A retrograde planet appears to be moving backward through the zodiac. Even though we know that planets cannot stop, turn around, and review, revise & update its symbolic messages, we here on Earth have that celestial blessing. It appears that way at times due to the movement of the other planets in relation to our own planet, EARTH! To passengers riding in a train which is passing a slower moving car, the car appears to be moving backward due to the speed of the train itself. When another planet moves as close to earth as possible, it turns retrograde.
Technically, the planet will move slightly past the earth and retrograde back to a point where it is zodiacally before the earth. The Midpoint, therefore, of this retrograde period occurs at the exact opposition, or alignment, of the planet with the Earth. When retrograde, Mercury & Venus will be between the Sun and the Earth, whereas when Mars through Pluto are retrograde, the Earth will be between them and the Sun. In this latter case, from the Earth’s point of view (yours), these planets will appear to be opposite the Sun. While exactly conjunct the Earth. A three-point alignment.
Each of the planets remain retrograde for different lengths of time, depending upon its orbital cycle. At the midpoint of its retrograde period it will be as close to the Earth as possible, implying that the purpose, or function, of the retrograde planet is “TO COME HOME” to Earth, to be personally confronted and worked with.
The basic message involves introspection, symbolically. We are challenged to investigate the importance of each retrograde planet’s functions in our life and to take full responsibility for its expression, rather than allowing social factors to influence us too strongly. Because the functioning of a retrograde planet is so subjective, we may find it difficult to express through objective avenues. We are challenged to develop that part of ourselves ON OUR OWN! All external factors associated with the retrograde planet must be internalized and made personal before they operate productively.
There seems a similarity between the interpretation of retrograde planets and intercepted signs. Intercepted signs deal with environmental limitations, rather than the personal urges or energies needing re-direction which are suggested with retrograde planets. Too often, professionals fail to make this distinction. We can find clues to the meanings of retrograde planets by looking at the signs of their respective rulerships (Most-like qualities) in reverse of their usual modern-day order. For example:
Mercury when direct:
First we gather information from a variety of sources and learn through communications. (Gemini). Then, we find a practical avenue through which to apply that information, filing what is meaningful and eliminating what is superficial (Virgo).
Mercury when retrograde:
Reversed when Mercury appears in backward motion. The mental functions is internalized. We must first analyze information and relate it to our own experiences, perfecting our understanding (Virgo), before successful communication skill are developed (Gemini).
We first develop personal values and appreciation of our own worth as individuals, learning to love ourselves (Taurus) so that we have something valuable to contribute to any relationship that involves love for another (Libra).
When retrograde, our values must be internalized, which, at first, make s them hard to express. It is difficult to see ourselves as valuable (Taurus) until we have developed true concern for others and have received the feedback relationships provide (Libra).
We first learn to initiate activities independently, moving out to get what we want (Aries). Then, identification with personal desires must be eliminated in order to work as a unit with another (Scorpio).
When Mars turns retrograde, our desire energies are, at first, suppressed. Personal feelings of inadequacy or fear emerge until deep involvements with something outside ourselves (Scorpio) release desire and motivation, and a personal sense of identity is formed. (Aries).
We first tend to expand our life and broaden our horizons through larger, social experiences (Sagittarius). This leads to the formation of spiritual commitments and a recognitions of our oneness with, and responsibilities to, mankind (Pisces).
Retrograde, our Jupiter social urges are internalized, and conditioned beliefs are inwardly changed. Lessons in faith and commitment to our inner beliefs (Pisces) enable us to re-shape conditioned social principles and expectations (Sagittarius).
Suggests that first we need to define our place in the social structure. Here, we build boundaries around experiences in order to establish ourselves in the world around us (Capricorn). Then, our social positions and the acceptance of social responsibilities lead us into group activities through which we develop humanitarian concepts and are able to break free (Aquarius) from overly rigid patterning.
When Saturn turns retrograde, an awareness of our places with the group and society is needed (Aquarius) before personal authority is given us (Capricorn). We need to restructure our social egos from what it first, has been taught to be (Capricorn) by expressing our inner individuality (Aquarius) before we will know where we fit into society.
NOTE: Uranus, Neptune and Pluto do not have dual rulerships. However, in theory, you will find the following relationships applicable.
Suggests that our unconscious urges to break out of socially limited boundaries and to express our true inner uniqueness (Aquarius) We contribute, through our progressive thoughts, to humanitarian causes and thereby build a more satisfying social identity than that provided by early authoritarian figures. (Capricorn).
Whenever it turns backwards this seems reversed, we need to transform our rebellious urges (Aquarius) through self-discipline (Capricorn). Rather than tearing down old structures (Aquarius), we need to enter the establishment (Capricorn) and transform it from within.
tells us our unconscious urge to dissolve old ego patterns, is in order to find a sense of oneness with all life. Our ability to transcend the boundaries of the conscious mind and tap into universal TRUTHS (Pisces), thereby gaining a wider scope of visions & understanding (Sagittarius).
Whenever it is found retrograde, we need to unveil the mysteries of life by attempting conscious to understand the reality or theory (Sagittarius) behind our ideals (Pisces).
suggests our unconscious urges to contribute something meaningful to the evolution of our world leads the destruction of old attitudes (Scorpio) and a re-born identity (Aries).
When Pluto is retrograde, we need to live out a larger role in the world goes unfulfilled until the personal identity (Aries) is transformed (transfigured) (Scorpio) and we become the persons we inwardly want to be.
See also: Why planets retrograde (astronomy)