Astrology Blog


What is a planetary retrograde, and how does it influence my life?

Did you know that the word ‘Planet’ comes from the Greek word for ‘wanderer’…?

The word ‘retrograde’ literally means ‘to walk backwards’, and during a planetary retrograde, it appears to be ‘wandering’ in the opposite direction than its normal course of orbit.

Retrograde motion is an illusion created when we observe other planets from Earth, which is also in motion. This is because the astrological zodiac measures the movements of planets in relation to the Earth, (not to the Sun which they are actually orbiting). Retrogrades appear to occur when the Earth passes ahead of a slower-moving outer planet, or when a faster-moving inner planet passes ahead of the Earth.

When Mercury and Venus, two planets inside of the Earth’s orbit, are retrograde, they shift from evening to morning stars. The retrograde cycles of planets outside to Earth’s orbit occur when we experience them as being in opposition to the Sun.

During a retrograde cycle, the energies which are expressed by that planetary body have a more introspective focus. The usual forward momentum shifts, encouraging us to bring awareness to our internal experience. We can also use this time to gain wisdom by reflecting on the past with a new sense of perspective.

A retrograde cycle has 3 phases:

(1) Pre-shadow phase – the influence of the retrograde energy starts to be felt and grows stronger with each day. The planetary body which is about to go retrograde will be passing back over the path which it is currently transiting when the planet is in the retrograde phase. During the pre-shadow phase, the orbit slows down until it eventually reaches the point where it will switch directions.  

(2) Retrograde phase – the orbit is counter to the normal direction and the planetary body appears to be ‘moving backwards’

(3) Post-shadow phase – the influence of the retrograde is still felt but starts to slowly diminish with each day. The planetary body is moving forward again, retracing its steps for the third time over the same path. It’s moving slowly at first (it is said to be ‘sleepy’ during this time) but with each day it picks up speed until it fully resumes its normal pace.  

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