The Harkening: on Retrograde

Greetings, and welcome back to Journeys! This month I have some thoughts about planets in retrograde motion as natal, progressed or transiting influences.

For The Traveller

It is something we are all familiar with – you are planning a holiday, but your car tire blows a week before the trip. After fixing it the flight is then delayed by several hours, leaving you waiting. There is a weird problem with you at customs. Then your luggage is sent to the wrong destination, and you spend the rest of the trip trying to track it down from an overbooked hotel you had to tussle with to get a room – just not the one with a view that you booked. Later you are delayed again on the way back, and something else is wrong with the car when you return. Something like that, anyway.

Or how about this one – they broke your heart, but in the kindest way. You suffered terribly from unrequited love, struggling to keep a friendship alive. Things got easier when they went away. But then they came back and just when you thought you were over it all you find yourself ,more deeply and hopelessly lost than before. Or maybe you were the one who went away, thinking that would solve things. 

If you are nodding your head, you have been touched by the power of a retrograde planet.

For those not encountering this term before, retrograde is an apparent reversal of the normal motion of a planet through the longitude (degrees) of the zodiac. What was moving forward now moves backward. Long, long ago, our ancient ancestors were watching the sky at night where the planets appear like glittering stars, only they observed that these lights were different because they moved, and not only that, sometimes they seemed to stop, reverse direction, then stop and go back again, performing loops and wheels in the sky.

As far back as the Hellenistic era (two thousand years ago), where records of modern western astrology essentially begin, astrologers have a familiarity with retrograde. Texts refer to it as ‘anapodosmos’ (‘walking backward’, but some confusion arises because this was a term also given to descriptions of Mercury, the most frequently retrograding planet) or ‘hupopodizontes’ (‘retracing their steps’). Surviving texts do not tell us much about how it was viewed but there seems to be some flexibility over how to interpret it with a general consensus on basic principles.

In even earlier times they did not have the understanding of planetary orbits that we have, viewing the worlds in the sky as living entities roaming the heavens, and so they could not have realised that these movements were astronomical mirages (this was a secret taught in some advanced Mystery Schools, however), but they could still predict retrograde planets since there is a mathematical way to do so, given enough observation and record keeping, which they were excellent at.

In its easiest to understand form, this mirage – it’s only an apparent reversal of normal motion´- is the same phenomenon that occurs when you are sitting on a fast moving train that passes a slower moving one. Although the slower train is in forward motion, it appears to be moving backwards. With planets, however, the effect is not generated by relative speed but by angular relationships formed from the position of the Sun, Earth and the retrograde planet, and the scale of the orbits involved. It is about trains moving on circular tracks, all arranged as smaller rings within bigger rings. Since the objects in our solar system all orbit the Sun circling in the same direction (counterclockwise when viewed from above the Suns north pole) but are vast distances apart and thus have different orbital periods, it can sometimes happen that as we are looking out they appear to sometimes move backwards through the sky as if reversing their orbit. This can happen with any object orbiting the Sun – the Sun itself and the Moon, which orbits Earth, are never able to retrograde.

It’s also worth noting at this point that the opposite of retrograde is prograde, and that both of these terms refer to whichever direction the object at the centre of the orbit/s is turning (i.e. upon the axis of rotation of the primary physical body in the system). For example, the objects in our solar system all have prograde orbits – they orbit the Sun in the same direction that the Sun itself is rotating on its axis. It’s also worth noting that in our solar system all except two planets have prograde axial rotations (they rotate in the same direction the Sun rotates). The two exceptions are Venus and Uranus, which have retrograde rotations, but still have prograde orbits.

BAD NEWS?

Let’s get this out of the way early, because modern notions of retrograde planets are largely caught up with Mercury retrograde which typically is said to bring unwelcome news, delays and travel jams, and the ancient view is typically negative as well, especially on Mars and Saturn retrograde. Some sources, stemming back to ancient times, state that the nature of the planet itself is important, with Mars and Saturn retrograde being very bad.

Is retrograde in general bad news? No, it isn’t. It very much depends on the circumstances and who you are, and how you feel about the current momentum of things symbolised by that planet. The fact that this momentum is going to reach a halt for some reason and then recheck ground just covered holds the future in a state of suspension, which is generally not welcome, but the real factor here is who or what gets to be postponed, delayed, rendered dormant or discontinued, and who will cop the worst effects of that loss of momentum and the need for revisiting. The effect may just be a temporary one where things resume in the normal manner fairly soon, once the retrograde activity is over, but by then a lot of damage can have been done – plans may have been canceled, major policies reversed, journeys prevented, old flames foolishly reignited by temptation. Or, seemingly impending disasters and tense situations could be averted, dodged, defused, miraculously prevented by a last minute save. Retrograde is a turning back, but a turning back that offers us not just a second but a third chance at things. It also offers us an opportunity to dig deeper into things that matter to us. Retrogrades have a bad rep because typically we only remember the ones that sting. 

So the entire question of whether retrograde is good or bad is problematic because it is so circumstantial. One thing that seems clear to me is that the person to cop it wont normally be the person with that planet in retrograde motion in their natal chart, as they seem to thrive under retrograde transits of that planet, but also to have to make more of an effort during direct motion periods of that planet (i.e. most of the time). It’s like finally things are going their way after long periods of struggle. In this way, slow moving retrograde planets (from Jupiter out) seem to be more problematic than fast moving planets (from Mars in), but ultimately more rewarding as their payoff for sustained effort is bigger when it comes due. I say now to those people as someone born under Saturn retrograde – don’t give up! Just learn the right timing for when things will go more the way you want them to, and at a much quicker pace, and when the wind is blowing in the other direction again push even harder into it towards the next shift when things will swing your way again. Just learning this rhythm and accepting it will take you a long way.

The better question with a clearer answer than ‘is it bad news?’, then, is if it can be used pro-actively, and the answer to that is a definite yes, and it’s where we will focus on here. First, we need to have some understanding of the various stages of a retrograde, as it is not a single event but an extended period, and each part of the period has a different significance and potential. This means it is best for us to start with looking at transiting retrograde planets (and by inference progressed ones), so we can understand a natal retrograde planet in the context of this period.

RETROGRADE TRANSITS

As stated above all planets in the solar system can go retrograde in the zodiac, only the Lights cannot  (or, as my mum often said, “life goes ever on”). They will all do so on a fairly regular basis, and sometimes there can be a number of retrograde planets at the same time. Mercury and Venus if retrograde will be relatively near to the position of the Sun (but can also be in direct motion while conjunct the Sun, it depends on whether they are on the far side or near side of the Sun relative to Earth), while the other planets will be retrograde when they are relatively near to an opposition with the Sun (and not when they are near to it). This means that Mercury and Venus can sometimes be retrograde as well as combust, under the sunbeams or cazimi, but the other planets cannot ever be both. This also means that if you know the zodiac position of the Sun and the other planets in the solar system you can often work out roughly when the retrograde periods are going to be for that year, but Venus and especially Mercury are trickier, and the further out a planet is from the Sun the longer its retrograde periods last (meaning they can be a few signs away from an exact opposition with the Sun, so it really is a rough rule).

Our calendar does not measure celestial cycles well, but in general:

  • Mercury has 3 retrograde periods per year. They are spread about 4 months apart and last about 3 weeks each.
  • Venus has 1 retrograde per year. They are spread about 7 months apart and last about 6 weeks each.
  • Mars has one retrograde every 2 years (plus a month or two) and they last 8-12 weeks.
  • Jupiter has one retrograde per year lasting 4 months.
  • Saturn has one retrograde per year lasting 4 and a half months.
  • Chiron has one retrograde per year lasting 5 months.
  • Uranus has one retrograde per year lasting 7 months.
  • Neptune has one retrograde per year lasting 5 months.
  • Pluto has one retrograde per year lasting 5 months.

Because planetary orbits are not perfect circles but instead elliptical they can be close (at one of the sides of the ellipse) or far away from the Sun (at one of the sharper curves at the ends). This accounts for why Neptune and Pluto currently have a shorter retrograde period than Uranus even though they are further away from the Sun in terms of orbital position. The length of the retrograde period of these planets can change from those I have given but these figures are good for a few decades from now.

There are also very interesting patterns to these retrograde patterns in terms of their appearance in zodiac signs. These patterns are sometimes disrupted by things like when retrogrades occur at the boundary (beginning or the end) of a particular zodiac sign, but they are still continuing in the same way, these are just anomalies that arise during special transitional periods, and they serve to give extra emphasis to something:

Mercury retrogrades appear in clusters following a sequence of the Elements in the order of Fire, Water, Air, Earth. Each of the 4 Elements will normally have at least one Mercury retrograde in each of its 3 signs, with some signs often receiving more than one retrograde, before the Mercury retrograde sequence moves on to the next Element. For example in 2020 we are in the period where Mercury will turn retrograde while in each of the 3 Water signs. In 2021, he will retrograde in each of the three Air signs, and so on, following the order of the Elements given above. However in 2022 he will repeat the Air signs before moving on to Earth.

Venus is all over the place in terms of the Elements (she is not, she is actually following a grander beat but is still visibly following a pattern through the modes of Cardinal/Active, Fixed/Stable and Mutable/Reactive signs. This year for example her retrograde is in the Mutable/Reactive Air sign of Gemini, next time it will be in the Cardinal/Active Earth sign Capricorn. This pattern is strongly affected by irregularities like those from sign boundaries as explained above.

Mars retrogrades in a steady march through all 12 zodiac signs, but he sometimes skips over one or even two impatiently. For example this year he will retrograde in Aries but next time instead of retrograding in Taurus he will retrograde in Gemini instead and then he will skip Cancer as well and retrograde in Leo before returning to the order and continuing with Virgo, Libra and Scorpio. Then he will skip Sagittarius and retrograde next in Capricorn, then he will skip Aquarius and do it with Pisces, then he will skip two signs and retrograde in Gemini. Basically he does what he wants, but he has to keep going forwards.

Jupiter retrogrades like Mars, in zodiacal order with sometimes a skip of a sign, but not so rushed that he skips two. It’s worth noting that with Jupiter the steadier pattern also follows a march of being in a different Element, visiting each of the Four Elements in turn like Mercury, but again he sometimes breaks the pattern. For example this year Jupiter will retrograde in the Earth sign of Capricorn, the next time he will retrograde in the Water sign Pisces, then in the Fire sign Aries and then the Earth sign Taurus again before retrograding in an Air sign, Gemini. Unlike Mercury however he generally follows the zodiacal order of the Elements – Fire, Earth, Air, Water. When he skips an Element he always then just continues with it wherever he lands, so if after an Earth sign he skips an Air sign and retrogrades instead in a Water sign, the next time he will retrograde in Fire. Mars does not have this attunement to following the Elements in turn, as he breaks the pattern of following the zodiac more often.

Saturn also proceeds in an orderly fashion through the zodiac, but he never skips a sign. Instead he sometimes lingers in one for an extra long visit before moving on to the next sign.

Chiron retrogrades also proceed in an orderly fashion through the zodiac, but because Chiron has great eccentricities in its orbit it lingers in some signs for longer than in others, which means retrogrades in those signs occur more often and over longer periods of time. For example he is currently in Aries and over the course of his remaining time there he will retrograde 6 times, once a year until 2026, but he will then move onto Taurus and retrograde slightly less often in each of the following signs until he eventually reaches Scorpio where he will only go retrograde once. Things will then start to pick up again in terms of the number of retrogrades in a sign.

Uranus gives 6 sometimes 7 retrogrades for each sign, gradually marching through the zodiac in order.

Neptune gives 12 sometimes 13 retrogrades for each sign, gradually marching through the zodiac in order.

Pluto has eccentricities in its orbit similar to Chiron and so spends a varying amount of time in the different signs as I’ve explained in a previous article – he lingers for an extremely long time in Aries, Taurus and Gemini (about 30 years each) but zips through Libra, Scorpio and Sagittarius (only about a dozen each). He is currently on an ascending scale which will peak when he enters Taurus. This sign will see him perform 32 retrogrades (this period starts in 2095 and marks the transition into the 22nd century), while Scorpio will only get a casual 12 (but they will be mega-intense due to the affinity between Scorpio and Pluto). Some signs just need more retrograding over than others in his eyes. This fact allows us to pick out areas in history which are intensively transformative, such as the transition into the 22nd century mentioned above.

As can hopefully be seen, observance of these retrograde patterns may have given the visible planets some of their ancient identification with deities and their traits. Mars is willful and Saturn is slow and orderly but sometimes extra strict, and so on. Also note that after Jupiter, the planets are strictly tied to retrograding in arcs that follow the zodiac signs. This is a manifestation of the order imposed by Saturn. 

image from wikimedia commons showing how Mars appears to move retrograde.

LIFE OF A RETROGRADE

A situation in which a planet is going to retrograde will be composed of two stations, points at which it appears to be stationary in the sky from one night to the next before changing directions, and these two stations generate five phases for that retrograde.

In the course of the retrograde cycle the prograde planet will first begin to steeply slow down as it approaches its first station, whereupon as I said it will appear to be motionless, after which it will reverse direction and become retrograde. This motion will generally be slow, but it will grow even slower as the planet approaches the second station. At that point it will be motionless again, and then it will turn direct and begin its prograde motion once more. Thus, the two stations are points of vast energies held in abeyance, similar to the energy in a pendulum when it reaches the extreme end of its arc and swings backwards, but involving planetary scale momentum.

The five phases are formed from these two stations and the two mirrors of those points in which the prograde motion encounters them. For example if Mars goes retrograde at 15° Virgo and then turns direct when he has retreated to 26° of Leo, then the two stations are 26° of Leo and 15° of Virgo, and the two other important parts in the cycle are when Mars first passes 26° of Leo in direct motion before the first station, and then when he passes 15° of Virgo in direct motion after the second:

Example Using Mars

  • Phase One: Begins when it enters the arc in direct motion at 26° Leo
  • Phase Two: Stations and turns retrograde at 15° Virgo
  • Phase Three: Travels in retrograde motion back through the arc.
  • Phase Four: Stations and resumes direct motion at 26° Leo
  • Phase Five: Continues until it leaves the arc at 15° Virgo

Phases 2 and 4 (the stations) are short events that last only a day or two, while the remaining phases have varying lengths measured in days, weeks or months, depending on the planet.

This delineates an area of the zodiac which will be highlighted by the retrograde movement, in the example above with Mars an area between 26° of Leo and 15° of Virgo. In my practice I think of this area as “the arc of harkening”, a zone which harkens us to revisit it, to consider it again, intensifying its significance by more deeply etching it into our lives or forcing us to look at it very deeply. During any planets individual orbit around the Sun the degrees of the zodiac which it will harken us back to will be different to the degrees it harkened us back to during its previous orbit. In this way we can see the individuality that each planets orbit around the Sun has through how it brings a stronger emphasis to certain degrees of the zodiac.

The phases each have a slightly different significance.

When the planet first enters the arc of the harkening (i.e. when it first crosses the stationary point at which it will later finish retrograde motion and turn direct), we can justifiably consider this as the beginning of the slowdown period approaching the first station, but a more accurate view is that whatever occurs or emerges from the planet at this time will become something we are drawn back to at a later point.

As a planet moves further into the arc it decelerates rapidly, much like the way a pendulum decelerates as it approaches the zenith of its swing. The energy within the planet is gradually being held in abeyance, away from motion and towards suspension.

When a planet reaches its first station (the point at which it turns retrograde), all of its energy is in abeyance, but has reached the point at which it has to now expend that energy by swinging backwards. It is the point of realisation that we can no longer proceed as we have been, but must now revisit things before we can move forwards again.

The retrograde period that follows is a revisiting of those things. It is an expenditure of pent-up energy. The retrograde planet is now in the business of underlining things, giving them emphasis and raising their importance. There is also a feeling of familiarity in this stage as the planet is revisiting places it has recently passed through.

Yet at some point in this process a realisation is made, which is that things have to go forward again somehow. The energies begin to be held in abeyance again as we realise there is only so much that can be undone or redone, that we have to accept the consequences of prior actions before we can move forward. These are the characteristics of the second station, the point at which the planet will begin to move in direct motion again.

Now the energy of the direct motion is different to the previous two times it has revisited the degrees of the arc, because this time it is deeply familiar with them and is trying to finish up whatever it has had to redo or revisit. This process will lead towards a resolution and a true moving on which occurs at the fifth phase, when the planet passes over the degree at which it turned retrograde and leaves it behind. This part of the cycle has the significance of tying things up and bringing them to some kind of closure, even if it is not completely satisfying.

Simply put, we experience all this in the following way:

  • From entering the arc to the retrograde station: the planets lessons are placed before us. The situation is set up.
  • From station to station in retrograde motion: the lessons are reviewed or revised. The delays or returns become unavoidably apparent.
  • From station to station in direct motion, to leaving the arc: the final tests are presented to see if we have mastered the lessons.

NASA imagery showing the dancing path of Mars retrograde in 2014 and 2016

In the case of very slow moving objects (Chiron, Uranus, Neptune or Pluto) an entire year can pass and then the retrograde happens again further along in the zodiac but not so far along that some degrees also fall within the arc of harkening again, receiving two further visits by the planet for a total of 5 activations of that degree over the course of a year. These degrees, sitting in the overlap between two successive arcs, receive an even more intense emphasis. This and indeed all the degrees emphasised by retrograde motion during a planets orbit are significant in evocation magic, but that is not the topic for this post.

Note also regarding phase 3 that for Mercury and Venus the point at which they are retrograde and precisely conjunct the Sun (i.e. cazimi) is the heart of the retrograde movement, while for other planets it is always the exact opposition with the Sun that is at the centre of the retrograde movement. We can also include the mirrors of that degree in phases 1 and 5. For example, if in the above example the exact opposition between the Sun and Mars will occur at 4° of Virgo, then that degree will become a sensitive point in phases 1, 3 and 5. This will relate to the crux of the matters at hand. Another important consideration that often causes matters of that retrograde cycle to become clear is a parallel or contra-parellel between the Sun and the retrograde planet.

A key word here for the entire cycle is concentration. At the stations when planetary motion is held in abeyance its energy is not gone, it is instead having its direction refocused and concentrated on that process. Concentration is also a keyword for the zone of harkening itself because we need to concentrate on whatever is emerging as we initially enter it so that when events transpire to bring it back to our attention we have not forgotten what we have already learned, and in the final pass we have to concentrate on getting everything right this time. Retrograde planets are therefore about training our attention through concentration and redirecting and reorienting ourselves.

An important point and a practical one to keep in mind here is that the concentration of these energies away from motion at the stations does not banish them, nor does the slowing make them ineffective, it just changes the path to manifestation. Even though you cannot see the pendulum moving any more, its astral state is still in motion and filled with the energy that will force it to return to movement. So the reality is that at the stations a planets power is not gone, it is instead withdrawn from making measurable progress with its agenda and instead invested in redirecting its energy, and in human terms this equates with our internal conviction with redefining and improving ourselves. Saturn in direct motion and at normal speed is a builder. Saturn retrograde is an architect. Venus direct is more likely to be looking for a lover, while Venus retrograde might be seeking a muse. Yet at some point as I have said stationary energy will be forced to return to movement, which means that the internal experience of these people as they work at improving themselves must eventually seek an external focus again. In some cases this may take more than a single lifetime. This is indicated in astrology by that planet always being in a retrograde state by progression, but it is not 100% the case.

RETROGRADE PROGRESSIONS

As I’ve indicated above, these can be very informative and important. If a planet in your natal chart is retrograde, then the time in your life when it turns direct by progression (if any) will signify a major turning point in your relationship with that planet. Similarly if a planet that is direct in your natal chart turns retrograde by progression, that too will be an important turning point. The stations of progressed planets are significant.

If you live part of your life with a planet in retrograde by progression, then that part of your life is about deeply intenalising your experience with that planet and probably involves revisiting something connected to your history with it, and any stations by progressions will be very intense moments with that planet. Those degrees of the zodiac that lie within the harkening of progressed planets can be during and forever after seeded with the events that are planted there, they may flower and bloom again when later transits or other progressions occur there. It may be something you have experienced in this lifetime but it may not and may instead be something from a former incarnation. After events are still fresh following a traumatic retrograde progression, for example, the need to process and continually review the events can become unconsciously conducted by the Moon, leading to the formation of habits and an inability to easily let things go. They then come back like hauntings every month when the transiting Moon passes through the harkening of the traumatic progression. More powerful hauntings then occur when other planets move through that area. If we face these things and work through it these hauntings become healings that eventually allow us to finally move onward with greater power and experience. Our mastery of the progressed planets retrograde lessons then becomes something that can truly help others.

One more important note about progressions in retrograde is that sometimes this means a progressed planet will move into a new sign by progression and then go back into the previous sign, probably the natal sign. This can happen with the temples and their cusps as well. For example you may have Mercury in Aries progress into Taurus. Your natural direct and pushy way of thinking about things may then slow down. Perhaps you learn something here about proceeding with caution after several encounters with a lack of preparedness. But then a couple of years later your progressed Mercury starts really slowing down and then stations and goes retrograde, fleeing all the way back into the familiar safety of Aries. However, as it comes to station in Aries and then turn to direct motion again, you finally learn what you need to about your Mercury and how to integrate it with the new way of thinking that progressed Mercury in Taurus brings, just as Mercury progresses into Taurus again. This is level up time for your Mercury, which was once just Mercury in Aries but is now Mercury in Aries with a practical and realizable plan, or maybe just some new ideas.

When you combine all of this with the progressed Moon phase as outlined in The 26 Keys, you can gain a very detailed and powerful guide to the lessons that the soul has chosen deeper initiation into and the degrees of the zodiac which correspond to those lessons, as well as the times in your life when those lessons will be presented. Transits also offer these insights, but compared to progressions these are much less personal and specific and are more to do with how we adapt to our environment as a result of experiences rather than how we ourselves go through internal character shifts as a result of our experience. A planet that goes retrograde by transit over a part of the natal chart offers us an extended period in which to explore a particular experience we are having at that time and the relationship we have with those planets, while a planet that goes retrograde by progression over a part of the natal chart indicates an inevitable evolution of our character, often manifesting as an internal dialog that causes changes to our environment rather than the other way around.

Illustration by Kepler of Mars retrograde cycles

NATAL RETROGRADE PLANETS

Now that we understand transiting and progressed retrograde planets it’s much easier for us to extrapolate the information and apply it to our natal retrograde planets. A natal retro planet is not just retrograde, it is either at or near one of the stations and also in one of the phases that I have outlined. As far as the initial and final stages are concerned, the stages where the planet is in direct motion but either slowing down or moving slowly and picking up speed, you will have to check the ephemeris to see if any of your natal planets were recently or would soon be retrograde in order to identify them as being in a part of a retrograde cycle. Once you have identified for yourself where a planet lies in the arc of the retrograde you can combine this with its sign and planetary qualities and its temple and aspects to arrive at your interpretation.

Generally we seek to externalise our experience and connection to the planets – with Mercury, we go out and enrol in coarses, browse libraries, talk to people. With Venus, we seek to relate to others and to be affected by art, etc. With retrograde planets, this default externalisation of a planets energy is reversed and we instead internalise it, seeking it within us rather than in the external. We are more committed to grasping that planet within us than with doing something out there with it. Consequently, the looking within turns us into a magnetic attractor for that planets energy and it begins to concentrate itself around us. Eventually, we can throb with its power. 

The key thing I would say that will help you the most of all is understanding what I have said earlier about things going much more easily your way once the planet that is retrograde in your birth chart goes retrograde by transit. As I have said, this will happen regularly – 3 times a year for Mercury, 1 or 2 for Venus, once for everything else, but slower moving planets will stay retrograde for much longer. Learn this tidal rhythm and build your activities and agenda with the retrograde planet around it. Below I offer some guidance on the potential of retrograde planets in a natal chart, but they are also useful for transits or progressions.

Mercury retrograde
Reassessment of options, rewrites, reversals of trade agreements or decline of stocks, editing, feedback in communication studies, revision, deeper topical study, return to the scene, analysis of clues, undoing errors in calculations, understanding news cycles, revisiting choices, developing social media profiles, creating backups of data, mental and intellectual development. Internalising the connection with Mercury.

Venus retrograde
That old feeling comes back, understanding repeating patterns in relationships, gaining closure in relationships, deep study of an art form, reigniting old flames, overcoming temptations, exploring sex appeal and the sexual urge to be conquered, clearing emotional blockages, making peace with bad feelings, all kinds of emotional development. Internalising the connection with Venus. 
.
Mars retrograde
The army tactically retreats, lessening of tension, abatement of conflict, truces and pauses in battles, definition of individual difference, laying down of swords, reconsideration of rash action, strengthening of the willpower, male bonding ritual, marathon or endurance based athletic activity, fitness routines, mastery of desires and the sexual urge to conquer. Internalising the connection with Mars. 

Jupiter retrograde
The momentum of belief falters and considers its integrity, probing of truth and assumptions, deepening of faith and virtue, pruning of exaggerations, assessment of our fortunes, philosophical or religious studies, examination of growth potentials, consolidation of gains, reviewing of spiritual doctrines, all kinds of development of the awareness of natural spiritual laws. Internalising the connection with Jupiter.

Saturn retrograde
The rules are redesigned, stretching of resources, tightening of schedules or plans, dealing with authority figures or institutions with official status, understanding our limitations, developing self-discipline and patience, increasing concentration, assessment of resources, re-evaluation of failure, rethink of major goals, drafting of boundaries, comprehension of karma, mastery of the most challenging lessons of the physical plane. Internalising the connection with Saturn.

Chiron retrograde
Physician heal thyself, creation of concentrated healing, retracing steps through the wilderness, extended repair work or renovation, deep studies of nature and its medicine, the healing of wounds and scar tissue, emphasising a particular teaching or lesson, feeling the pain that has been denied expression. Internalising the connection with Chiron.

Uranus retrograde
Adapting to outcomes that are twisting and uncertain, finally breaking free of something, learning that true freedom comes from within, instilling rebellions, overcoming contrariness, facing the chaos in your life, connecting with old groups or networks, developing a collective, exploring advanced or abstract metaphysical matters (for example kabbalah), catching up with the technology curve, understanding how we stand out and/or fit in. Internalising the connection with Uranus.

Neptune retrograde
The deception or the enlightenment?, assessment of the visions which guide us, deep contact with a muse, keeping a dream journal, psychotherapy, decryption or encryption via symbols, exploration of a mystery, training of psychic faculties, working through denial and delusion, deepening all kinds of meditation practice (especially trance states), connecting empathetically with anything, mysticism, drug rehabilitation, development of relationship with spirit world, all kinds of transcendence. Internalising the connection with Neptune.

Pluto retrograde
Rituals of rebirth, intense transformative magic, acceptance of both mortality and immortality, uncovering buried treasure (archaeological digs, psychic excavations), exposing corruption or criminal activity, grieving and burial rites, deep tissue regeneration, facing compulsive behaviour, dealing with the self destruct button, building an immune system, clearing out and recycling, cleansing of toxicity, deep letting go, reclaiming of power, understanding the multiplication power of decomposition and death, any kind of occult work. Internalising the connection with Pluto.

Retrograde cyles over time form beautiful geometrically balanced mandalas

RETROGRADES OF THE NEXT 5 YEARS

To finish with here are the details for all the retrogrades that will take place over the next five years. R is stationary and turning retrograde, D is stationary and turning direct. Dates use GMT and may push the event into an adjacent calendar day based on your time zone, but this will be uncommon.

Mercury retrograde 2020 – 2025
At the time of writing (February 2020) Mercury is retrograde in Pisces and will move all the way back to 28° of Aquarius before turning direct again on March 10th. This is coinciding with travel plans and trading all being affected by the Covid 19 outbreak and quarantines. After this, the next Mercury retrogrades are as follows:

2020: Water retrogrades (as of today)
R Jun 18 2020 14°Cn45′ (Leaves arc: July 26)
D Jul 12 2020 05°Cn29′ (First enters arc: June 2)
R Oct 14 2020 11°Sc40′ (Leaves arc: November 19)
D Nov 3 2020 25°Li53′ (First enters arc: September 23)

2021: Air retrogrades
R Jan 30 2021 26°Aq29′ (Leaves arc: March 13)
D Feb 21 2021 11°Aq01′ (First enters arc: January 15)
R May 29 2021 24°Ge43′ (Leaves arc: July 7)
D Jun 22 2021 16°Ge07′ (First enters arc: May 15)
R Sep 27 2021 25°Li28′ (Leaves arc: November 3)
D Oct 18 2021 10°Li07′ (First enters arc: September 6)

2022; Air retrogrades
R Jan 14 2022 10°Aq20′ (Leaves arc: February 24th)
D Feb 4 2022 24°Cp22′ (First enters arc: December 29, 2021)
R May 10 2022 04°Ge51′ (Leaves arc: June 19)
D Jun 3 2022 26°Ta05′ (First enters arc: April 26)
R Sep 10 2022 08°Li55′ (Leaves arc: October 17)
D Oct 2 2022 24°Vi11′ (First enters arc: August 20)

2023: Earth retrogrades
R Dec 29 2022 24°Cp21′ (Leaves arc: February 7, 2023)
D Jan 18 2023 08°Cp08′ (First enters arc: December 12, 2022)
R Apr 21 2023 15°Ta37′ (Leaves arc: May 31)
D May 15 2023 05°Ta50′ (First enters arc: April 7)
R Aug 23 2023 21°Vi51′ (Leaves arc: September 30)
D Sep 15 2023 08°Vi00′ (First enters arc: August 4)

2024: Earth/Fire retrogrades
R Dec 13 2023 08°Cp29′ (Leaves arc: January 21, 2024)
D Jan 2 2024 22°Sg10′ (First enters arc: November 25, 2023)
R Apr 1 2024 27°Ar13′ (Leaves arc: May 13)
D Apr 25 2024 15°Ar58′ (First enters arc: March 19)
R Aug 5 2024 04°Vi06′ (Leaves arc: September 12)
D Aug 28 2024 21°Le24′ (First enters arc: July 17)
R Nov 26 2024 22°Sg40′ (Leaves arc: January 3, 2025)
D Dec 15 2024 06°Sg23′ (First enters arc: November 7)

Venus retrograde 2020 – 2025
Venus gives us one station retrograde in Gemini, one in Capricorn and one in Leo:

R May 13 2020 21°Ge50′ (Leaves arc: July 29)
D Jun 25 2020 05°Ge20′ (First enters arc: April 10)
R Dec 19 2021 26°Cp29′ (Leaves arc: March 2, 2022)
D Jan 29 2022 11°Cp04′ (First enters arc: November 17, 2021)
R Jul 23 2023 28°Le36′ (Leaves arc: October 7)
D Sep 4 2023 12°Le12′ (First enters arc: June 19)

After these, the next is in March 2025 at Aries 10°

Mars retrograde 2020 – 2025
Mars will station retrograde three times, once in Aries, missing out Taurus (probably a relief for all of us, given the transit of Uranus through Taurus), then once in Gemini and once in Leo:

R Sep 9 2020 28°Ar08′ (Leaves arc: January 2, 2021)
D Nov 14 2020 15°Ar13′ (First enters arc: July 25, 2020)
R Oct 30 2022 25°Ge36′ (Leaves arc: March 16, 2023)
D Jan 12 2023 08°Ge07′ (First enters arc: September 4)
R Dec 6 2024 06°Le10′ (Leaves arc: May 2, 2025)
D Feb 24 2025 17°Cn00′ (First enters arc: October 5, 2024)

Jupiter retrograde 2020 – 2025
The 5 Jupiter station retrogrades move from Capricorn to Gemini but skip Aquarius and are as follows:

R May 14 2020 27°Cp14′ (Leaves arc: December 6, 2020)
D Sep 13 2020 17°Cp24′ (First enters arc: February 19, 2020)
R Jun 20 2021 02°Pi11′ (Leaves arc: January 9, 2022)
D Oct 18 2021 22°Aq19′ (First enters arc: March 27, 2021)
R Jul 28 2022 08°Ar43′ (Leaves arc: February 14, 2023)
D Nov 23 2022 28°Pi47′ (First enters arc: May 5, 2022)
R Sep 4 2023 15°Ta34′ (Leaves arc: March 23, 2024)
D Dec 31 2023 05°Ta34′ (First enters arc: June 11, 2023)
R Oct 9 2024 21°Ge20′ (Leaves arc: April 30, 2025)
D Feb 4 2025 11°Ge16′ (First enters arc: July 15, 2024)

Saturn retrograde 2020 – 2025
Saturn stations retrograde 3 times in Aquarius and twice in Pisces, beginning in May or June:

R May 11 2020 01°Aq57′ (Leaves arc: January 4, 2021)
D Sep 29 2020 25°Cp20′ (First enters arc: February 3, 2020)
R May 23 2021 13°Aq31′ (Leaves arc: January 15, 2022)
D Oct 11 2021 06°Aq52′ (First enters arc: February 14, 2021)
R Jun 4 2022 25°Aq15′ (Leaves arc: January 27, 2023)
D Oct 23 2022 18°Aq35′ (First enters arc: February 27, 2022)
R Jun 17 2023 07°Pi12′ (Leaves arc: February 7 2024)
D Nov 4 2023 00°Pi30′ (First enters arc: March 12, 2023)
R Jun 29 2024 19°Pi25′ (Leaves arc: February 18, 2025)
D Nov 15 2024 12°Pi41′ (First enters arc: March 24, 2024)

Chiron retrograde 2020 – 2025
Chiron stations retrograde five times in Aries, always beginning in July:

R Jul 11 2020 09°Ar26′ (Leaves arc: April 8, 2021)
D Dec 15 2020 04°Ar56′ (First enters arc: March 18, 2020)
R Jul 15 2021 12°Ar55′ (Leaves arc: April 12, 2022)
D Dec 19 2021 08°Ar26′ (First enters arc: March 22, 2021)
R Jul 19 2022 16°Ar26′ (Leaves arc: April 15, 2023)
D Dec 23 2022 11°Ar56′ (First enters arc: May 28, 2021)
R Jul 23 2023 19°Ar57′ (Leaves arc: April 18, 2024)
D Dec 27 2023 15°Ar27′ (First enters arc: June 1, 2022)
R Jul 26 2024 23°Ar32′ (Leaves arc: April 22, 2025)
D Dec 29 2024 19°Ar00′ (First enters arc: June 5, 2023)

Uranus retrograde 2020 – 2025
Uranus will station retrograde five times in Taurus, mostly beginning in mid to late August.

R Aug 15 2020 10°Ta41′ (Leaves arc: May 1, 2021)
D Jan 14 2021 06°Ta43′ (First enters arc: April 28, 2020)
R Aug 20 2021 14°Ta47′ (Leaves arc: May 5, 2022)
D Jan 18 2022 10°Ta49′ (First enters arc: May 3, 2021)
R Aug 24 2022 18°Ta55′ (Leaves arc: May 9, 2023)
D Jan 22 2023 14°Ta56′ (First enters arc: May 8, 2022)
R Aug 29 2023 23°Ta04′ (Leaves arc: May 13, 2024)
D Jan 27 2024 19°Ta05′ (First enters arc: May 12, 2023)
R Sep 1 2024 27°Ta15′ (Leaves arc: May 17, 2025)
D Jan 30 2025 23°Ta15′ (First enters arc: May 16, 2024)

Neptune retrograde 2020 – 2025
Neptune will station retrograde five times in late Pisces beginning in late June until the last retrograde which you will occur in early July.

R Jun 23 2020 20°Pi57′ (Leaves arc: March 19, 2021)
D Nov 29 2020 18°Pi09′ (First enters arc: May 6, 2019)
R Jun 25 2021 23°Pi11′ (Leaves arc: March 22, 2022)
D Dec 1 2021 20°Pi24′ (First enters arc: May 9, 2020)
R Jun 28 2022 25°Pi26′ (Leaves arc: March 24, 2023)
D Dec 4 2022 22°Pi38′ (First enters arc: March 7, 2022)
R Jun 30 2023 27°Pi41′ (Leaves arc: March 26, 2024)
D Dec 6 2023 24°Pi53′ (First enters arc: May 14, 2022)
R Jul 2 2024 29°Pi55′ (Leaves arc: March 28, 2025)
D Dec 8 2024 27°Pi07′ (First enters arc: May 16, 2023)

Pluto retrograde 2020 – 2025
Pluto will station retrograde in April/May four times in Capricorn before making his first retrograde in Aquarius:

R Apr 25 2020 24°Cp59′ (Leaves arc: January 25, 2021)
D Oct 4 2020 22°Cp29′ (First enters arc: March 3, 2019)
R Apr 27 2021 26°Cp48′ (Leaves arc:January 27, 2022)
D Oct 6 2021 24°Cp18′ (First enters arc: March 3, 2020)
R Apr 29 2022 28°Cp35′ (Leaves arc: January 30, 2023)
D Oct 8 2022 26°Cp06′ (First enters arc: March 4, 2021)
R May 1 2023 00°Aq21′ (Leaves arc: February 1, 2024)
D Oct 11 2023 27°Cp53′ (First enters arc: March 6, 2022)
R May 2 2024 02°Aq06′ (Leaves arc: February 3, 2025)
D Oct 12 2024 29°Cp38′ (First enters arc: March 7, 2023)

That’s all for this month, if you enjoyed this post please support the site through its Patreon page, also feel free to join in with comments or questions below, if you wish, and don’t forget to love each other!

Astrology and Health (part 2)

Blessings, and welcome back to Journeys! Today I publish the second part of my message about astrology and health, this time focusing on the potential for applying astrology to the remedying of problems and the strengthening of the bodies. If you enjoy this post and you have not done so already, please consider encouraging further posts by becoming my patron.

Journey deeper…

Astrology and Health (part 1)

Blessings, and welcome back to Journeys! Today I will put forward an approach for evaluating potential health problems from studying the birth chart and then treating them. It is a method that has taken me over two decades of practice and experimentation to evolve, and has been applied successfully in the lives of many of my friends and clients, but mostly myself. Due to the lengthy nature of this discussion it will be split into two parts, the first part on diagnosis is below and the next part on remedies will be published next month. Both articles are written with somewhat experienced astrologers in mind from the practical point of view, but anyone with an interest in astrology can draw something from them. You should be confident in reading the character nature of a chart and somewhat confident in handling transits and progressions/directions before you tackle this subject in anything other than a theoretical way. Journey deeper…

Happy Tracks

Exploring the Otherworlds through Astrology

Hello again and welcome back to journeys for 2016  🙂 For my first message this year I am going to share with you a method of interacting with your astrology that I have used in my own life and gradually developed. It is a highly adaptable method and my explanation should serve only as an example of the possibilities. Journey deeper…