Retrograde literally means "backwards". The planets don't actually go in reverse, in fact it's the earth is moving faster than the planet, hence giving the appearance, when viewed from the earth, that it is moving backward.
In astrology, the chart of an individual and the planetary affects are impacted and influenced by their spin and movement. Typically, from our perspective here on Earth, planets rotate on a forward path. There's a brief period, called the stationary period, when the planets slow and appear to have stopped moving altogether. But at times, after resting in a stationary position, planets will also appear to be spinning backwards. This phenomenon for astrologers means that the planet is in retrograde.
A retrograde can have an inverse effect on our world, through world events and individual interactions. Retrograde effects can sometimes reverse situations and change our feelings or activities, alter usual communications between people, or affect our ability to discern information in a complete and detailed manner.
Each planet has its own unique cycle it takes to orbit the Sun. This cycle determines a planets frequency and duration in a retrograde period. The planets closest to the Sun have a shorter cycle (for example, it only takes 88 days for Mercury to go full circle, whereas Neptune requires 165 years). The effects of planets in retrograde might vary based on your own astrological characteristics. Just as when and where you were born affects your personal chart, so do the affects of planets and their current cycle at the time of your birth. You can check the current Retrograde Schedule to help you plan for these affects.
Past life and Natal Retrogrades
Wither you believe in reincarnation or not, "Past lives" can be a metaphor to help understand the meaning of a retrograde. If you do believe in reincarnation, the lifetimes you've brought into this embodiment have a significant impact on your current life.
Looking to a past life for guidance, can help clarify the lessons you need to focus on today. These past memories can help to attain enlightenment by reviewing past choices that have created karma, or shaped patterns in your life today. By reviving these past memories, you can also retrieve knowledge and wisdom from these past lifetimes which can help you make better choices now and explain why you handle certain situations in the manner you do.
If a planet appears in your birth chart in it's retrograde cycle, they are indicative of a monumental happening that once occurred in a past life. This could suggest that you pay attention to the lessons you never learned in that past and that you strive toward achieving these goals in this current embodiment. Each of the planets represents a different lesson to be learned. Last updated: December 31, 1969
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