About Retrograde (R) Planets

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

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

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 and Saturn are 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 communication matters. The signs ruled by Mercury – Gemini, and Virgo will particularly feel these periods.
  • Typically, we say, don’t start anything new. Don’t make any important decisions during the retrograde period, as they are likely to be wrong due to incorrect, 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 ensures it will never work properly or will not fulfil its brief. Other software-run machines may malfunction.
  • Mobile communications are often interrupted, and public address systems will malfunction even if you have checked and double-checked 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 with.

Read more about Mercury Retrograde here.

The Pre-Mercury Retrograde Period

About a week before the Mercury retrograde period kicks in, I would advise backing up computers, 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 them 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 2023 they are as follows:

21 April – 15 May 2023 (Taurus)

  • When Mercury is retrograde in Taurus, you may slow down and question your financial situation and the substance of your core values. It may be a time when ideas that have been forgotten pop up from your subconscious for review.  You will look for substance, facts and resources, deciding if they are of lasting value. You may want to focus on pleasure and your creature comforts.
  • Mercury retrograde will always be more significant for those born with the Sun in Gemini and Virgo because Mercury is the natural ruler of these signs.

23 August 2023 – 16 September 2023 (Virgo) 

  • Mercury retrograde will have a slowing effect, causing you to rethink your usual analytical way. You may become critical of everything you see and charge the practical use of any ideas that come your way. You may want to re-think your need for any perfectionist tendencies and review your daily habits along with your work. At the very least, you may review the way in which you go about these activities. Is it time to rethink your strategies? Do they work for you, or don’t they? Now is a good time to review them, make your plan, and realise that when Mercury goes direct, you may modify the outcomes again. The benefit of thinking this through during the retrograde period is that things that may not have usually presented themselves may surface.

13 December 2023 – 2 January 2024 (Sagittarius/Capricorn)

  • Mercury initially retrogrades in Sagittarius and that trip you may have been planning, that party you planned or enrolling in that course, might have to take a back seat as your plans will need to change.  As it travels back into Capricorn, the solar tenth house, your focus may shift to thoughts about decisions you recently made about your career life direction which may or may not include someone in authority. You may reevaluate your thoughts on personal power and how you would like to be seen by others. It may also be useful to reflect on your relationships and consider any power dynamic at play. If you have concerns, explore the root cause of any issues and work to find new and unique ways to connect. Expect to rethink your professional and personal life!
  • We commence the new year with a Mercury retrograde so it is likely that any New Year resolutions you make will change or at least be modified to suit changing circumstances. Be flexible and go with the flow, it will work out exactly as it is meant to!

Some people power up during the Mercury Retrograde period. They have Mercury retrograde in their birth chart or, as we say, Natally. It can be a time when your capacity for focus and precision is unparalleled. It can be a time of planning, preparing, or just sitting and thinking. This a great time to review your everyday activities in readiness for the direct motion to kick in. However, don’t implement or send it on until Mercury goes direct!

If you know the retrograde periods, the best thing to do is to mark them in your planners. Allow/plan to slow down and focus on your preplanned activities during these periods.

Venus Retrograde in 2023

Venus retrograde in Leo from 23 July 2023 to 16 September 2023. 

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, meaning it returns to the same zodiacal degree every eight (8) years. Often this time brings people (friends and lovers) back into our lives. Whether the experience is pleasant will depend on how it was finished!

  • For the general population, it’s a time for introspection and reassessment of personal values and how they might work. Taurus and Libra folk will feel its effect the most. For our Taurus folk, it will be about money or material values; for Librans, it will be about the quality of their relationships. The more authentic you are in these areas will determine the degree of discord you may experience now. As stated above, there is an 8-year cycle, so be aware that there may be a connection to circumstances from eight years ago. Consider if there is a pattern and if it is being repeated in your life. If you can identify a pattern or circumstances that appear to be repeating themselves, you probably need to think about what to deal with and move on. For example, are you stuck in a pattern of behaviour in your relationships that keeps repeating itself? In other words, do you have any old relationship stuff you need to deal with?
  •  If you are born with Venus retrograde in your birth horoscope, it suggests a predisposition to certain ways you are hard-wired. With this positioning of Venus, you may always feel that something doesn’t quite gel in your relationships, or you may have deep-seated feelings of being unworthy, unattractive or unlovable. This is not necessarily the case yet for some reason, probably because of circumstances in your early childhood, you began to withdraw into yourself, resulting in you feeling separated from others. Venus retrograde individuals often possess a sense of being ‘different’. The retrograde period can be a great time to ‘power up’, go deeper to continue your personal development to establish a stronger sense of self, and, in so doing, forge new directions.
  • Sullivan (1992) made interesting comments about Venus Retrograde concerning the collective… watching the world news regarding diplomatic and international relations…where political situations were particularly unstable and leaders insecure and fallible often trouble ensues.
  • Take it gently if you start a job with Venus retrograde, be nice to everyone since you do not know who will change…and be friendlier later. People often do not project themselves as they are when Venus is retrograde. Sometimes they are in a bad place, so being friendly can help create a favourable connection.

Mars Retrograde in 2022 – 2023

Mars will not retrograde in 2023! I can hear the Aries and Scorpio’s breath, a sigh of relief! 

Mars (ruler of Aries and traditional ruler of Scorpio). Mars rules taking action, 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 (Aries & Scorpio). Issues may surface that you have completely forgotten about. Your motivation and drive may 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!

As this Mars is retrograde in Gemini, people may become more passive-aggressive, so you may need to work on staying alert to the messages or behaviours of others. Because Gemini is about communicating, listening carefully, choosing your response and not reacting intellectually superiorly is the best strategy to work through this retrograde period. Yes, on a bad day, Gemini can act more intellectually superior!

Jupiter Retrograde in 2023

Jupiter will retrograde from 4 September 2023 – 31 December 2023 (Taurus)

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 life 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 none or little appeal. Wait until the retrograde period is over to crystalise your thoughts.

Saturn Retrograde in 2023

Saturn moves from Aquarius into Pisces on 8 March 2023. It will retrograde on  17 June  2023  – 5 November 2023.

Saturn in Pisces

Saturn is typically considered limiting. I have found that if you do Saturn’s work, which requires structure and committed actions around change, Saturn’s need for structure and tenacity enables good results. That is not to say that some things may leave your life; if they do, they were probably meant to. Because Saturn and Neptune are quite different in how their energies manifest, there will be a period of adjustment. Rethinking your boundaries is one of the requirements of Saturn in Pisces. Pisces (ruled by Neptune and traditionally Jupiter) can be nebulous, self-delusional even deceitful. It can also be self-sacrificing, compassionate and creative. Very often, Pisces knows no boundaries, yet with Saturn’s influence, the mix of these energies can potentially create some practical frameworks.  You may be able to capture those wonderful creative ideas and give them form. Initially, you may find it difficult as this pattern is challenging the realities of your circumstances. Yet going with the flow, creating a space for solitude and reflection will enable the energy to do its work on a conscious and subconscious level and will, in a sense, see you give birth to new ideas.

Saturn Retrograde (ruler of Capricorn and traditional ruler of Aquarius) During the R period, we look more deeply into the structures we have created in our life. 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 time. You may need to realise that you cannot control your environment, and your business may experience ups and downs during this 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

Outer Planet Retrogrades 2022

Although these planets exhibit their unique characteristics, at least amongst psychological astrologers, it is commonly understood that they will mostly operate unconsciously. We often see these energies manifest through the collective unconscious. These energies are powerful and, on a personal basis, are accessed via a connection and activation through the personal planets such as the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus and Mars.

Uranus (modern ruler of Aquarius) –  29 August 2023 – 27 January 2024 (Taurus)

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, an emphasis on freedom. You may become disillusioned with your mundane self and experience and in a conflict between the old and the new. Excitement is replaced with anxiety. It is time to test what has lasting value.  

Neptune (modern ruler of Pisces) –  17 June 2023 – 6 December 2023 (Pisces)

With Neptune R, you may have difficulties with establishing boundaries. Additionally, with Saturn in Pisces, you will probably feel conflicted until you adjust to this combination of energies. You may have strong impressions that are not easily explained yet should be explored. You may experience some form of identity crisis and feel 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.

Pluto (modern ruler of Scorpio) – 1 May 2023 – 12 October  2023

Pluto R brings 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 you can’t. It’s a time for internal housekeeping.