Retrograde and Stationary Planets in the Birth Chart

One of the most popular themes in Astrology is about the retrograde planets. And probably the most well-known is Mercury retrograde. But you also need to know that other planets do the same, and it all affects the person differently.

This article will look at the fundamental principles that will shine a light on the mystery of retrograde planets.


What is a retrograde planet?

First, we need to clarify something - the retrogradeness is just an illusion. If we observe the skies from the Earth (which we usually do), some of the planets occasionally look like they are moving backward. In reality, it's not happening, but for us, it seems very real.

The "normal" motion of the planets goes through the signs one by one in the following order: 

Aries>Taurus>Gemini>Cancer>Leo>Virgo>Libra>Scorpio>Sagittarius>Capricorn>Aquarius>Pisces. The planet goes through the degree of each sign in ascending order: 1>2>3, etc.

When the planet is retrograde, she goes through the degrees of the sign in descending order: 30>29>28, etc. Occasionally, a planet may even move to the previous zodiac sign - for example: from Aries to Pisces.

That's what the phenomenon of retrogradeness is.

You may also ask yourself - "Does it matter if it's just an illusion?" and the answer would be - "YES!".

One of the fundamental principles in Astrology is that we experience things according to how we see them. And this can be a topic for a great philosophical discussion - but that's a story for another time...


What "causes" the retrogradeness?

The retrogradeness of the planets is due to the fact that the path of each planet is an ellipse, not a circle. When the planet gets to certain parts of the ellipse, it looks like the Earth is moving faster than the other planet, and at a particular point, we get the illusion that the other planet is moving backward. That's the retrograde phase of the planet.


Which planets can be retrograde?

All of the planets, except for the Sun and the Moon, have retrograde cycles. Of course, it's not a coincidence or random thing, and we can find a deep meaning behind this fact.

The Sun is a symbol of our vitality, and the Moon represents life itself and our connection to it. Those two are always supposed to move forward.

However, all other planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto) may go backward.  


Differences between retrograde and direct planets

Retrograde planets are going through an area they have already crossed. From that point of view, they are related to the past, bringing some repetition. Based on that, we can understand that a particular lesson needs to be repeated or we need to master something on a different level.

Direct planets on the other side are crossing new areas, which makes them connected to the future. 

Retrograde planets are moving slower. Because of that, we may experience some delays, or at times we may feel stuck.

Retrograde planets are closer to the Earth than direct planets. This is especially noticeable for Mercury, Venus, and Mars. From that point of view, the retrograde planets can affect stronger our material reality.


How long and how often are the retrograde phases?

  • Sun - never
  • Moon - never
  • Mercury ~ 21 days /3-4 times a year/
  • Venus ~ 40 days /once in 18 month/
  • Mars ~ 80 days /once in 2 years/
  • Jupiter ~ 4 months /each year/
  • Saturn ~ 4.2 months /each year/
  • Uranus ~ 5 months /each year/
  • Neptune ~ 5 months /each year/
  • Pluto ~ 5.2 months /each year/


Retrogradeness of the personal vs. transpersonal planets

The personal planets which can be retrograde are Mercury, Venus, and Mars. The transpersonal are Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. The personal planets are much more important because they are more relevant to the individual experience, and their retrogradeness is rarer. 

They are the ones that really matter.

The transpersonal planets are retrograde for 4-5 months each year. This is not specific, and it doesn't change the energy of the planet so dramatically. Another important note here is that one of the main consequences of having a retrograde planet is that she is much slower. 

But when we explore Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, we notice that they are not that fast, even when they are direct. This means that the retrogradeness of those planets doesn't change things that much. 


Stationary planets

The planets are stationary at the very beginning and end of their retrograde phase. This period is very brief and is extremely important. This applies both to the personal and transpersonal planets. 

When we have a stationary planet, we might be incredibly rigid and fixated in the area represented by the planet. At the same time, this planet is highly accentuated and constantly requires our attention. 

Keep in mind that a planet can be direct and stationary at the same time. Because of that, sometimes you may not even notice that there is something special about this planet. The best way to find that is to check the ephemeris for 10 days before and after your birth. 


Popular misconceptions about retrograde planets

  • It's very bad to have retrograde planets

The truth: Retrograde planets are different. We need to understand what they "want" from us and honor it. They may bring more patience and depth. We can work with them better on an inner level. 

  • You are an old soul if you have retrograde planets

The truth: You may or may not be an old soul, but the retrogradeness is not necessarily linked to it.

See more about Birth chart calculator


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