Updated: Jul 5, 2021
It seems like every time a retrograde hits every post I see on Facebook, Instagram, or video I watch on YouTube blames every negatively aspected occurrence on the existing retrograde at that time. Although often funny this is not exactly what retrogrades are all about - so I thought I would take the time to briefly write about and discuss on Morning Metaphysics the topic of astrological retrogrades.
What is a Retrograde?
A retrograde happens when any planetary or heavenly body (and yes all planets and bodies go through retrogrades) appears to move backwards through the zodiac wheel instead of forwards. As we discussed in the beginner astrology series, astrology is always based off the perspective from here on Earth. Retrogrades are a visual phenomena where a planet appears to move backwards through the nights sky as the picture below depicts, in this case Mercury:
As you can see from the photo the planet appears to move backwards through the night sky because of a multitude of factors including our orbit, Mercury's orbit, the tilt of the earth, etc. This effect is known as a Copernican Revolution.
If you want the full science behind how this works you can catch up on that in this awesomely written blog post: https://earthsky.org/space/what-is-retrograde-motion
This phenomena then makes the planet appear to move backwards back through a zodiac sign that the planet is in. Now retrogrades don't mean that all of the things the planet and sign represent are going to reverse or appear to be negative per say. Just like in Tarot if you do read reversals - reversals do not always mean the "opposite" of what the card means.
Retrogrades have different phases:
Shadow Phase - the phases leading up to and after the planet appears to be moving "backwards"
Stations - the point at which the planet appears to "stop"
Retrograde - the period in which the planet appears to be moving backwards through the sky.
Shadow phase meanings vary wildly from source to source, but in general they just represent the scale and intensity of the retrogrades energy and its effect to us here on earth, the first shadow phase builds the energy, the retrograde is the peak, and the last shadow phase is when the energy fades away. The stations also have meanings, but that is a discussion for another day (or a Google search if you really want to know). These phase durations can vary in length of duration based on the planet and when it goes retrograde so there are no hard and fast rules to how long these last for.
What do retrogrades mean?
Retrograde meanings are also something that some deal of variance from astrologer to astrologer and system to system. So as always I encourage you to do your own research to look into the various things and find what resonates with you - but I will discuss what I connect with below as a starting point.
As I mentioned previously every astrological planet or heavenly body can experience a retrograde, for the purposes of this discussion we'll just look at the planets. Retrogrades can have an effect on the energies that the planet posses and how those energies interact with the zodiac sign the planet is retrograde in. Below are a list of the basic energies associated with each planet during its retrograde, however, it is always important to understand the zodiac sign that the planet is in retrograde in and how that influences the planet as well as your association to that planet and sign based on your natal chart.
Mercury ☿ - communication issues, technology (used for communication) troubles, travel complications.
Venus ♀︎ - relationship issues (love and platonic), indecision, impulsiveness.
Mars ♂︎ - low energy, poor motivation, passive aggression.
Jupiter ♃ - re-evaluation of beliefs, inner conflict, anxiety.
Saturn ♄ - confronted by things you have put off, avoidance of obligations, undisciplined
Uranus ♅ - inner conflict, new perspectives, self reflection.
Neptune ♆ - nightmares, paranoia, anxiety.
Pluto ♇ - unexpected changes, stubbornness, unease around new things.
For me personally retrogrades are always a time to do some personal house keeping in some of the following ways:
☿ - Connect with old friends, back up data and devices, car maintenance.
♀︎ - return to unfinished things, make a list of unfinished projects, turn off single click pay on Amazon (I'm not kidding.) ♂︎ - Increase vitamin B and D intake for extra energy, make lists, work with blue lace agate.
♃ - Do something I've never done, write daily self affirmations, take "me time".
♄ - Evaluate unfinshed projects and scrap ones that never will happen, stick to all social engagements, goal setting.
♅ - journaling, studying new cultures or religions, looking at and organizing photos
♆ - cleanse my dream catcher and add a bead, treat myself, avoid all scary movies (really).
♇ - be flexible, try something new, explore my "darker"side
These are just a few of the things I do, but I always keep an astrological planner thant informs me of the retrogrades for the year and I always try to do one thing each retrograde that helps to balance out the energy of that retrograde. If it is an outer planet - one who's retrograde can last months - I will often try to set a goal to do something to counter the energy every week. Be sure to also check on the sign and its relationship with the planet too to see how that can impact the retrograde at hand.
I hope this fundamental review of retrogrades provided you with some insight into them and their influences over us while we are in a retrograde. As always be sure to do some research yourself and dive into the areas you find most interest in, and you can always check out my reference sources below!
As always, remember - everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about - be kind - always.