Reflections for the retrograde


Reflections for the retrograde: a writing prompt for growth and examination within the shifting seasons

Photo of storm over Arizona mountains with saguaro cactus in front
Photo by V. Erdal

I take slow walks in the desert and notice the beginning shifts in her communications, seasonal changes, the changing flora. Many plants do not produce fruit all year, and deciduous trees start losing leaves in preparation for Winter where they will pause for shedding and grounding. I start to see the beginning signs, the first barren branches.

Barren tree against a gray sky
Photo by D. Sevi

To an outside eye, deciduous trees in dormancy may appear lifeless-- but we can’t see the full picture, and certainly it’s easy to make assumptions from a societal lens of goal-orientated productivity and output. Our personal success is encouraged--even pushed-- year-round, breakless, linear, forward. But what if we started practicing observations from the cyclical growth of nature? These patterns and pauses are building resistance I often find missing in linear paths, largely forgotten from our anthropocentric hxstory, and even our bodies and experiences.

Forest of tree trunks
Photo by D. Sevi

The shift into Fall already incites reflection, and this year there is a celestial invitation to pause for deeper grounding and shedding. Astrologically, Venus is retrograde now. This is significant because Venus tells us a lot about our relationships, intimacies, what we hold dear, deem beautiful and our relationship to the feminine, and the retrograde will bring past patterns to light and demand our attention.

Spider web with droplets of water
Photo by D. Sevi

Tree roots
Photo by D. Sevi

Venus stations retrograde every 18 months, and during this ephemeral time, Venus appears to be moving backwards. This year, Venus stationed retrograde October 5th, and will station direct November 16th, but we have the mystic of it’s shadow period to work with until December 17th. This retrograde calls us to reassess our values and what is and is not serving our lives anymore. This may be a time where we see un-dealt-with issues resurfacing.

Sunset over curve in the road
Photo by D. Sevi

If you’ve noticed a lot of relationships and routines coming to an end, shifting, or demanding change, you’re not alone. Venus retrograde is like a big magnifying glass, amplifying parts of our lives that need change and inspecting parts that aren’t working for us. I am grateful for these moments and however difficult, I commit to look back upon as growth.

Small cactus after rain
Photo by D. Sevi

clouds over mountain
Photo by V. Erdal

A friend tells me that for them, the retrograde is a practice in backwards time movement, and I try to weave this nonlinear cyclical consciousness into the stagnant parts of me and brace myself for hard change. I see the retrograde’s call for inspection, not only in regards to what is not currently working, but within recurring patterns.  Retrogrades are apt for that-- they assist with “backwards movement” and bringing to light issues from our past. If we expand our concept of linear time, we might see that the past is still presently relevant and asking for us to do work.

I often wonder about the detriments and short sightedness of a full existence in linear time, and try to explore nonlinear notions, especially in times like these. There are a lack of synonyms to describe “nonlinear” expect by the condictary prefix of linearity, where the definition seems not really of itself, but rather stuck positioning itself against mainstream notions. Perhaps then, a reflection in our nonlinear personal hxstories are a quiet protest, a pause, a re-examining of the system.

arizona grassland with large rock in the background
Photo by V. Erdal

The Ecological processes in nature we depend on are widely multidimensional and nonlinear, and so too, we must be. I still see us being hard on ourselves for that-- for breaks in productivity, writers blocks, time off work and slow selfcare. It’s good to remember that growing and grieving are nonlinear, and so surely is healing. We have much to heal as a society, which first requires work within our personal bodies, corporeal selves, broken hearts, traumas, hauntings.

barren tree over mission
Photo by V. Erdal

During the remainder of the Venus retrograde and into the Winter, I invite you to reflect in writing, and offer this ritual and poetry prompt to create-- in the spirit of what you might be looking to shed-- an erasure poem.


Venus Retrograde Ritual and Erasure Poem Writing Prompt:

Step 1: Pick one of the questions below. Spend time doing an interval free-write, where you write without stopping whatever comes to mind for 5 minutes on, 1 minute off, increasing in intervals of 5 minutes until you get to 20 minutes.



What needs to be shed in order to incite growth?

What are the biggest reoccuring themes in your life? What important lesson could this be teaching you?

What parts of yourself do you stifle to fit a mainstream notion of society? What about your relationship to yourself needs a new, fresh narrative?

What relationships (friendships, romantics, interpersonal, familial, work-relations) aren’t serving you anymore? What patterns are you trying to grow more of? How do you make these shifts happen, and what do you need to re-prioritize?

What parts of your life aren’t linear? Which pieces of your healing and growing are moving cyclically right now instead of linearly? How do you make space for that?

I encourage you to be honest and open-- no one else reads this part except for you!

Step 2: Transforming your text into an erasure poem:

Print out the poem and without reading what you wrote, scan through the text and highlight words that stand out to you, crossing out the rest.

Then explore what those words sound like in order, or rearrange them into a poem.

rocky desert path under cloudy sky
Photo by V. Erdal

Dominique is an art educator, youth poetry facilitator at the Poetry Center's monthly Kids Create, Poetry Center volunteer, and a poet. They enjoy making music and playing in a band in their free time. Dominique used to work as Restoration Ecologist in Northern CA, and loves spending time interacting with plants and nature in the desert. When not out hiking and botanizing, they are dreaming about intergenerational community, growing seeds and resistance. They would love to read your erasure poem, email them at