograde technically ends on Sept. 3, but I always pad an extra five days before and after, so let’s call it Sept. 8. (Of course, if it’s something important that impacts your physical well-being, get it done as soon as possible!) 

We start summer off with the sunny solstice, then we’ll continue to sail into July with similarly exuberant and fun-loving energy from Venus and Mars in Leo. Then, from July 22 to Sept. 3, Venus will take an introspective turn by going retrograde. To me, the greater message here is about developing appreciation for all the love and good we enjoy in our lives. So have fun, enjoy yourselves, surround yourselves with your friends, and then be grateful for all the love.

Published on June 20, 2023

Words by Alice Smith

Alice Smith has loved astrology ever since she read her first horoscope as a kid. She’s a certified, professional astrologer who reads birth charts for clients all over the world and has spoken at events throughout the Pacific Northwest. Alice learned to write horoscopes from her mentor Rebecca Gordon who was herself mentored by the grande dame of horoscope writing, Susan Miller. Alice has a degree in sociology from the University of Washington and is (too) obsessed with her “Furgo” (furry Virgo) cat, whose birth chart she often interprets on social media.