Retrograde Planets

Retrograde Planets


Retrograde motion is a phenomenon that occurs due to our vantage point here on Earth when we look at the planets in our Solar system.

When astrologers use the term retrograde, they are referring to apparent retrograde motion.

Definition: To go or to seem to go backwards, to become worse or to decline.

In a chart a retrograde planet has the letters or symbol “Rx” next to their glyph and degrees.

In some charts the planet and degrees are written in red to indicate the planet is retrograde.

A planet that is retrograde is seemingly moving backwards but it is that the Earth is moving forward swifter than the planet in question.

There may be several retrograde planets in each chart or there may be no retrograde planets, it depends on the chart.

Astronomy of Retrogradation

Retrograde motion affects all the planets with the exception of the Sun and Moon.

The luminaries are always direct and never retrograde.

When a planet is retrograde it is closer to the Earth than at other times.

As an outer planet draws towards the opposition to the Sun, it becomes well placed for viewing through a telescope, as the full light of the Sun is on the planet.

Station Retrograde and Station direct

In a birth chart, the station retrograde, and station direct points are marked with an “S” symbol for stationary.

Typically, planets are considered to be stationary when they are within an orb of 0°10’ of the station.

The orb depends on the aspect set settings in your computer program.

The slower the planet, the longer it lingers in the orb of the station.

How Retrograde Periods are Shown in an Ephemeris

In an ephemeris all retrograde periods are indicated by a capital “R” and are shaded.
When the retrograde period is complete a capital “D” for direct is printed.

Retrograde Interpretation

Retrograde Planet Expression

A retrograde planet in a natal chart is retracing its steps over the same degree and minutes of the zodiac as it passed before birth.

The planet would have crossed that spot in the zodiac previously (moving direct) and is now retrograding back over a previously passed area of the sign.

It is going back over what has gone before and symbolically this imparts a reduced energy flow to the planet.

Retrograde motion is as if you are jogging down the road quite confidently, and then you realize you dropped your keys, so you stop and walk backwards looking for them, then pick them up and then once again start to jog forwards again.

This shows that retrograde motion is much slower than direct motion.

Reduced expression of the planet

The state of being retrograde appears to change a planet from its natural urges and direction and cause it to manifest effects similar to its opposite planetary pair attributes such as; Venus and Mars (female/male), and Jupiter and Saturn (expand/contract).

The Sign of the Retrograde

The sign in which the planet retrogrades needs to be considered. A planet may sometimes retrograde over one or two signs.

A Retrograde Sign Ruler

When a retrograde planet in a birth chart rules a sign, it takes momentum from that sign and makes it harder for that planet to rule the sign in a confident way.

Any planets in a sign ruled by a retrograde planet may show their own urges more so than the sign placement may indicate.

A Retrograde House Ruler

When a retrograde planet in a birth chart rules a house, the affairs of that house may initially be thwarted and held in abeyance until later in life when the retrograde planet stations direct by progression.


Sun and Moon Retrograde

This is a joke so do not get caught.

The Sun and Moon are never retrograde! To say someone has a retrograde Sun is an old astrology joke.

Retrograde Motion Cycle

Normally a planet which is direct moves along at a regular pace. As planets approach their retrograde period their movement changes in the following way:

  • The planet enters its pre-shadow period. This is at the point where it will station direct later in the retrograde cycle.
  • The planet slows down.
  • The planet appears to stop, and this is the station retrograde.
  • The planet begins to move retrograde at a slower speed than when direct.
  • After a few weeks or months, the planet slows down again.
  • The planet appears to stop at the station direct.
  • The planet begins to move direct again and gets back up to speed in its after-shadow period.
  • The planet leaves the shadow period at the point of the original station retrograde point.

Retrograde Motion Sequence

  • Direct motion (D)
  • Stations retrograde (SRx or S)
  • Retrograde motion (Rx)
  • Stations direct (SD or S)
  • Direct motion (D)

Retrograde Period

In each retrograde period a planet will make its two stations at particular degrees and minutes of the zodiac.

Each retrograde period will cover a different part of the zodiac and will last for a varying amount of time.

The Shadow

The section of the zodiac where the planet will retrograde is known as the shadow period.

The planet enters the pre-shadow or shadow, moving direct, before the actual retrograde period starts.

After the retrograde period at the point when the planet stations direct, the planet remains in the after-shadow or shadow, moving direct, until the planet passes the original station retrograde point again.

The Inferior Planets Retrograde

The pattern for the inferior planets when retrograde is specific. In the diagram the Sun is in the center. The orbit of either Mercury or Venus is shown in the next circle out. The Earth’s orbit is shown by the outer circle.


It is only as the inferior planets move into the most westerly and most easterly position that the retrograde cycle starts. Positions 1 and 3 show the station retrograde and the station direct respectively.

Sun Conjunctions

During a retrograde cycle there are three conjunctions to the Sun. The first direct pass, the retrograde conjunction, and the final direct conjunction with the Sun.

Retrograde Time Period

The time in days for the retrograde period depends on the positions of the inferior planets and the earth and how far each body is from the Sun. This is why each retrograde period may be slightly longer or shorter than the previous one.

Mercury Retrograde

Mercury is probably the most well-known retrograde planet where it is even common knowledge outside astrological circles. Mercury is usually retrograde for three weeks and about three times a year or every four months. In any one year Mercury will typically retrograde in the same elementthen the retrograde period shifts into another element.

Mercury Retrograde Keywords

  • Suggests a hesitation in learning and school life
  • Indicates that learning to read and write may be slower
  • Considers thoroughly before contracting or speaking
  • Rehearses to eliminate imperfect speech

Mercury rules the nervous system delivering messages to and from the brain.

Mercury retrograde oriental

  • Quiet and retiring.
  • Reviews and weighs all angles before speaking.
  • Deep thinker and someone who contemplates.
  • Reviews information and files for the future.

Mercury retrograde occident

  • Halting speech and may lisp or stutter
  • Shy
  • Nervous
  • Ultimately accomplished in education. 

Venus Retrograde

Venus is retrograde about every eighteen months for about forty days (six weeks). Venus’s retrograde motion begins when she is one sign ahead of the Sun, and direct motion resumes when she is one sign behind the Sun. Venus rules the feminine principle and is a receiver of both material goods and love.

  • Suggests a hesitancy in giving and receiving love
  • Indicates time is needed to appreciate money
  • Seems like another Mars
  • Ability to acquire material possessions
  • Early in life financial reversals, then acquires financial savvy
  • May be tactless and rude, learns social skills the hard way

Venus retrograde oriental

  • The urge to connect
  • Sensitive and easily hurt
  • Financially careful


Venus retrograde occidental

  • Beauty is appreciated later
  • Wealth growth later in life

The Superior Planets Retrograde

The superior planets have their obits outside that of the Earth’s.

They are the planets from Mars to Pluto.

The superior planets are retrograde every year except Mars, which is on an almost two year retrograde cycle.

The superior planets begin their retrograde periods when they are near the trine to the Sun.

Whilst the Sun travels the four months (i.e. one third of the chart) towards the next trine, the superior planets are retrograde.

Around the point when the Sun passes the perfect to the trine to a superior planet, the superior planet again begins direct motion.

When a superior planet is in opposition to the Sun it is always retrograde.

Mars Retrograde

Mars is retrograde every twenty-two months for about eleven weeks.

This means it is retrograde about every second year.

Mars Retrograde Interpretation

Suggests a hesitancy in assertive matters.

The individual is likely to retain anger inside.

Jupiter Retrograde

Jupiter is retrograde for around four months and direct for around nine months every year.


  • Suggests a hesitancy in vision, expansion, and philosophy.
  • The ability to build bridges is reduced.

Saturn Retrograde

Saturn is retrograde for about four and a half months each year.


  • Suggests a hesitancy in establishing boundaries, and limitations.
  • Indicates that maintaining boundaries is reduced.

Uranus Retrograde

Uranus is retrograde for about five months each year.


  • Suggests a hesitancy in expressing uniqueness and original ideas.
  • The urge to step outside the norm is reduced.

Neptune Retrograde

Neptune is retrograde about six months every year.


  • When Neptune is retrograde it suggests a hesitancy in sleep patterns and dreams.
  • The urge to be artistic is reduced.

Pluto Retrograde

Pluto is retrograde for about six months each year.


  • Suggests a hesitancy in establishing a personal power base.
  • The urge to purge the unwanted is reduced.


Aspiring Astrologer Activity: Retrogrades

In your astrology journal please do the following:

  • Name two types of planetary station.
  • State how a the retrograde period shown in an ephemeris.
  • Note at what two points in the retrograde cycle a planet enters and leave its shadow period.
  • Name any planets that are never retrograde.
  • Note how often Mercury goes retrograde each year.
  • Name which planet is generally retrograde every second year.
  • Note which planet has the shortest retrograde periods.
  • Name the typical aspect at which the superior planets go retrograde.

Referring to your chart, please do the following:

  • Note which planets are retrograde.
  • Note if any planets are stationary.
  • Decide if  you have a retrograde chart ruler.
  • Write out all your retrograde planet complex’s using astrological short form code.

Extend Yourself

  • Choose one planet that is retrograde and suggest how it may have manifested in your life (100 words).

Extend Yourself Further

  • Choose one retrograde planet and interpret it fully (500 words).

10 Job Seeking Tips when Mercury is Retrograde

10 Job Seeking Tips when Mercury is Retrograde

10 Job Seeking Tips When Mercury is Retrograde

You may have heard something about Mercury retrograde and wondered what it is and what is does, and what to do and what not to do, or you may have even thought, “So what?”

If you are interested in finding a job or growing your career, see what to do when Mercury is retrograde, so you can make the most of every moment.



Planetary Energy

To make the best use of planetary energy it is all about going with the flow and that means taking the meaning of the planet and noticing if it is holding up a “stop” or “go” sign.

One example of planetary energy that you can see is the Moon and the tides.

The Moon pulls the waters of the Earth and creates two high tides and two low tides each day.

As each day moves on the times for the tides constantly changes. But every day there will be two incoming tides and two outgoing tides.

It is at the incoming tide that you can yell “Surf’s up!” and trot down to the beach to practice your surfing.

Well if you live on the coast and have a surf culture perhaps like in Hawaii, but you get the picture.

You can only surf when the tide is coming in.

There is no point in paddling out to hope to surf in if the tide is going out. Right?


About Mercury

Each year Mercury will be retrograde three times at around four-month intervals and for about three weeks each time.

Each year the dates are different.

You can find the exact dates when Mercury will be retrograde for the next few years below.

You can mark these dates in your calendar now and lock out this special time.


About Retrogrades

Apparent retrograde is the optical illusion of something going backward and in this case, it is the planet, Mercury.

Imagine you are on a train and moving along at a fair pace then suddenly you come upon another train on the next track.

The other train is going slower than you are so your train overtakes it but the other train seems to be going backward.

Both trains are driving forward but one seems to be going in reverse. That is the illusion of retrogradation.

That a planet is retrograde can be interpreted as a time to change the pace and adjust your approach to things.

When a planet is not retrograde it is direct.

Mercury’s Retrograde Periods for 2023

During January 1st to 17th from 23° Capricorn to 8° Capricorn.

During April 21st to May 15th from 15° Taurus to 5° Taurus.

During August 23rd to September 15th from 21° Virgo to 8° Virgo.

During December 13th to 31st from 8° Capricorn to 22° Sagittarius.


Mercury Retrograde Element Focus

This year Mercury’s retrograde signs are in mainly Earth signs (Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn) and then it starts to slip back into the Fire signs (Sagittarius, Aries and Leo).

Mercury Rules

Every planet rules different things in life.

Mercury rules communication, writing, signing, meetings, learning, schools, trading, auctions, merchants, agents and middlemen.

In everyday life, this means all your shopping, buying and selling, texts, phone calls, emails and general chatting, as well as gossip, comes under Mercury’s influence.

In the workplace, Mercury covers resumes, recruiters, interviews (by phone and in person).

It also is concerned with paperwork and anything you sign, like a job offer.


Mercury Retrograde Sequence

There is a sequence in each retrograde cycle and five main parts:

  1. Mercury enters the pre-shadow period of about ten days before the actual retrograde starts.
  2. Mercury stations retrograde.
  3. The retrograde period itself, usually 3 weeks.
  4. Mercury stations direct.
  5. The after-shadow time of about a week and a half after Mercury has been retrograde.


Before Mercury goes retrograde (and is direct) do the following:

  • Write your resume crafted for each specific job
  • Compose targeted cover letters
  • Apply for jobs via email and snail mail
  • Call companies on the phone
  • Reach out to your contact list and tell them you are looking for work
  • Take the initiative to let your family, friends, and others know you are searching for a new job
  • Start a short course on something you need in your job to build your marketable skills
  • Join professional societies and attend Meetups in your field
  • Create and develop your LinkedIn profile
  • Accept initial interviews
  • Sign job offers

All of the above should be done when Mercury is not retrograde and preferably not in its shadow period.

When Mercury is retrograde do the following:

  • Revise your resume
  • Refresh any cover letters
  • Get your filing up to date of jobs for which you have already applied
  • Write a list of companies and people with whom to follow up and contact them again
  • Research current thinking in your industry
  • Set up alerts for leads
  • Schedule second interviews (phone and in person)
  • Review job offers
  • Prepare your paperwork for jobs you plan to apply for after Mercury is retrograde as you wait for it to go direct


Revisit projects

During Mercury retrograde periods you can follow up and work on things that you have already done when Mercury was direct.


Don’t start new things when Mercury is retrograde because if you do they will most likely be reversed when Mercury goes direct.

Sometimes you have no choice because a job advert or interview comes up when Mercury is retrograde and you need a job so you have to go. In these instances be aware that the terms will change.

As Mercury goes direct after the retrograde period, and if you did apply for a job or had an interview during the retrograde time, you can expect to return again and again for further interviews, or the job itself is shelved, or the job is morphed into something else altogether.


When Mercury is retrograde, avoid starting new things because if you do, you will have to review them later as Mercury goes direct.



Companies usually act in good faith when they place an advert for an opening in their business.

The effect of Mercury retrograde changes the terms or the agreement and thus they may no longer need the person that they were originally looking for when Mercury was retrograde.

This cuts both ways for people looking for work and recruiters.

Companies and career consultants are better off only placing vacancy adverts when Mercury is direct and communications are clear.

If a recruiter seeks a candidate during the retrograde period they will have to spend three times as long emailing back and forth and interviewing people that cancel and can’t make it for whatever reason.

All of this time-consuming effort is due to the Mercury retrograde effect which impacts communications, trade, and agency.


Author Bio

Alison encourages you to explore your unique creativity and live a satisfying life through your personal astrology. She offers her insights from the heart and with a sense of humor.

Go here to read more about Alison’s story.

If you want to send Alison a quick message go here.

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Discover more about the planet Mercury in your birth chart through sign, house and direction. Explore your learning and thinking style.



Discover more about the planet Mercury in your birth chart through sign, house and direction. Explore your learning and thinking style.

The Mercury Retrograde Cycle

The Mercury Retrograde Cycle

The Mercury Retrograde Cycle

Mercury has more retrograde cycles than the other planets. Mercury goes retrograde three times each year. This occurs roughly at four month intervals and usually coincides with the same element for three consecutive retrograde periods.

Mercury is the planet closest to the Sun. It moves the fastest of all the planets. Mercury rules Gemini and Virgo.

All the planets except the Sun and Moon have retrograde periods every year. The exception is Mars which turns retrograde every two years. you can see that it affects many planets and that there is almost always one planet retrograde at any given time.

Mercury Retrograde Period 2023

Virgo (Earth)

August 23 to September 15, 2023.

From 21° Virgo to 8° Virgo.


The Mercury Retrograde War Cry!

“Go back, go back, go back to the woods.

You haven’t, you haven’t, you haven’t the goods. 

You haven’t the spirit, you haven’t the jazz… 

You haven’t the moves that Mercury has!”

Pop culture and Mercury retrograde

As the details of Mercury retrograde permeate through to the general public the words, “Mercury retrograde” become a catch phrase and is diluted down into basic, and often most inflammatory words. You will hear things like, “don’t buy computers, cars or phones when Mercury is retrograde.”

Well yes, certainly those things can be said but astrologers know there is a more subtle effect to the apparent reversal of direction for the innermost planet.

Your Natal Mercury condition

As with all astrology good forecasting and interpretation for yourself hinges on your own chart. If you have a well-placed and robust Mercury you will withstand the influence of Mercury retrograde (or any retrograde depending on the planet) and still be standing as other folds under their weaker Mercury placements.

A broad generality is like saying, “All cars reverse (or back-up) badly” when really it is more that, “some drivers can’t reverse very well.”

You know yourself that you are better at some things than others and certainly you will do some things way better than anyone else. So saying we all suffer the same way when Mercury is retrograde is simplistic.

If you have Mercury retrograde in your birth chart you will withstand the negative effects of any Mercury retrograde period now and in the future.

How Retrogrades Affect Your Chart

Whichever house in your natal chart this retrograde occurs will be the area of life that is affected.

For example, if this Mercury retrograde period occurs in your fourth house then you will revisit family and home issues and you will need to go back and attend to them and drains, leaks and plumbing come to mind.

If it happens in your seventh house your marriage will need further discussions and conversations and yes it will be about dragging up past issues (like affairs) to be aired again as these things just won’t stay buried.


The Illusion of Aparrent Retrograde Motion

Retrograde motion is the apparent backwards movement of a planet.

The analogy I use when I’m teaching a class is that when you are on a train moving forwards then another train pulls alongside going at the same speed, if the second train slows down it appears to be going backwards, although it is still moving forwards albeit slower than your train.

This is an optical illusion and clearly demonstrates planetary apparent retrograde motion.


Learn more about Mercury retrograde and Job seeking.

How to Interpret a Retrograde Sun

How to Interpret a Retrograde Sun

Retrograde Sun


Everything you wanted to know about a retrograde Sun but were too afraid to ask

There really are only two responses to the title of this piece. Ok, maybe more than two, but the essence of each will be the same as they are just variations on a theme.

The first response is “I have to learn about this new feature in astrology” and the second reaction is “What’s she banging on about now?”

Part 1: If you don’t know about retrograde Suns

Read this part if you have a retrograde Sun in your chart, if it is in a member of your family’s nativity, it has cropped up in a friend’s horoscope or if you wish to learn how to interpret one.

  • Decide if it is a daytime or nighttime birth
  • Check for converse progressions
  • Realize that astrology has many confusing details
  • Calculate the chart with Regiomontanus house cusps
  • Book in for the class “Astronomy for Astrologers”
  • Make sure to discuss this interesting phenomena at you next astrology meeting

Part 2: If you do know all about retrograde Suns

Read this part if you know about retrograde Suns or if you have come across them before. Here are some thoughts on how to proceed.

  • A little knowledge is a dangerous thing
  • Choose your mentors wisely
  • Always be on the lookout for a sense of humor
  • Know that not all those reading this have your powers
  • Get behind the “All practitioners must get certified” regime
  • Go outside, stand in the Sun and smile

Remember everyone sees the world through the lens of their own chart. What one person sees is often different to how you view things.

Who is correct?

Sometimes it is not easy to tell.

Let astrology inspire you.


Author Bio

Alison encourages you to explore your unique creativity and live a satisfying life through your personal astrology. She offers her insights from the heart and with a sense of humor.

Go here to read more about Alison’s story.

If you want to send Alison a quick message go here.

More Articles

If you enjoyed this post, you may like some more astrology related articles from our blog. 

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Retrograde Retrograde motion is a phenomenon that occurs due to our vantage point here on Earth when we look at the planets in our Solar system. When astrologers use the term retrograde, they are referring to apparent retrograde motion. Definition: To go or to seem to...