Wrong Way Right: How To Use Tarot To Get Back On Track

Estimated Reading Time: 13 minutes

Where Are We Going? Rewind Edition Featuring Venus Retrograde

As I contemplated the topic, “Where are we going?”, provided by Kimberly Essex of Tarot & Meditations, I couldn’t help but think of Venus Retrograde. Sometimes it feels as if we’re going backwards. If that’s you, and you’d like to get out of your tailspin, let’s use tarot to help us right our wrongs and get back on track. Includes a create-it-yourself tarot spread.


Revisiting Retrogrades

The Venus Rose. Over the course of eight years, Venus outlines a pentacle in the heavens. This five-pointed star is reminiscent of the five-petaled wild rose, the symbol of Venus.The inner loops are Venus’s retrogrades.

If you’ve studied retrogrades before, you know that the planets have periods when they look like they are moving opposite to their normal path forward through the zodiac from our perspective here on earth. In the symbol system of astrology, the planets represent qualities in us. So when a planet appears to be going backward, we might see whatever that planet symbolizes going off course in our own life.

Typically, astrologers consider this a re-do energy. In fact, it’s common practice to add the prefix “re-“ to the planet’s keywords to express what’s going on. So for instance, let’s take the most commonly known and frequent retrograde as an example: Mercury. If Mercury represents how we think, learn, or communicate, we would say that when Mercury is retrograde (next time is August 23 through September 15, 2023), we need to rethink, relearn, and recommunicate.

So what happens when Venus is retrograde? Venus represents how we connect, value, and attract. So during her retrograde (from July 22 through September 3, 2023), we would reconnect, revalue or reevaluate, and reattract. If an old friend or lover has recently reconnected, if you’d decided to reevaluate what’s important in your life, or if you are making changes to reattract the things that mean the most to you, then Venus is at work.

The Ten of Wands or Ten of Pentacles?

Ten of Rods and Ten of Pentacles from Tarot of the Old Path by Howard Rodway and Sylvia Gainsford, AGM-Urania 1990.

The Ten of Wands came up for a client. I asked if she was overwhelmed and overworked. She nodded. Sometimes the Ten of Wands advises us that we’ll have to burn the candle at both ends to achieve our goals. Sometimes it warns us that we’re headed for burnout. The next spread we did for her landed the Ten of Pentacles in the final position. I pulled out the Ten of Wands and put it next to the Ten of Pentacles. One thing we had discussed is that she tends to imagine the worst. This is called catastrophizing, if you’d like to know the technical term. The Ten of Pentacles certainly represented everything she was working for. But her current situation in her mind felt like the Ten of Wands.

There are two ways to use your imagination to help you achieve your goals. One way is to imagine your ultimate goal with all the detail and emotional connection you can. This is why people create vision boards. Another way is to make small, incremental changes toward your goal. Different people respond differently to these two types of practice. For some, the ultimate goal is easy to see and comfortable to hold with confidence. It’s as if they have a clear path straight to their goal. However, that’s not the experience for everyone. Others instead are lost in the woods and don’t really know what’s past the trees, although they do hope to find something special. These people need to pick their way carefully through the dense undergrowth, fallen logs, and unexpected ravines.

If you’re lost in the woods, you might be tempted to think that you’re going the wrong way. You’re not. In fact, you are on exactly the right path! But you might need help deciphering which way to go.

Replacing the Woods One Tree at a Time

As I talked with my client, I could see that she was lost in the woods. Here’s the suggestion I made to her. Put down one wand at a time from that messy bundle. Don’t try to build it all at once. In fact, don’t try to build it at all right now. Instead, focus on the little things. Solve one problem at a time. Take one careful step forward. Put down another wand. Take another step.

There are a variety of psychological tricks that help you stick to your goals, especially if you’re feeling particularly challenged. One of my favorites is “replace.” When your life is spinning out of control, find one little problem and replace it with something better.

This works great with bad habits. For instance, my boyfriend had some aches and pains that wouldn’t go away. He thought dietary changes would help. We already ate healthy whole sprouted grain bread. But he started replacing the bread in his peanut butter toast and cheese toast with a rye cracker. All the peanut buttery or cheesy goodness, just a small shift. Was it the shift away from wheat? The slightly reduced calories? Different type of fiber? Who knows.

That’s not the only thing he did, but it was the first. Other little shifts followed. Something he did helped him lose weight. Something he did reduced his inflammation. He stopped having aches and pains. Goal achieved. How did he get there? It doesn’t matter. He keeps up with what he’s doing. If he does something different and the aches return, he steps back from that new thing. If something new comes in and the aches don’t return, it stays with the program.

What is Retrograde Venus Encouraging You to Replace?

Right now Venus is supporting us in replacing things she rules. Do you have a health and beauty regimen that needs adjusting? What one thing can you replace to start you toward your goal? Do you have money problems that need to be sorted? What one bad habit can you replace with a good one? Do you have friends and relationships that are less than supportive? What one small change can you make to adjust how you interact with them?

The Inner Journey

Astronomically, the retrogrades of the inner planets correspond to the inferior conjunction of that planet with the Sun. This is a time when the planet cannot be seen because it is lost in the blinding glare of the Sun. Symbolically, this correlates to underground journeys as well as inner work. Delving into the subconscious, examining our hidden selves, is also a retrograde practice. What light can you shed on your unconscious self? Bringing small glimmers of lost sparks to the surface is another step-by-step practice that Venus Retrograde inspires.

Wrong Way Right: Venus Retrograde Tarot Spread

Venus Themes

Venus Retrograde is supporting you in replacing the outdated with new, workable solutions. Follow the instructions below to develop your own Venus Retrograde Tarot Spread. This spread will help you understand what small changes you can make to move away from problems and toward solutions.

Here’s a list of keywords for Venus:

  • Aesthetics
  • Agreement
  • Art
  • Attraction
  • Beauty
  • Charm
  • Connection
  • Drink
  • Enjoyment
  • Food
  • Finery
  • Gifts
  • Harmony
  • Intimacy
  • Love
  • Luxury
  • Money
  • Music
  • Partnership
  • Peace
  • Pleasure
  • Refreshment
  • Relationship
  • Singing
  • Value
  • Wealth

Creating Your Spread

1. Choose Your Theme. Do you have any problems or difficulties in your life related to one of these themes? Choose one for now that you’d like to work with (you can go back later and do this process as many times as you like with as many themes as you like!).

2. Make a List. Without editing or second guessing yourself, make a list of all the problems you are having with your chosen theme. After you’ve vented your way through the list, take a break. Take a day if needed to get in the right head space. There’s no deadline on your happiness. Be grateful for what you accomplished today.

3. Choose Your Changes. When you’re ready, look over the list thoughtfully. Find about one to five things on the list that feel most helpful to you. They might be the most important, the most frustrating, or they might look like the easiest way to get quick results. It’s your list and your choice! These 1-5 items are your tarot spread positions. They are also your “to-do list,” so only take on as much change as you can handle right now.

4. Invite Venus. Remember that Venus is your ally in this process. Invite her to participate. If you like, pull the Empress card from your deck to represent Venus. If you don’t like the Empress, consider using the Lovers, Strength, the Star, or another card that feels helpful and supportive to you regarding the theme you chose and that also expresses the energies of Venus.

5. Ask for Venus’s Help. Once you’ve chosen your card for Venus, tell her what’s going on with you. You can say this out loud, think it silently, or journal it. Ask Venus to help you to change this problem.

Performing Your Spread

  1. Write down your Venus-ruled theme. This is Position 1 in your spread.
  2. List the one to five changes you want to make. These are Positions 2-6 in your spread.
  3. Shuffle your deck while focusing on the question, “What do I most need to know about _________________ (Your Venus-Ruled Theme).” Pull a card and place it in Spread Position 1.
  4. Then shuffle while focusing on each of your chosen changes. For each one, ask, “What small step can I make now to help me change this?” Pull a card for each change you want to make.
  5. Interpret your cards! Write out your interpretations. Then set a plan in motion. Take your small steps toward change. Take them every day. Do them instead of the things that make life difficult. Ask for Venus’s help whenever you need support.

Non-Venus Themes

Of course, your problems might not correlate to Venus. That’s okay! Although this spread is designed to use the retrograde energy to help unravel your challenges and use tarot to get back on track, you don’t have to wait for a planet to be retrograde to ask for its help. Use a good astrology book, or my free 17 Symbols Workbook, to look up the correspondences of each planet. Find the planet that relates most closely to your problem. Proceed with the Creating Your Spread steps:

  1. Choose your theme from that planet’s list of keywords.
  2. Make a list of the problems you are having regarding that theme
  3. Choose the 1-5 problems you want to change
  4. Invite the planet
  5. Ask for their help

Then do your tarot spread!

Step Back to Go Forward

Which of Venus’s themes most resonates with you now? Let me know in the comments! And if you do the spread, I’d love to hear your results.

Where are you going? Maybe you should hop backwards through this cycle to honor Venus’s retrograde. Or just to be contrary! Whichever way you go, enjoy the hop!


Joy Vernon
Joy Vernon

Joy Vernon is widely recognized as an expert tarot teacher and respected community leader. With over twenty-five years’ experience teaching energetic and esoteric modalities, Joy brings expertise and practiced familiarity to her specialty of esoteric tarot, which layers astrological and qabalistic symbolism onto the traditional tarot structure. Under her leadership, the Denver Tarot Meetup grew into one of the largest and most active tarot-specific meetups in the world. Now Joy runs the Greater Seattle Tarot Meetup. Joy works as a tarot reader, astrologer, and teacher in Burien, Washington. To learn more, please visit JoyVernon.com.

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  1. Thanks for the answers Joy! Makes sense Venus being in retrograde and how I have been feeling this last few days or so. The September connection is really apt as well, because that is when I need to make a choice by, so thanks again for the nudge. Oh! while I remember thanks for the Mercury warning too 😀

  2. Joy! I love this post and the idea of small changes. You laid it out so well and I really like this spread. I have some time this weekend and I’m going to use this to get some clarity on changes I can make in my life. Thank you.

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