Thursday, 26 November 2009

Retrograde Planets in the Birth Chart

If you have a Retrograde planet in your birth chart, there’s no need to panic, it doesn’t mean that the part of your life that the particular planet represents is not going to be successful!

The general theory is that the Retrograde planet is expressed more on an inner level, that the needs and urges represented by the planet are somewhat held back or blocked. However, there is usually a second chance later in life for the person to learn to express that planet at its best. From a karmic point of view, it is as if 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.

For example, a recent client with Mercury Retrograde in his birth chart had difficulty in communicating as a child which led to underachievement in learning at school. However, as a young adult, after a few years of drifting, he discovered a passion and talent for electronics which spurred him back into education where he gained good qualifications, enabling him to go on to run his own successful business.

I have also seen many clients with Saturn Retrograde in their charts who report that they lacked a proper father figure in their lives when they were growing up. (The reasons varied, perhaps father was absent or very passive or perhaps he was overly strict, tyrannical.) Many of these people later became determined to be good parents and positive role models for their own children, to make up for what they themselves felt they had missed out on. For a detailed discussion of Saturn Retrograde, please see the work of astrologer Noel Tyl.

Venus Retrograde often reflects early stresses around socializing with others and tensions around showing affection; Mars Retrograde can reflect issues around the internalization of anger, or difficulties around asserting the self, perhaps because these urges were repressed during childhood; Jupiter Retrograde may reflect early life experiences where the child didn’t feel adequately rewarded or was not made to feel special, so as an adult they will have to learn to actively ask for what they believe they deserve out of life.

For example, I have Retrograde Jupiter at the end of the first house / cusp of the second house in my chart. As an adult, I have had to consciously learn to value myself and feel deserving of the rewards due to me, in order to break a pattern of always having to settle for second best. Additionally, I believe that past life experiences have made me very wary of organized religion. However, as an adult in this life, I have developed an intellectual fascination with comparative religion alongside a strong and very personal faith in spirit.

Because Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, the generational planets, spend so much time Retrograde, many of us have at least one of these planets Retrograde. For this reason, I personally do not pay too much attention if one of these planets is Retrograde in a chart. Far more interesting, informative and useful is to look at the aspect measurements these planets make to the personal planets and Angles. This is where the real stories lie.

However, the Retrograde outer planet may echo of one of these ‘stories’. I will give you an example involving Uranus Retrograde, which we could say might reflect issues around the repression of independence and freedom of expression in the early home life. A client of mine with Moon, Venus and Mars in Aquarius clearly needs independence and emotional freedom, but when you consider that these Aquarius planets are on the MC (the MC-IC axis being the axis of parents) and that the Moon (representing mother) is in a tense 135 degree sesquiquadrate aspect to Uranus and Pluto, we see a clear suggestion of an individual with an issue around gaining freedom and independence from an early home life with a controlling mother. The fact that Uranus (the ruler of Aquarius) is Retrograde, is a brushstroke which supports this delineation, but not a major indication of the ‘story’ in itself. If the Retrograde Uranus had not been supported by these other factors, I would have disregarded it in my analysis of the birth chart.

As with everything in astrology, I always advocate the holistic view, which means that everything in the birth chart must be interpreted in relation to everything else. This is the synthesis point where astrology becomes an art or a spiritual practice.

For example, in all the above chart examples, the life situations described are also reflected in the aspects the Retrograde planet makes and/or elsewhere in the chart. The Retrograde planet seems to provide extra confirmation, an echo of these other factors, as in the Uranus Retrograde example. So, when you are interpreting any Retrograde planet in your own or another’s birth chart, please also consider the sign the planet is in, the house it occupies in the chart, the house the planet rules in the chart and of course, the aspect relationships it makes with other planets, angles and points in the chart, as well as looking at the other aspects in the chart.

For example, in my case, the self esteem, faith in self issues suggested by Jupiter Retrograde on the 2nd house cusp is an echo of the self esteem issues strongly suggested by the fact that Mercury, the ruler of the 2nd house (which symbolises self esteem), is in a tense T-Square aspect with Saturn, Chiron, Uranus and Pluto, dense energies indeed!

For a technical explanation of Retrograde click here>.

For Retrograde dates for 2010 click here>.


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