The energy and meaning of a Retrograde Planet in your birth chart is expressed more on an inner level. The easy expression and the needs and urges represented by the planet are held back or blocked in your particular life. This is a Fate or a Challenge that is there for your learning. Your soul chose this learning when it chose to incarnate. The reasons lie in past lives. Retrogrades give us the chance to really get our teeth onto a matter, because we are forced to go over old ground again and again. This may get frustrating and tedious, but ultimately it is very useful, for tackling something karmic we may have been avoiding and that we have to address once and for all.
In Vedic Astrology, the term for retrograde planets is known as ‘Vakri’ meaning twisted, crooked, roundabout, indirect, evasive or ambiguous. Vakra Asana in Yoga twists the body to strengthen the spine. Retrograde Planets twist their energies and meanings round, to make them unclear, to teach you their message in an indirect way, to strengthen you and correct the course of your lives. The negative potential you have to learn to move away from is that they can be twisted thinkers, crooked, hard to understand or even dishonest. This teaches you to use the planet’s energy in the right way. If you have a lot of Retrograde Planets in your birth chart, this means that you soul chose a broad spectrum of hard lessons in re-learning about the facets of life and existence represented by the planets, this time round.
So having inward-directed or blocked energies from one or more Retrograde Planets is not the end of the story, it’s an opportunity! By experiencing the frustrations and the handicaps, we can apply ourselves to learning that life lesson and grow. There will often be peak experiences in your life which give you second or third or further chances to learn to express that planet at its best in your life. We ‘absorb’ the energies of a planet if it is retrograde in our birth chart, rather than radiate those energies outwards. This is due to the need to learn more about that planet due to past lives.
From a karmic point of view, the Retrograde Planet represents a life lesson, a challenge that must be met in order to deal with unfinished business and clear the path for future progress.
Part of the cause of the Retrograde Planet’s powerful effect is the planet’s velocity at the time of birth: Retrograde planets are always slow-moving. Indeed they are ‘Stationary’ in the heavens at the time they turn from the normal Direct to Retrograde, and also when they turn from Retrograde back to Direct again. The slower the velocity of a planet in your birth chart, the deeper, stronger and more powerful effect it has in your life.
But remember, Strong does NOT = good (or easy): the strong effect can be for ill. It can be the cause of lots of problem manifestations of that planet in your life. The fast planets pass by so quickly; they have lighter effect on your life than the planet that moves slowly. Also, Retrograde Planets that are moving relatively closer to the earth in their elliptical orbit, and when a planet is closer to the earth, he has a stronger influence then when he is further away.
Retrograde planets in your birth chart are marked by R or Rx. The Sun and the Moon never retrograde.
The North and South Nodes of the Moon: Rahu and Ketu, almost always move in retrograde motion. They therefore have difficult divine potential and are actually the key to understanding our incarnational life purpose. They are the Eclipse points at the moment of our birth, and as such are so powerful they can devour a luminary: Eclipses devour the Sun or devour the Moon at the moment of an Eclipse. For that reason Vedic astrology views them as Demons. Rahu the North node has a driven obsessional energy to drive us to our incarnational future. Ketu the South Node has a sharp knife-like energy of dissolution to sever us from our dissolving past. But because Hinduism is a Tantric spirituality: out of Darkness, Light! Our of our personal deepest darkness, we can learn to use these very difficult and dangerous energies to find our personal light: to find the reason we are here this time!
How long are the retrograde periods of the planets?
Mercury retrogrades for 24 days and is stationary one day before and after.
Venus is retrograde for 42 days and is stationary approximately two days before and after. Mars retrogrades for 80 days and is stationary 3 to 4 days before and after.
Jupiter retrogrades 120 days is stationary 5 days before and after.
Saturn retrogrades for 140 days and remains stationary 5 day before and after.
Uranus typically retrogrades about 155 days.
Neptune typically retrogrades about 160 days
Pluto’s typically retrogrades about 165 days.
Each planet has its own percentage of time when they are retrograde:
Mercury 19.76% (88 days orbital period)
Venus 7.22%. (225 days orbital period)
Mars 9.33% (1.8 yrs orbital period)
Jupiter 30.24% (11.86 yrs orbital period)
Saturn 36.39% (29.46 yrs orbital period)
Uranus 40 to 45% (84.32 yrs orbital period)
Neptune 40 to 45% (164.8 yrs orbital period)
Pluto 40 to 45% (248.1 yrs orbital period)
Chiron Rx highly variable (50.7 yrs orbital period)
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