What Do Retrogrades In Astrology Mean?

Retrogrades can sound scary. Like something is wrong in the galaxy. Or that you were born under a defective planet. I get many emails from people lamenting that they were born with Mercury Retrograde. But it’s not a problem, it’s an asset. Many a fabulous writer was born with Mercury Retrograde.  You can check out the upcoming Retrogrades in the Moon Calendar btw.

Retrograde phases are immensely useful.  You just have to work them right. Not for you the adrenal rage over the time it takes to book some tickets during Mercury Retrograde. Nor the lawsuit that you begin with Mars Retro and it bogs down for years. A Venus Retrograde boob job or impulse cross-country first date? Lol.

So first up, planets do not actually stop, turn around and go backward. If they were viewed from a fixed position in the solar system, you would never see a retrograde motion, but we view them from the earth, which is also moving. So when a planet is closest to the Earth, and in line with the Sun, the Earth’s orbit ‘overtakes’ it. The planet appears to slow down and go backward. The entire retrograde process is dependent on the relative position of the Earth’s orbit and the Sun’s path.

The Sun and the Moon never go Retrograde. If someone says their “Moon is Retrograde,” you are either talking to an idiot or they are trying to get you into bed.

The planets from Jupiter out – and inclusive of Jupiter – spend so much time Retrograde that they are not super relevant. Pluto spends half the year Retrograde, for example. Even Saturn pulls off a nearly five-month Retrograde.

But the days that these outer planets turn Retro OR Direct are big primal pulses of energy around that planets nature.

Uranus going Retro OR direct feels like a super-bats Mercury Retrograde. Or one long insider cosmic joke. Secrets and conspiracies often erupt when Pluto changes “direction.” People confess or reveal their real motives.

So take note when an outer planet is shifting gear and especially if the degree it is doing it on is important in a birth chart. Notice also that it tends to sit on that degree for weeks. If that’s your Venus or Moon, you will feel that particular planetary vibe intensely.

BUT the outer planets, once Retrograde, are kind of impersonal.  It’s the inner planets: Mercury, Mars, and Venus which reliably create the most havoc via their retrograde motion.  Mercury Retrograde is the transit even Muggles know about. It occurs THREE times a year for THREE weeks. Some are like full-blown non-stop Full Moon-Eclipse crazy and others just flow on through.

In ancient astrology, you were supposed to never sign a document when Mercury was out of whack like this. Mercury rules commerce, merchants, money, signatures, and deals. The “not signing a contract” caution is most relevant when Mercury is Retrograde anywhere involving Saturn or if Mercury is Retrograde in Capricorn.

It is also a REALLY good idea to not go “wow fuq yeah” – or whatever you say – when presented with a too-good-to-be-true offer during Mercury Retrograde. But signing the dotted line on something you’ve been negotiating for months? Do it but triple-check the details.

Mercury Retrograde is also superb for fresh ideas in the sector of your birth chart where it is occurring. Both new perspective and options.  Many people get really excited about reading when Mercury is Retrograde – enthusing about books, downloading heaps of Kindle samples and arming themselves with fresh intelligence.  Use Mercury Retrograde to reinvigorate your thought style and operating data, if not for technical reforms.

As for being BORN with Retro Mercury – enter the poet, film-maker, novelist and gifted intellect. It seems that these are people who are naturally inclined to think differently.  Mercury Retrograde often lends itself to a more inventive or poetic consciousness, one unhampered by traditional ideas or received opinions. Think a la Jorge Luis Borges, Margaret Atwood or Steve Jobs, to name just a few native Mercury Retrograde people.

Venus Retro is part of a broader and mysterious cycle.  The cycle of Venus maps out a giant beautiful “Flower of Venus” pattern in the sky.  There is an argument that you should only consider Venus Retrogrades in the context of the previous echoes of the current cycle. She moves in eight-year cycles, with five distinct phases, creating a giant pentagram pattern.

Retro Venus is always a time where you don’t do Venusian type surgery – anything cosmetic or, um, labial. It’s also a weird time to up and change your look via a whole lot of NEW purchases. Venus Retro is better for stripping back, purging and simplifying all things Venusian. That is art, complexion care, aesthetic and relationship policies.

More profoundly, think of how Goddesses such as Ishtar and Persephone went on underground journey-ordeals that led their rebirth as more powerful leaders.  Those are linked to Venus Retro also.

Being born with Venus Retro is like being born with Mars Retro.  In old-fashioned astrology textbooks, you will read that this placement means you have difficulties in romance or are just, you know, rabid. I read something once that said you would be more likely to be “a whore or a soldier of fortune.”

The late astrologer Debbi Kempton-Smith wrote that natal Venus or Mars Retrogrades make you more classy and refined. Do not buy into some of the crap written about these aspects in old-fashioned textbooks or by manipulative Qi Vampires. They’re not an indicator of “karmic limitations” and humans can’t be Karma Police dishing out dictates about what is and is not bad karma. Their power trip is your ‘skip over that bit.’

Mars Retro, in general, is a time when you can successfully scheme in secret – it’s great for stealth makeovers of anything. Mars Retro makes me think of training montages in movies where the hero or heroine goes and does all this crazy-intense-ambitious stuff to massive next level via guts and determination. It’s when you don’t tell – you do.

In the olden days, you would look out for armies on the move at night during Mars Retrograde. And, you probably already know this, it’s not the best time to initiate an attack. It’s more like when you fortify your borders.

Retrogrades In Astrology make the most sense when you personally observe them, taking note of how the various phases affect you. My personal favorite Retro trick is to notice which point or planet the Retrograde planet will cross three times – forwards, back and forward again – and prepare for things to be uncovered or to surface in the time, around the themes of that planet.

16 thoughts on “What Do Retrogrades In Astrology Mean?”

  1. This venus retro thanks you for this post – I’ll take classy and refined. Rabid does fit the bill at times though – whether it’s my venus retro or my venus-conjunction-Uranus, or just being a multiple Scorp! 😉 But, eh, can’t we all be?

  2. I’m moving during a mercury retrograde…again. Accepted and signed the job transfer documents a month ago, but the actual drive across the country is happening next week. Leaving a position that had become stale and a relationship that had become toxic. My ex (whom I am living with as roommates until I move out this weekend) totaled his car last night and had to call me for rescue – he’s realizing late how meaningful our relationship was. It’s definitely a strong emotional undertow.

  3. What if your Nodes turn Direct on the day you where born, and if the outer planets turned direct, stationed or turned retro on the day you were born? Because the day Neptune turned last weekend coupled with the Southern hemisphere solstice (and I’m thinking the Saturn and South Node conjunction) dragged up some deep, deep forgotten situations and lessons that apply to current happenings. Does this apply to charts?

  4. I have Neptune retrograde conjunct my moon and I have a very rich inner life. I can disappear into myself which can be helpful but also you can get in your own way by disassociating as your defense mechanism.

  5. I have Mercury and Mars retro, ironically in opposition to one another. It took me a long time to really understand my thinking and general life approach and I often felt ostracised when I was younger. I was always being told how weird I was and was often called a witch. My Mercury is in Gemini, so it’s pretty hyper as is; add that natal retro and it offers a kind of ‘seeing the world askance’. I write and teach writing programs at university and I find it to be a great outlet for my ‘different’ kind of thinking. I have a notion that Mercury retro people make for good teachers because they can see others thinking and development readily. And I can happily report that now I own my retro chart (5 planets in total) people tend to call me eccentric and out there. They may not get me but I do and I’m pretty happy with that when all is retro and done.

  6. i thought it was apt, and actually thought this was the “post” – when I first clicked on the blog link it led me to a blank page that just read, “Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a few minutes.”

  7. This was so useful. I have gone through my Venus retrograde cycles, and they are very relevant for me. Also because my Aries retro was on my 8 house cusp and opposite my Pluto. It has been the end of every significant relationship that needed ending. Every single retro in Aries has ended something for me. And every retro in Gemini has been great!

  8. Wish Upon a Star

    Thanks for this article Mystic. It answers a question that popped up a few weeks ago.

    I only have one planet that is retro natally. It is Neptune in Scorpio in the 9th house. I googled it and the main thing I took away is to “grow a pair” (exact words used) about owning my unique spiritual talents and stop trying to conform. Apparently in a previous life I could not pursue these talents due to religion etc.

    I won’t dismiss this as it really hit a raw.nerve and the bluntness hit the right spot.
    I know Neptune is an outer planet and retrograde status is no big deal. But if Neptune was natally just going retro or direct it would have a big impact I assume.

    So how do I find out if Neptune was doing this natally and any other planet for that matter?

    Any thoughts Mystic, peeps?

    1. Check the ephemeris for the year you were born and see how close it was to your birthday. Also check for Neptune aspects.

    2. I don’t align with that delineation of Neptune in the 9th but don’t have time to check the Astral DNA one. It does say what you have Retrograde/Direct though. I don’t think it would be much of an impact though but just google the ephemeris for your year of birth and look for the R or D!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *