Everything You Need to Know About Planetary Retrogrades

Updated: Apr 23


Planetary Retrogrades

Planets are said to go in retrograde motion when they officially slow down and cease to be as active as they normally are. The phrase “planetary retrograde” is actually a misnomer in this regard. Celestial beings don’t actually move in reverse motion. Instead, they slow down, which gives the appearance of moving backward. It’s similar to a car slowing down on the freeway as other vehicles pass it by. As the car slows and other vehicles move forward, the car can appear to be going backward or "retrograding" when it is actually only slowing down.


In terms of what goes on when planets retrograde, this period can be thought of as a celestial vacation for the planets. This is a time when they are off duty and their luminary consorts pick up the slack.


About 10-14 days before and after a planet goes into retrograde motion, we begin to feel the slowdown. These are considered the pre and post-phases in which things can start to go awry. The pre-phase of the planetary retrograde is when the planet is preparing to go on vacation. It is busy packing and making preparations so it starts to slack on its work even before the vacation begins. During the post-phase of the retrograde, the luminary is trying to get caught up on its work so it may take a while to get around to missed emails and voice messages.


So, what does this mean for us? Well, we can expect to revisit things in our life in which the planet governs during a retrograde cycle. Usually, this occurs because people, places, thoughts, and ideas begin to show up which causes us to reexamine certain aspects of our lives. Retrograde cycles are generally a time for deep reflection that leads to or finalizes major changes.


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But generally, retrogrades don’t affect everyone on the same level. Instead, individuals with significant planetary placements within 5 degrees of the zodiac sign and corresponding signs with the same quality (cardinal, fixed, mutable) that the retrograde is occurring in are most affected.


For example, if Mercury retrogrades in the sign of Gemini at 27 degrees and 15 minutes, individuals born with the sun, moon, ascendant, or other planets in Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius between 22 and 32 degrees will feel the energy of the retrograde the most. Careful examination of your natal chart can help you figure out the planetary alignment at your date, time, and location of birth.


Each planet retrogrades on a set cycle and each planetary retrograde impacts different areas of our lives. In the list below, you can see the retrograde cycle and major areas of impact to get an idea of what to expect during that planet’s retrograde period.


You will also find a list of things to avoid and things to do for each retrograde cycle. At all times, be sure to use your intuition and common sense. Sometimes things are simply unavoidable like having bypass surgery while Venus is in retrograde motion or accepting a job while Mercury is on hiatus. At times, you simply have to do what you must do.


On the other hand, be mindful of the implications of taking certain actions while a planet is retrograding. If you are unemployed while Mercury retrogrades, and you receive a job offer take it if you need it. But be mindful that the opportunity may be short-lived so continue to disseminate your resume and network to increase your chances of finding long-term work in the future.


You can check out an astrology calendar to determine which planets are in retrograde motion at any given time. These handy tools help you keep track of retrograde cycles so that you can plan accordingly.



Mercury Retrograde


Timeframe: Occurs 3-4 times per year for a period of about 3-4 weeks


Impact Area(s): Communication


Things to Expect: Delays, errors, or interruptions in any form of communication including speech, listening, reading, writing, purchasing, etc. in manual or electronic form. Unexpected encounters with previous romantic partners, friends, colleagues, or similar associations. More frequent returns and exchanges.


Things to Avoid:

  • Launching or publishing new projects

  • Starting a new job, business, or relationship

  • Rushing or hurrying to initiate or respond to volatile communication

  • Signing contracts, or agreements such as leases, mortgages, marriage or divorce papers, job contracts, etc.

Things to Do:

  • Relaxing or taking a vacation

  • Planning new projects or ideas

  • Reviewing and revising important documents

  • Proofreading and editing any form of written communication

  • Preparing important documents like resumes, manuscripts, legal paperwork, etc.


Venus Retrograde


Timeframe: Occurs about every 18 months for a period of about 6 weeks


Impact Area(s): Finances, romance, health, beauty


Things to Expect: Slowdowns, uncertainty, conflicts, difficulties, and frustrations in your financial, romantic, health, and beauty sectors. This is the time where issues related to these areas come to the forefront and you are forced to deal with them.


Things to Avoid:

  • Engaging in conflict and confrontation

  • Making large purchases, overspending, financial promises, or lending money

  • Having major health-related procedures (if possible), especially cosmetic procedures

Things to Do:

  • Planning major surgical procedures

  • Reviewing medical tests and diagnoses

  • Attending couples therapy, counseling, or retreats

  • Seeking consultations or second opinions on health-related matters

  • Planning and implementing savings, investment, and money management strategies


Mars Retrograde


Timeframe: Occurs every two years for a period of about 10 weeks


Impact Area(s): Drive, passion, motivation, initiation, competition


Things to Expect: Challenges, arguments, and aggressive behaviors in romantic, platonic, and work relationships. Lack of drive and enthusiasm for creative projects. General irritability, fatigue, physical lethargy, and weakness.


Things to Avoid:

  • Starting or launching new projects

  • Seeking out new romantic partnerships or encounters

  • Starting new goals such as weight loss or smoking cessation programs

  • Having hard conversations, confrontations, and any form of challenging communication

Things to Do:

  • Planning new projects or goals

  • Getting plenty of rest and water

  • Taking vacations or staycations

  • Evaluating and analyzing yourself, your life goals, and your relationship dynamics

  • Conducing or participating in spiritual activities like rituals, ceremonies, meditation, visualization, etc.


Jupiter Retrograde


Timeframe: Occurs once a year for a period of about four months


Impact Area(s): Philosophical and religious beliefs, travel, foreign connections & influences, growth & expansion


Things to Expect: Philosophical, religious, and spiritual belief system reflection, evaluation, and analysis. Lack of a desire for engaging in spiritual activities, foreign travel or concepts, or spending or overspending. Slow or delayed opportunities or decrease in “good luck”.


Things to Avoid:

  • Fully adopting a new belief system or starting a new spiritual path (wait until the retrograde is over to implement new belief systems as your beliefs are subject to change throughout the retrograde period).

Things to Do:

  • Engaging in introspective activities that give you time to reflect

  • Releasing, revising, realigning current philosophical, religious, or spiritual beliefs related to personal development

  • Considering or examining new philosophical, religious, or spiritual beliefs or value systems

  • Making travel plans, especially international trips (it is unlikely that you will have much desire to travel during this period though doing so is perfectly fine)

  • Preparing budgets and reviewing your finances (when the retrograde is over you may have the urge to spend more money)


Saturn Retrograde


Timeframe: Occurs once a year for a period of about four and half months.


Impact Area(s): Discipline, pragmatism, hard work, boundaries, restrictions, limitations, growth, maturity


Things to Expect: Restrictions, limitations, structures, and rules may feel more intense and overbearing. Self and externally imposed responsibilities come to the light for review and reflection. Feeling sluggish or drained.


Things to Avoid:

  • Overworking or straining yourself

  • Unnecessarily taking on more responsibility

  • Ignoring or delaying the care of health needs

Things to Do:

  • Taking some downtime (more breaks, rest, leisurely weekends, etc.)

  • Determining if you are doing too much or too little to achieve your life goals

  • Setting boundaries and personal limitations to maintain your holistic well-being


Uranus Retrograde


Timeframe: Occurs once a year for a period of about five months.


Impact Area(s): Awakening, rebellion, revolution, innovation, liberation, independence, humanitarianism


Things to Expect: A greater sense of calmness and predictability in your life. An enhanced desire to experience freedom and liberation.


Things to Avoid:

  • Remaining stagnant or stale

  • Holding on to things that no longer serve you

Things to Do:

  • Reassessing changes that you have recently made or are planning to make

  • Exploring changes that have been brought on by cosmic forces (those that are out of your control)


Neptune Retrograde

Timeframe: Occurs once a year for a period of about five and a half months.


Impact Area(s): Spirituality, intuition, dreams, hopes, creativity, illusions and delusions, imagination, fantasies.


Things to Expect: A cosmic wake-up call that brings you back to reality. Stripping away illogical delusions, illusions, and fantasies.


Things to Avoid:

  • Escapism or ignoring the hard truth

  • Accepting offers that appear too good to be true

  • Putting on airs and pretenses, lying, or being fake or fraudulent

Things to Do:

  • Taking a retreat or break from everyday life

  • Making alternative plans for shattered hopes and dreams

  • Embracing change and stepping out of your comfort zone

  • Engaging in coaching, counseling, or therapy sessions, if necessary


Pluto Retrograde


Timeframe: Occurs once a year for a period of about six months.


Impact Area(s): Death, rebirth, renewal, transformation, sex, power, control, the subconscious mind.


Things to Expect: Introspective examination of transformations that you have made or need to make, especially as they relate to power and control.


Things to Avoid:

  • Being overbearing or controlling in any way

  • Remaining in denial about death or loss

Things to Do:

  • Owning your shadow self and your mistakes

  • Embracing death, transitions, and renewal of any kind

  • Seeking closure for any loss you have experienced

  • Examining internal and external power structures that impact your life