Based on the title of this article, you may have three questions: what is retrograde, why should I care, and what does it mean for me?
What Is A Retrograde
On the most basic level, a retrograde is when something is moving backward. When we talk about astrological retrogrades, that means planets are moving backward in the sky aka it looks like the Earth is being passed by whichever planet is in retrograde because of the illusion of time and space and relativity. When, say Mercury, is closest to Earth (which happens quite often relative to the other planets, since it’s the closest to the Sun and thus has more revolutions and opportunities to do this retrograde illusion), which happens on average 3-4 times a year, it can often feel like you yourself are going backwards. Or crazy. Retrogrades can either be or represent disruptions in your life (but hopefully, and thankfully, only during the period of the retrograde).
Why Should I Care
Look, you’re already reading this article. You have to care on some level. Or at least be curious. Which brings us to…
What Does It Mean For Me?
In the next 12 months, these are the dates for the planets that will be in retrograde.
Mercury: October 31st – November 30th, 2019; February 17th – March 10th, 2020; June 18th – July 12th, 2020; October 14th – November 3rd, 2020
Venus: May 13th – June 25th, 2020
Mars: September 9th – November 14th, 2020
Jupiter: April 10th – August 11th, 2019; May 14th – September 13th, 2020
Saturn: April 30th – September 18th, 2019; May 11th – September 29th, 2020
Uranus: August 12th, 2019 – January 11th, 2020; August 11th, 2020 – January 14th, 2021
Neptune: June 21st – November 27th, 2019; June 23rd – November 29th, 2020,
Pluto: April 24th – October 3rd, 2019; April 25th – October 4th, 2020
Famous for being in retrograde, Mercury actually spends about 80% of its time in direct orbit, and only 20% of the year in retrograde, much to your weird aunt’s chagrin. Mercury as a planet is one of transformation, but it’s also associated with being cunning and wily; having a sly tongue and a restless, disruptive spirit. When Mercury isn’t in retrograde, these attributes work to your benefit. When it’s in retrograde your slick words turn to stutters and your quick mind fails you, leading to miscommunication, mistakes, and missed opportunities. It can feel like you’re stuck and nothing is going your way. Mercury is in retrograde 3-4 times a year, so if you experience its effects, it can be highly frustrating. However, just because things don’t go according to plan doesn’t mean everything is ruined; use this retrograde as a moment to reflect on the chaos and find your center.
Rarely in retrograde, Venus only goes into retrograde every 1.5 years and lasts around 6 weeks at a time. If you’re having relationship issues prior to Venus’ retrograde, they may get worse; if you weren’t having relationship issues, they may start. During Venus retrogrades passions can cool and allow you to see your partner through a more levelheaded and rational perspective; things that were tolerable may seem intolerable now. You may feel more sensual and in touch with yourself creatively, but reflect on these feelings, and start new projects when the retrograde is over. I guarantee you’ll feel better for it.
(Un?)lucky for us, Mars goes into retrograde every 26 months for around 2 months at a time. Mars is a planet of action, and is often characterized as the planet of aggression, but its seeming offensive nature is to defend the individualism Mars needs to grow. In retrograde, Mars’ active nature…stops. Like a manual car stuck in neutral, you try to move and can’t. Don’t try too hard–you’ll strip your clutch. Instead, take a deep breath, try and reroute from the frustration and anger that may be your first response, and reflect on why you’re stuck. You’ll get your car (and yourself) moving again.
The truth is out there! Or at least, Jupiter is. This planet goes into retrograde every 9 months for around 4 months at a time, and can be a time of profound inner soul searching and wisdom of the self. Jupiter is the planet of seeking knowledge, but like the planet itself (big boy), you can very easily do so in excess. Outside of retrograde, you may seek knowledge of the material, but during retrograde, you seek knowledge of the spiritual and the self.
Often considered cold, Saturn happens to spend over ⅓ of its orbit in retrograde, around 4.5 months every year. Ruling over disciplines like responsibility, authority, duty, and, well, discipline, Saturn makes us bear the weight of day to day life and the time we spend fulfilling our various obligations. During retrograde, karma can often get balanced out, but we may not always see the fruit of our labor, because time takes time.
Uranus, the oddest of the space balls, spends 5 months once a year in retrograde. Linked with change, revolution, surprises, and straight-up unpredictability, it exists in a strange balancing act, similar to its axis. It could be the subject of The Clash’s “Should I Stay Or Should I Go”. There are only two options with Uranus, and each one is both in opposition and in balance with the other. Without chaos, there can be no order; without Uranus tilt-a-whirling in and messing us up, we can’t clean up the mess. If there was no mess, we’d have no reason to look at our lives through the lens of the retrograde; we’d have no reason to find a new order from the chaos.
Like Uranus, Neptune spends 6 months of the year in retrograde. Unlike Uranus, Neptune deals with liminal spaces as opposed to hard lines between concepts. When Neptune isn’t in retrograde, life can get romanticized, and the self can be sacrificed for what you may consider the greater good, or for other people in general. When Neptune is in retrograde, however, reality slaps you in the face like a dead fish, and reality is smelly and wet (how did you not realize before? Reality sucks). During the retrograde, consider working on yourself for once.
All the outer planets spend around half the year in retrograde; Pluto is no different. Associated with death, rebirth, power, sex, and all kinds of unconscious and subconscious forces, Pluto is associated with that part of your head you put all your intrusive, spiteful, bitter thoughts. It’s the part of you that is bleak and cynical and likes to wallow in grief.When Pluto isn’t in retrograde, these things stay buried; when Pluto is, these feelings are unearthed. Sift through them, and use them to plant a garden. Grow from it, instead of burying your ugly feelings and letting them rot. They may come back as some sort of Oedipal Frankensteinian monster.