Planets can appear to go retrograde, or backwards in the zodiac, because of their different rates of orbit than the Earth. Western astrology usually regards retrograde as causing difficulty, delays or obstacles. A retrograde Mercury, for example, is considered to cause problems in communication. According to Vedic astrology retrograde is usually a sign of strength. When retrograde, for example, Jupiter is thought to be good for giving children, even if by other factors it may be weak.

Retrograde is sometimes considered to reverse the energy of the planets. Planets when exalted lose strength when retrograde, but when debilitated gain strength. Retrograde has an internalizing effect on a planet's energy. If Mercury is retrograde the intellect will be more introverted. The individual may be more interested in history or occult pursuits. When afflicted this may cause nervousness or speech difficulties, or just hesitancy in communication. Retrograde planets often indicate a karmic result. They show an influence from the past. They may be functioning to fulfill some karmic debt or promise or for clearing up affairs from the past. The individual will not go forward with the influences of the planet but must take them backwards or inwards to consolidate or limit them.

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