About Retrograde (R) Planets

In her book, Retrograde Planets: Traversing the Inner Landscape, Erin Sullivan (1992) states that, retrogression is the period of time during which a planet in our solar system appears to be moving backwards as we see it against the fixed backdrop of the stars. This phenomena is entirely due to our Earth-space perspective and was well known to the ancient astronomers.

Retrograde motion and the subsequent appearance of planets going backwards is, of course, only an illusion that is based on our view from earth into the solar system. Astrologers interpret these movements in terms of human behaviour and these times often coincide with periods of contemplation and re-evaluation, the quality of which is determined by the plant that is retrograde.

Mercury Venus and Mars are the faster-moving planets and as such their retrograde periods do not last that long, approximately 21 days, 41 days and 72 days respectively. Jupiter, Saturn is a little longer, approximately 121 and 138 days respectively while Uranus Neptune and Pluto can seem to last forever, approximately 151, 158 and 182 respectively.

Mercury Retrograde in General

  • When Mercury (communication) is retrograde (appears to be going backwards), it is generally known that it can lead to misinterpretations and misunderstandings in matters related to communicating. These periods will be particularly felt by the signs ruled by Mercury – Gemini and Virgo.
  • Typically, we say, don’t start anything new. Don’t make important decisions during the retrograde period as they are likely to be wrong because of the inaccurate, incomplete or unavailable information.
  • Don’t buy appliances as you’ll probably have problems with them.
  • Purchasing or installing software during the retrograde period pretty much ensures it will never work properly or it will not fulfil its brief. Other software run machines may malfunction.
  • Mobile communications are often interrupted, and any public address systems will often malfunction even if you have checked and double-check them.
  • Day-to-day communication can be downright frustrating, and you may find yourself playing email or phone tag with someone you are trying to make contact.

Read more about Mercury Retrograde here

The Pre Mercury Retrograde Period

About a week before the Mercury retrograde period kicks in, I would advise the following backup your computers and mobile phones and any other software or digital devices you have. Pay whatever bills you can, and send anything through snail mail. Complete as many major projects or works that can be done before the Mercury retrograde period or schedule then as soon as possible after Mercury turns direct.

The main thrust of the Mercury retrograde period is the same however the sign in which the retrograde occurs adds flavour or focus to its activities.

Typically, there are three retrograde periods per year, and in 2021 they are as follows:

30 January 2021 – 21 February 2021 

  • Mercury Retrograde Mercury in Aquarius in the solar 11th house is about revisiting your ideas about the world and creating some new and more meaningful perspectives. You may reconnect with an old friend or rethink what is important to you in friendship. If there are misunderstandings between you and your friendship group during the retrograde period, I recommend that you do not react this time, think the situation through, consider the best way to approach the matter then wait until Mercury goes direct before acting upon your decision. You may have changed your mind! Expect changes in your social life! This period will enable you to think about your value system and how you contribute and live within a community. Now might be a good time to consider doing some volunteer work or at the very least research some sort of philanthropic giving or volunteering within your community for when Mercury goes direct.
  • The shadow period is from 21 February to 13 March 2021

29 May 2021 – 22 June 2021 

  • Mercury retrograde in Gemini will affect the solar third (Gemini) and sixth houses (Virgo). This retrograde period will be significant for Gemini folk as Mercury is in its own sign, which kind of makes the energy more emphasised. Be careful of issues with siblings or an old issue may resurface. Now might be a good time to make that get in touch type call. Your usual Gemini inquisitiveness and restlessness may need to take a back seat while you re-evaluate some of the ideas rolling around inside your head! Now might be a great time for you to make follow-up calls you have put off.
  • Our Virgo friends may become painfully critical and may respond negatively to any ideas that are up for discussion. Can you withhold judgement and keep the conversation going until Mercury goes direct? Internally it would be a good idea to silence the self-sabotaging critic that sits on your shoulder! Relax. Possibly get your hands into the earth or do some relaxation meditation to reduce any anxiety you may be experiencing.

27 September 2021 – 17 October 2021 

  • Mercury retrograde in Libra or the solar seventh house means that you may review a current relationship, or an old relationship may resurface. There may be some miscommunication with a partner, business acquaintance, a married or committed relationship. Whatever surfaces during this time consider looking at it from a different perspective. Can you think outside the box? Is there something you could do differently? This is a great time to engage in those activities such as a museum visit, the arts, music, dance or theatre. You may also want to do some redecorating or changing your surroundings in some way. However, to the planning, and consider what options are available to you. Do the preparation yet do not commence the project until Mercury changes direction because you might change your mind.
  • The shadow period is from 17 October – 3 November 2021

We need to remember that there are those people who power up during the Mercury Retrograde period. They are those who have Mercury retrograde in their birth chart or as we say, Nataly. It can be a time where your capacity for focus and precision is unparalleled. I’m one of these and I love planning and doing. I love just sitting and thinking. I find I write articles and reviewing everyday activities in readiness for the direct motion to kick in. However, I don’t get it off my plate or send it on until Mercury goes direct!

If you are aware of the retrograde period is the best thing to do is to mark them in your planners. When these periods occur, allow/plan to slow down and focus on your preplanned activities.

Venus Retrograde in 2021

Venus ( ruler of Taurus and Libra). When Venus goes R by transit, for approximately 41 days, it is not a good time for investment, international relations, starting a new job or your relationship life! Interestingly, Venus retrograde has an approximate 8-year cycle which means it returns to the same zodiacal degree every 8 years. Often this time brings people (friends and lovers) back into our lives. Whether the experience is a pleasant one will depend on how it finished!

  • Venus will be retrograde in Capricorn from December 19 2021 – January 29 2022. The shadow period  is until 2 march 2022

Mars Retrograde in 2021

Mars (ruler of Aries and traditional ruler of Scorpio). Mars rules assertiveness, aggression and in general, the urge to get what you want however the R periods will be particularly felt by the signs ruled by Mars. Issues may surface that you have completely forgotten about. Your motivation and drive may seem to vanish leaving you feeling depleted of energy. It is not a good idea to commence new projects. Do not become argumentative or commence a legal case, you will lose!

Mars will not be retrograde during 2021. ( thank goodness I can hear you say! – me too)

Jupiter Retrograde in 2021

Jupiter (ruler of Sagittarius and traditional ruler of Pisces). Jupiter rules growth and expansion as well as higher learning and overseas travel however during the R period the normal rate of growth and expansion slows. It can be an opportunity to plan a trip or plan to study or reflect on your personal values and how they do or don’t support you. This can also be a time to contemplate and reflect upon aspects of your life where you need to explore your sense of morality, higher purpose and personal code of ethics. You may feel that ideas that once excited and motivated you suddenly have no or little appeal. Wait until the retrograde period is over to crystalise your thoughts.

  • June 20 – October 18, 2021. It starts its retrograde journey in Pisces and moves back into Aquarius on 29 July, goes direct on 18 October and re-enters Pisces in January 2022.

Saturn Retrograde in 2021

Saturn (ruler of Capricorn and traditional ruler of Aquarius) During the R period we begin to understand or look more deeply into the structures we create in our life. More subtly we learn we are not always able to control our environment. We may need to reconsider the order of our priorities and how we utilise our time. You may be forced to realise that you cannot control your environment and business may experience quite a few ups and downs during this period of time. It will continue to affect global consciousness and if you think about it, our world is still undergoing enormous structural change and Saturn rules structures.

  • May 23 2021 -October 11, 2021, in Aquarius

Outer Planet Retrogrades 2021

Although these planets exhibit their own unique characteristics, it is commonly understood, at least amongst astrologers, that they will operate unconsciously. We generally view that access to this energy comes from a connection and activation with a personal planet such as the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus and Mars.

Uranus (modern ruler of Aquarius). Uranus is called the awakener. Uranus energy is generally quite disruptive and you can expect the unexpected. R Uranus brings into focus life’s imperfections and with it and in an emphasis on freedom. You may become very disillusioned with your own mundane self and experience and in a conflict between the old and the new. Excitement is replaced with anxiety and it is time to test what has lasting value.

  •  August 15 2020– January 13 2021, August 20 2021 – January 2022

Neptune (modern ruler of Pisces). With Neptune R, you may have difficulties with establishing boundaries. You may have strong impressions that may not be easily explained yet need to be explored. You may experience some form of identity crisis and feel that you are at the mercy of other people or circumstances. It is an opportunity to delve deeper into the intangible self and with psychically sensitive individuals this period may produce a form of psychic overload. Take it easy.

  •  June 25 2021 – November 30 2021

Pluto (modern ruler of Scorpio). Pluto R brings with it greater intensity and may enable greater insights into the self. There seems to be a need for more self-control and control of others. This is a good time to re-evaluate those areas you can control and let go of those areas you can’t. It’s a time for internal housekeeping.

  • April 27 2021 – October 6 2021

Retrograde Shadow Periods

In astrology a shadow period is defined as a specific period of time that occurs both before and after the retrograde period of a planet, starting when the planet first passes the degree of the zodiac that it will eventually retrograde back to an ending once it eventually passes the degree that it originally stationed retrograde at. Shadow periods are sometimes referred to as retrograde shadows or shadow points. The concept was first defined by astrologer Roxana Muise in the 1980s, and since then it has gained a moderate to a wide degree of acceptance and usage in the astrological community.

From an interpretive standpoint, shadow periods are important because they are essentially seen as extending the operational duration of the retrograde period of the planet. Instead of the retrograde period beginning on the day that the planet stations retrograde, the events and circumstances associated with the retrograde are seen as beginning to develop as soon as the planet passes the pre-retrograde shadow point, which is the degree that the planet will eventually retrograde back to. Similarly, instead of the retrograde period ending on the day that the planet stations direct, in this context the circumstances surrounding the retrograde are seen as continuing until the planet passes the post-retrograde shadow point, which is the degree that it originally stationed retrograde at.

ref: The Astrology Dictionary

I’m not entirely sure I agree with this concept in terms of the pre-retrograde period however there may be some credence to the post-retrograde period.  Traditional astrologers would not use this as it is a modern psychological astrological approach. It may, may apply to the faster moving personal planet’s but I fail to see the value of applying this thinking to the outer planets because they go retrograde for so long so it seems to me you would always be in shadow or retrograde! The way to see if it works for you to map the pre & post-retrograde periods and see what happens!

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