by Robert Wilkinson
So just what is "retrograde" anyway? Today we explore what makes a planet retrograde, how a retrograde functions, and what it means. All the planets from Mercury out to Pluto go retrograde at regular intervals. These help us integrate what we learn as we move forward in our lives and affairs.
Let's begin with what "retrograde" actually means. All planets go retrograde except the Sun and Moon as a function of their orbits. All planets speed up, then slow down, in their orbital speed relative to the Sun and Earth. This is also true for the Sun and Moon, but we don't call it retrogradation.
Mercury speeds up for awhile, then slows down for awhile, then speeds up again, then slows down again in an eternal dance of racing forward to get new information, then slowing to reconsider that information. We can apply this speeding up and slowing down to other planets as well.
The type of information depends on which planet is involved. For example, when Venus is direct in motion we get Venusian "information." Then when it slows down and goes retrograde we get a new view of what we just learned about those energies.
Last year we experienced Venus retrograde in Aries and Pisces in March-April 2009. You can learn more about how it impacted each sign at this link. You may want to check it out to see what Venusian energies were set things into motion then to get some clues about the next one coming during October and November 2010 in Scorpio-Libra.
Of course, who doesn't remember what we've been dealing with since late October when Mars went retrograde in Leo? That Mars RX lasted from late October to early March 2010. It went forward from October to late December, then retrograded through early March, and we're still doing the "final pass" of Mars through its RX zone until mid-May when it passes its 20 Leo SRX point.
If you want to review what the past 6 months were all about (in terms of Martian energy) please revisit Mars Retrograde in Leo December 2009 and January-February-March 2010.
Since Mars symbolizes momentum, its RX period usually operates at a very evident slower pace, where energy must be redirected before it can resume whatever began before it went retrograde. If you want to learn even more about Mars retrograde, it also happened between November 2007 and January 2008, explored in the articles Mars Retrograde in Cancer and Gemini in November, December 2007 and January 2008 Pts 1,, 2, and 3 (links to pts. 2 & 3 at the bottom of that article.)
We get new Saturn information and experiences when it's in direct motion, then get to review those experiences when it's retrograde. We encounter maturing or structuring experiences when direct, and get to internalize the wisdom forms in those experiences when retrograde. After that, when Saturn again goes direct motion, we then get to externalize those blended wisdom forms. As these phases happen each year, it's a phenomenon of longer duration than the inner planet retrogrades.
It seems that direct motion periods that precede and follow a retrograde period are times of getting new information. Then when it slows, it is called "retrograde," and shows a time when we're re-tracing ground we've already covered, but have an opportunity to understand the past experience from a new angle of vision.
We take a new look at information we've already experienced to whatever degree. Internal or external factors can trigger this review. Often things, people, memories, or other past circumstances engraved on our subconscious come up, which we must relate to what we've just been through and what we are about to enter into.
In the case of Mercury, we get a front end look at what is coming when Mercury occupies the stationary retrograde degree. It then turns back to offer a new look at things we've already seen or done as it slows in motion. "Retrograde" is simply a slowing of orbital motion.
Mercury continues to slow down, offering a review of recent events, until it hits its slowest motion around the Inferior Conjunction. After that, it again begins to move faster until it again passes the Sun in the "Superior Conjunction." After that it races ahead of the Sun until it again begins to slow in its motion several months afterward. I will post an article explaining the difference between the Superior and Inferior conjunctions in about a week or so.
When Mercury goes direct, it is at a platform from which we move forward, bringing the lessons we've reflected on or revisited during the RX period forward into our future life-in-the-making. The lens of retrograde exploration was the stationary retrograde degree. The degree of the inferior conjunction shows how life and mind must come together in a different, perhaps overlooked, but definitely useful view of what must be known.
The entire retrograde function is inward-turned, so we can get insights into what must be known to understand some thing from a more holistic point of view. We can also note how our mind, ideas, or worldview are affected by our subconsciousness, or our receptivity to others' subconsciousness.
Mercury retrograde periods reveal their own unique rhythm in offering us a new look at things. Every period in some way echoes the messages of prior retrograde periods, and affects those to come.
That's why it's important to connect the dots with what was revealed in other past Mercury retrograde periods, so that you can see how Mercury, or Hermes, the "Guide of Souls," is leading you to your authentic Self. Regardless of appearances, or how difficult or easy, Mercury retrograde periods show us the path to our Soul. A very good source for in-depth understanding of this important part of our lives is my book, "A New Look At Mercury Retrograde," now out of print but still available used via several internet sources.
If you want to know how this larger sequence of Mercury retrograde periods is showing us its roundabout magic, please consult the archives for Mercury RX articles written for the December 2009-January 2010 Mercury retrograde period, as well as the September, May, and January 2009 RX periods. If you want to do even deeper research, there are many articles on the September-October, June-July and January-February 2008 RX periods.
You may even want to check out October 2007, June 2007 and January-February 2007 as well. Each of these periods have several articles, so enjoy connecting the dots by looking back to get a sense of the future.
There are more Mercury retrograde articles coming over the next couple of weeks. We'll discuss the overall meaning of the coming 3 week period, significant degree influences, how it affects individual birthdays, discuss the coming Inferior Conjunction, and what this Mercury Retrograde in Taurus is specifically good for. Stay tuned!
Copyright © 2010 Robert Wilkinson