Retrograde Planets

We have mentioned the term retrograde quite a few times, and in calculating the horoscope you have seen the R (retrograde) and D (direct) symbols in the ephemeris - but, what does this really mean? Is there some special way that one must delineate a retrograde planet?

The word retrograde means going backward (retro = back and gradi = go). But, how can a planet go backwards? For, after all, we know that in our solar system everything continues to move in an ecliptic forward motion. The retrograde planet does not suddenly reverse its motion and go backwards; it only appears to do so. It is apparent because as these planets decrease in longitudinal motion (as viewed from the Earth), they appear first to slow down and finally to move backward. This phenomenon can best be explained by thinking of two trains passing or paralleling each other. If you are sitting in the faster train, you will at first feel that the slower train is standing still, and then you will suddenly think that the slower train is moving backward.

In Volume 1, lesson 3, we give you the speed of all the planets. Venus for example takes 2241/2 days to complete one orbit of the Sun. The Earth, as you know, takes 365'A days. So at some point Venus will be the faster train passing the Earth. But from Earth it will look like Venus is first standing still and then going backward. Since Mars takes 22 months, or almost two years to complete its orbit, Earth will appear to be the faster train while Mars will seem to slow down and finally seem to have regressed in its path.

The same visual illusion happens at certain times when a planet changes its angular position in relationship to the Earth. Since we judge our horoscopes from the viewpoint of the Earth (geocentric), we have to take this illusion into account and record this occurrence.

Retrograde motion is noted in three stages. As the planet apparently slows down, it eventually becomes stationary. (It appears to not be moving at all.) In the ephemeris you will note that certain planets are at the same degree for one, two or three days, some of the outer ones even for a week or more. Then finally they appear to move backward and are considered retrograde. As the planet is ready to "turn" again, we observe a second stationary period, and then finally it appears to go direct (move forward) again.

Be sure that you mark your horoscope with It (retrograde) or D (direct) and SR (stationary retrograde) when the planet seems to be standing still and ready to turn retrograde, with SD (stationary direct) when apparently standing still and ready to move forward again. All of these different motions can be found in the ephemeris by checking a few days back and a few days forward. If you are using a computer, the retrograde (ft) motion is always marked, but it is still a good idea to find out if and when the planet will go ft or D or be Sft or SD.

In the early teachings of astrology, a retrograde planet was attributed with characteristics like debilitated, weak, unfortunate and other dire meanings. In observing retrograde motion in horoscopes, modern astrologers have found that these terms rarely apply. By using your own logic (which we always urge you to do), you can analyze it for yourself. If the planet is retrograde, it is not moving in its usual overt fashion. Therefore, its action will be less obvious, less open, and more inwardly oriented. In certain cases this can be a blessing; in other cases, it may slow down the outward process of maturation. If many of the personal planets (Mercury, Venus or Mars) are retrograde in the natal chart, the true nature of the person will be less obvious on the outside, because much of the action takes place on the inside. If a R planet rules the Sun, (for example Mercury R ruling the Sun in Gemini), Moon or Ascendant, the person may seem shy or evidence a certain hesitancy in facing new situations. The average horoscope has two retrograde planets.

Students ask what happens when there are no retrograde planets in a chart. All other things being equal, the person seems to be quite direct, outgoing and uncomplicated. What you see is what you get, so to speak. See chart of Linda Ronstadt on page 95. She has no retrograde planets at all, nor does Bernadette, Saint of Lourdes. Very unusual is Graham Nash's chart with six retrograde planets, see page 96. That many retrogrades seem to add a subtle nuance of mystery, the person being less open. We supply a few keywords to explain where the planet in retrograde motion differs from direct planets, but as always, we urge you to use your own common sense when delineating and think of the nature of the planet(s) involved.

Name Linda Ronstadt _ T q - Source

Date July 15, 1946 INo I lanets From her, quotes

Name Linda Ronstadt _ T q - Source

Date July 15, 1946 INo I lanets From her, quotes

By the way — we did say "planets" in the very real sense of this term. The Sun and Moon are luminaries, not planets, and they never appear to be in retrograde motion.

Mercury retrograde Mercury is the planet of reasoning ability, the mind and communication. When it is retrograde, the thinking process seems deeper and more sensitive. There is some innate ability to relate to other people's feelings and thoughts making you less likely to jump to conclusions. Writers frequently have Mercury retrograde, because they find it easier to express themselves in writing rather than verbally. Some people seem to have trouble explaining their motives or feelings and will retreat into silence, whereas others become particularly adept at expressing their needs after they mature and have had a chance to work on their communication gap. Author Norman Mailer, Playboy publisher Hugh Hefner, writer, chef Julia Child all have retrograde Mercuries.

Venus retrograde This is the planet of affection, social urges and values. When it is retrograde, the individual is not always able to show love and affection, regardless of how deeply they feel these emotions. Just being demonstrative is difficult. The person may be shy. The maturation process can be slow and therefore the approach to love could be immature. Or the individual may take an off-handed attitude to love and romance and this can mark the nymph or satyr. Actress Jodie Foster, author Elizabeth Barrett Browning and business mogul Ted Turner are all examples of Venus retrograde.

Name Graham Nash p _ Source

Date February 2, 1942 b I" lanetS Linda Ciark quotes

Name Graham Nash p _ Source

Date February 2, 1942 b I" lanetS Linda Ciark quotes

Mars retrograde Mars is the planet of action, energy and initiative. When it is retrograde, these people tend to be less competitive, unless they're in competition with themselves. "I swam ten laps today; tomorrow I must swim fifteen." Since so much of the action is self- or inner-oriented, they may seem slowed down in their drive. These individuals are more deliberate and usually work everything out inside before acting out overtly. This way they can avoid pitfalls and quickly catch up with the constant doer. When used negatively, they may act hastily and then have to redo or retrace their steps. Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., champion tennis player Steffi Graf and poet Toni Morrison all have retrograde Mars.

Since the social planets are retrograde for four months and the transcendental planets almost half the year, many people will have Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune retrograde — but here are a few examples to illustrate these planets.

Jupiter Retrograde This is the planet of expansion, optimism and idealism. When Jupiter is retrograde, individuals can develop their own religious and philosophical beliefs, ideals and even morals, rather than just accepting that which they were taught. They seek intuitive answers and find them deep within. They also have the ability to see the broad picture, rather than getting sidetracked in details. They often find avenues for expansion that others may overlook. Actress Carol Burnett, for example, has Jupiter retrograde in Virgo in her 6th house of work, ruling her 9th and 10th houses of ideals and career. Carol took advantage of this by finding her own niche as a comedienne, but of course Jupiter conjunct Neptune helped her in this creative effort. Soprano Kathleen Battle and inventor Guglielmo Marconi are other examples.

Saturn Retrograde Saturn is the planet of discipline, the teacher, and it governs the urge for security and safety. When retrograde, of all the planets discussed thus far, it is the prime example of free will and attitude. As its nature implies, a teacher can open up new horizons, make you buckle down and appreciate the resultant discipline, or you can feel hampered, held back, and held down if you resent the teacher and fight the learning process. In Saturn's case, it is not only the sign, house and its aspects that make a difference, but your own attitudes and actions. Therefore, when it is retrograde, it can have the opposite effect.

Negatively used, you may feel insecure or even inferior, because as you look within you don't like what you see. You fear rejection and therefore expose yourself as little as possible to situations that may result in a rebuff or make you feel this way. You seem to need constant encouragement and you lack the ambition usually innate in Saturn.

However, used positively, you will look within and at an early age already be fairly clear as to who you are, where you are going, and what you will do about getting there. You are more deliberate in attaining your goals in a quiet and unobtrusive way — but you do attain them! Some may consider you to be too serious; however, you do have a sense of humor, only it is self-directed. Authors Thomas Mann and Maya Angelou, as well as politician Ross Perot have retrograde Saturns.

Uranus Retrograde Here you are dealing with the planet of freedom, the awakener. When Uranus is retrograde, its inward direction reinforces the urge to be different, to break the chains of tradition at an early age. The need to be special or unique is reinforced. The need to achieve personal freedom, strangely enough, creates the urge to dominate others. Many politicians, heads of state, dictators, and social leaders have Uranus retrograde. How much domination they are able to achieve, of course, depends on the placement of Uranus in the chart; it certainly helps to have retrograde Uranus in an angular house. Examples of political leaders with Uranus retrograde are legion: Adolf Hitler, Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Lyndon B. Johnson, Nelson Rockefeller, Robert Kennedy, Joseph Stalin, Aldo Moro and many more.

Neptune Retrograde Neptune is the planet of intuition, illusion or delusion, and of spiritual awakening. Neptune's aspects take on utmost importance when it is retrograde. If Neptune, by aspect, is foggy or clouded, going inward will not help to clear matters up. On the contrary, the person can live in a deep dream world of unreality or complete delusion. The martyrdom nature of Neptune may become stronger, or the person may only feel worthy when sacrificing for the good of others. With positive aspects to support the retrograde Neptune, the inward action can produce tremendous personal insight; any talent present at birth can be utilized easily and at a relatively early age. Many artists, composers, poets and religious personalities have this position: artists Pablo Picasso and Toulouse Lautrec, writers Eugene O'Neill, Simone de Beauvoir and Robert Browning, psychologist Anna Freud, singer Marilyn Home, scientist Marie Curie, composer Johannes Brahms.

Pluto Retrograde Pluto is the planet of transformation and obsession. Since Pluto is retrograde as much as six months out of the year, nearly half of all people born have it retrograde. Therefore, it is impossible to ascribe definite tendencies to the motion. You might try to assess for yourself if you see definite traits these people have in common. From our own observations, we can only state that, since Pluto is very far away and very erratic in its orbit, its effects are usually felt at a later point in life.

For a brief illustration of retrogrades in one of the main charts we use in this book, refer to the horoscope of Hermann Hesse (See page 43.) Hesse's Jupiter is retrograde in his 1st house. Jupiter also rules his Ascendant and, as his chart ruler, assumes great importance. If you read our description of a retrograde Jupiter, you will see that it fits Hesse totally. Because it is his chart ruler, it establishes the basis for his personality — always searching, always doubting those pat answers, looking for that illusive something from the days of his early youth. His Saturn is stationary, ready to retrograde the day after his birth. Saturn's station is relatively short — three days only. It has a difficult position in Hesse's chart; flanked by Mars on one side, egging it on to act, and the Moon on the other, urging it to be emotional. Saturn is stronger than either of these; it tends to hamper Mars (one foot on the gas — the other on the brake), and it dampens the emotional Moon, leading either to self-pity or a feeling of not being loved and denied tenderness by his parents until Hesse discovered his 3rd house creativity (Saturn in the 3rd sextile Pluto in the 5th). Saturn is also a part of his mutable T-square to the Ascendant (outer personality) and Mercury (reasoning ability). We can understand that Hesse used the more negative attributes of Saturn as a young man. However, with Sagittarius rising and Jupiter in the 1st house, he was able to find himself and some of the answers he was seeking, and became more certain of who he was and where he had to go. He deliberately went after his goals and most certainly was able to reach many of them.

Time Spent By Each Planet In One Sign Of The Zodiac

Moon Moves 12-15° per day; thus is in one sign for 2xh to 272 days.

Mercury Can traverse a sign in as little as 14 days, but since it is never more than 28° away from the Sun, it retrogrades approximately 3 times per year, as if to get in line again.

Venus Requires approximately 40 days. Venus is never more than 46° away from the Sun and retrogrades approximately every 20 months. At these times it may take 2 months to go through a sign.

Sun Moves at the rate of 28-31 days per sign (our Earth month).

Mars As fast as 40 days, or as slow as 7 V2 months in a sign. The average movement is approximately 2 months depending upon whether it turns retrograde or not. Mars does not go retrograde every year.

Jupiter As quickly as 6 months, or as slowly as 18 months, depending if it goes retrograde, which it does not do every year. The average motion is about one sign per year.

Saturn spends approximately 2lk years in each sign retrograding 2 or 3 times within that period.

Uranus requires approximately 7 years to go through each sign, during which period it retrogrades as many as 7 times, or about once per year.

Neptune Requires 14-15 years to go through each sign, and it retrogrades about once each year, often for as long as 5 months.

Pluto Pluto's orbit is so eccentric that it takes anywhere from 12-25 years per sign. It required 25 years to go through Cancer, but only about 12 years to go through Scorpio. Pluto retrogrades about once each year and for about 6 months.

The planets can go retrograde only when at a certain critical distance from the Sun. Here are these distances:

There is no critical distance between the Sun and Mercury or the Sun and Venus. These two planets basically move faster than the Sun, so at certain times they seem to slow up or even move backward as their distance from the Earth increases. As a result, they never exceed their distance of 28° or 46° respectively from the Sun, despite their inherently faster motion.

From this data you should note the following facts: L Any planet that is in opposition to the Sun must be in retrograde motion.

2. Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, when trine or quincunx to the Sun, must be in retrograde motion. Mars when quincunx the Sun must also be in retrograde motion. Occasionally, Jupiter when in trine to the Sun may be in direct motion, but this is infrequent.

3. Because of the variance of the planets' retrograde periods there will be certain years during which it is impossible for a person to be born without retrograde planets in their horoscope; example: 1975.

4. When a planet is in direct motion, its distance from the Earth is increasing; when retrograde, its distance from the Earth is decreasing.

Review Question: Delineate Joan Sutherland's retrograde Mars and Uranus briefly. Please refer to the Appendix for our delineation on page 255.

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