Retrogrades

Let’s talk retrogrades, shall we?

Like everyone new to astrology, the mention of Mercury retrograde sends one into a Chicken Little frenzy.  Every thing that goes wrong gets blamed on Mercury retrograde.  It could be a simple as your plane getting delayed, phone on the fritz, or a complete wipe out of your hard drive.  Everyone is convinced the sky is falling.

Earlier this year we had 5 planets in retrograde at the same time.  Was it intense?  Oh my goodness, yes!  But, look!  We made it to the other side!!

All of this is to say that (dun, dun, dun), today is the eve of Venus going retrograde in Scorpio around 2:05 PM CDT on October 5, 2018.  What does this mean?  Well, let’s get into that in a minute, but first I’d like to give some perspective on retrogrades.

While we say planets go retrograde (aka travel backwards), it is all a matter of perception.  Since the cavemen days we have observed this phenomenon.  Planets really do not go backwards in their orbits.  As the Earth goes faster than the other planets around the sun, we pass them and so it just looks like they are going backwards.  Think of Olympic runners on the track.  Everyone is running the race and going forward around the track (orbiting the sun), but for the faster person who is passing the slower runner,  it looks like the slower runner is going backwards as they outpace them.  Does that make sense?

Every planet goes retrograde.  Mercury gets talked about the most because it is the fastest orbiter to the sun and thus we see this more often.  It happens about 3x a year so we feel its effects a lot more frequently.  I think because we see it more often and that most of our day to day involves things that are governed by Mercury, it feels impactful.  Mercury governs all communication, electronics, and travel.

The good part about retrogrades is that they let us RE-do or RE-work things that weren’t correctly addressed in the first place.  I like the idea of the universe giving us a shot to fix things.  It also gives us a chance to do some introspection and RE-assess our goals.  Nothing is perfect which is a perfectly wonderful meta-lesson for us to learn.  The shadow side is that this time can be frustrating.  I’m a pretty impatient person, so having to do anything twice is like pulling my hair out.

Like I mentioned earlier, every planet goes retrograde.  Note that the Sun, Moon, and Earth do not retrograde.  It all depends on perspective.  Everyone orbits the sun; the moon orbits us; and we live on Earth.  But here is a rough timetable of how the planets retrograde play out:

  • Mercury goes retrograde every 3-4 months for about 21 days.
  • Venus goes retrograde every 18 months or so for about 40 days .
  • Mars goes retrograde every 2 – 2.5 years for about 50-80 days.
  • Saturn goes retrograde about every year for about 138 days.
  • Jupiter goes retrograde about every year for 121 days.
  • Uranus goes retrograde every year for about 151 days.
  • Neptune goes retrograde every year for about 158 days.
  • Pluto goes retrograde every year and spends 5-6 months there.

As you can tell with the frequency, it is more of a common occurrence that someone will have at least one planet in retrograde in their natal chart.  So why do astrologers pay attention to retrogrades if they are that common?  Well, because each planet tells us what is at play.  For example, Venus happens to speak to our relationships but also our finances we earn and our self-worth.  Also, if you were born with a planet in retrograde and it goes into retrograde presently, then it may feel more like a homecoming vs. an exile.

And then depending upon which sign it is traveling in tells us what area its going to be affecting.  So sticking with our impending retrograde as the example, Scorpio deals with intensity, secrets, and power.  But exactly where this occurs depends on your specific chart.  Scorpio may be the house of children for one person, but the house of parents for another.  Can you see where I’m going with this?

The dates of the retrograde are important because it gives us timing tools.  Activity around dates planets stationing retrograde (at the beginning) or going direct (at the end) can be stronger.  Then if the planet is crossing an important angle or degree for you in your chart can be enlightening for specific timing.  And that, my friends, is why knowing your chart is really, really helpful.