retrograde planets

Retrograde Planets: Life in Reverse Gear

Having retrograde planets in your natal chart is like having one of the team running in the wrong direction – and that’s especially so if the planet in question is one of the inner, personal planets. Many of us have at least one retrograde planet in our birth charts, as the outer planets turn retrograde for extended periods of up to several weeks – and even months in the cases of the planets from Uranus through to Pluto.

Though all retrograde planets in your natal chart are worthy of note, it’s the inner planets – Mercury, Venus and Mars – that we tend to notice most, largely because we notice their effects with more immediacy. They affect us at a personal level because they represent the way we think and communicate (Mercury), how we relate (Venus) and how effective we are at asserting ourselves (Mars).

Unlike transiting retrograde planets (like the Mercury retrogrades we all know and love) when you’re born with a retrograde planet in your natal chart, it’s with you for life – so how are you going to be able to work with your renegade players to ensure they don’t spoil the game for the rest of the team? In this post, I’m going to look at the effects retrograde planets have on your life and, by the way, they’re not all bad!

Retrograde Planets: Mercury

If you were born with Mercury retrograde in your birth chart, your thought processes may be more subjective than they otherwise would be. The ways you learn and take in information may be less logical and more intuitive and when at school, you may have had issues dealing with learning materials in the usual way. Generally speaking you may have needed to focus more on what worked for you – and this may have worked in your favour to make you more focused and analytical – favouring a Virgo-style approach rather than a Gemini-style one.

Retrograde Mercury in your natal chart may have made you shy or more reluctant to voice your opinions as you are never quite sure that what you say is what you actually mean – or you feel that people won’t quite get what you’re trying to say. However, if you experienced this growing up, it can actually make you measured and careful with your choice of words – as you know how important that can be. Retrograde planets have a habit of turning inwards and you may be highly self-critical as a result. You can think about things without blaming yourself. Stop taking things so personally.

Retrograde Planets: Venus

Venus retrograde in your birth chart can be difficult as it effects how you feel about your appearance and this has a real impact on your self esteem. The issue is that what you see as beautiful may be out of step with what is currently fashionable – and that makes you a renegade when it comes to things like your personal style. You may even neglect your appearance as you would rather hide from view because of a lack of confidence in your own self-worth.

There is, however, a flip-side to Venus retrograde. Vanity and narcissism can occur as you overcompensate in an attempt to turn around that awkward Venus. The issue here is, once more, self-love, and this can affect your romantic relationships too. Learning how to express love and be reciprocal in relationships is something that may not come naturally to you, and subjects with Venus retrograde may take a long time to learn how to relate – if they ever do. The key to overcoming that? Learning to trust yourself as well as your partner.

Retrograde Planets: Mars

Mars retrograde in your birth chart is tricky, as Mars energy hates to be repressed in any way. Unfortunately Mars retrograde can result in real anger management issues as you may find it difficult to direct your energy constructively. This can work two ways. You either ‘lose it’ in ways that are unprovoked and unacceptable or you find it difficult to express your anger at all, so your rage becomes internalised – and that is not a good thing for your mental health.

So, what can you do about it? A life of either violent aggression or passive aggression is not a good one so you need to integrate your assertive Mars function in a more productive way. This is one of those situations that may be best expressed physically thorough sports or physical exercise because you need a focus that prevents your energy spilling over into areas that are best avoided. Take the initiative, get to the gym and work things through in the safely contained space that retrograde Mars needs. You need to feel revitalised and in control, so do it in a way that benefits you – and everyone else.

Retrograde Planets: Jupiter

When we get to the more distant planets, having one of them retrograde is a more common occurrence. Jupiter (and Saturn) spend several month a year in retrograde motion so the effects we see with the outer planets are slightly different to what we see with the inner, personal planets. They are just as inwardly focused – but this can make their effects more pronounced than they would usually be in your birth chart.

Jupiter is a case in point. Associated with intellect and our belief systems, retrograde Jupiter can magnify a person’s interest in philosophy, religion, politics, academic pursuits or any form of belief system that they believe gives the answer to the world’s ills. At best, they will conduct a focused exploration of a particular belief or subject area, examine its principles and perhaps re-frame it to create a new approach and level of understanding in their chosen area of expertise.

And at worst? You may end up with the ‘armchair expert’ who professes to know it all – yet does not. You may also see those with Jupiter retrograde tearing down established belief systems and formulating their own. Jupiter retrograde has the potential to be a charismatic cult leader – or (and this is more likely) be more philosophical about life than most people – and less likely to be swayed by the arguments of those whose belief systems differ from their own. If that means they hold beliefs that see them out of step with society? So be it.

Retrograde Planets: Saturn

Saturn retrograde in your natal chart can be challenging because it can result in the kind of inferiority complex that prevents those with it from fulfilling their potential. It can result in shyness and a need to limit their exposure to things that are not in their control. So, the micromanager who controls everything around them because they fear the risk of anything not going according to plan? That’s Saturn retrograde. They take responsibility – but fear it too – and beat themselves up because in spite of all they do, they feel as though it’s never enough.

There is, however a surprising counterpoint to this with Saturn retrograde. Saturn is the planet of responsibility and hard work, but with Saturn retrograde, it’s possible to have someone who simply gives up. They may lack ambition or believe they are not good enough for the job. They may develop negative attitudes and sabotage their own efforts. Saturn retrograde can make you feel as though you’re entering the ring with one hand tied behind your back so to combat this, you need to develop your self confidence and remind yourself that you don’t have to be the best – being good enough will be just fine.

Retrograde Planets: Uranus

We come to the generational planets. Uranus, Neptune and Pluto spend approximately half their time in retrograde motion so its not uncommon to have a retrograde outer planet in your natal chart. When we look at the generational planets, we also need to look at them from a generational viewpoint as well as a personal one – as you will share the influence of the retrograde planet with a large number of people born around the same time as you.

Uranus retrograde is a funny one. The rebel of the zodiac, Uranus behaves in unexpected ways and at a generational level, those influenced by Uranus retrograde may feel a need to rebel against the rules and ‘norms’ of the previous generation. Social movements and protest groups may attract those born with Uranus retrograde. Of course, Uranus being Uranus, those with this retrograde planet may even be more resistant to social change than you would expect them to be.

Retrograde Planets: Neptune

Neptune is the planet associated with spirituality, dreams and the kinds of escapist tendencies that lead to addictions of all kinds. Those with Neptune retrograde may have a more pronounced association with any of the well-documented Neptunian issues, simply because Neptune retrograde’s effects are internalised and intensified for those under its influence. So how do you deal with that if everyone around you is experiencing it too?

The best way to deal with Neptune retrograde may be to look within. There is always the the risk with ‘spiritual seekers’ that the ‘truth’ may only be accessible through alcohol or drugs. Those with this placement may have tried that route and failed – so they may become evangelical about clean living or have the capacity to work with those suffering from Neptunian issues. It may take one who has been sick to be the most effective healer.

Retrograde Planets: Pluto

Pluto retrograde is the most intense of all the planets. This is the signifier for generations of people who have issues with power and control – and who wields it. Are power struggles more likely with Pluto retrograde in your chart? At a generational level, those with this placement may be more likely to be subject to – or engage with – extremes or abuses of power. This may be a social or at a personal level. They may have strong feelings about such issues or feel powerless to change things in the world around them.

At a personal level? Pluto retrograde may be more intense than usual. There may be a tendency towards secrecy – and issues about secrecy may feature with this generation, especially regarding sexual or financial misconduct. There may be the feeling that the world is out of control and that triggers stuff like obsessive compulsive responses, self destructive behaviours and mental health issues. It’s all too easy to be dragged down – so step back, pull yourself away from the things you can’t control – and deal with the things you can control, namely, how you respond to bad news.


© Sara Shipman 2021

Picture Credit: Image by Andrew Martin from Pixabay 


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