What the Hell is a Retrograde?

Many of us have asked that question at some point in our lives, and many are still asking that question. And, when you try to research information about retrogrades in astrology, you get so much flowery and technical information and diagrams, you come away feeling even more confused. An example would be (from the Larousse Encyclopedia of Astrology):

“In fact, the backward motion is an illusion created by the revolution of the planets and the Earth in their concentric orbits around the Sun.”

What the hell does that mean? Its simpler than you think. First off, no planet actually reverses the direction of it’s orbit. But, all of the planets, except the Sun and the Moon, will appear to be moving backward across the sky from time to time. Why do they do this? Its called parallax error. The easiest example is when you are passing a car, or a car is passing you, on the freeway. There is a point where the car appears to be moving backward, then it finally reaches a point where it appears to be moving forward again. The same thing happens or our solar freeway.

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When Will the Planets be in Retrograde? Check Sparrow Moon’s Astrology Events for planetary data.

Car Passing on FreewayWhenever a planet is passing the Earth, or the Earth is passing a planet on our stellar racetrack, the planet will appear to be moving backward from the Earth’s perspective. The most interesting part of this is that it is always in respect to the Sun. When any of the superior planets (planets outside of the Earth’s orbit, Mars through Pluto) come to an opposition to the Sun (the Earth is exactly between the planet and the Sun), it means that the planet is half way through it’s retrograde. Venus and Mercury are inside the Earth’s orbit (inferior planets), so they will (conjunct) cross in front of the Sun (between the Earth and the Sun), when they are halfway through their retrogrades.

What does retrograde mean from an Astrology viewpoint? Each planet in the Zodiac rules different functions of our lives. Some examples would be Venus, the ruler of love and money, or Saturn, ruler of discipline and hard work. When a planet is in retrograde, the parts of our lives that it rules need to slow down and regroup.

Mercury’s retrograde is probably the most watched of all the planets’ retrogrades, because he is so fast, and retrogrades three or four times a year. Mercury is the ruler of communication, short trips, siblings and neighbors, and transportation. This includes technical communication devices like telephones, computers, the internet in general, and even other forms of technology, like televisions and automobiles. When Mercury is in retrograde, its a time for regeneration, reviewing, reuniting, and even repairing. Most any activity that starts with “re” will be “re-warded” under Mercury’s retrograde. But, it is never a good time to start anything new, and that includes new relationships.

When a planet is in retrograde, it is a time for resting and moving the issues related to that planet into the subconscious for further contemplation. The slower, outer planets like Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto are in retrograde almost as much as they are moving direct. So, these planets are usually more functional at the subconscious levels. In general, retrograde is a time for awareness rather than attention. Its a time for letting the “back of your mind” focus on the area of your life that the planet rules.


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5 thoughts on “What the Hell is a Retrograde?

  • Is it problematic to be born under a Mercury retrograde? Actually I have a few planets in retrograde in my chart. 4 planets and both the North and South Nodes. Is that bad?

    • Not problematic to be born under a Mercury retro. Most born under Mercury retro are a little slower to take action, but those born under a Mercury retrograde often find that their lives really move forward when Mercury is in retrograde. As far as other retrograde planets in your chart, it depends upon the planet. Pluto is retrograde almost as much as he is moving forward, so it is common to have Pluto and other outer planets in retrograde. The nodes are not considered major planets. In fact, I usually ignore them, unless the person was born on new or full moon and their moon is close to 1 of the nodes. Hope this helps. :mrgreen:

  • When does this retrograde finish. Can I try playing the lotto. Is it time to try for good luck. And is it a good time to contact my ex and have that relationship again. What about a student studying for exams, is it good?

    • Hi, Anusha! Venus retrograde will end on April 15th, but Mercury’s retrograde won’t end until May 3rd. Whether or not it will be a good time to gamble will depend upon where these retrogrades are landing in your natal chart. If Mercury or Venus are in your 6th house of day to day work, your 10th house of career, or your 2nd house of money, then no, it’s not a good time to gamble. But if Mercury or Venus are in your 8th house of other people’s money, then your luck could be good.

      As far as contacting your ex, Mercury’s retrograde is an excellent time to reunite with an ex. In fact, we have an article with a spell to help to help rekindle your relationship.

      And, I doubt the retrogrades will have any influence on your exams, unless Mercury or Venus are in your 9th house of higher education.

      To check your chart, you will need to know the locations of Mercury and Venus retrograde: Venus retrograde will travel from 13 degrees 9 minutes Aries to 26 degrees 55 minutes Pisces. Mercury retrograde will be from 4 degrees 48 minutes Taurus to 24 degrees 17 minutes Aries.

      Hope this helps! :mrgreen:

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