The Retrograde Planets
A retrograde planet is a planet that seems to move in the opposite direction in the zodiac (from Aries to Aquarius through to Pisces). The apparent reversed movement is the result of the combination between the movement of the Earth and that with the particular planet around the Sun, as they can seem to be slower at certain times. Therefore the two luminaries –the Sun and the Moon – which have simple apparent movement around the Earth (from the geocentric point of view), are never retrograde. If you stood by a train that was departing, within another train at a railway station, you would see that other train appeared to be moving in the opposite direction. However you would not know if that train was moving backwards or if yours was moving forwards, particularly if your train began moving gently and slowly. In the same way, the apparent movement between the Earth and his sisters the other planets may lead to the appearance that some planets are moving in a contrary direction around the zodiac.
In fact, all planets revolve around the Sun and hence in the zodiac, and always in the same direction at any moment of time. Moreover they all have the same direction for revolving, except Venus which rotates contrarily. This is why Venus is considered a “feminine” planet compared to the other planets, which are considered “masculine”. A planet”s apparent movement in the opposite direction is called a retrograde movement. It develops in stages: firstly the planet seems to hold its place (stationary), then it moves backwards through signs (retrograde), again holds its place (stationary) and then reverts to its previous forwards movement.
The time interval a planet is in retrograde varies depending on the planet”s orbit; ranging from about 22 days for Mercury, the closest planet to the Sun, to 160 days for Pluto, the furthest planet from the Sun. A common erroneous idea is that a retrograde planet is something “unpleasant”. It is easy to see the reason for this. A retrograde planet extends its particular influence in the sign and house in the horoscope. If this influence is not beneficial, the prolonged pressure due to the retrograde condition will be experienced as a hindrance. Therefore if the specific retrograde planet shapes unpleasant circumstances, the retrograde planet will also extend this factor.
Not all people have retrograde planets in their natal charts, but there are many more than we expect in this situation. Studies indicate that approximately 92% of the world”s population have at least one retrograde planet. The retrograde planets act in an introverted manner compared to other planets in the natal horoscope. Considering that the planets can get the past in the present and the present back in the past, we can say that on a cosmic level they represent the link between past and present evolution for all humanity. On an individual level, the retrograde planets correspond to some previously unlearned lessons; they now place us in the same circumstances until this lesson is adequately assimilated. The state of the planet being retrograde indicates that the planet”s specific subtle energies were previously not used in an evolutionary direction, for spiritual development.
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