Ever Wonder What ‘Planets in Retrograde’ Means?
Whether you believe that the the movements and positions of celestial bodies have any effect on your earthly life or not, chances are that you have read a horoscope at least once or twice. Astrology is the study of relative movements of celestial bodies as a means of divining information about human affairs. Some people believe that planets, stars, and their positions in the sky have major effects on our lives. Horoscopes are the interpretations of these movements as they pertain to a person’s character, circumstance, and future. One major part of these horoscopes are planets in retrograde. But what does that mean (according to both astrology and astronomy)?
When we gaze into the night sky, our planets move to the East relative to the stars. However, there are times where it appears that a planet is moving in the opposite direction, to the West, and that is when a planet is referred to as moving in retrograde. Though it seems that these planets are moving backwards, this is actually an optical illusion. Planets in retrograde only have the appearance of moving backwards from our position here on Earth.
This is same optical illusion you may have experienced yourself when you drive past a car traveling at slower speed than your own vehicle. As you pass the car, there is a period where it appears that the car you are passing is stationary, and as you pass the other car it seems as though it is moving backwards. This retrograde motion is an illusion created by the different speeds of the passing vehicles. This similarly happens to planets as they make their way around the sun, since they are all traveling at different speeds.
Mars takes approximately 2 years to transit around the Sun, whereas our Earth takes only 1 year. Thus there are times during Earth’s transit around the Sun where we pass by the slower moving Mars. As the Earth ‘catches up’ to Mars, it appears that Mars slows down, stops and begins moving to the West, i.e. “retrograde”. As Earth then passes Mars, Mars appears to slow down, stop, and then continue back in its Easterly transit.
Now that we know the scientific definition of planets in retrograde, what does this mean for astrology and our individual horoscopes? In astrology, your natal chart is a map of where all the planets were in their journey around the Sun (from our vantage point on earth) at the exact moment you were born. Each planet in your natal chart represents the way in which you use a certain energy. For example, Mercury is the mind, your ideas, and mental energy. Venus in your chart describes what you value and how you reach out to others in love.
Astrologers believe that each planet’s retrograde cycle inspires different changes in us here on Earth. Throughout the year, almost every planet will go into at least one retrograde, triggering different effects here on Earth. While some planets might cause confusion like Mercury, other planet’s retrogrades inspire us to follow our dreams, like Neptune. This month, Neptune will be in retrograde beginning on June 16. Neptune is known in astrology to be the planet that rules dreams, fantasies, and heightened psychic experiences.
When a planet in your chart is retrograde, you experience the energy of the planet in a more subjective, internal way. This means that if Neptune is a planet in your natal chart and you are playing your cards right, you maybe be able to manifest miracles.