Planetary Movement: Astrology Basics for the Curious Mind

Planetary Movements:

  • Direct
  • Retrograde
  • Station (including Station Direct, Station Retrograde, and Shadow Period)

Direct Motion is just as it sounds. Direct movement is when a Planet is moving forward. Forward motion of any Planet is known for progressive energy, a momentum that carries us into new opportunities and new experiences.

Retrogrades are when a Planet appears to be moving backwards from our position on Earth. Planets do not actually move backwards, this is an illusion that is created when a faster moving Planet passes a slower moving Planet. Most of the time, Earth is the faster moving Planet, the two cases where Earth is the slower moving planet is with Mercury and Venus. Retrograde Energies are known as times of review. There are many energy resets during a Retrograde.

Stationary movement is when a planet begins or ends a Retrograde. There is a period of time where it is Stationed, by illusion it appears that the planet has stopped moving. If you look at the actual degrees of a Planet that is Stationary you will see that during this period the planet is at the same degree for longer than normal as it prepares to “change direction”.

  • Stationing Retrograde means that a planet has appeared to stop moving, and is preparing to begin Retrograde motion.
  • Stationing Direct means that a planet has appeared to stop moving, and is preparing to begin Direct forward motion.
  • Shadow Period: This is a term used to refer to the time/degrees of a Sign that a Planet will move through before, and after the Retrograde period. There are 2 different Shadow Periods for every Retrograde. You may have heard Astrologers say, “we are moving into the Shadow Period of the upcoming Retrograde”, or “there is still one more week of Shadow period”.

Current Venus Retrograde and Shadow Periods: 

  • The first Shadow period of the Current Venus Retrograde began April 9, 2020 when Venus reached 5 degrees of Gemini, and lasted until Venus reached 21 degrees of Gemini where the Retrograde began.
  • Venus will then Retrograded back to 5 degrees of Gemini.
  • The Second Shadow Period begins when Venus Stations to move Direct at 5 degrees of Gemini, and will lasts until Venus reaches 21 degrees of Gemini again.
  • This brings in the concept that we have the chance to review Energies related to these times, the Planets involved, and Houses that are affected 3 times. First Shadow Period: Experience. Retrograde Motion: Silent Review/observer. Second Shadow Period: Chance to put what you learnt to the test. Out of Retrograde and Shadow Periods: Reset of Energy has occurred. 

Planetary movement and Retrograde standards:

  • Sun: Travels 1 degree per day. Takes 1 year to move around the entire Zodiac. Never moves in Retrograde.
  • Moon: Travels 13.5 degrees per day. Every 2 ½ days the Moon moves into a new Sign. Moves around the Zodiac every 28 days. Never moves in Retrograde.
  • Mercury: Traves 1 degree per day. Stays in each sign for 15 to 69 days depending on Retrograde movement. Mercury orbits the sun every 88 days. Mercury travels around the Zodiac once per year. On average Mercury goes through 3 to 4 Retrogrades a year. 
  • Venus: Travels 1 degree per day. Venus spends 24 to 100 days in a Sign depending on Retrograde movement. On average Venus Retrograde lasts 42 days. Venus makes it all the way around the Zodiac once a year. Venus Retrogrades every 18 months.
  • Mars: Travels .5 degrees every day. Spends roughly 2 months in each Sign. Mars Retrogrades roughly every 2 years, and is in Retrograde for 30 days. Mars moves through the Zodiac in 2 years.
  • Jupiter: Travels roughly 2 minutes everyday (remember there are 60 minutes in every degree). Jupiter spends 1 year in each Sign, circling the Zodiac every 12 years. Jupiter goes Retrograde roughly every 13 months, and the duration of the Retrograde usually lasts 4 months.
  • Saturn: Travels roughly 2 minutes per day. Saturn makes its way around the Zodiac every 28 to 30 years, spending 2 ½ years in each Sign. Saturn Retrogrades roughly every 12 months and its Retrogrades last about 4 ½ months.
  • Uranus: Travels about 1 minute per day. Uranus stays in a Sign for 7 years, and it takes 84 years for this Planet to make one full circle around the Zodiac. Uranus’ Retrogrades last 5 months, and occur every year.
  • Neptune: Travels less than 1 minute per day. Neptune is in the same Sign for 14 years, and it takes 165 years for Neptune to circle the entire Zodiac. Neptune Retrogrades every year, and spends roughly six to seven months in Retrograde.
  • Pluto: Travels less than 1 minutes per day. Pluto stays in the same sign for 21 years, and takes 248-250 years to circle the entire Zodiac.  Pluto Retrogrades every year, and spends roughly five months in Retrograde.
  • Chiron: Chiron (an asteroid/comet) has an unusual orbit. Chiron spends its time in each Zodiac Sign unequally. The last sign Chiron was in was Pisces, and it was there for 8 years. Chiron is currently in Aries, where it will be for 8 years as well. If 8 years was even close to its regular orbit, Chiron would take 96 years to orbit the Sun. How long does it take for Chiron to make it all the way around the Zodiac? 50 years. That is almost half of 96, when you look at the numbers it is easy to see how unequal Chiron’s orbit is. Chiron goes in and out of Retrograde movement frequently. 
  • The Nodes: The Lunar Nodes, known as the North and South Node travel in a 18 month cycle. Every 18 months the Nodes move into different signs. And roughly every 18 years The Nodes travel through the entire Zodiac. The Nodes move in and out of Retrograde so frequently that their Retrograde movement has little significance. 

Retrograde Planets

I know that Retrogrades are interesting. The concept of Retrogrades gained popularity with our good old friend Mercury. Obviously Astrologers, and people before now tracked and studied Retrogrades, but Mercury has made Retrograde a household name. 

As a whole, Humans are waking up to the “feeling of life”. Planetary movement is the flow of energy on a Universal level, and also on a Personal level. 

The Direct, or Retrograde motion of a Planet is the push-pull feeling inside of us all. Time for Action. Time to Contemplate. Time to Review. Time to Come Alive Again.

There are many cycles in Astrology to study. These cycles, just as the standard descriptions of Houses, and Planets; form another layer to your Star Code. 

Were you born with any Planets in Retrograde? What does this mean? If Retrogrades tend to carry a “negative” meaning, what does it mean if you have several Retrograde Planets in your Natal Chart? 

I was born with Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto in Retrograde. When I first noticed this I was shocked, and a bit concerned. I had never studied the effects of Retrogrades on a Natal Chart. I listened and read many informational pieces on Retrogrades, and it appeared that Astrologers are torn in this area. Which is fine with me because if there is one thing I wholeheartedly believe it is that a Chart Owner is the best interpreter of their own Code. So I took in as much as I could to increase my knowledge on the subject, and then decided to meditate on my Natal Chart, specifically focusing on my “Retrograde heavy vibe”.  

“Slow to start. A bit lazy. A bit entitled. I take time for granted. I obsess over fairness so much I lose my own momentum. The natural talents I have are old, and from other lifetimes, so I have to work to see myself flourish. I live most of my outer World backwards.

I envision myself in a boxing match with my past lives. I am sitting in my corner, the crowd is cheering, and there are Angels encouraging me to stand up and keep going. To push through, to run faster to compensate for all this review I was born into. Slow to start. A little bit like waking the bear. I need time to think because impulsiveness has gotten me nowhere.” 

It is important to note that many Astrologers do not read Retrogrades in Natal Charts, the significance is up to the Chart Owner.

Transiting Retrogrades

Another question that can be asked in regards to Retrogrades is, “if I have no Natal Aspects to a Transiting Planet in Retrograde does that mean it won’t affect me?”

Transiting Planets affect the “Whole” of life. When Pluto retrogrades, it is speaking to us as a generation, uncovering themes of the World and of the Self at the same time. When Mercury Retrogrades, it is speaking to the entire Planet as well as the individual, asking everyone, and the structure as a whole, to stop, and look at how it is interacting through communication. When Mars Retrogrades every person, conscious or not, may feel stuck and a lack of motivation.

A Transiting Planet, whether it is in Retrograde or Direct motion is working within a specific Zodiac Sign. Whether or not you have Planets or Points in the specific Zodiac Sign or degrees at which a Retrograde is occuring, does not matter. The Energies are still unfolding. Everyone feels a Retrograde’s Energy, and yes, it will feel stronger for those who have Aspects in their Natal Chart where the Retrograde is occuring.

For example Chiron’s current Transit, and Retrogrades for the last several months have been Conjunct my Natal Mercury, in my 5th House…can anyone say, “HEAL THAT THROAT CHAKRA????”… Well I am working on it. For the health of my Soul, and for a deeper development of my Self Worth, and Creativity, I am working on it.

Reflect: Current Venus Retrograde is in Gemini. Venus is at Home in Taurus, and is associated with the 2nd House. 

  • Venus Retrograde in Gemini is asking everyone to look at their values, relationships, and possessions. Does what you have, and what you can see; make you feel loved, and valued, Does it reflect your inner emotional desires? 
  • How is a Retrograde then personalized? This is where you then look to our Natal and Progressed Charts (tip, do not move on to investigating or understanding your Progressed Chart until you have a healthy understanding of your Natal Chart).
  • I was born with Taurus spanning over my 6th and 7th House. I have two significant Points in the Sign of Taurus, the first being Chiron at 20 degrees of Taurus. I also have the chart axis called the Descendant at 12 degrees (which we will discuss another time, but in short the Descendant is a person’s “shadow side”, an area in life that a person may lack, and due to this lack we seek to find it in others. The Descendant is directly opposite the Ascendant: a person’s persona). 
  • Venus Retrograde is working on the values, relationships, and comfort of everyone, globally. This is a time of change, review, and reset. For me personally I have seen, and will continue to see how these energies are working to help me reevaluate my daily routines, the people that I interact with, how I serve from the heart, and ultimately how this work will help me heal a wound I have centered around relationships in general. As I dip deeper I am led to actively reworking how I balance my self needs with the needs of those I am in partnership with. 
  • Remember to always check: Where is the Planet NOW (transit), what Zodiac Sign is the Planet Transiting in, where is this Transit happening in your Natal Chart (later on in your Progressed Chart); this includes The House placement, and any Aspects that are being made.

How to Track Retrogrades in Different Chart Types

Transiting Planets: When you hear the word Transit, or Transiting Planet, this refers to what is happening in the Cosmos in real time. The Chart of NOW. The Chart of Now shows where the Planets are currently. This is where we see Planetary Retrogrades. Planetary Retrogrades are Transits happening NOW.

Natal Chart: The Natal Chart shows Planets in Retrograde during your Birth. When interpreting Transiting Retrogrades against your Natal Chart, it is important to work with the House, Sign, and any Aspects that are occurring. 

Progressed Chart: A Progressed Chart is the evolution of your Soul here on Earth during this lifetime. The Progressed Chart is calculated by moving each Planet and Point 1 degree forward for each year you have been alive. 

  • Example: I was born with my Sun at 13 degrees of Aries, now at age 38 my Sun is positioned at 21 degrees of Taurus. All other Planets and Points on my Natal Chart would also be progressed by 38 degrees as well, showing my growth and progress, my new challenges and beneficial connections. 

These different Chart types (and there are many more but these are the base to understanding yourself as you are, and as you are becoming) encourage the curious mind to go deeper, uncovering layers of growth.

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