When a planet is in retrograde or exhibiting apparent retrograde motion, that planet appears to be moving in reverse orbit.
That is, it seems to have changed direction. It is not actually moving backward, it just looks that way from Earth.
This occurs because the speed of the Earth’s motion and that of the planets is not the same, so you get an effect like that sense that you’re moving backward when you’re sitting still in a car and a big truck is rolling past your window.
Eventually, as one catches up to another, the planet will appear to change directions again and return to direct or prograde motion.
Because each planet has a different amount of distance to orbit, and orbits at different speeds, their retrograde cycles and the duration of their retrograde periods can be quite different.
The sun and moon will never appear retrograde from Earth, but if you were viewing the Sun from Mercury, you might see it appear on the horizon and then dip back down before it rises again once in a while.
Retrograde Planets in Western Astrology
When a planet goes retrograde, it can have a profound effect on everything that planet influences. Generally, the planetary energy is simply not flowing freely.
Retrograde Planets in the Natal Chart
If you are born during a period of retrograde of one or, more likely several planets, this indicates areas of challenge in your life related to that planet.
The word challenge here should not be viewed negatively. These are not deficiencies, but areas where hard work will produce stunning results, but hard work will be required.
The energy from retrograde planets is more personal than from direct planets. It’s about you inside, your potential, it’s not all out there for the world to see. It is up to you to take the on the challenge of developing it or letting it remain hidden.
Many astrologers believe that retrograde planets in the natal chart give us a look at our past lives and the lessons we are meant to learn in this one.
Retrograde Planets in Daily Life
When a planet is retrograde, it is best not to try to move forward with much of anything related to that planet if possible.
Efforts to do so are likely to result in frustration as the planetary energy isn’t itself during that period.
With the exception of Mercury, which seems to bother everyone except those born when Mercury was in retrograde, the planetary energy of the retrograde will only have a minor, if any, impact on you personally until it transits your natal chart.
This will happen several times during any given retrograde and give you a little break in between.
However, the retrograde could be affecting anyone you have to deal with at any given time which can frustrate your efforts. Instead, it is best to spend the time rethinking our approach to those things related to that planet.
Many people also experience a sort of Deja Vue during the retrograde period. It is theorized that this is because of past life experiences related to the planet in question.
Mercury retrogrades 3 times a year for about 3 weeks
Mercury retrograde can cause communications to go awry. Misunderstandings and trouble coordinating activities abound. The bureaucracy does not do well. If you find yourself unavoidably trying to coordinate something during Mercury retrograde, make sure you put everything in writing, followup every letter or email with a phone call, and never assume anyone knows anything.
Obviously this is not a good time to do anything that will involve a lot of paperwork, like buying a house, starting a business, or applying to colleges, but it is a good time to get your paperwork and finances in order and do research in preparation for your project.
It’s also not a good time to send in your manuscript, but it is a good time to edit and polish it.
Travel also falls under the influence of Mercury so plan extra time to get lost and find your way around the other lost people, the accidents, and the dysfunctional traffic lights.
Mercury retrograde is not a good time for traveling, but it is a great time to plan your vacation and sort out your budget. It’s also a good time to do some car maintenance. There’s a good chance it’s going to break down anyway.
There is a tendency during this period to repeatedly go over incidents and conversations in your mind. Go ahead and explore them, but do not give in to the temptation to beat yourself up over the wrong thing said or done or the missed opportunity.
Children born during Mercury retrograde tend to have a different learning style than other children. This may be a challenge while they are young. They may be stigmatized as learning disabled, but they are not. Often they are gifted. This challenge gives them the ability to look at problems in a different way and opens creative outlets.
Accept this challenge and suddenly that learning disabled child has blossomed into a musical, mathematical, artistic, literary genius.
Also, people who are born during Mercury retrograde tend to be somewhat immune to the problems associated with the Mercury retrograde cycle. However, they will still have to deal with everyone else’s Mercury retrograde issues.
Venus retrogrades every 18 months for a period of about 42 days.
Venus affects relationships, particularly those of an intimate nature. While venus retrogrades aren’t to blame for most divorces, it’s probably not a good time to put your relationship under any undue stress. Wait till the retrograde passes before moving your deadbeat brother in or making any major changes to the household. Getting married during a retrograde is not a good idea.
The Venus retrograde period is also a terrible time to consider plastic surgery or a tattoo and I’d avoid haircuts, dyes and waxing too. Venus rules personal beauty and self-image. There are just too many things that can go wrong with these procedures to risk it during a Venus retrograde.
However, a pedicure or a massage might be just the pick me up you need during this stressful time. If you have trouble with your self-image, now’s the time to fix that. Take some time to meditate on what you love the most about yourself and celebrate it. Also meditate upon what you hate the most about yourself and make a plan to fix it or get over it.
Venus also affects personal finances. Now is a good time to review your financial plan and tweak your budget. It is not a good time to take out a loan, make any major investments or large purchases.
Children born with Venus retrograde may be extra sensitive, unnecessarily taking things personally and yet they may have trouble expressing their emotions. This is also a challenge that can result in artistic genius if it is accepted and explored at an early age.
Mars retrogrades every 25.6 months for 72 days
Mars retrograde is a good time to turn your attention inward to focus on any negative or out of control emotions that might need your attention, particularly anger and lust, which Mars heavily influences. Indulging these emotions at this time can be dangerous, but they do need attention.
This retrograde period gives you the opportunity to explore these emotions to find healthy ways to deal with both conflict and temptation. But it’s a good idea to avoid both while you’re at it.
If you’ve been thinking about starting a new project that involves a leap of faith, that will require a great deal of will-power, ambition, and stamina… keep thinking and wait till Mars goes direct before taking any action on that.
Children born during Mars retrograde can result in an overly spiritual nature and unrealistic expectations of other people.
However, if this challenge is accepted and conquered, these people can experience incredibly deep, fulfilling, spiritually and physically satisfying relationships.
When Ceres is retrograde, unhealthy patterns such as addictions, abusive tendencies, and co-dependencies become more apparent.
Pay attention to what Ceres is pointing out to you here and make changes! Relationships, in general, will cool off a bit, so take this time to pamper yourself and cultivate self-love.
Jupiter retrogrades every 13.1 month for a period of 121 days
The Jupiter retrograde turns our attention inward. We may have trouble dealing with external pressures because we are so focused on our inner environment and we, and the people we encounter, may react by putting up a phony front to avoid having to get too deeply involved. This self-absorption can also manifest in greediness, selfishness, lack of empathy and a sense of dissatisfaction with life in general.
We should take this opportunity to explore ourselves, our values, our morals, those things that are important to us and examine the balance in our lives between those things that are important to us and those things that are simply necessary. Is it a good balance? Do you need to make a change?
This is an excellent time to remember that thing you’ve always wanted to do and never gotten around to and do it, especially if it will broaden your mind and increase your wisdom.
This is a good time for starting a charity or humanitarian project, but not a for-profit business.
Children born while Jupiter is in retrograde tend to develop amazing plans but have a hard time every getting started on anything. This challenge should be faced with help from friends.
Saturn retrogrades every 12.4 months for a period of 138 days.
During Saturn retrograde, it is a good idea to reassess any commitments you’ve already made and any that have been made to you. Make sure everything is still in good standing and are functioning beneficially. If anything is no longer serving you, renegotiate or get rid of it.
During this time it’s not a good idea to take on any new commitments. If you start a business while during Saturn retrograde you may find yourself bogged down with paperwork, organizing and reorganizing. Not that big a deal.
By the way, if the universe owes you anything in response to your previous actions, now’s the time it will hit.
A child born during Saturn retrograde may have trouble setting personal boundaries and saying no when it needs to be said.
To overcome this challenge, he must learn self-discipline before he can apply it outwardly. The side affect of this is a very organized, disciplined individual who knows what he wants and how to get it.
Uranus retrogrades every 12.15 months for a period of 151 days.
The Uranus retrograde inspires research, investigation and explosive bursts of inspiration and invention.
This can be very disruptive if this impulse has no direction and can manifest as general rebellion. This effect will be especially potent in those who were born during Uranus retrograde.
Neptune retrogrades for a period of 158 days every 12.07 months
Neptune retrograde inspires spirituality and gives a sense of being more in tune with the unseen world. Your imagination may be more active. You may also feel more suspicious of others, perhaps with good reason; psychic attacks can be particularly effective during this time.
Spend some time working on your own psychic abilities and strengthening your aura. You may notice problems in the world that trouble you, that you had overlooked before. Take note of those and work on them!
Those born with Neptune in retrograde will naturally be more intuitive and sensitive which can be overwhelming, leading to a feeling of helplessness and psychic overload and is especially troubling for those who are trained to deny their inner voice. This challenge, accepted, results in a person with powerful inner vision and insight.
This is a time of transformation, cleansing, and regeneration. This can be both disruptive and healing. During this retrograde, you may feel a restlessness to get rid of stuff. Go for it.
You may feel a restlessness to get more control over your life. You will have to sort out what you can control and what you can’t, but this is a great time to take positive steps in that direction.
Those born during Pluto retrograde have the ability to see things not usually noticed by others and to pick up on things beneath the surface, read between the lines, if you will.