What Is A Retrograde

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What is
a retrograde

Retrogrades are getting more attention (not just Mercury’s) but there seems to be some confusion on what it really is, a planet can’t go backwards. So, what is a retrograde?

The first thing to understand is almost everything in astrology is based on the human perception of Earth. It’s important to remember that this practice or theory is hundreds of years old with little modern updates. Hundreds of years ago we believed the sun, planets, and constellations revolved around Earth. Depending on the time of year some planets and constellations were visible in the sky.

Oh, also remember most of this theory comes from the Middle East and Europe and any of the Americas pretty much didn’t exist.

Now, the Zodiac was broken into time frames when the constellation was center stage in the sky. Hence, we have our zodiac wheel. The Zodiac follows the same pattern every year. We never had Taurus or Scorpio before Aries right. Okay, this sets up enough info to follow easily, so back to retrogrades.

We on Earth have an orbit around the sun, Thanks Galileo, as does each of the planets in our solar system. Standing on Earth we can see some planets move through the sky in a pretty regular pattern. All of the planets and Earth are all orbiting the sun in their own orbit at the same time.

Sometimes it looks like a planet takes a step backwards, or a few steps backwards from where we last saw it. Think of it like this. You and I are walking & talking but you get excited and take a step or two faster and I get a bit slower. When you turn to look at me, we aren’t side by side, or even where you’d expect me to be standing. I didn’t stop or take a step back. This can happen with planets; their orbits aren’t a perfect circle, there is a bit of an oval to the orbit and sometimes the planet moves a bit faster or slower depending on where in that orbit they are. But for us, having a limited view of the planet it looks like it is moving backwards.

What does a retrograde do

When a planet is in retrograde, we can say it is retrograde in “Zodiac name” season. Because the retrograde is happening in a particular part of the zodiac calendar. For example, the Venus Rx (retrograde) that is currently happening right now (at time of writing) is in Leo season because it’s Leo’s (the zodiac constellation)’s turn to be center stage in the sky -in the end of July. This can get deeper but, I don’t want to cause more confusion.

That is the not so scientific explanation of a retrograde. I hope it was easy to follow.

Now on to why retrogrades are a big deal. Back to astrology theories, planets have energy and can use that to influence Earth. So, if a planet is moving backwards (remember scientifically it isn’t) it’s believed the energy/influence is a bit wonky. Or it gives you a chance to refocus on the intentions/influences of the planet. When Mercury, the god of communication and hence the influence of the planet goes retrograde we have a chance to focus on how we communicate, do we listen, do we only speak, etc. Venus the god of love, romance, and beauty gives us a chance to look at the relationships we have. Are we getting what we want out of them?

It’s an important thing to remember that retrogrades give us a bit of time to focus on the Res, Refocus, Reflect, Re-evaluate, Redo, etc. Because of this time to turn inward and then outward we often find we are faced with challenges because we don’t want to stop and reflect. That often hurts and we don’t like what we see, and usually we don’t want to change. We often only change when we are forced to. Unfortunately, this is why most people dislike retrogrades and give them a bad name and why there is a lot of confusion around them.

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