by Robert Wilkinson
We recently went through 3 weeks of Mercury retrograde in Scorpio, and now confront Venus retrograde in Capricorn from December 21 through January 31. Then we have Mercury retrograde in Pisces and Aquarius in February, and then Mars goes retrograde in Libra from March 1 through May 19-20. So what is the big deal when the inner planets go retrograde? What does this mean?
Let's begin with what "retrograde" actually means. All planets go retrograde as a function of their orbits except the Sun and Moon. All planets speed up and then slow down in their orbital speed relative to the Sun and Earth. This is also true for the Moon, but we don't call it retrogradation. The Sun seems to speed up or slow down a little based in what sign it's in relative to the Earth.
So all the planets from Mercury out to Pluto go retrograde at regular intervals. Mercury is retrograde 3 or 4 times a year, Venus every 18 months, and Mars every 26 months, mas o menos. The outers all go retrograde once a year for several months.
A retrograde re-traces ground already covered once by that planet. First, it crosses a sector of the zodiac as it moves forward through the signs. Then if a planet retrogrades, it moves back across that span again, retracing those degree points. Then when a retrograde is done and the planet goes direct in motion it again moves across that span of degrees. That span becomes an area of importance in our lives, since we get 3 experiences of that part of the zodiacal reality.
All retrogrades help us integrate what we learn as we move forward in our lives and affairs. Some parts of our evolution move forward quickly as the planets move forward in motion through the signs. But then at some point, they slow down and we get a new look at ground already covered. Then when they resume forward motion, it symbolizes a time when we can take what we learned, then re-learned, or viewed and reviewed, and apply those lessons in new ways.
In its orbit, Mercury (mind, the coordinating principle) speeds up for a while, then slows down for a while, 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.
Almost 4 years ago we experienced Venus retrograde in Aries and Pisces in March-April 2009. After that, we next experienced Venus retrograde in Scorpio-Libra in October-November 2010. (There was no part 2 as I ran out of time before having to leave on a trip.) That period impacted Venus-ruled life areas between late 2010 and the next one in Gemini in May-June 2012.
Both of those Venus retrograde periods at some point had Venus conjunct Mars. In 2009 Venus was in Aries and retrograded back to late Pisces where it began to conjunct Mars, continuing into Aries. In October 2010, Venus conjuncted Mars throughout Libra and then conjuncted it in Scorpio before it retrograded back into late Libra.
The rapidly approaching December 2013-January 2014 Venus RX in Capricorn begins with a tredecile to Mars, then moves back to a biseptile, then a square, and finally settles into a close binovile once Venus goes direct. After that, while Venus is still in its “shadow period” (the span it was retrograde) it will make a long term binovile and then square to Mars.
Taking a long view, the July-September 2015 Venus retrograde period will again show a conjunction with Mars in Leo at the Lion Point. But these are articles for the future. For now, I’ll be publishing more about the coming Venus retrograde in Capricorn within the next week.
Now we turn to Mars retrograde. 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. It's a time to "slow our attack on life," or blunt assertive or aggressive tendencies. The sign it's in shows us the specific retrograde lessons to be worked with.
To learn more about what Mars retrograde may offer, there are many articles in the archives from previous Mars retrograde periods. We ALL went through an extraordinarily heavy period between October 2009 and March 2010 when Mars was retrograde in Leo. It went through the first 20 degrees of Leo from October 2009 to late December, then retrograded back to 1 Leo, going stationary direct in early March 2010. Mars made its "final pass" back through the 1-20 Leo RX zone between early March and mid-May 2010, finally entering new territory once it passed the 20 Leo SRX point.
After that Mars made a complete trip through all the signs, and then went retrograde at 24 Virgo on January 23, 2012, reversing course until going stationary direct at 4 Virgo on April 13-14, 2012. That 2012 Mars RX in Virgo indicated a period when we had to rework or slow some things down in our Virgo life areas so that we could take care of other things that needed to be done before we could pick the pace back up after the Sun-Mars opposition in early March. After that point, we were able to implement efficient activity, cutting through obstacles and making things more streamlined and practical.
You can find out more about that Mars retrograde period by revisiting Astrology in January 2012 - Mars Slowing Going Retrograde at 24 Virgo and Long Wave Astrology in 2012-2013– Mars Stationary Direct at 4 Virgo Affecting Us Through 2014. Now we confront the next Mars retrograde period in this unending series of that planet speeding up, then slowing down, then speeding up again.
Now that Mars is in Libra and about to enter its retrograde zone just after Christmas where it will stay through late July, we’ll be putting a focus on the Libra sector of our chart. Expect initiatives that then slow down or get postponed in some way, or which need to be reworked before we pick them back up again in May. This coming Mars RX period will show us all new perspectives, a new sense of fairness or justice, and we’ll all be challenged to stay balanced in how we do what we do.
Of some importance is that the coming Mars retrograde will activate (through a review, or some sort of “return”) the Saturn in Libra lessons of December 2011 through September 2012. Also of note is that 28 Libra was where Venus went stationary direct in November 2010, leading us out of any sense of isolation by realizing we are as surrounded by spiritual energies and allies as a fish by water. This coming Mars retrograde may help us review how we’ve been led to our spiritual community since late 2010.
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.
In 2012, Saturn went retrograde at 30 Libra in February, and went direct at 23 Libra in June. In 2013, Saturn went retrograde at 12 Scorpio in February, and went direct at 5 Scorpio in July. In 2014, Saturn will go retrograde at 24 Scorpio on March 2, and will go direct at 17 Scorpio on July 20.
Of some note is that it goes RX at the same time as Mars, and goes direct at the same time Uranus goes RX. It would seem that the 2014 Saturn retrograde period will somehow be linked to Mars and Uranus.
We can apply the reasoning around how retrogrades work to all the other outer planets as well. At this time Jupiter goes RX in November and goes direct in early March 2014. Uranus goes RX in July, and direct in December. Neptune goes RX in June and direct in November. Pluto went RX in April and goes direct in September. As you can see, though the outer planets retrograde once each year, those periods are a phenomenon of longer duration than the inner planet retrograde periods.
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.
Since Mercury goes retrograde more frequently than any other inner planet, here's a little more on Mercury retrograde that may add to your understanding of how retrogrades work. When Mercury goes retrograde, 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.
Once it goes retrograde 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. If you want to know more about the Superior and Inferior conjunctions, please consult posts in the archives done around the time of past Inferior conjunctions of Mercury and the Sun.
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 things 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. The process works the same way with regard to all the planetary retrogrades, though remember that Mercury, Venus, and Mars are planets of personality, and so affect us all in very personal ways.
That's why it's important to connect the dots with what was revealed in other past Mercury, Venus, and Mars retrograde periods. It provides us with ways to know how these planetary functions are revealing elements of our personality we may need to review and/or take a new look at.
When we connect Mercury retrograde lessons, we can see how Mercury, or Hermes, the "Guide of Souls," is leading us to our 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. And yes, I am planning to make it an ebook when I have time.
As noted, there are more Venus (and then Mercury, and then Mars) retrograde articles coming over the next several weeks. We'll discuss the overall meaning of the coming 7 week Venus RX period, significant degree influences, how it affects individual birthdays, and what this Venus Retrograde in Capricorn is specifically good for. Stay tuned!
Copyright © 2013 Robert Wilkinson