This year, one thing that stood out to me more than all the other motions and meanings of the sky is retrogrades. You've probably heard about Mercury Retrograde and tricky times with communications and technology, but what about the other retrogrades?
Did you know there are other retrogrades, as well? It's true! Some of you may have even heard about Venus and/or Mars retrogrades and how they indicate shifting patterns in relationships. The truth is that all of the planets have retrogrades (not the Sun and the Moon, though).
If you had a period of time this year during which things were 'up in the air', it was probably a retrograde. In so many of the consultations I did, it was things like: should I pursue this relationship? Will I get that raise? Will my new business work out? When you reflect on what that thing was for you- you will have found your retrograde experience(s) of 2019. But, so what?
Now that we know that your 'up in the air' experience aligns with a retrograde, it could be worth looking into which retrograde it was (more on how to do this below). Retrogrades happen every year, and becoming familiar with their ebb and flow can only help us orient ourselves to the quality of the times we are living in, giving us greater insight into what is going on for us. So, here are some retrograde basics to get you started.
Insights into Retrogrades
Do planets actually move backwards? No! A retrograde period is simply the phase when a planet *appears* to be moving 'backward' from the point of view of the Earth. It's because we're all circling around the Sun and because the range of motion is so vast that changing directions causes the illusion of backwards motion. The closest analogy- if you can imagine it- is to picture yourself running around a track with several other people, all moving at various speeds. Note that when you pass someone, they appear to be moving backward. So, the direction of movement is an illusion, but regardless of that fact- this 'optical illusion' does seem to align with certain types of experiences here on Earth. And, these experiences stretch and condense according to the length of the retrograde.
Because of the planetary alignment in our Solar System, each planet has it's very own retrograde rhythm. Our friend Mercury, for example, has about three retrograde periods per year- by far the most often, as it zips around the Sun. Most other planets have about one per year (due to the fact that the earth's orbit is faster than theirs, so it is in fact our motion that creates the retrograde illusion for all of the slow-movers). This would include Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, and also Chiron. Venus and Mars, however, being on either side of the Earth, have more unique displays of retrograde motion. Because of their proximity to the Earth, our motions can tend to be more in sync for periods of time, making the retrograde periods occur less often. Venus has a retrograde period about every year and a half while Mars has one about every two and a half years. So, regardless of the nature of the planet and the sign it's in (or where that happens to show up in your birth chart), simply the length of time and the rate of recurrence of each planet's retrograde periods reflect a certain quality of experience.
Despite these differences, which can help us differentiate between the various retrogrades, there are also commonalities that can help us understand all of the retrogrades more generally. Every retrograde - no matter the planet, sign, speed, or rate of recurrence - has five phases in common.
Five Retrograde Phases:
1) First Pass & Slowing Down - 'Pre-hashing' or initiating something, first steps, hope
2) Stationing Retrograde - when things get 'off track', seem to slow down, or aren't going 'according to plan'
3) Second Pass in Retrograde Motion - Figuring things out, waiting, getting more information, hopeless
4) Stationing Direct - finally things 'come to a head', a decision is made, a new understanding
5) Third Pass & Speeding Up - 'Re-hashing' or getting back 'on track', things start to 'move' again
I noticed many people struggling with phase three this year, largely because of the nature of the timing of some of the moderate retrogrades (Jupiter and Saturn): the ones that are not so slow as to become background noise (Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, Chiron), and not so fast as to speed by like Mercury Retrogrades. I noticed that many people began to lose hope. (Note: We did not have Mars or Venus retrogrades in 2019, but we will have them in 2020 and they would fall into this category of possibly 'needing support'.)
It is exactly this observation of folks needing insight and guidance during retrograde periods in particular that led me to create the Retrograde Clubs that I’ll be offering in 2020. My belief is that having the Retrograde Clubs will offer a supportive structure in which to connect by sharing our stories and bearing witness to one another, using creative engagement with the Astrological wisdom available to us that will serve as a healing balm to those who are enduring these more moderate-length retrograde periods.
In order to find out which retrograde periods may affect you, and to learn more about my forthcoming Retrograde Clubs, sign up for my email list here!
Not everybody is equally affected by each retrograde- it depends on how it interacts with your unique chart, but so many readings that I did this year centered around these retrograde periods that it was noticeable. Almost all of the retrogrades are having a big impact.
If you experienced a period of time this past year that was ‘unsettled’—during which you were waiting for things to fall into place--it was probably a retrograde. When I reflect back on my own year—without first considering the timing, even—the thing that stands out as having been ‘up in the air’ is the development of my husband’s employment. And, when I do track back the transits, it clearly lines up with planetary retrogrades! But, even without knowing the retrograde specifics, you can think back to what things were ‘up in the air’ for you this past year and note that they have now probably more or less resolved (unless you are—knowingly or unknowingly—waiting for Uranus to go direct, in which case you’ll be waiting just a few more weeks for things to settle).
If you’d like to investigate which planetary retrograde may have been at play for you, note which of your periods of suspension line up with the dates listed below. Please understand that a single topic will likely align with a single planet, so you are looking for which planetary timeline seems to reflect the timeline of your own experience. Also of note: the color associations (which may not be apparent if you are on your phone) are for the element of the sign, not the sign itself, nor the planet. But, it should still help you narrow it down. :)
Dates for the Retrogrades of 2019, by month:
7th - Uranus Station, Direct, in Taurus
6th - Mercury Station, Retrograde, in Pisces
29th - Mercury Station, Direct, in Pisces
11th - Jupiter Station, Retrograde, in Sagittarius
25th - Pluto Station, Retrograde, in Capricorn
30th - Saturn Station, Retrograde, in Capricorn
22nd - Neptune Station, Retrograde, in Pisces
8th - Mercury Station, Retrograde, in Leo
9th - Chiron Station, Retrograde, in Aries
1st - Mercury Station, DIrect, in Cancer
12th - Jupiter Station, Direct, in Sagittarius
12th - Uranus Station, Retrograde, in Taurus
18th - Saturn Station, Direct, in Capricorn
3rd - Pluto Station, Direct, in Capricorn
31st - Mercury Station, Retrograde, in Scorpio
20th - Mercury Station, Direct, in Scorpio
28th - Neptune Station, Direct, in Pisces
13th - Chiron Station, Direct, in Aries
Once you know which retrograde period it was, it can help you begin to see what it was really all about! If you still have anything lingering from your experience, a good Astrologer should be able to help you find further clarity. If you would like to consult with me, use this link.
Note: If you’d like a list like this for looking forward into next year rather than just backward into last year, be sure to sign up for my email list here. I’ll be sharing that soon!
In addition, if you are local to Portland, you may wish to attend the upcoming January Panel Discussion about the year ahead which will be hosted by the Oregon Astrological Association. I will be a panelist, focusing primarily on next year’s retrogrades, along with a few other knowledgeable Astrologers, whose voices I would love for you to hear. Register to attend here.
Finally, a note about New Year’s Resolutions:
If you are setting resolutions for the New Year, you may be interested in this blog that I wrote last year about how to do that in an Astrologically-aligned way. Discover why most New Year’s resolutions seem to fail and how to create yours so that your intentions have a better chance of making it!
Happy New Year!
with love from Melanie