Whether you’re a newbie to astrology or have been a long-time fan, you’ve very likely heard of retrogrades by now. Yes, like Mercury Retrograde. Retrogrades are periods of time when a planet appears to move backwards in its orbit from our POV here on Earth. While no planet actually moves backward within the sky—it’s an optical illusion—we do notice effects within our personal lives and on a global scale during these pesky retrograde periods.
In astrology, whatever areas of life a planet rules will see a shift during its retrograde phase. For example, Mercury is the planet of communication, so you might send a text to the wrong person during Mercury Retrograde—or break your phone. And while Mercury goes retrograde more frequently than any other planet—doing so three to four times a year, for a period of a few weeks at a time—every planet retrogrades at some point. (The Sun and Moon don’t, because they’re what astrologers call luminaries, not planets.) In fact, the outer planets such as Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto can retrograde for many months at a time. And no, retrogrades do not equal tragic or bad news, but they do carry profound effects that we should pay attention to.
Your Retrograde Kit
What about your birth chart? As you probably know, your birth chart is like a snapshot of where the Sun, Moon, and all the planets were in the zodiac when you were born. And if you were born during a retrograde, that retrograde appears in your birth chart. In fact, most people have at least one retrograde planet in their birth chart. It affects your personality and life-long patterns—but not in a bad way! Knowing which planets in your birth chart are retrograde carries subtle info about how you harness the energy of that planet.
Want to know look for retrograde planets in your birth chart? Use a handy-dandy birth chart calculator like the ones found on the website Café Astrology or the app Time Passages. If you see the retrograde symbol next to a planet, which looks like ℞ (some charts simply use an R), that planet was retrograde when you were born.
What does it mean if you have a retrograde planet in your birth chart?
First off: Don’t stress. This is incredibly common and doesn’t mean you’re cursed. It means that the planet’s energy and the areas of life it rules will more turned inwardly than externally in your life. Plus, you’ll face some karmic life lessons around the themes of the planet. Especially early in life, you may even keep some of the planet’s energy hidden or undercover. Additionally, some people may have difficulty expressing the planet’s energy, which may manifest as a sense of uncertainty or discomfort when being pushed to interact with the planet’s themes. Here’s what it means if you have a specific planet retrograde in your birth chart.
Often, people born during Mercury Retrograde are especially deep thinkers and possess a more philosophical nature. They take in information differently than others and tend to have a unique perspective on life, as well as an eccentric or quirky sense of humor. They may take a longer amount of time to make decisions or communicate directly, as they are often reviewing and double-checking information.
People born during Venus Retrograde have a deep focus on love, relationships, and friendships. They may have an increased level of desire for intimate connections, but they may find it difficult to express this outwardly. There may be a heightened degree of privacy around their love life, and they may prefer to keep some things hidden. They may also take a longer road to trust others, or have some intense feelings around everything that Venus rules (like love, money, and beauty). They may also need to work on genuine self-love.
Individuals with this placement are often intense. However, they may have challenges around expressing their desires in a smooth and authentic way. They may come across too aggressively sometimes, and too passively at other times. They may also move indirectly toward their goals and go the long way around when manifesting their desires. Competition can be stressful for them, and they likely feel better when they are able to set their own pace rather than having authority figures do so.
Those with Jupiter Retrograde in their birth charts often have unique, eccentric, or unusual perspectives, morals, and belief systems. They like to form their own POV regarding life and rather than following the dictations of society. These individuals don’t often feel that they are gifted genuine luck in life, so they may focus on becoming master planners who assess all of the intricate details as they move forward. They have to make their own luck, and they’re determined to do so!
Individuals born during Saturn Retrograde often deal with karmic situations around fear, trust, vulnerability, and responsibility. They may face life-changing situations that make them work through guilt, doubt, or anxiety. They may also have challenges around structure—whether it’s being imposed on them or established in their lives.
Someone with Uranus Retrograde in their birth chart may have great difficulty with change. They also might not feel comfortable expressing their innate eccentricities and authenticity, preferring to internalize them rather than sharing them with the world. Many people with this energy will focus on living a more traditional or structured life, but then suddenly erupt with rebellious tendencies that have been pent up and not expressed. This back-and-forth between order and chaos tends to become a lifelong theme.
People born during Neptune Retrograde often have an extremely deep sense of spirituality and faith, but do not outwardly express it. They may mask their vulnerabilities and compassion, preferring to keep this side of themselves hidden or private rather than sharing it with the world. They could also have inherent fears of trusting others, being hurt, or dreaming too big. They tend to be guarded so that they’re not ultimately let down.
Yes, Pluto is still a planet in astrology, and Pluto Retrograde in a birth chart creates deep examination around the themes of fear, control, power, or domination. People that possess this placement often feel insecure or frustrated when they are controlled, manipulated, or forced to be vulnerable. They may have a deep need to assert themselves and find power, but they may not be conscious of this desire for many periods of their lives. They may also struggle to embrace the shadow sides of their life and personality.
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