Category: Astrology Basics Written by Robert Wilkinson
While we know what a retrograde planet means, many still have questions about how a retrograde functions differently than when a planet is direct in motion.
Some think it doesn’t matter much, while others think they are a “bad” influence. So let’s take a new look at retrograde transits as we follow the breadcrumbs through the retrograde woods.
First, the basics about retrograde motion. All planets go retrograde except the Sun and Moon. Mercury goes retrograde three times a year (except when it's four!), Venus every 18-19 months, and Mars once every 25-26 months. Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto all go retrograde once a year for several months at a time.
Even though a planet is retrograde, it’s still moving forward but it seems to be going backward from the perception of Earth. While a retrograde planet appears to be moving backward relative to the zodiacal backdrop, when we and it are again at a certain positioning relative to the Sun, it again appears to move forward through the sign it's in.
All retrogrades are a perception based in planetary orbital speed relative to the Sun. Consulting an ephemeris (a book of planetary motions), we find the outer invisible planets all go retrograde around 10 days after the Sun's waxing (lower) square to their positions, and stay retrograde for several months until they go stationary direct around 10 days before the waning (upper) square. There are philosophical implications to the outers being retrograde when they are at certain phases in their orbits relative to the Sun, but that's beyond the scope of this article.
When a planet is direct, it means we are "directly" experiencing its “department of labor” in the sign it’s in. When retrograde, we're re-tracing ground we've already covered, but from a different perspective. It's like driving down a street from one direction, then driving back down the same street in the opposite direction. Two perspectives on the same field of vision.
However, a retrograde period never goes back as far as the last period, or we'd be stuck going back and forth over the same material indefinitely. This gap in how far we went forward to how far we're going back changes based in which planet is retrograde. The outermost only advance 2-4 degrees per year, so they’re almost always in their own past or future shadow zone.
The inner planets swing back across far more degrees than the outers. Mercury retrogrades are variable, ranging from 9-16 degrees. The Jan 2022 RX went back 15+ degrees, the swing in Gemini and late Taurus was 8+, and the Sept 2022 was 14+. The Jan 2023 RX went back 16+, the April/May RX was 9+, and the one coming in Aug/Sept is 13+. The December 2023 RX will go back 16+, April 2024 will go back 11+. August 2024 will go back 12+, and Dec 2024 will go back 16+ degrees.
Venus is fairly consistent, usually retrograding back about 16 degrees. It retrograded back 15+ degrees in the Oct/Nov 2018 RX, 16+ in May/June 2020, 15+ in the Dec 2021-Jan 2022 RX, and will retrograde 16+ degrees this August/September.
Mars retrograded back 20 degrees in Virgo in 2012, 18 degrees in Libra in 2014, 16 degrees in Scorpio-Sag in 2016, and 11 degrees in Capricorn-Aquarius n 2018. It retrograded back 13 degrees in Aries in Autumn 2020, 17+ in late 2022, and will RX 19+ in Dec 2024-Feb 2025.
The outers are a different matter. Jupiter retrogrades about 10 degrees every year, while Saturn appears to go back 7 degrees. Uranus retrogrades back 4 degrees, Neptune goes back 3-4 degrees, and Pluto goes back 2-3 degrees.
After the retrograde period, Jupiter races forward about 45-48 degrees before going retrograde again. Saturn moves forward about 20 degrees before again turning retrograde. Uranus moves 8 degrees forward, Neptune moves 5 degrees, and Pluto moves 5 or 6 degrees before going retrograde again.
So you can see that in any given year period, Jupiter gains 35-38 degrees of experience before taking its look back. Saturn gains 13 degrees of experience, while Uranus gains 4, Neptune gains 2-3, and Pluto gains 2. This means the parts of our lives and internal makeup symbolized by the outer invisible planets gives us much less experience each year than the visible planets do.
This implies that even though we cover less ground in the spiritual realm, we are more familiar with it when we master its lessons than the brief glimpses of the inner planet experiences as they race around the zodiac. And, since the outers do go back over ground they may have traversed for 2 or more years, it’s why we find ourselves revisiting familiar points of experience over that time period.
It is far different with the inner planets which never revisit the same points within any time frame we can take advantage of. For example, before 2008, the last time Jupiter went RX at 23 Capricorn and direct at 13 Capricorn was in 1925, and the only times Jupiter stimulates 23 Capricorn as its direct station are 1949 and 2032.
In 2018, Jupiter went SRX at 24 Scorpio, and SD at 14 Scorpio. The last time that happened was 1935. In 2019, Jupiter went SRX at 25 Sagittarius, and SD at 15 Sagittarius. The last time that happened was 1936. In 2020, it went SRX at 28 Capricorn and SD at 18 Capricorn, which paralleled 1937. In 2021, it went SRX at 3 Pisces and went back to 23 Aquarius, which paralleled 1938. In 2022, it went SRX at 9 Aries and went back to 29 Pisces, paralleling 1939. In 2023, it goes SRX at 16 Taurus and goes back to 6 Taurus, the exact span it retrograded in 1940.
This area of identical stationary degrees every 83 years is probably a subject for extensive study. I looked briefly, and it seems that for Jupiter, 1913 has the same stationary degrees as 1996, 1925 as 2008, 1937 as 2020, and 1949 as 2032. So we could infer that certain stationary points condition those effects not just for 12 years to come, but for the 7 Jupiter cycles which follow.
Tomorrow we'll examine some interpretative possibilities of how to look at retrograde and direct planets.
Reprinted on crystalwind.ca with written permission from Robert Wilkinson. Copying this article to other blogs is strictly prohibited. It is copyright protected.
© Copyright 2023 Robert Wilkinson
© Copyright 2023 Robert Wilkinson - https://www.aquariuspapers.com
About the author:
Robert wilkinson An internationally-known astrologer, author, public speaker, metaphysician, and futurist, with over 25 years experience as a counselor and educator. He has presented hundreds of public talks on all aspects of Astrology, the Eastern Wisdom tradition, the Western Wisdom tradition and promoted many mass gatherings and cultural events. Some of his specific areas of interest and expertise include personality profiles, degree patterns, integrative astrology, various aspect harmonics, among others.
Reprinted on crystalwind.ca. with written persmission from Robert Wilkinson.
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