Planets from the point of view of the earth will slow down and become stationary. Then they appear to move backward in the sky this motion is known as retrograde motion of the planets. This apparent retrograde movement is due to the motion of the earth’s orbit. The Sun and the Moon never retrograde. Rahu Ketu always move in retrograde motion. Retrograde planets in the natal chart or ephemeris are marked by R or Rx. Mars R or Jupiter Rx both indicates that these planets were retrograde at the time of the chart.
Saturn retrogrades for 140 days and remains stationary 5 day before and after.
Jupiter retrogrades 120 days is stationary 5 days before and after.
Mars retrogrades for 80 days and is stationary 3 to 4 days before and after.
Venus is retrograde for 42 days and is stationary approximately two days before and after.
Mercury retrogrades for 24 days and is stationary one day before and after.
Each planet has it’s own percentage of time when it must retrograde. They are Saturn 36.39%, Jupiter 30.24%, Mercury 19.76%, Mars 9.33% and Venus 7.22%.
The Sanskrit name for retrograde planets is known as Vakri. Vakri means twisted, crooked, winding, roundabout, indirect, evasive and ambiguous. Vakra Asana in Yoga twists the body from back to front. Usually this asana are done to strengthen the spine and make them flexible. The potential of the retrograde planets is to be flexible, to twist thing around, to make them unclear, to teach its message in an indirect way, to view life in a different way to others. By doing it correctly they can strengthen themselves and become adaptable, original, innovative and different. On the negative side they can be twisted thinkers, crooked and dishonest. The individual can deal with the quality of their retrograde planets in a positive manner or can use their potential in a totally negative way. The essence is there to do good or bad in the planet but it is up to the individual to use this in the right way.
Rahu Ketu are forever moving backwards and this has lead to them being described negatively in the classics. But they also have the potential to view everything in a complete different manner and therefore can be quite innovative and make individual reach heights that they never thought they would conquer, by going against the grain. Rahu Ketu are usually comfortable with their nature as they only travel the retrograde way. Sun and Moon always go direct so it is only the five other planets, which are used to going direct usually that can turn retrograde.
The five planets Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn express the practical reality of our life. They are the planets that form the Pancha Mahapurusha Yoga that bestows greatness on earth. The rule the Pancha Mahabhutas, the five primary elements that influence our physical body but also sheath the eternal consciousness. These elements control our organs of desires, emotions and senses. They can keep us grounded in gross reality but if we start to use their energy spiritually they become infused with a different power.
Bhuta Element Planet
Aakash Ether Jupiter
Vayu Air Saturn, Rahu
Tejas Fire Mars,Sun, Ketu
Apas Water Venus, Moon
Prithvi Earth Mercury
The Bhuta also rule the Chakras, the subtle body. Chakras influence our senses. The fulfillment of the sensuous nature keeps the individual tied to the cycle of happiness and unhappiness. The more we allow the sense to rule us, the more the doors to our astral self remain shut. Understanding and controlling the senses will give indication of whether we are able to open the gates to the higher self.
Chakra Tattva Graha Indriyan Jnanendriyan Karmendriyan
Element Planet Sense Sense organ Work organ
Vishuddhi Aakash Jupiter Hearing Ear Mouth (speech)
Anahata Vayu Saturn, Rahu Touch Skin Hands
Manipura Tejas Mars,Sun, Ketu Sight Eyes Feet and legs
Swadhisthana Apas Venus, Moon Taste Tongue Genitals
Muladhara Prithvi Mercury Smell Nose Anus
Retrograde planets influence the primary structure of the human consciousness and its relationship with its human life. By blocking the chakras and the complicating the Pancha Mahabhutas, they create disconnection and imbalances, inability to control the senses. An individual has to understand their retrograde planets and nurture them to bring back the harmony.
Vedic Astrology classics say that retrograde planets are strong. The quality of the planet changes when it turns retrograde. Retrograde planets are closest to earth; therefore their impact on the individual is the strongest. Strong to do what? Two influences of retrograde planets need to be taken into account – their affect in the natal chart and by transit. The individual with retrograde planets does not always know how to control its energy. Therefore they struggle to express the planets qualities – over-emphasizing them or being in denial of their positive qualities or misusing their power. Knowing how to deal with the retrograde in the natal chart is the key. Retrogrades by transit can influence everyone whether we have them in our chart or not. A straight thinking person can suddenly change their ways under the influence of retrograde Mercury. So we all have to learn to cope with the retrograde transit and be aware of them annually.
A planet in debilitation if retrograde acts like an exalted one and an exalted planet like a debilitated one. The reason: debilitated planets have the potential to be unethical and negative, when they twist around, they start behaving in the opposite manner. Whereas an exalted planet is a good guy, when he gets twisted he inherits the potential do bad. The benefics who are usually the positive influences can become ambiguous, non-spiritual, disobedient by being retrograde whereas the malefic can definitely become more negative due to their retrogression. Controlling the malefics in Vakri is a lot more difficult. The main aspect I have noticed about retrogrades is that they do not follow tradition and in the ancient times when astrology was written, those who did not follow tradition were considered bad and unethical. Whereas now, we honour those who go outside the box, who are non- traditionalists. So the influence of retrogrades has to be thought from the point of view of the society we live in. Also we must celebrate their potential to be original, different (according to their karakas) and at the same time try to control their negative aspects.
Also don’t forget the houses the retrograde planets rule. Retrograde planet dasha can bring about health issues; they also can bring diminishing returns. The start of the dasha may appear very good, but the quality of the dasha can reduce as it progresses.
Natal planets in Retrograde
Mars retrogrades once in two years. Retrograde Mars in natal chart can bring out power issues, how to deal with conflict and aggression and anger. As Mars has male energy, its retrogression can create problems with how you deal with maleness within. It is often seen in charts of females who have problems with their sexuality- they can be overtly aggressive or completely suppress their masculine side whereby creating imbalance in personality. Men have to watch they do not become too aggressive and angry. As Mars is about power, its retrogressions give a lot of power yet the individual does not understand their own power and how to use it properly. This can lead to its misuse. Mars rules Agni (fire) element so its retrogression can create too much fire or complete exhaustion. They have to watch their metabolism. It can get speeded up or be totally dull. The chakra is Manipura, which deal with balance, vision and energy. Retrograde Mars will block the way this chakra works and create problems on a subtle level. Mars deals with logic and here the logic can get skewered or twisted. It can also make a person whose logic is unconventional but at the same time very powerful and they can reach places where others cannot as they have the ability to see things from backward to forward.
Mercury retrograde promotes either a person talking too much or not at all. Mercury is the karaka of speech and intellect. Their thinking can also be different. They may be very bright thinkers, but not know how to express that or drive other crazy with their ideas, thinking they are the only ones who are the intelligent ones. Mercury’s combustion can create more problems. Mercury travels close to the Sun and it is most likely to be combust. Combust and retrograde can make a person very prone to burn out and also unsure of how to deal with their Mercury. Not an easy situation to be in. Mercury rules the prithvi (earth) bhuta. Prithvi deals with practical and stable. Prithvi also controls the Muladhara chakra. Mercury retrograde can make someone impractical and they are more likely to make their position unstable than those whose Mercury is direct. Retrograde Mercury would show some blocks to the Muladhara chakra.
Jupiter is the guru or the teacher. Jupiter retrograde usually never knows when to stop giving advice. They can be very knowledgeable yet they do not know how to use this knowledge in the right way. They can also mistrust their own wisdom. On a positive level they can give look at issues with a very different viewpoint. They will also give advice that is unconventional and different. As Jupiter is the karaka of children, it can show children who are different. The classics say that if Jupiter is retrograde, it will definitely give children despite what else is promised otherwise in the chart. This aspect does not always pan out but we can research it further. Jupiter as a karaka of husbands in a female chart will give a husband who is different. On an extreme negative level, they can bring twisted thinking into the relationship. Jupiter rules the Aakash element. Aakash deals with the knowledge, wisdom, our ability to purify, to repel the negative forces. Jupiter being retrograde weakens the ability to use this tattva. Vishuddhi chakra will become blocked and this make us feel unprotected and make some wrong choices. Vishuddhi also purifies the poisons; here the poisons of the mind do not always get the right filter. So we do not know how to stop them from polluting our life.
Venus is the karaka for marriage. It being retrograde does make us choose unusual alliances. We may have an unconventional view of them or when in marriage or relationship do not know how to express our love well. Venus also deals with femininity and women with Venus retrograde do not always understand how to be truly feminine. They can become overtly masculine or forget to dress feminine and be feminine. We see this often in male homosexual charts as they want something different from their relationships and their concept of the women in their life is different. Venus rules Apas, the water element. The human body is composed of over 85% water. Water deals with emotions, taste, happiness and peace. Retrograde Venus can create problems with all these. The Swadhisthana chakra is also blocked.
Saturn retrograde usually do not know when to stop working. Or they may not like work at all. As Saturn is the karaka of misery, it is important that one must not give into a negative attitude to life and embrace depression as a habit. Saturn is usually depicted as the poor man. The poor are usually hungry – for food, for material goods, for good things in life. Saturn retrogression can make individuals hungry with desire, wanting more and more even when the hunger has been appeased and they may be materially very well off. They need to watch for greed. Saturn rules Vayu ement. Vayu is air and Vayu needs to be used constructively otherwise it can become unnecessarily destructive. Retrogrades do not know how to use their energy so if they do not take care, Saturn can become destructive force for them. Anahata chakra teaches dispassion and detachment. When this chakra is blocked by retrogression then they can find it difficult to detach.
Rahu Ketu are forever retrograde and you can read about them in the Rahu Ketu article on the website or my book Lunar Nodes- Crisis and Redemption. click for rahu ketu article
Retrogrades and Stationary Motions
Even if you do not have natal planets in retrograde, you can experience them during their retrograde transit. They can temporarily block the elements and create problems in the subconscious if we are not aware of them. The two most difficult retrogrades are Mercury and Saturn. Mercury as it happens so often and Saturn as it can transit over one point of the chart again and again; and create lots of problems. It is important to know retrogression of planets in a given year. The retrograde motion of your dasha ruler can change the direction of events. Retrogrades indicate a concentration of energy in the part of the zodiac where they are active. If you have planets in that area then they will have major impact. Retrogrades make life appear to be stuck in limbo, neither moving forward or backward. Saturn and Jupiter retrograde once a year and Mars and Venus one every two years. Mercury retrogrades at least three times a year.
Retrograde Planets in Transit
While analysing the transit effect of the retrograde planets remember the following:
1. Always be aware of Mercury retrograde. They are stress points in the year. Mercury retrograde creates communication problems and makes life uncomfortable. Stress, arguments, delayed journeys – all can make life troublesome during the Mercury retrograde. So do problems with computers, Internet, and other technologies. Double check all appointments, travel programme and journeys- remember not to stop your life. Decisions made during Mercury retrograde can be changed after it goes direct. Stress levels can climb sky high. Arguments can result from crossed wires. Mercury retrogrades at least 3 times a year so its awareness has a huge say in the quality of your life. Gemini and Virgo need to be doubly conscious, it will make their life a lot easier. 2006 retrogrades for Mercury are from 4 to 27 July 2006 and 28 October to 18th November 2006.
2. When planets retrograde over the gandanta points. Saturn will transit the gandanta point between Cancer and Capricorn from 22 October 2006 to 17 November 2006, and then it will station near the gandanta point at 1º07’ Leo on 7 December 2006. It will again retrograde back on the Gandanta degrees from 25 December 2006 to 22 January 2007 and the last time for 9 July to 22 July 2007. This shows Saturn in a very unstable situation. From October 2006 to January 2007 it will bring instability in the world. We need to watch this time for an unstable property market, political upheaval and major changes in the world order. If natal planets are placed in those degrees, there can be added pressures on them.
3. The stationary points of Saturn- before and after retrogression. Does it effect any of your planets? If a natal planet is on the same degree as Saturn stations, then you can expect that to be a major issue to contend with. This becomes even more important during difficult Saturn transits like Sade Sati, which is itself a troublesome transit. Saturn stationing over the exact degree of the Moon will bring untold mental stress. The house rulership and placement of the Moon will show where the problem is about. Also Saturn can transit over the same point three times, which concentrates the energy of its difficult influence.
4. The stationary points of Jupiter. This can positively enhance good qualities. It can make people think in wrong ways. Or encourage the possibility of getting wrong advice. Traditionally in India, marriage, auspicious events and new ventures are not planned when Jupiter is retrograde.
5. The stationary points of Mars. This can lead to war or aggressive tendencies. Mars retrograde can increase stubbornness and can herald a time for war. The Kosovo War March 1999 began with the station and retrogression of Mars and ended when Mars went forward.
6. The impact on dasha, antar and prayantara dasha rulers. Past issues can become dominant. There can be a change in the direction of life.
7. When your Lagna ruler retrogrades, it will have a major impact on your inner self. Venus retrograde indicates a focus on past relationships. Venus brings problems with relationships. It is not a good time to marry.
8. If there are other difficult aspects accompany the stations. In November 2004, Saturn retrograded at the time it was in an exact 4 – 10 aspect with Mars and a major train accident took place in UK. In October 2005, Mars retrogrades (1st October) around the time of a solar eclipse (3rd October); there was the Pakistan earthquake. Two aspects creating a powerful synergy.