What is a Retrograde?…


By Definition..

A planet is retrograde when it is appears to be moving backward in the sky relative to our perspective here on Earth. The appearance of retrograde motion occurs because of the relative difference in the speed of a planet in its orbit around the sun.

However… it is an illusion.

Imagine that you are stationary at a traffic light. Suddenly the car next to you takes off unexpectedly—you may find yourself reacting by pressing down on the brakes because of a temporary illusionary feeling of moving backwards.

Being contrary to the normal flow, a retrograde motion could be seen an exception, or  a challenge, or a deviation from the norm, or an exploration into unknown territory.
In astrological terms the significance of a retrograde is deep and complex.  Understanding each retrograde’s true meaning, its dates and duration, and  possible effects can be incredibly helpful in understanding ourselves our life path and the collective evolution of humanity.  

On average, we experience at least one planet in retrograde about 80% of the time. Mercury, Venus, Mars all come closer to the Earth than the Sun, thus penetrating the interior heart space of our solar system, hence they are the most challenging, and require the biggest adjustments to our status quo.  Jupiter and Saturn go retrograde more frequently, about a third of the time, and the shape of their loops are more flattened and less extreme. So, we can interpret these retrogrades as being somewhat less personal, less challenging overall, and requiring smaller adjustments. The outer planets are retrograde about 40% of the time, so most people have at least one of them retrograde.

As retrograde motion is  different than the norm, it’s often experienced as disruptive.  It seems that getting off the beaten track could be experienced as being less disruptive when we know it’s coming and plan for it by allowing  room for movement and including beneficial practices, such as being more observant, relaxing our expectations and taking less for granted.  As we know that retrograde motion is a side-effect of proximity, perhaps any problems we perceive during retrogrades are at least somewhat due to being too close to someone or something to see it objectively. So, what to do? Taking our time, getting a little distance, and changing perspectives may be very helpful. In the end, a change in perspective might just give us access to an opportunity we would have missed otherwise. Viewed through this lens, perhaps retrograde misadventures can become worth it—even transformative.

The effects of Retrograde Planets in the Birth Char

Retrogrades in the birth chart signify a person who needs to deviate from the norm from time to time. Most people have two or three planets retrograde in their chart. With Mercury, Venus, or Mars retrograde, there may be a focus or accent on the inner life, or a person may have a tendency to perceive things very subjectively regarding the affairs of that planet. With Jupiter and Saturn retrograde, a person may feel out of step with the dominant culture or an intense desire to effect change in society. The outer planets retrograde may signify generational or cross-cultural forces in one’s life which cause them to feel somewhat out of touch with current trends. More than three planets retrograde is relatively rare and signifies a person who may be largely out of step with the world around them—and strongly devoted to finding their own unique path in life.

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