What is Retrograde?


All planets retrograde with the exception of the Sun and the Moon.  Retrograde means that from our vantage point here on Earth it appears that the planets are moving backwards in the sky.  Have you ever been sitting at a stop light and the car next to you begins to move and yet it feels for that moment that YOU are moving? So you slam on the brake? That is retrograde; the appearance from Earth of the planet moving backwards across our sky.

During this time period the energy of the planet becomes a little less stable and tends to be more erratic.  Often with the close inner planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars) it tends to amplify their energy, particularly if they are closer to the Earth during the Retrograde.  The outer planets tend to retrograde for longer periods of time, making the retrograde influence not as powerful or noticeable.

The energy of the retrograde will present earlier than the actual retrograde; the day of the precise movement is called the “station.”  The planet will “station” in retrograde or go “stationary direct.”  The period before and after these precise dates and times is called the “shadow” period.

The shadow period is a somewhat arbitrary length and depends upon many factors.  Typically the Mercury shadow zone can be up to ten days before and after.  Venus and Mars can be several weeks before and after.  The outer planets move so slowly there is not typically a noticeable impact during their shadow phase; pay more attention to the station dates.

Retrograde is good for “re” … review, renew, re-think, re-examine, redo ….  Circumstances, people, issues that you thought were finished can pop back into your life.  This is where the term “third time is a charm” comes from.  The planet touches a point of your chart; it moves backwards over that point again; and then hits it a third time as it moves forward. If you have learned the lesson and handled the energy wisely, there is little impact.  If you have not, the Universe gives you another opportunity to work on the problem.