What is a Retrograde Planet

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In the birth chart we can sometimes see a small “r” next to the planetary symbol of one or more planets. This “r” identifies the planet as retrograde. This backward movement is, in fact, an optical illusion that can only be seen from Earth. Sometimes during its orbit around the Sun, the Earth passes by another planet. That planet appears to be moving backwards due to the stillness of distant stars in the background. In reality, the movement of the planet has not changed, however, seen from Earth, we see it retrograding. Another important point is to note that when a planet goes retrograde, it is because it is closer to Earth than ever before.

Having retrograde planets is normal. All planets become retrograde at one point -by exception of the Sun and the Moon.

The planets represent specific actions or expressions of different parts of our Being. They are the “what” in our birth chart, while the astrological signs represent the “how” and the astrological houses indicate the “where”. When the planets are in direct motion (that is, they are seen moving normally), their energy flows outward. Mercury thinks. Venus attracts. Mars acts. And so. So… what happens when the planets go into retrograde?

What Retrograde Planets Do

First of all… don’t panic! There is nothing wrong with retrograde planets. When a planet goes retrograde, its energy turns in on itself, seeking to recalibrate. We could say that retrograde planets are relearning something they have missed earlier. It’s like they’re saying… “”Wait, I have to go back because I realize there are certain things I could have done better.”

When a planet goes retrograde, a period of self-examination begins.

By analogy, we could say that retrograde planets are parts of our being that go through this self-examination, especially noticed in the areas of life- or astrological house- where the retrograde planet is located.

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So, what does a retrograde planet do?

  • Retrace its steps to understand the causes of current circumstances
  • Goes into introversion mood – avoids direct action
  • Repeats experiences to understand its own functioning with them
  • Resumes its normal course (becomes direct) and faces present circumstances with a new – and improved – perspective.

Retrograde Shadow

The planets begin their retrogradation at a certain degree of the Zodiac. They can remain apparently motionless at this degree for a very short period, what we call a “stationary planet”, and then begin their backward motion. When the planet turns direct, it begins to retrace its previous path. The stretch that it covers from the beginning of its direct movement to the degree in which its retrogradation began is called the “retrogradation shadow”. During this period we return to the same point where retrogradation began, but with a new perspective. Situations similar to those we experienced before the retrogradation began may arise. However, this time we have the opportunity to see things with a new perspective and make different decisions.

Stationary Planet

We call “stationary” a planet that is changing from direct to retrograde motion, or from retrograde to direct motion. During the stationary phase, the planet’s energy becomes concentrated, focused. It’s strength is very powerful.

Another Theory

My theory is that, being so close to the Earth, the “auras” of the retrograde planet and the Earth’s are too close together to be clearly differentiated… So, we feel that the energies of the retrograde planet are inhibited, but in reality, they are just less clear because they join those of the Earth, almost as it happens in a conjunction. I think this because the backward movement that we see in retrograde planets is actually an optical illusion.

What is not yet clearly defined is the energy of the Earth. If we knew it as we understand the energy of Mars or Neptune, we could understand more deeply the effects of retrogradation. I always think that astrology for someone born on Mars must be different. Or at least, it would include Earth and exclude Mars. Do you have any idea of the symbolism of the Earth if we described it as we describe the rest of the astrological symbols? If you have it, leave it in the comments!

The Role of Retrograde Planets

Retrograde Planets in the Birth Chart

When we have one or more retrograde planets in our birth chart, the re-examination I mentioned earlier becomes a major theme in our lives. These planets act as “engineers” of their specific domain. Over time, they become experts. Being born with the planets in retrograde, the introverted state of these energies is part of our habitual behavior.

The presence of retrograde planets in the natal chart indicates that we have a great tendency to self-reflection. We re-examine the causes and consequences of past events and correct what needs to be corrected. Of course, the aspects that retrograde planets form with other planets, the astrological house where they are located, their planetary ruler and their aspects greatly influence the behavior of the retrograde planet.

Is it bad to have a planet in retrograde motion at birth? No way! As I said before, these planets enrich our understanding of the workings of Life. Of course, the inhibition of retrograde planet energy can feel like a burden, especially during the early part of our lives. We might feel like we don’t belong to the current. And that, in childhood, is not lived very well. But over the years, the depth with which we understand the energy of the retrograde planet is immense. And thus, our ability to deal with worldly affairs becomes exceptional. If we have enough patience, we will see that having retrograde planets is practically a blessing!

Transiting Retrograde Planets

When a planet goes retrograde during its transit, it acts similar to the natal position, but its effects are temporary. Depending on the planet, we see that what it represents enters a period of hibernation. In other words, its energy is not displayed as usual but is somewhat inhibited.

During the retrograde period of a transiting planet, its effects are more circumstantial. For example, we are forced to do something more than once, we want to move forward on a project but for some reason we can’t… well… many things that happen during a retrogradation force us to pay twice as much attention as when planets move directly. Sometimes we rediscover situations or we meet people from the past. It is as if we have an opportunity to see how much we have evolved… or not.

In any case, the process of retrogradation allows us to see the situations that arise more closely, re-experiment them and, as I mentioned before, understand the causes of our current circumstances. The house and the sign through which the planet transits in retrograde indicate the nature of these circumstances.

Retrograde Planets Meaning

Mercury Retrograde Natal and Transit

  • Mercury goes retrograde three or four times a year.

In astrology, Mercury represents the mind. As the messenger of the gods, Mercury rules communication, verbal expression, the thought process, transportation, short trips.

Transiting Mercury Retrograde

During a transit, when Mercury retrograde our minds can be foggie. We may experience delays in messaging services, short trip cancellations, communication mishaps, inefficiencies, typos, etc. It is a good idea to pay special attention to what we read, say or write as many things can be missed. Why? Mercury wants us to examine the way we process thoughts, the way we generate ideas, the words we use, and the way we communicate. Therefore, delays may be experienced as a result.

The “dreaded” Mercury retrograde helps us to reevaluate the methods we have been using up to now. Are they efficient enough? Personally, every time Mercury goes retrograde, I feel like improving my environment, re-organizing my files, etc. And if I’m in the middle of a project, I don’t feel like completing it. In fact, during Mercury retrograde, I usually start 3 or 4 projects simultaneously, because I start one and very soon I feel like doing something else. This energy is really very strong. Even if I force myself to finish what I started, it will take 10 times longer than normal.

Natal Mercury Retrograde

When Mercury is retrograde in our birth chart, we will develop a deep understanding of mental processes. We repeat experiences that force us to pay attention to how we formulate ideas. We go through the same effects that are listed in the transit of Mercury, with the difference that we have no choice but to learn to use our mind in a different way.

This position indicates that we are re-learning to think, to speak, to write. We will be very aware of how our words are received. Situations or people that pressure us to verbalize directly and spontaneously can make us believe that it is difficult for us to understand what we are learning. The point is that we think differently. As I always say to my clients, the most important thing is to discover how Mercury retrograde balances the entire chart. What other planet gains strength? What benefits from mental introversion? In any case, our thinking processing is quite sharp and the potential to become excellent communicators is very strong.

I recommend reading the first part of this article, if you haven’t already, to learn more about what retrograde planets mean.

Venus Retrograde Transit and Natal

In astrology, Venus, the goddess of love, represents our personal preferences, what we value, how we find beauty, personal grace, our affective language.

Venus Retrograde Transit

When Venus becomes retrograde during its transit, we are likely to feel the need to review our personal values and interpersonal relationships. We may ask ourselves… what do I value? what I prefer? are my relationships balanced? It may be that our affective language is temporarily blocked or that we are suddenly not so sure about what we really like. We can buy things that in the end were not what we really wanted. Or we have difficulty expressing our affection. The point is that we are revaluing the value we place on both material and immaterial goods. We are redefining our relationships. So, it is a good time to focus on ourselves and review our affective language as well as observe what we have been attracting into our lives, and how.

Natal Venus Retrograde

When Venus is retrograde, our power of attraction is intense, as well as our likes and dislikes. However, Venus goes inwards and says “I’ll keep a low profile for now…”. Why? Venus retrograde is so close to Earth that its energy is very attractive! It is as if the goddess herself is right in the middle of the city. Everyone and everything is drawn to her unwitting power of seduction. One might say.. “but that’s good!”. Well, not really… Because, like I said, Venus brings us everything that matches our vibration! People with this position often feel unable to form lasting relationships, especially in their early years. This position indicates that each relationship they form helps them recalibrate their personal values. They are re-learning something that was previously overlooked about interpersonal relationships. We must look at the contacts that Venus has with other planets, the astrological house where Venus is located, its planetary ruler, as well as the planets with which it forms an aspect to find out more. As I said with Mercury, the most important thing is to discover how Venus retrograde balances the entire chart. With this position, our attitude towards love, pleasure and personal values is being re-calibrated. We go through experiences that help us do just that. And we can benefit greatly if, as we come to understand the world of relationships – which we will surely do – we review our past and re-configure it with our new understanding.

I recommend reading the first part of this article, if you haven’t already, to learn more about what retrograde planets mean.

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