Planetary Retrogrades

The term retrograde is from the Latin word retrogradus – "backward-step".
Retrograde is most commonly an adjective used to describe the path of a planet as it travels through the night sky, with respect to the zodiac, stars, and other bodies of the celestial canopy. In this context, the term refers to planets as they appear from Earth, to briefly stop and reverse direction at certain times, though in reality they perpetually orbit in the same uniform direction.
Although planets can sometimes be mistaken for stars as we observe the night sky, the planets actually change position from night to night in relation to the stars. Retrograde (backward) and prograde (forward or direct) are observed as though the stars revolve around the earth. Ancient Greek Astronomer Ptolemy in 150 AD believed that the earth was the center of the solar system but still used the terms retrograde and prograde to describe the movement of the planets in relation to the stars. Although we know today that the planets revolve around the sun, we continue to use the same terms in order to describe the movement of the planets in relation to the stars as we observe them from Earth. Like the sun, the planets appear to rise in the East and set in the West. When a planet travels eastward in relation to the stars, it is called prograde. When the planet travels westward in relation to the stars (opposite path) it is called retrograde.
What Are Retrogrades
In astrology, the chart of an individual and the planetary affects are impacted and influenced by their spin and movement. Typically, from our perspective here on Earth, planets rotate on a forward path. There's a brief period, called the stationary period, when the planets slow and appear to have stopped moving altogether. But at times, after resting in a stationary position, planets will also appear to be spinning backwards. This phenomenon for astrologers means that the planet is in retrograde.
A retrograde can have an inverse effect on our world, through world events and individual interactions. Retrograde effects can sometimes reverse situations and change our feelings or activities, alter usual communications between people, or affect our ability to discern information in a complete and detailed manner.
Each planet has its own unique cycle it takes to orbit the Sun. This cycle determines a planets frequency and duration in a retrograde period. The planets closest to the Sun have a shorter cycle (for example, it only takes 88 days for Mercury to go full circle, whereas Neptune requires 165 years). The effects of planets in retrograde might vary based on your own astrological characteristics. Just as when and where you were born affects your personal chart, so do the affects of planets and their current cycle at the time of your birth. You can check the current Retrograde Schedule to help you plan for these affects.
If you're looking to the stars for guidance, keep in mind that a proper reading, such as your own unique astrological chart, is the sum of all of its parts. Real astrology is quite complex and analyses are made based on intricate calculations and it's only a guide. Putting too much weight on any single aspect of astrology is a mistake and can provide mis-information instead.
Past Lives
Wither you believe in reincarnation or not, "Past lives" can be a metaphor to help understand the meaning of a retrograde. If you do believe in reincarnation, the lifetimes you've brought into this embodiment have a significant impact on your current life.
Looking to a past life for guidance, can help clarify the lessons you need to focus on today. These past memories can help to attain enlightenment by reviewing past choices that have created karma, or shaped patterns in your life today. By reviving these past memories, you can also retrieve knowledge and wisdom from these past lifetimes which can help you make better choices now and explain why you handle certain situations in the manner you do.
If a planet appears in your birth chart in it's retrograde cycle, they are indicative of a monumental happening that once occurred in a past life. This could suggest that you pay attention to the lessons you never learned in that past and that you strive toward achieving these goals in this current embodiment. Each of the planets represents a different lesson to be learned.
Planetary Retrogrades
There are some basic attributes of planets in retrograde and their characteristics that can be a guide to each person. But keep in mind that how these planets appear in your personal chart can add more detail and clarification to how a retrograde effects you personally. Below you'll find a synopsis of these common characteristics, as well as, the Past Life implications of each planet.
You will find a Schedule Of Retrogrades on the Witchcraft & Shamanism section.
Chiron | Jupiter | Mars | Mercury | Neptune | Pluto | Saturn | Uranus | Venus
Chiron is an asteroid/comet and not a planet. But it's discovery in 1977 brought a great deal of speculation that it was a planet. You can learn more about Chiron from NASA. Consequently it was quickly added to many astrological charts. It takes 50.7 years to orbit the Sun. It's stationary period occurs for approximately 8 to 10 days. It's retrograde period lasts for about 5 months each Earth year. It takes Rules over spirituality (or the higher purpose) in everyday business matters.
When Chiron goes into retrograde, the potential for corruption increases. Through stealing, cooking the books or making unfair business deals. Those in positions of power put their reputations and their businesses at risk for sake of the bottom line and greed. And it's during this retrograde period that their practices can easily be caught.
      Chiron Past Life:
If Chiron is in retrograde in your chart, you face issues of arrogance and/or greed. You may have overwhelming desires to exceed at any cost and at the expense of others. Looking for the easy way to reach easy street, even if it means making unscrupulous deals in the process.
From a past life perspective, you were probably a person who lived in poverty or were destitute or both. Or you may have been expected to succeed, pressured at all turns, but failed in some manner. Only to be blamed, disrespected or ostracized from those you cared most about. Either of these situations possibly left you with seeing the suffering of those you loved, which left a very strong impression on your soul. These past incarnations have left you with a drive to succeed at any cost.

To overcome these lessons, it's time to realize that success is not measured by financial wealth and position. Even the richest of people can be left alone and lonely, not knowing who to trust or what friendships to value based on merit or money. Be thankful for the little blessings in your life. Gratitude for a loving family and an abundance of friends is the true gifts of success.

It takes 12 years for Jupiter to travel around the Sun. It pauses into a stationary position for 5 to 8 days. It's retrograde period lasts for about 4 months or so, approximately once each year. Jupiter rules over your need to grow, expand and learn.
One of the two social planets, Jupiter can affect people in a very holistic manner. This retrograde causes society to reevaluate ethics. Spiritual beliefs and positions are questioned, laws and acceptable or unacceptable behaviors are re-evaluated. Jupiter's retrograde reminds us we're all interconnected, as a society, culture and people. From this view point we see more of the things we have in common, instead of differences. We look at those behaviors that may have once been unacceptable, or had a stigma to them and find compassion and acceptance.
Jupiter is also a ruler of travel. When in retrograde, travel plans are often adversely affected. Even the best well laid plans can fall apart. Luggage can be lost, means of transportation can develop mechanical problems and reservations can be mixed up or canceled.
      Jupiter Past Life:
If Jupiter is in retrograde in your chart, searching for ethics, values and fairness is probably a strong part of your personality. You seek truth and look for deeper meaning in life. Scientific or philosophical research maybe of great interest. You may shun spiritual beliefs and feel a lack of respect for those who have a strong sense of spirituality in their lives. But not having this type of spiritual connection in your life, makes you feel flat and sometimes empty.
You probably feel bogged down or boxed in by routine, rituals or blind faith. You continually question the latest fad or intellectual thought, only to feel disappointed in the end. You're looking for that perfect spiritual path mixed with intellect, hoping to find the right balance between the two.
From a past life perspective, there may have been a lifetime when you were persecuted for your spiritual or ethical beliefs. This experience has probably left you feeling uneasy about embracing anything larger than yourself out of fear of another existence of persecution. You may be concerned about showing your wisdom, feeling fearful of responsibility or for jeopardizing the positions of those who listen to you.
To overcome these lessons, try to listen to your inner voice or intuition. We all have gut feelings, and a healthy amount of skepticism is a good thing. But too much can keep you from finding the balance you seek. Take a little step and start with meditation. Even if you don't want to associate it with a spiritual path, you can't deny the scientific benefits of such an exercise. When you do meditate, take time to listen to your inner voice and you might find the perfect path you're looking for.

Mars requires 687 days to travel one cycle around the Sun depending on the time of year. It's stationary for up to 5 days. Its retrograde period happens every 2 years and it stays in this state for 2 to 2 and a half months. Mars rules over physical needs or physical expressions of emotions.
As the Planet of War, when Mars is in a retrograde period it can create anger and discord. Often it turns inward and people go through periods of great self doubt. Passive aggression, inner angst, stress and anguish are all contributions of the Mars retrograde. This inner angst can be released in unhealthy ways, and directed at others. Such as creating illness, heightened stress, an increase in conflicts and severe road rage. But people who are fairly balanced individuals, both in emotion and nature, may not be as affected by this retrograde as others might be. But be assured that no one escapes it's affects. Short tempers can be applied to even the most calm and patient people.
      Mars Past Life:
If Mars is in retrograde in your chart you may find that you have difficulty in speaking up for yourself. A lack of self confidence, lack of direction or other self-imposed emotional blocks can hold you back from achieving your dreams. You probably look to others to fight your battles and are always disappointed when no one steps forward in your defense. You may also have feelings of being a doormat for the one you love.
If you do speak up, it's probably when you've taken all you can. The anger builds and when released it's often out of proportion, quickly and often times extremely harshly directed towards others. This could be caused from a past life experience when you directed to perform regrettable acts under someone else's orders or demands. Such as a soldier, a guard or potentially a criminal.
To overcome these lessons, try hobbies for focusing your frustrations and stress in a productive manner. Such as building, hammering, gardening or other types of physical activities. Learning techniques for relaxation can also be of great value. Not only for calming your emotions and stresses, but also for looking inward to examine and overcome those issues you've brought into this lifetime to work on.

The Mercury retrograde is perhaps the best known retrograde. It requires 88 days to make a complete pass around the Sun and remains stationary for anywhere between a few hours or a few days, depending on the time of year. This planet goes into retrograde 3 times a year for about 3 weeks each time. Mercury has the highest frequency of retrograde, but stays in this cycle for the shortest length of time. Mercury rules over communication and thought or thinking things through.
Communication is greatly affected by this planet's pull. During this period, individuals may find their messages can be conveyed through other less familiar mediums. Messages may be misunderstood; whispers may be overheard and mail or email may be misdirected. Reviewing legal matters can become confusing, or unclear. Public speaking can become difficult, and those giving speeches can be easily misquoted.
You may find it easier to provide self-expression through other forms rather than verbal or written.
      Mercury Past Life:
If Mercury is in retrograde in your chart, communications are probably tough for you today. You may find your words can get you into trouble or you may be afraid to speak your mind for fear of the consequences. As a past life influence, it's likely that you were once scorned for speaking out; perhaps your words significantly hurt a person, or a people. You may have even influenced a riot and were then punished for your words. A Mercury retrograde symbolizes that you are afraid to say the wrong thing, or that people take your words in the wrong way. So you may find it easier to not speak at all.
To overcome these lessons, you should believe in yourself and the ability of your communication skills. Practice public speaking and celebrate the achievement of speaking to a group.

It takes 165 years for Neptune to circle the Sun. It can spend 14 years in each Sign of the Zodiac. and remain stationary for about 2 weeks. Neptune goes into retrograde 5 months out of every year. Neptune rules over logic and the importance of balance or the flow of life.
When in retrograde, logic falls to the wayside. People gain an increased interest in intuition or esoteric matters. Dreams and psychic abilities find new followers, as people beginning to analyze their inner natures. New outlets of communications come to the surface as artistic abilities get expressed.
Neptune is also the ruler over bacteria, viruses and the immune system. So when it goes retrograde, allergies may kick up or worsen. In addition, children who are given vaccinations during this time, can develop stronger reactions to the drugs. Many people will suffer with an over-sensitive immune system and can develop more serious diseases.
      Neptune Past Life:
If Neptune is in retrograde is in your chart, you are prone to escape reality through delusion or dream. Few people really knows what goes on in your mind, wither you're sitting across from the dinner table or at your desk in the office. Even while you're working, you have a strong tendency to drift off into daydreams to more pleasurable pursuits. This can be one of the most dangerous retrograde positions in the Astrological chart system. This position can cause people to be inhibited and lack the confidence to reach for their dreams in reality. Consequently they may find escape from the proceeved failure through an abuse of drugs or alcohol. They may also fall into an escape from reality al together and have bouts with various forms of mental illness.
From a past life perspective, you may have had a lifetime where your dreams were laughed at, put down or forbidden in some fashion. Or you may have been forced to give up your life long dream in exchange for other responsibilities, such as becoming the bread winner for your family unexpectedly. These past restrictions may cause you to have a penchant for escapism, or to have extreme expressions of your creativity. This has probably gotten the best of you and caused other problems in various aspects of your current life.
To overcome these lessons, you need to learn how to rise above challenges that come across your path. If you abuse drugs, alcohol or use other unhealthy behaviors to escape your responsibilities or the unpleasant moments of life, you will need to seek help and overcome these habits and desires.
To rise above these challenges, use your creativity in a positive manner. Learn to control it and not let it control you. Focus your efforts to not only better yourself and your life, but consider helping others who are going through much tougher situations than you are.

It takes 248 years for Pluto to rotate around the Sun. So this planet can spend up to 21 years in each Sign. It typically spends 17 days in a stationary position and about 5 months in retrograde during each Earth year. Pluto rules over generations, learning from each generation to the next. It also rules over history and learning from the past.
Pluto's retrograde brings change, with fresh starts and dead ends. During this period, things we hang onto the most can suddenly be taken away causing us to reevaluate what we value most. Change can occur through destruction and rebuilding or rejuvenation and regeneration. Outside forces are at work as well, including government upheaval, weapons and war. Change can often be difficult, and sometimes being forced into change is the only way to push some people forward in life.
      Pluto Past Life:
If Pluto is in retrograde in your chart, you face issue of control. Feeling as if you must control all things in and around your life. Often to the extreme and at expense of others. Holding onto relationships so tight they become suffocating to your partner. Or holding onto past relationships, refusing to let go and move on.
From a past life perspective, you were probably ostracized from your family, community or exiled from your home country. You may have been the scapegoat for the community and you stood alone for bad deeds that perhaps you didn't even commit. These past incarnation have left you feeling mistrustful of others, especially those close to you.
To overcome these lessons, it's time to learn trust, of yourself and of others. People are not out to get you in this lifetime. If you do allow the manipulation of others to affect you, you're letting them control your emotions and your actions. So you must learn to let the weaknesses of others slide off you. Don't give them the grip to hang on and they'll be forced to find another to focus on. Use your knowledge and wisdom of the past as benefit to hone your instincts, learn who to avoid, who to trust and most of all how to believe and trust in yourself.

Saturn's average cycle around the Sun is 29 and a half years. Its stationary period, lasts for about 11 or 12 days. And once a year it goes retrograde for about 4 and a half months. Saturn rules over status or your desire to protect your position, in life or in opinion/belief.
One of the two social planets, Saturn slows everything down. But in retrograde it can be a tough taskmaster. It can make us work harder or take longer to think things through, for both our actions or the events occurring around us. There are no short cuts during this time period and detailed plans shouldn't be rushed. Take time to breathe and do things right the first time.
Issues with authority may also be in the forefront during this retrograde. Working on legal matters, such as contracts or deals may be delayed. Deadlines may be extended and may find yourself working on something you thought was already complete.
      Saturn Past Life:
If Saturn is in retrograde in your chart, you may always be in conflict with authority. You may feel persecuted by your boss or upper management. Or you may abuse your own authority or position. You have difficultly in setting limitations, or determining the limits of others around you. You may have problems with voicing your opinions to those in authority, therefore allowing yourself to be victimized. Patience will also be a lesson.
From a past life experience you may have had a lifetime in an abusive situation. Either as the victim or the abuser. You may have been a prisoner, enslaved or you may once been an abusive ruler. Along with these situations, you were probably immensely impatient. Looking for an easy way out of being abused or looking to make your life easier by making others do even the simplest of tasks for you.
To overcome these lessons, you must learn the lessons of patience and the accountabilities of being a leader. If you feel abused, hold those in authority accountable for their actions. If you can learn to constructively voice your concerns and opinions, the rewards will be great. You will be able to take control in this part of your life and end the cycle of victimization.
If you are abusing your authority, you must learn to respect those around you. Rather than continuing with an unrestrained lifestyle, focus on making plans, setting strategy and working hard on your own tasks.

Uranus takes a full 84 years to orbit the Sun. It's very long year can cause this planet to remain in each Sign of the Zodiac for about 7 years. The stationary period for Uranus is 2 weeks, and its retrograde lasts for about 5 months out of every Earth year. Uranus rules over motivation, goals and originality.
Uranus in retrograde, suggests you expect the unexpected. Surprises come out of no where. This can be wonderful or undesirable, depending on the situation. Uranus is the odd ball of the planets in our solar system. It can bring whims of fancy that amaze and amuse. Or it can come with chaos either externally in the world or internally to the individual.
At this time, some people might find their wilder side coming to the surface, or the outgoing person can become uncharacteristically shy. Extreme variations or opposites in your personality are not uncommon and you'll find yourself behaving very differently than other people perceive you.
      Uranus Past Life:
If Uranus is in retrograde in your chart, you probably live your life to the extreme in many aspects. Wither you're an extreme extrovert, or extreme introvert. There is little middle ground in your frame of mind. You see life as black and white with little to no gray areas at all.
In one of your previous lives before this one you were probably a rebel or a revolutionary. Always fighting the establishment or looking for battles that challenge fairness. Though this lifestyle has its merits, it can be pushed to the extreme. Your extreme lifestyle has always interfered with or perhaps even destroyed many other facets of your life.
To overcome these lessons, you need to learn that giving an inch can sometimes gain you a mile. Find the middle ground and learn the art of compromise. Learning compassion can help you live in someone else's shoes and seeing the other side. It can also help you to accept that others have different views or beliefs. Those alternative views aren't wrong, they're just different. All this will help you find the gray areas in life. Take a moment to appreciate the useful aspects of structure. Chose your battles and accept that some structure in life is not just a good thing, but in some cases it's also required.

Venus revolves around the Sun in 225 days and remains stationary for 3 to 4 days. Every 18 months or so, this planet slips into retrograde for approximately 6 weeks. Venus rules over relationships and feelings.
A Venus retrograde focuses on romantic relationships and intimate emotions. Suppressed feelings may come to the surface and you might find new ways to expressing them. People may reevaluate what they want, from life and from those around them. And during this retrograde, they may also seek these new desires elsewhere. Even individual value systems can come into question. What we valued most may seem unimportant, or what we disagreed with before can some how not seem so bad or different. We may find ourselves re-evaluating the meaning of personal views, such as friendship, love, intimacy or even spiritual beliefs.
      Venus Past Life:
If Venus is in retrograde in your chart, you may have some relationship issues to overcome in this lifetime. It's likely that in a past incarnation you feel inhibited or restrained to seek what you really wanted in life. There were probably also external forces beyond your control to keep you and your lover apart, in either the same past life or another that's also influencing your current embodiment. Therefore you may have never learned how to conduct a mature, productive relationship in this lifetime.
Today you probably find it hard to fulfill your dreams or desires from the people who are close to you. You may have difficulty connecting with your mate and sustaining intimate relationships with friends. You may also seek fulfillment from your partner, but that always seems to come up short.
Some of this influence that applies to emotional matters can also apply to financial issues as well. Especially in today's society where we place personal happiness and financial security hand in hand. So you may never quite feel that you have enough in your pockets and therefore your self-worth can become a personal issue for you.
To overcome these lessons of relationships in this life, try to focus on what you really want in a relationship and consider your choice of partners carefully. Good advice for everyone, but especially for those with Venus in retrograde. But remember happiness cannot be created by taking it from others. Only you can make yourself happy. So look within yourself and ponder what you give back to your partner and those you are close to as well.

Source: 1, o22, o30, o31, o33, a1, a2, a3, a4, a5, a7, a8, a9, a10, a11, a12, a13, a14, a15, a17, a18, a19, a20, a21
Created: 09.28.1998       Updated: 12.29.2011