Currently the Sun is in 0 degrees Cancer, marking the Summer solstice, a time when according to myth the veils between worlds are thinner and there are rituals one must perform to keep the evil spirits from taking the opportunity to invade our minds and our lives. Hah! Has no one noticed lately, Earth seems be full up on its evil spirits quota!
With many planets in Cancer, I am always quite physically informed (by headaches, tingles, or lace doily patterns flashing my eye etc.) in the movements of the Moon and ingresses of other heavenly bodies in signs that make contact with my Cancer planets: Crabs are extremely sensitive to the “undercurrents” that affect their home environment and sense of safety. I don’t even have to look at the ephemeris to know when the Moon has moved signs or perfected a New or Full phase.
This solstice, in the midst of feeling rather anxious and breathless — I feel as if big shifts are coming our way like tidal waves so massive they could be made by Cthulhu — perhaps in anticipation of the upcoming eclipses in July and retrogression of Mars and Venus etc., I had a sort of epiphany about retrograde planets in transit and in one’s natal chart.
From my still-incomplete knowledge of astrology: The Western school views retrogrades as a time to ‘re-view, re-visit, re-do’, while practitioners of the Vedic form view retrograde planets in a natal chart as a symbol of their amplified energy. Mulling over my own experiences of retrograde planets, in personal life and astrological practice, I came to the realisation just now that perhaps the answer lies somewhere in the middle.
When a planet goes ‘retrograde’, that is just the apparent motion of the heavenly body from Earth’s point of view, but what is actually happening is that Earth is outpacing the planet, almost as if the Earth, like a thief, is getting away with something of the planet!
In astrology as in most other esoteric spiritual practices the Earth is viewed as the realm of physical manifestation, ideally, of the Divine will or direction (I have recently been studying the Kabbalist Tree of Life, Sephirot, and the Rosicrucian Rose Cross, which illustrate this idea so intriguingly beautifully). I say ideally because like every Tarot card has a different meaning in reverse; like every planet and sign in astrology has a higher and lower expression, so every human has shades of ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ which determine what an individual might do with their free will — will they materialise that Divine inspiration for ‘good’? Or ‘bad’?
When I synthesise all the ideas above, I visualise (I only truly understand anything through immersive visualisation) the retrograde effect as: A human on earth, rat-racing forward, getting ahead of themselves in the pursuit or expression of an urge, suddenly stopping, realising something is missing, looking back to see their goal is falling away from them, it’s being taken away! Then retracing their steps to get back to Start, discovering on the way something they’d dropped, to place themselves once again in tandem with the project schedule (planet agenda). Or differently, A person leaving their house to go somewhere, getting to the car only to realise they’ve left their keys back home so they turn back to fetch them, realising in the process they’d left their heating on!
In transit terms this seems to fit the Western view of review times during retrograde.
Also, from Earth’s perspective, when a planet is retrograde you are spotting it in a portion of sky you’ve already looked at before, so symbolically too, you are called to attend to something from the past rather than initiate new projects. Since planetary retrogrades are less frequent than their direct motion, they symbolise periodic flips in perspective which might return to normal once the planet resumes normal movement, so anything initiated at this time, you’ll most likely have different feelings about once the tide changes, hence the prediction of doom associated with retrograde-born initiatives.
But from whatever I have understood of the Western view* of retrograde planets in the natal chart, is that the energies of planets in reverse are “internalised,” something the native must work on on their own, without, or perhaps in spite of, external events provoking that energy.
I appreciate more the Vedic view of amplified power in natal retrograde planets because those who are born with a ‘constant’ feeling like their goal/objective is falling away from them will, in the planet’s positive expression, try doubly harder to get to it. Since achieving the retrograde planet’s forward expression does not come easy, and requires quite a bit of trial and error to refine their methods, people with natal retrogrades are perhaps even better at what they ultimately achieve — a hard-won victory! Also, since they can’t quite “run away with the planet” as the Earth racing forward would like to, they also experience the restlessness and chagrin that comes from not being able to get away with the liberties and privileges other people seem to.
I know a few people with retrograde Venus in their natal chart who are really good at amassing money in spite of, or perhaps because of, their poverty mindset.
Individuals with retrograde Saturn are likely to desire approval from a father or authority figure so much that they self-regulate themselves to the point of toil, achieving high ranks and authority positions (Saturn) for themselves in the bargain! Of course, on the negative side, this same desire for approval can cause fears or blocks in their creative expression or intuitive intelligence.
Being on the greyer side of 30, I have lived through many retrograde transits myself but in 2018 I have become acutely aware of three whose impact was too stark to ignore.
Saturn retrograde in my First House of Will: In line with Saturn’s message of toil I have enrolled for an educational course that I hope will launch me into a completely different, yet perfectly resonant with me, career. As I got to grips with studies at this age and stage, I put off getting my balcony door fixed, which was threatening to fall off any day. But it so happened, one thing led to another, and I was forced to postpone taking my exams for this course to the next semester because, upon closer inspection, along with the door, the roof was crumbling, as were the walls and various other parts of the house! I had to pause my ambitions for an overlooked task which would only have created a bigger block at a much more crucial time further up ahead in my course.
Jupiter retrograde in my 11th house of wishes and networks: My pursuit of finding “my tribe” (also linked to my course above) also got stalled with the home renovation and interestingly, this period and a little before it, has witnessed a natural ‘trimming away’ of friendships and associations perhaps to make space for the new? Or as we might find out when Jupiter turns direct, to return in my life better aligned with my new goals.
Neptune retrograde in my 3rd house of communication, mental and manual abilities, and kinship: The standstill of Neptune just a few days back couldn’t have been more obvious had it dropped a piano on my head! Here I was merrily exchanging messages, communicating with people when suddenly, I realised there was a different meaning to what was being communicated to me and I had been perceiving it as quite the opposite! Certain facts came to light too that gave me a BIG pause for review.
This year we have more ahead, Mars (our drive, ‘warrior’ spirit, energy, lust) turns retrograde on 26th June, Uranus (our unfettered, ‘eccentric’ drive and will) on 3rd August, Venus (our sense of romance, harmony, pleasure, abundance) on 5th October, and of course Mercury (our cognitive abilities, communication skills, logic) on 26th July and again on 16th November.
I have only written here the personal expressions of each planet but of course these planets also manifest their lessons as external events through the agents associated with each but I’ve other work to do and I’m beat, perhaps I’ll update this already rather long post another time to list them all!
Happy Summer Solstice and Cancer season! 🙂
UPDATE: (On the resourcefulness of retrograde planets) I write this at a time when Mercury has resumed direct motion in Leo, but Mars, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto (not to mention Chiron) are still retrograde. I was meditating on astrological symbols just now when it dawned on me that when a planet backs away from us, functionally withdrawing its support from our progress on the path of that planet’s expression, it leaves us on our own, first befuddled why our endeavours are not yielding the results they ought to but then! THEN! Like a spirited youngling left to fend for themselves without their parent, we can find a creative solution to achieving the expression on our own! No wonder then that retrograde planets in the natal chart can point to path-breakers and eccentrics*
I say this from recent personal experience with the currently retrograde Mars: Its backward transit through Aquarius and now Capricorn has affected my First House of Will, Health, Vitality, Virility bringing constant fatigue and sleepiness at a time when work and study commitments need me to have 26 hours in a day! I was getting nowhere fast with a complete loss in momentum in studies when one day, I had the brilliant idea to make a school time table sort of schedule for myself where instead of just studying for hours on end, I set the timer for 1-hour chunks, taking 30-min breaks in between for rest, and I’m pleased to report, forward movement despite groggy-headedness has not been disappointing!
You see what I did there? Took a different approach to the affected situation. Of course, what matters here is that we don’t lose heart when we encounter the initial roadblocks and keep a can-do attitude to achieving what we wish some way, some how. This might be easy to do during a transit, but those born with natal planets in retrograde can struggle with finding the hope of a solution — after all, resistance is all they’ve known! But I hope what I’m writing here reaches those of you who need to read this and know that that Mercury retrograde in your chart means you have an intellectual gift! That that Venus retrograde in your chart means love and money are yours to enjoy as you long as you don’t set great store by the tried and tested methods of making them! Whatever your retrograde planet(s), I envy you your gift! 🙂
*In case I’m interpreting it wrong here are two links for you to explore to reach your own conclusions (https://www.pathwaytoascension.com/astrology/lesson5.html, https://www.thetarotlady.com/star-school-lesson-17-retrograde-planets-natal-chart/)
* See some famous names here: https://www.paulinegerosaastrology.com/retrograde-planets-in-your-birth-chart