The planets within our solar system are in constant motion as they revolve around our Sun.
When we gaze into the night sky, our planets move to the East relative to the stars. However, there are times where it appears that a planet is moving in the opposite direction, to the West, and that is when a planet is referred to as moving RETROGRADE (abbreviated to Rx).
Of course RETROGRADE planets are never actually moving backwards, the backward motion is purely an optical illusion. Planets only have the appearance of moving backwards from our position here on Earth.
This same optical illusion you may have experienced yourself when driving past a car travelling at slower speed to your vehicle. As you pass the car, there is a period where it appears that the car you are passing is stationary and then moving backwards. It is an illusion created by the different speeds of the passing vehicles.
Background Image Credit: Louis Maniquet
Retrograde – an Optical Illusion
Lets look at the planet Mars to help understand the illusionary optics of a planet in RETROGRADE.
Mars takes approximately 2 years to transit around the Sun, whereas our Earth takes only 1 year. Thus there are times during Earth’s transit around the Sun where we pass by the slower moving Mars. As the Earth ‘catches up’ to Mars, it appears that Mars slows down, stops and begins moving to the West, ie RETROGRADE. As Earth then passes Mars, Mars then appears to slow down, stop and then continue back in its Easterly transit.
However the inner planets of our solar system that move much faster that the outer planets, are in RETROGRADE more frequently and for much shorter periods of time – anywhere from approximately 3 weeks to 3 months.
When a planet it moving retrograde, it is often represented as such through the symbol ‘Rx’.
To the right is a great graphic that demonstrates beautifully the RETROGRADE motion of a planet. This inner white dot is the Sun, the inner red dot is the Earth and the outer red dot is Mars.
Graphic Source UFL.edu
How does a Retrograde planet affect us ?
When a planet is Retrograde, it’s energy becomes more inward. During this inward phase, we have the opportunity to review or reflect our ‘inner-self’ as it relates to the past. The past maybe this life, or could even relate to previous incarnation of the Soul.
What we inwardly work with during the retrograde period will depend on what the planet energetically rules, including the planets rudimentary element, its quality & archetypal vibration.
Whilst a retrograde planet can have a bad rap of creating chaos within our lives, in actual fact these ‘challenges’ produce wonderful opportunities for growth. As the pot is ‘stirred up’ and what is unconscious comes to the surface… it represents a profound opportunity for healing, shifting old energy and experiencing greater degrees of joy, self-awarness & ultimately LOVE.
Please refer to our Astral Alchemy Page during 2021, for a more comprehensive energetic overview of Retrograde Planets throughout the year & their energetic meaning.
Mercury (the planet of communication) moves retrograde (appearance of moving backwards in our sky) approximately 3 to 4 times each year and for approximately 3 weeks each time.
Mercury only takes 88 days to transit around the Sun, whereas Earth takes approximately 365 days… hence at times during Mercury’s transit, from the position of Earth, Mercury appears to be moving backwards (Retrograde) in our skies.
Mercury rules all communications such as computers, phones, travel, electronics and all business/personal communications & documentations. When mercury moves retrograde and into the darker recesses of our psyche, this may herald a time of misunderstandings, mis-communications, computers & electronics crashing and plans going haywire !
So how do you you consciously work with Mercury Retrograde ?
Just consider all the ‘RE’s’, ie re-evaluations, re-checking, re-pair, re-store etc., urring on the side of caution and making sure all details are attended to. This is not a favourable time for signing contracts and do remember to back up your computers BEFORE mercury goes retro.
Rather than perceive Mercury Retrograde as a negative time, I prefer to work with the energy as a wonderful ‘inward’ time to recalibrate my visions and move forward in conscious action when Mercury moves direct.
Mercury Retrograde (Rx) 2021 Dates
Retrograde – 31 January 2021 – Aquarius
Direct – 21 February 2021 – Aquarius
Retrograde – 30 May 2021 – Gemini
Direct – 21 February 2021 – Gemini
Retrograde – 28 September 2021 – Libra
Direct – 18 October 2021 – Libra
Venus takes 225 days to do a complete revolution around our Sun and is stationary for somewhere between a few hours or 3 or 4 days. Venus moves into retrograde every 18 months or so, and then stays that way for about 6 weeks.
Venus rules all of our relationships, our relationship to self as well as love, family, friendships and our business relationships. It also is our appreciation of art, beauty and our passions.
When Venus is retro you may find that the world takes on a different hue, as what you previously experienced as beautiful now tends to be seen through different eyes. All your relationships maybe under the microscope and if you have avoided relationship then this maybe exactly what you attract. If you have slipped into old patterns (such as the glamour of overindulging in food, sex, alcohol), it is a time to also examine your relationship with substances and lifestyle choices.
It is often recommend to not take major relationship steps during a Venus retro (such as engagement or marriage or even divorce or quitting a job)… but to objectively explore your emotions and feelings as they come up and then to move forward consciously when Venus goes direct.
Venus Retrograde (Rx) 2021/22 Dates
Retrograde – 20 December 2021 – Capricorn
Direct – 30 January 2022 – Capricorn
Mars takes approximately 2 years (687 days) to do a complete revolution around our Sun. Mars moves into retrograde every 2 years + 2 months, and then stays that way for about 55 to 80 days.
Mars rules energy, passion, action, initiative and asserting yourself out in the world.
When Mars is retrograde, this ‘action oriented’ planets energy lacks vitality as the energy is inverted inward. It can at times feel as if you are paddling upstream, with endless delays, roadblocks, setbacks and detours dotting your path. For some, these frustrations may give light to anger and resentment, which may result in outbursts and emotional/physical explosions that aren’t pretty. It is a bit like capping an active volcano, if the internal pressure builds too much the end result could be very messy !
Rather than burn up your internal energy through anger, war & fighting during Mars Retrograde, it would be better to allow and ‘see’ how these delays can serve you. Initiating new projects (eg relationships, contracts, new business deals etc..) during Mars retro most often leads to dead-ends or endless delays, it is better to reflect on or rework existing projects. If set-back do arise, don’t force issues, just go with flow and work with any delays in the knowing that all happens in divine timing for the greater good of all.
Mars Retrograde (Rx) 2021 Dates
No Retrogrades during 2021
Jupiter takes approximately 12 years to do a complete revolution around our Sun. Jupiter moves into retrograde every year for around 120 days.
Jupiter rules expansion, freedom, wisdom, travel, foreign affairs, abundance and good luck. It is a social and jolly planet, working with the collective as it spends about 1 year in every sign of the zodiac.
When Jupiter is retro, this energy is reflected inward and we are guided to reevaluate our spiritual beliefs, our societal ethics and our philosophical approach to life. It is a time of truth-seeking and finding the deeper meaning in all aspects of life.
Travel plans can be delayed or cancelled during Jupiter retro. This is a time to slow down and give focus to your personal belief systems and understandings of success and abundance. This is also not the best time to take big risks, or spend up big.. but rather do your research, ponder and follow your inner-guidance when Jupiter moves direct.
Jupiter Retrograde (Rx) 2021 Dates
Retrograde – 21 June 2021 – Pisces
Direct – 19 October 2021 – Aquarius
Saturn takes approximately 29.5 years to do a complete revolution around our Sun. Saturn moves into retrograde every year for around 140 days.
Saturn is often referred to as the planet of karma, discipline or the dispenser of justice. It is a factual planet that induces us to face our personal reality, and is thorough, unrelenting and breaks down our control issues. I like to view Saturn as a wise old sage.
When Saturn is retro, it is not a time to take short-cuts, but an opportunity to take things slowly and do it correctly the first time around.. or you may find you will be revisiting the project over and over again. It is a time to understand your limitations or limitations of those around you and practice patience. Authority maybe also be an issue at this time, and you may feel like ‘fighting the system’ be it in your family, place of work or the greater sphere of community or government. When Saturn is retrograde there also tends to be a lack of boundaries.. so be mindful of saying YES to everything and then feeling overwhelmed and a loss of power.
Take the opportunity during Saturn retro to do some deep soul searching, assess what needs to change and prepare for this change once Saturn moves direct. It is a time to assess our failures, learn from our mistakes and emerge from the introspection with wisdom and understanding.
Saturn Retrograde (Rx) 2021 Dates
Retrograde – 24 May 2021 – Aquarius
Direct – 12 October 2021 – Aquarius
Uranus takes about 84 years to do a complete revolution around our Sun, thus spending about 7 years in each sign of the Zodiac. Uranus moves into retrograde every year for around 148 days.
With Uranus, simply ‘expect the unexpected’. Uranus is like a wildcard of the pack, unpredictable, original and out of the box thinking. Uranus can spark revolutions as it has its gaze on more humanitarian, freedom loving and unconventional pursuits.
When Uranus is retro, chaos is often the order of the day as you expect the unexpected of an unexpectable planet ! If you are shy you may find yourself at the centre of attention, or if you are an extrovert you may find yourself hiding away. You may find your personality or behavior quite altered at this time, as your actions in the world oppose what others normally experience or expect of you.
Take the opportunity during Uranus retro to explore inwardly what freedom means to you and what you need to change to be this freedom. Intuition is heightened during this self-help psychological assessment and real ‘ah-ha’ moments are often the order of the day.
Uranus Retrograde (Rx) 2021 Dates
Retrograde – 15 August 2020 – Capricorn
Direct – 15 January 2021 – Taurus
Neptune takes about 165 years to do a complete revolution around our Sun, thus spending about 14 years in each sign of the Zodiac. Neptune moves into retrograde every year for around 150 days.
Neptune is often referred to as the ‘higher octave’ cousin of Venus. Thus our values for love, beauty and passions become more ‘universal’ through Neptune. Neptune is the planet of the mysterious, the illusionary and beyond the confines of the program. It calls us to gain insights from higher states of conscious/awareness/dream state. In it’s polarity, Neptune can also represent the hypnotic trance like state of delusion.
When Neptune is retrograde, people tend to focus more on their dreams, intuition and all creative pursuits. If you are usually in a ‘dream state’ you may find that you work with retro energy to bring this dream into physical form. If you deny the dream state, then retro may induce escapism and the taking of mind-altering substances to block the dream or movie from playing out.
During Neptune retro, turn into the inner-self and be receptive to the truth. The illusion is exposed and reality is factual. This is a great time to foster the inner-creative and bring it into physical form.
Neptune Retrograde (Rx) 2021 Dates
Retrograde – 26 June 2021 – Pisces
Direct – 2 December 2021 – Pisces
Pluto takes 248 years to do a complete revolution around our Sun, thus spending on average about 21 years (12 to 31 years) in each sign of the Zodiac. Pluto moves into retrograde every year for around 5 or 6 months.
PLUTO is the outer most planet in our solar system (and yes it is still a planet in astrology).. and its energy brings about transformation. Pluto induces us to look into the deep recesses of our subconscious and transform that which doesn’t serve. Of course we all have free will & choice… but Pluto has a unique way of pushing your buttons and ‘making you’ transform or else ! Pluto can be pretty intense, but it can also make things happen ! Pluto is about death & birth, destruction & reformation, and endings & beginnings.
When Pluto is retrograde, we are guided to turn inward to our own personal shadow side and take a long hard look at the good, the bad and the ugly. There is no hiding as we ‘see’ our desires and our feelings around power, control and money. And we also ‘see’ our motivation for our desires, ie is it for revenge is it because we really want it ! It is also a time to revisit some of those old wounds, perceived limitations and purge then out of our lives.
During Pluto retro, it is a time to transcend control and acknowledge that transformation will take place. We can flow with the destruction that may come with this inner-phase or we can move through it kicking and screaming… and well simply cause even more unnecessary pain and hurt within our lives.
Pluto Retrograde (Rx) 2021 Dates
Retrograde – 28 April 2021 – Capricorn
Direct – 7 October 2021 – Capricorn