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What Is the Deal With Retrogrades?

Shariq Toor
Within the last five years there has been an increased amount of interest in astrology and the desire to understand ourselves and our needs, desires, and subconscious motivations. One astrological event that is gaining increasing notoriety is the manifestation of Mercury in retrograde.
When a planet is in retrograde, to our eyes on Earth it begins to move "backwards" across the night sky. This is an optical illusion, occurring when a planet’s orbit overtakes the Earth; when Mercury and Earth are on the same side of the sun, Mercury appears from our perspective to be moving east to west.
When it passes the Earth to the opposite side of the sun, it seems to reverse, moving west to east. This phenomenon occurs with other celestial bodies as well. So why does “Mercury in Retrograde” have such a big reputation? Well, the simple answer is the Mercury retrograde happens so frequently (3 to 4 times a year) that we pay attention to it.
We spend more time with Mercury in retrograde than any other celestial body, so it's going to be the retrograde we notice most. Another reason Mercury gets more recognition than other planets is because it impacts our communication, technology and travel. With Mercury in retrograde, we feel the impact on our lives clearly and frequently.
But what about that of the other retrograding planets? Well, these planets also affect our lives, and how they affect us depends on the planet itself. For example, Venus is the planet of Love. It is also associated with money and rules the things we like to spend money on. Venus has impact on how we flirt, how we socialize, and the things that give us joy.
When Venus is in retrograde, all these things undergo a certain amount of chaos. Relationships may become unstable, people may make poor romantic choices, and they experience a strong tendency toward irresponsible impulse shopping. With Mars going into retrograde, we may find our temper, energy levels, motivation and accomplishments hindered.

How to Handle the Retrogrades:

The key part of the word is “Re.” Think about retrogrades as a chance to revisit and reflect on things when our first impulse is to refuse change. They’re an opportunity to overcome stubborn behaviors and opinions. Retrogrades provide natural timeouts.
Think of them as a chance to take our foot off the gas, pull over to the side of the road and check the map to make sure we’re driving in the right direction. This metaphor will ring true for any of the retrogrades. With Mercury in it, take time for introspection: Should I change the way I think? Communicate? What things do I need to learn about myself?
When Venus in retrograde, examine your romantic relationships and your impulses to spend money: Is this thing really something I want? Is how I feel about this person really love? Will they love and value me the way I deserve? Is this crush just a passing fancy or are my feelings real?