Planets and bodies can appear to be moving backwards in the sky for a period of time, and are said to be retrograde. “Appears” is the key word here, because, technically speaking, no planet actually moves backwards in their orbits around the Sun. In fact, they don’t even slow down. According to Vedic Astrology, the planets move with the retrograde motion when they get placed in the 5 th, 6 th, 7 th and 8 th houses from the planet Sun. The planet moves with respect to the earth, and becomes stationary for a certain period of time. Why Are Planets so Important in Astrology—and What Do They Mean? In astrology, planetary alignment is significant in more than one way. First of all, the position of the planets in the sky at the time of your birth reveal significant information about how you see the world, your habits and traits, belief systems, and strengths and weaknesses.
Many of us are somewhat familiar with the astrological phenomenon known as Mercury retrograde periods, during which we're all more likely to hit unexpected traffic, send a text to the wrong group chat, or show up to the wrong bar for happy hour. If nothing else, most people know it as a good time to blame their troubles on astrology. But these infamous transits aren't just reserved for planet Mercury. All the planets in astrology (save for the sun and moon) have regularly-occurring retrograde periods — and each of them shake up our lives and teach us cosmic lessons in their own unique ways.
Retrogrades are one of the more dreaded of the common cosmic events. This is because planetary retrograde periods can bring all sorts of mix-ups, mishaps, and (sometimes unwelcome) blasts from the past, requiring us to slow down and reevaluate the paths we're on — something most of us resent being forced to do when we're just trying to live our lives. But in the name of keeping our enemies closer and understanding that which scares us, it's time to educate ourselves exactly what happens during a retrograde. Because really, what is a retrograde in astrology anyway, and how do they impact our lives?
So, let's discuss what's literally going on when we say that a planet is retrograde. 'The word retrograde comes from a Latin word retogradus, which means ‘backward step,' astrologer Leslie Hale of Keen.com tells Bustle. 'When a planet ‘goes retrograde,’ it appears to be going backward.' This is why we sometimes call retrogrades a backspin.
We know that planets can't actually start moving backwards in their orbit all of a sudden — that's not how physics works. That said, the key word here is appears. 'Astronomers call this [retrograde movement] an ‘apparent backward motion,’ because it is an illusion, and the planet is not actually moving backward,' Hale says. It's simply a trick of eye that occurs from our vantage point here on earth when a planet's orbit aligns with ours in just the right way. It's similar to the way that when we're in a moving vehicle, a bus in the lane next to us might appear to move backwards momentarily when the speed and timing is just right.
Retrogrades are actually a very commonplace occurrence in astrology. And as mentioned earlier, it's not just Mercury that retrogrades (although that's certainly the most discussed of all the planetary backspins). 'Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Neptune, Uranus and Saturn all retrograde,' Hale says. 'In fact, it is rare there is not a planet that is retrograde.' In addition to these major planets, we also have Pluto retrograde — and the asteroids in astrology go through retrograde periods, too.
As is true for all things in nature, retrogrades happen in cycles, and it's different for each planet. For example, Mercury retrogrades occur about three to four times per year, and each of those periods lasts for about three weeks. That's pretty frequent compared to other planets' cycles, which is partly why this particular transit gets so much attention. But then Mars, on the other hand, only retrogrades every two years, and for about two months or so at a time — so each planet has its own retrograde pattern. There is reportedly at least one planetary retrograde happening about 80% of the time, according to Astrology.com, so we're rarely living without one.
Retrogrades in astronomy may refer to an optical illusion — but in astrology, the effects of these planetary transits are totally tangible. 'In astrology, the retrograde is much deeper and more complex [than in astronomy],' Hale says. Just as each planet appears to stop and move backwards on its cosmic path during a retrograde, we're asked to do the same thing within our own lives. It's a time to press 'pause' on our endeavors in the retrograding planet's jurisdiction, and slowly review the trajectory we've been on to check for errors and clean up our baggage.
'Retrogrades are periods of reassessment and redoing,' Hale continues. 'They frequently deal with the past — so things, situations, and even people from the past can re-appear.' During retrogrades, any issues that we've tried to skate over is ripe to come back to the surface, forcing us to deal with them whether we'd like to or not. Even issues that we thought were already dealt with and packed away (or information and feelings surrounding them) could bubble up again in some way, requiring us to come to new resolutions.
Hale also notes that retrogrades are 'connected with karmic events in life,' so we may find that the universe does a little bit of the path-adjustments for us. This is why we have a tendency to hit road blocks on projects, run into issues within relationships, or face personal crises and confusion (depending on the planet that's retrograde) during these periods — you can think of these struggles as the planets' way of nudging you toward doing the necessary retrograde work, rather than barreling forward without properly taking in these cosmic lessons.
Each of the planets in astrology rules over a different part of our lives (you can read all about those meanings here), and it's within those parts of our life that we'll experience the retrograde-fueled effects during a given planet's backspin. So for example, Mercury is the planet of communication, timing, and technology — which is why Mercury retrograde periods are known for screwing with our schedules, confusing us communication-wise, and messing with our tech devices.
The same goes for each of the other major retrogrades. In the case of Venus retrograde (which is the planet of love and money), we'll often experience drama in our love life (like exes popping up in our DMs, or feeling confused about what we want from relationships), or may struggle to address issues around money (like revisiting our savings plans or having the urge to overspend).
Each planet's retrograde has something different to teach us, and offers us an opportunity to pause so we can review our decisions, assess where we're at, and make adjustments before moving forward again.
Contrary to popular belief, planetary retrogrades are not here to ruin our lives. While it's true that they can cause some confusion and standstills, it's all in the name of getting us to slow down and assess where we're at in life so we can make the necessary adjustments. 'When a planet does retrograde, it is time for us to take a step back quite literally and look back at what the retrograding planet represents in our life. And it's time to polish that part of our life rather than moving forward,' Hale says. 'Even if it seems like nothing is going on underneath the surface [in that part of your life], there is likely a lot going on.' In other words, retrogrades are a time for slowing down and doing some introspection.
These backspins are generally only a big problem if we refuse to slow our pace and do the work. Meaning that if we carry on with life as usual and refuse to address the things that surface, the planets will serve us the infamous retrograde snags. Of course, in our fast-paced and productivity-obsessed society, it can be difficult to press pause and take a breather. But if we're looking to align ourselves with the cosmos and facilitate some personal growth, then retrogrades are an ideal time to do just that.
Last but not least, let's talk about preparing for a retrograde, and then re-adjusting after one. Because in addition to the retrograde itself (as if that wasn't enough!), every retrograde cycle also includes a pre- and post-retrograde shadow period — often called a retroshade for short, and referred to as stationary retrograde periods in astronomy. 'Retrogrades have a ‘stationary retrograde period,’ beforehand where the energy begins to shift, and they have a ‘stationary direct period,’ where energy begins to shift again before things go back to normal,' Hale says. These retrograde shadow periods occur when the planet is moving forward over the same portion of its orbit that it moves backward over during its actual retrograde. In the case of Mercury, for example, its retroshades last for about two weeks each before and after the retrograde itself.
During a pre-retrograde shadow period, we usually begin to feel the effects of the retrograde. It's a good time to start tying up loose ends in the areas of your life ruled by the soon-to-be-retrograding planet and start preparing yourself for the inward journey so you can avoid all the things you shouldn't do during a retrograde.
During the post-retrograde shadow period, on the other hand, it's a time to slowly transition back into normal life. The energy of the retrograde hasn't fully cleared, but it's beginning to move forward again — so we should take things slowly and make sure we're doing the personal work necessary to integrate the lessons retrogrades teach us.
There you have it: everything you've ever wanted to know about planetary retrogrades. Now that you know the deal, it's not that scary, right? In fact, if we put a positive spin on things, we can actually use the slowed-down energy of planetary retrogrades to our advantage, so long as we're willing to slow down and work on ourselves. Next time someone moans about an upcoming Mercury retrograde, let them know you've got the inside scoop — and that there's nothing to be afraid of.
French Vanity Fair named Nadiya Shah one of the top 12 astrologers on the planet, crowning her a pioneer in video astrology. She is an Internationally Syndicated Astrologer, Author, Media. Soul astrology and all things uplifting to empower your spirit!http://www.micheleknight.co.uk. My Weekly, Monthly, Yearly Horoscopes & Special Astrology feature videos have been on YouTube since 2010 with 76,000 Subscribers and over 22 Million Views. My warm, inclusive and empathetic style. Weekly Horoscopes - Prakash Astrologer with your weekly horoscope, moon sign daily horoscopes and love horoscope. Find our more at http://prakashastrologer.c. Weekly horoscope youtube. Free daily horoscopes, weekly horoscopes, monthly horoscopes, chinese horoscopes, love astrology, 2016 horoscopes, compatibility, video horoscopes and more.
When the planet Mercury enters apparent retrograde motion, that marks the beginning of a span of misfortune down on Earth. At least, that is, according to proponents of astrology, who have made the phrase “Mercury in retrograde” (or the more grammatically correct “Mercury retrograde”) an increasingly buzzy one over the past few years.
Retrograde motion is when a planet appears, when observed from Earth, to reverse direction. This happens due to an optical illusion caused by differences in orbit. In the realm of astrology, retrograde motion has negative connotations. Because Mercury is the planet said to rule communication, those who are astrologically inclined expect frequent misunderstandings, scheduling problems and disagreements with friends during this period. Since Mercury is the fastest planet in our solar system, it enters apparent retrograde motion between three and four times a year, for about three weeks at a time. The frequency makes it an ideal scapegoat for any sort of misfortune, so much so that there is a whole website devoted to the question of whether today is one of those days — the aptly named www.ismercuryinretrograde.com — that one can visit to seek validation on a particularly bad day.
Retrograde motion is not new to astrology or astronomy. In fact, it was one of the earliest mysteries that confounded ancient stargazers. Yet, public interest in the subject is experiencing a relatively new boom, as evidenced by Google queries for the question “is Mercury in retrograde,” which has seen considerable viral growth since 2009.
So, what exactly is the reason for this newfound popularity?
Astrology is quite popular among young Americans, with more than half of 18-24-year-olds believing that it is a science, according to a National Science Foundation poll conducted in 2014. But, while some scientific studies may appear to be linked to astrology — for example, a recent study showed the demonstrated effects of birth season on personality — there are no scientific studies showing that who a person is has anything to do with their natal chart. Yet as evidenced by the plethora of memes, apps and horoscopes found across the web, astrology is a cultural mainstay for the internet age, regardless of whether it is “real” or not.
But, while many have jumped to label the astrology boom as another millennial trend, that may not actually be the case. According to Nicholas Campion, a historian of cultural astrology at the University of Wales who spoke with TIME, it is difficult to say whether fascination with star signs is any more prevalent than it has been in the past, since studies on the popularity of astrology weren’t conducted until recent years. While those numbers will never be known, looking at the history of popular astrology, changes in technology have a significant influence on how people engage with astrological insight.
Although humans have been attempting to divine meaning from planetary movement since ancient times, sun sign astrology — the type of astrology most people in the West are familiar with today — got its start in the 1930s. The earliest horoscope that offered insight based on a reader’s birthday was published in the British newspaper, the Sunday Express, in 1930 by astrologer R.H. Naylor. However, it was a magazine called American Astrology that published the first 12-paragraph horoscope explicitly tying birth date to signs in the zodiac. Before then, almanacs were the chosen way for people to get premonitory knowledge, but not with the same degree of personalization. According to Campion, the language of identifying as a particular sign really began in the 1930s.
The appeal of personalized fortune-telling that was readily available to the public became a continual phenomenon throughout the rest of the century. Encouraged by their ability to drive sales, more and more publications started running horoscopes, including The Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times and numerous tabloid publications.
In the 1960s, interest in astrology was again heightened by the release of Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs, a best-seller that expanded on the notion of identifying with a particular sign. The book contained long passages describing romantic compatibility, how each figure in the zodiac handles money, and how to interact with employers based on their signs. Horoscopes experienced another resurgence in the ’80s, when newspapers created call lines that allowed people to phone in to receive personalized horoscopes.
The inauspicious connotations of Mercury retrograde are actually quite old, evidenced in an ancient branch of astrology known as horary astrology. A person would pose a question, and an astrologer would determine an answer by consulting an astrological chart for the moment the question was asked. If Mercury were in retrograde, it would elicit a negative response. “A typical phrase that was used in relation to horary questions during mercury retrograde was ‘nothing will come of it,’ [meaning that] nothing will come of the question asked,” Campion says.
In the 1980s, Campion noticed a trend to revive and adapt older forms of astrology, and through that, the once specific meaning of Mercury retrograde became more broad. “People started to apply it to everything,” he adds.
Now, decades later, just as newspapers and call lines previously changed how people interacted with popular astrology, the Internet has made it possible for people to readily access more complex astronomical data.
In the past, the average person would have to be a diligent amateur astronomer in order to observe retrograde motion. Now, all it requires is a quick web search. This is also why people are more familiar with their “rising signs,” which are based on time of birth and geographic location. What used to require a consultation with astrologer can now be easily found out by an online calculator. And it’s likely no coincidence that the increased awareness of astrology starting around 2009 corresponds to the social media boom that year, as Facebook and Twitter became key sources for news. It was only a matter of time until articles about Mercury retrograde began to circulate, and the Internet’s favorite excuse for when things go wrong was born. As history has shown, when journalism changes, astrology does too.