All the planets astrologers use to decode the spiritual language of the cosmos exhibit a phenomenon known as retrograde motion. Very simply, there are times from Earth's perspective when each of the planets seems to back up in its orbit, to actually reverse course for a time, before eventually going forward again. This is caused by the differing orbits and the differing speeds of the elements involved.
The mechanics are really not important, but ... imagine this: If two trains on parallel tracks are moving forward at different rates of speed, people on the faster moving train will perceive the slower moving train as moving backwards -- even though it is not.
If the paths of these parallel tracks are circular -- as is the case with the orbits of the planets -- sometimes people on both trains will see the other as moving forward (which is always the case), but sometimes one or the other will appear to move backward.
It's an illusion
The mechanics are only a matter of curiosity where astrology is concerned. It's just a fact. This thing called retrograde motion (abbreviated Rx) happens -- or seems to from where we stand amid all this celestial movement. (The Sun and Moon do not turn retrograde, and anyway, they're not planets. The Sun is a star and the Moon is a satellite of Earth.)
Yes, retrograde motion is physically impossible; it's all an optical illusion. But the symbolism of retrograde in astrology is important -- whether in real time, in a Solar Return or in a Natal Chart. The code of planetary symbols -- and their meaning -- is interpreted differently when a planet is retrograde. The differences are both distinct and subtle.
Rx energy means the matters represented by a planet become noticeably more subjective as re-thinking, re-considering, re-evaluation and re-building occur. Experience is processed inward and information -- appearing as new perspectives, altered insights, different ways to understand something -- become part of your belief system.
When a planet is Rx -- either in your natal chart or currently in the sky -- you integrate and re-work what its energies mean to you. You gain a new take on the affected areas of your life and the experiences you meet or which are part of your history, there.
In a way,it's like re-arranging furniture in a room, to accommodate new needs, to replace worn-out pieces with something more serviceable, to give the place a whole new look, to make improvements you hadn't considered or which weren't necessary -- or maybe even possible -- before.
Despite the seeming delays and aggravations it causes, Rx energy smooths out your life -- eventually, gives you second chances, lets you incorporate new talents and information, makes you do things over and do them better. More than anything else, in the long run, Rx energy helps you grow.
Articles on Retrograde Motion in Astrology
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* Mercury Retrograde -- Rethinking Your Present Direction ---> In the territory of the mind -- When Mercury is retrograde (Mercury Rx -- in shorthand), it is a time of rethinking, refocusing and re-communicating. In Astrology, Mercury represents your intellect; your mental focus; your mind and how you use its assets.
* Don't Govern with Bad Intelligence -- Knowing what Mercury Retrograde Means -- And What It Means to You!! ---> One things for sure ... things will change -- When Mercury is retrograde, it's hard to make reliable decisions. You may not have all the facts you need. The facts you do have may change ... or your understanding of them may change. New information may arrive that puts a different light on your life, your plans, and your world itself. You gain a new perspective -- or a new opinion -- on something that makes you rethink everything start to finish.
* Mercury Retrograde -- A New Look at an Old Aggravation ---> People know what it means -- A surprising number of people know the term Mercury Retrograde. More surprising, since many people aren't really "into" astrology, they have a pretty good idea what it means. They know it means screwed up communications, frustrating delays, "things going wrong," misunderstandings, misplaced items, lost documents, and inconvenient mix-ups. It's a good excuse for "things not working," so they grab that and run with it to "explain" why life is a mess.
The Positive Side of Mercury Retrograde -- The Bright Side of a Pesky Problem ---> Every cloud has a silver lining -- While the time of Mercury Retrograde can, indeed, seem like a pothole in the pathway of progress ... because of the confusion and "mis-communication" for which it is famous. It also has its constructive uses ... which, admittedly do take some effort to access.
Mercury Retrograde -- A Personal Perspective -- Rethinking Life's Regular Reversals ---> Changes in latitude ... Over the years -- somewhere without my realizing it -- my attitude toward Mercury retrograde has changed. Dramatically. Not being anything close to patient, I once watched the arrival of this moving-backward journey of the mind with dread and resentment.
Other Planets Retrograde
Venus Retrograde -- Realigning Your Values and Assets ---> Reassessing things of value ... -- Venus represents your important relationships, your important values, and the way you handle the things you value, especially material resources like money and possessions you need to support yourself. When Venus is retrograde, these things get special attention from everyone. Retrograde energy shows it's time for humankind to back up and re-evaluate these vital concerns.
Jupiter Retrograde -- Expanding Your Latest Creation ---> Jupiter's interests -- Jupiter represents your philosophical beliefs and ethical principles. It describes your ability to share authoritative knowledge ... the wisdom you've gained both through academic study and through the simple experience of living. These are the lessons you teach through the example of your own life by the ideas that guide your choices and the actions you take as a result.
Saturn Retrograde -- Rebuilding Your Personal Foundations ---> Delays ... get worse -- Saturn is notorious for signifying delays, and because under stress it also symbolizes limitation, restriction, and loss, many followers of astrology consider it their least favorite planet. But I think it gets a bad rap and lots of blame it really doesn't deserve.