A lot of people hearken to the words of astrologers whenever retrograde is mentioned. “Don’t sign a contract when Mercury is in retrograde.” Or, “New relationships during Venus retrograde are bound to fail.” Statements like these always make people extra cautious but what does “retrograde” really entail?
In case you don’t know what retrograde is, let me fill you in.
Retrograde is a time when planets in the sky appear to move backwards in their orbit. They aren’t actually moving backwards. They are moving further away from the sun (because orbits are perfect circles) or earth, which creates the appearance of moving backwards from our perspective. This can potentially cause them to move backwards into a previous sign, at least from our point of view. This process of “moving backwards” has many implications on how the energy of that planet is acting.
In general, when a planet is in retrograde its energy is distorted and/or reversed. This affects the different aspects of life the planet is said to “rule over”. Let’s take the most common one for example, Mercury retrograde. Mercury rules over the mind, intellect, communication, travel, technology and many other things. When Mercury is acting normal or “direct” all these things will work fine. However, when Mercury is in retrograde, these things will typically not act as planned. Because Mercury is said to affect our minds, we may not be able to come to proper conclusions as easily. We may have distorted perceptions about a situation and our communication with others may be affected because our ability to reason is distorted.
Of course, all these things happen seamlessly between the planet going from direct to retrograde. The first Law of Alchemy tells us everything outside of us is also inside of us. In many ways, the shifting states of the planet appear as normal as the changes we experience from one day to the next. Because of this, humans have to use astrology to know “oh a planet is in retrograde, things may appear normal but they’re not”.
Some aspects of retrograde are very beneficial if used appropriately. In many cases, the retrograde phase is a time for reflection or personal growth. The energy of a planet is distorted and provides a new way to observe ourselves. As with a kaleidoscope, turning the wheel changes the picture we see in it. During retrograde, we are turning the wheel and seeing a different part of ourselves.
Additionally, retrograde is part of a natural cycle. In Western society we try and ignore cycles in favor of routine. We like to have consistent application of our time and energy and we get upset when life requires us to adapt to an unforeseen circumstance. Although, in reality everything always has and will be a cycle. Farmers don’t get bent out of shape when the seasons change. They act accordingly.
Learning to slow down and adapt our behavior to retrograde is not something most people are used to and you may get some weird looks for following it. I remember when I was looking to buy a house last year. I had been looking at houses for a couple of months and I finally found one that looked good to me. However, Mercury had entered retrograde not too long before finding the house. My real estate agent was trying to find me a house, so when I brought up my hesitation, naturally there was some confusion. Well the house ended up getting bought by someone else because I decided to wait. About a week after Mercury retrograde ended, I looked at the house again and it just didn’t feel the same to me. The parts of it I found appealing, now seemed like extra work. I felt great relief knowing I didn’t get a loan for a house I would later not want.
I will admit, there are times when it feels like listening to a retrograde forecast is pseudoscientific. Do I really have to change my behavior because of a planet in the sky? No, you don’t. For the most part, I go about my business albeit with some increased awareness about the present moment. However, I do believe it can be very beneficial when making big decisions.
Okay, but what if I can’t wait?
Sometimes we don’t have the luxury of postponing a decision. Sometimes the situation simply requires action. In those cases, I think of the sailors out at sea. A storm comes in out of the blue and now we have to deal with it. We do our best to handle the situation regardless of the forces acting against us. I believe in these situations humans are able to rise to the occasion.
Just because a planet is in retrograde doesn’t mean we should stop living our life for a few weeks or months. In fact, the majority of the planet doesn’t pay attention to them so your “reasons” will become “excuses”. However, it can be a time to be more gentle with ourselves. Most of my work is done on a computer. I can’t just stop working during a retrograde period, but if my computer randomly loses internet connection or is slower than normal, I take a moment to laugh about it.
There are many lessons to be learned during retrograde periods. They offer an extraordinary time to grow as the impurities of your character will be highlighted. If we don’t resist the lessons being given to us we will find, overtime, the retrograde periods aren’t as serious. They become the changing seasons and we become the farmers planting seeds. We know when to harvest crops, save food and start anew. We adapt to the cycle and it ceases to be a bump in the road.
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To my fellows, may your seeking be fruitful and your findings bountiful!