I hold the firm belief that retrogrades are a very big deal in astrology. Particularly natal retrogrades more than transiting ones, and particularly retrograde personal planets more than the rest. But honestly, they’re all significant. A planetary retrograde occurs when, from our position on Earth, a planet appears to be moving backwards through the sky. It retraces its steps through the zodiac wheel for a short while (or long while, depending on the planet). If a planet was in retrograde motion at the time of your birth, it will have a small “r” or an “Rx” beside it.
The energy of a natal planet in retrograde motion manifests itself differently from a planet in direct motion. Just like the planet’s motion is reversed, the direction of its energy is reversed, from external expression to a more internalized version. For the personal planets, this internalization often leads to second-guessing and insecurities around whatever the planet governs. For example, this could be intelligence and learning ability for Mercury, socializing and the ability to love and be loved for Venus, and assertiveness and the drive to action for Mars.
Transiting retrogrades prompt us to retrace our steps, to rethink and redo things, or to go back to what we’ve left undone. The current sky (on May 7, 2016) has five retrograde planets moving through it at once, and I know that the past few weeks have been a difficult time for many people. I, for one, have been facing an onslaught of invasive thoughts about past regrets and mistakes, the kinds of things I believed myself to be over. Turns out, not so much. But after this reevaluation that the retrogrades are prompting me to have, hopefully I will be.
And that leads me to the final point I’m going to make. I have a theory that since having a retrograde personal planet involves so much reevaluation and is so readily felt, it might lead to someone overcompensating and working extra hard at developing the attributes of that planet. For example, I know three people with Mercury retrograde who, by the time I met them in college, were all highly intelligent and freakishly fast readers (although this is coming from someone with the reading pace of a snail). I have a natal Venus retrograde, and I find myself reading articles and books on how to socialize properly—due to my perceived poor ability to—that most others don’t feel the need to touch. This theory could apply to other retrograde planets as well, but so far I only have my own experience to work from. It could just be because it’s conjunct my moon, but I have Jupiter retrograde, and in addition to having a strongly developed set of values, I’m particularly concerned with self-development and improvement, possibly a result of Jupiter’s expansive energy being turned inward. And I have Pluto retrograde, which I think is more concerned with achieving power and control over the self than over others.
That’s all for Part 1. In Part 2, I plan to explore each planetary retrograde in more depth, as well as link the different energy expressions (direct vs. retrograde) to the signs.