Understanding Retrogrades in Astrology

Mercury Retrograde, Mars Retrograde and the Rest

When a heavenly body appears to travel forwards through a zodiac sign, then run on the spot at the same degree (or stand still) before reversing, that’s a retrograde. Instead of moving smoothly, anti-clockwise, around the horoscope wheel, the planet goes clockwise. Back to front, in astrology terms.

A planet like Mercury can do that in a sign like Gemini, then actually reverse into the previous sign (Taurus) before also going backwards, standing still, and finally going back the way he came – all the way through Gemini again.

Solving Retrograde Confusion

I see more confusion about retrogrades by amateur astrologers or students than anything else, but it’s really very simple. Start by downloading a PFD of this year’s free annual ephemeris from Alois Treindl and friends at

This is actually The American Ephemeris for the 21st Century (photograph, below) which you could also buy. You can see the blank ink dots where I’ve hand-marked Mercury going backwards at 29 Taurus before crawling back to 28, 27, 26 – then crawling forwards through 26, 27, 28 ,29 degrees.

The Golden Rule of Retrogrades

The classic mistake beginners make is to assume that R means ‘the planet goes retrograde today’ and D means ‘the planet goes direct today.’ So the reversals, retractions, rehearsals begin on the R day and end on the D day. This applies to Mercury, Mars, Saturn, Neptune, Pluto and anything that appears to go backwards.

There are 0 to 29 degrees in any sign. Usually, heavenly bodies move in order, like this – 0, 1, 2, 3 and so on. When they reverse, so does the process indicated by the planet, in the area of life shown by the sign.

You begin counting the retrograde on the day a planet goes to the same degree and sign, where he will shortly stand still, get stuck, then repeat himself.

Some professionals use this to make money, or get out of a contract, or manipulate situations. I suspect Elon Musk is doing this although I have absolutely no proof. He began his Twitter purchase on Mercury Retrograde in Gemini, which rules the internet!


Photo on 9 6 22 at 11.13 am scaled - Understanding Retrogrades in Astrology
Mercury Retrograde

Examples in 2022 and 2023

Not every retrograde (reversed, stuck process) is going to be difficult. Sometimes a retread or rethink is a good idea. It really depends on what you want to do. Using 2022 and 2023 as examples, we have Mars Retrograde from 8 to 25 degrees of Gemini, starting on Sunday 4th September 2022. He moves like this:

Mars might look like he’s moving normally, from Sunday 4th September 2022, as he runs through 8 t0 15 degrees of Gemini, but on October 30th, something happens. He turns R for retrograde and starts running backwards, from 25 to 8 Gemini, until he stands still (D for direct) on January 12th 2023.

At that point a lot of astrologers on Twitter will start telling you “It’s over” (What’s over, though? I’ll get to that in a moment.) Nothing of the sort. Mars then moves 8, 9, 10, 11 and so on, to 25 Gemini, completing a circuit on 17th March.

So don’t be fooled. R and D are just points in the loop, not the loop.

What’s Retrograde and How to Interpret It

If you visualise the planets as people walking backwards, it helps. Mars is the Roman god of war. He’s an action man. The sign tells you where he runs. The area of life. In Gemini, that’s the internet.

It’s also short journeys and commuting. So, for example, Tesla electric cars. Watch Elon Musk on Mars Retrograde in Gemini. Watch Twitter and Tesla. That’s how you predict the future.

Pluto Retrograde is a good one to track. Pluto is about a change in the balance of power. He’s retrograde in Capricorn, the sign ruling Prime Ministers, Presidents and Premiers.

In June 2022 he’s retrograde at 28, 27 Capricorn, going backwards. So does a process of political transformation. As I publish this in June 2022, British PM Boris Johnson attracted almost half of his party to a vote of No Confidence in him.

Boris Cover 211x300 - Understanding Retrogrades in Astrology
The Boris Johnson Gemini factor

Prime Minister Boris Johnson – For How Long?

Everyone’s talking about when Boris will go. Astrology can tell you. He’s not going to go when Pluto is retrograde or appearing to go backwards at 28, 27 degrees.

Pluto then lurches back to 26 Capricorn in August, September before going D for Direct on Saturday 8th October 2022. That date will be important in the Boris Johnson story.

Watch the British newspapers that weekend. Pluto then moves forwards to 26, 27, 28, 29 until he leaves Capricorn and moves into Aquarius on Friday 24th March 2023.

Another key date in the Johnson saga but other politicians, like Donald Trump may feature too.

Which Planet is Retrograde and What Does It Mean?

If you are a Premium Member the ‘what’ and ‘where’ of your retrograde question can be answered in most of the flipbooks that come with your library on this website. An ephemeris is the best way of seeing retrogrades at a glance because you can eyeball the page. You can also organise your software to do this if you have it.

Retrogrades often explain why –

Dates appear and your hopes are raised, before they disappear again.
Job interviews lead you on then come to nothing.
A mortgage application goes belly-up and costs you money.
People go back on their word.
Big events are a shambles.

The retrogrades are not negative by nature, they just show backward traction. A final result on Mercury Retrograde is seldom final. You have to wait for the loop.

GEMINI Johnny Depp 250x300 - Understanding Retrogrades in AstrologyJohnny Depp and Amber Heard

Astrology doesn’t have to be complicated. Johnny Depp is a Sun Gemini. When the verdict was handed down in his battle with Amber Heard, it took place on Mercury Retrograde in Gemini in his solar First House of reputation and image.

I sent a quick message on Twitter – the verdict would not be final. Amber Heard pushed back. It wasn’t just Mercury Retrograde in Gemini, though, it was the imminent arrival of Mars Retrograde in Gemini. Depp-Heard will go on.

Johnny Depp’s Savage Spirit, ran one magazine headline. That’s Mars. If you were Depp’s astrologer, you would advise him to settle up once and for all with Heard after Mercury is out of retrograde on 19th June.

You’d then avoid him to run like the wind at the first sign of any other stoush involving his good name – either with her or anyone else – during that long Mars Retrograde in Gemini. Unless, of course, you have a client who enjoys long and drawn-out feuds, for whatever reason!

What To Do, What Not To Do

Create a process that embraces the loop. If you have Jupiter (opportunity, growth, expansion, solutions) retrograde in Aries and you want to launch your own website and Tik-Tok account, with your personal named brand, you would work around Jupiter going backwards and forwards in Aries, which rules self-promotion.

Barnum and Bailey 1909 224x300 - Understanding Retrogrades in Astrology
Barnum and Bailey Jupiter 1909

If you want to make or save money then you will embrace Jupiter in Taurus, from May 17th 2023, as he moves swiftly through 0 to 15 degrees of the sign, in your Second House of personal income.

He then turns R for retrograde on September 4th 2023, which won’t bother you, as you have factored in a reversal and rehearsal. Think of Jupiter as a big balloon ride, carried backwards by air currents.

Jupiter the Backward Balloon Ride

You’ll anticipate a process with backward traction from September 4th 2023 (he’ll repeat his steps and go over old ground, and so will your plan) before turning D for direct at 5 Taurus on Sunday 31st December 2023.That’s New Year’s Eve so you can bet a lot of financial types are using that as a deadline for something.

Jupiter then goes forwards – 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 Taurus and so on – passing the crucial 15 degree point and completing his loop on March 21st to 25th, 2024.  After that the pinball machine game is over and Jupiter is just being Jupiter. Moving forward, with no backward look over his shoulder, throwing financial solutions and opportunities around like confetti, as he goes from 15 to 29 Taurus, finishing the entire cycle on May 25th 2024.

The Bottom Line on Retrogrades

Don’t mess with them unless you know what you are doing. If you are consulting an astrologer, make sure she works with what is known as the shadow period. Some people call it the Retroshadow. You might also hear the word retroshade. 

You can set your watch by retrogrades. On that day, when a planet is on the turn, you will see Twitter erupt with cancellations, rescheduling, reversals, stoppages and so on. A really dramatic retrograde to watch, in terms of politicians, is Pluto’s retrograde from 0 Aquarius back to 29 Capricorn which takes place on Monday 12th June 2023. Saturn turns retrograde in Pisces on Saturday 17th June, a week later, so that month is a significant reversal for a great many people.

Main Image: iStock.

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33 Responses

  1. Hi Jessica, Interesting article, as always! To understand this better would it be correct to say that a retrograde period is when the relevant activity should cease till the planet has completed the loop? To use that time to plan for the ‘after’? How will the Saturn retrograde in Pisces for example affect my chart as I have no factors in Pisces? What should I bear in mind? Your articles make us think of things with a wider perspective and they are much anticipated! Thank you

    1. Thank you. If you want a simple life, treat any retrograde as ‘time to go back over’ and not ‘time to begin.’ A few clever customers use retrogrades quite deliberately, but most of us just don’t need the hassle, so if you’re going to snap up an opportunity (Jupiter) to relaunch your appearance (Aries) you’ll do it before the loop. Saturn retrograde in Pisces will not affect you, but it will affect people you know who are religious; attend church. On a global scale it is a long period of rethinking and review for the Roman Catholic church. We’re yet to discover why.

  2. Hi Jessica

    Okay an interesting question for you, what if a persons nodes were in retrograde? Does it indicate a harder time from previous karma?

    1. The North Node and South Node are always retrograde, direct, retrograde in a matter of days, as they move backwards through the zodiac signs. Difficult karma comes from squares and oppositions tied into the nodes. Add difficulty, if what is square/opposite is what they used to call a malefic planet, like Saturn or Mars. I’d add Pluto to that list.

  3. Jessica, you make astrology look so easy! Per your suggestion, I downloaded the 2022, 2023 and 2024 ephemeris (very helpful and interesting) to determine the exact date Uranus (in Taurus) will oppose Ceres at 19 21’13” Scorpio. I found that Uranus will oppose Ceres on May 16/17, 2023 while direct, then again on January 2/3,2024 while retrograde, and finally on February 20/21, 2024 while direct. I hope I’m mistaken, but I’m anticipating a significant loss as a result of this opposition. Am I correct to assume that the first pass will be the hardest hit?

    Thank you in advance for your kind assistance.

    1. Thank you. I’m glad you downloaded the Ephemeris for the years you wanted. You’ve picked up the multiple pass retrograde transit – which I forgot to talk about in this story. (This is why Comments is great; it extends the feature into areas you want to know about). Yes, you have Ceres at 19 Scorpio in your Eighth House of joint finance and property and shared/different values. Uranus moves to 19 Taurus in May 2023 and makes the first opposition from your Second House of personal income and values. He retrogrades back to 19 Taurus in December 2023 and January 2024, February 2024. I think across that entire time-frame January 2024 is the peak decision because the North Node goes to 19 Aries and South Node goes to 19 Libra, that month. Uranus hangs around at 19 Taurus in March 2024 as well. This is not loss. Ceres-Uranus oppositions are not about losing money, or losing property, or anything else. Ceres shows compromises over control, usually between the family, sometimes with people who feel like family but are not (close business partners). You were born with that. This plays out through financial and sexual relationships (like marriage and mortgage) but also property/possessions and the extended family (legacies naming you, or your own will). So far so good, and it will always be a carve-up. Uranus challenges you to change that. Bottom line; have paperwork in your life which offers enough room to move, so that when you need to ‘meet change with change’ which Uranus always brings, you can. With as little hassle as possible. You may also want to scan any paperwork to see if those dates represent deadlines, at any point. Sometimes it’s the discharge of a mortgage, because interest rates change. The Tarot can help too.

  4. Hello Jessica,

    Another fascinating article. Thank you so much for posting – and all of the other articles you post here. I have to read each one more than once to let it synch in.

    Thanks again,

    Mike R

  5. Does retrogrades reverse the effects of aspects? I am in the opinion that it does somehow reverse them.

    For example, direct Mercury square Saturn may result in constant problems with use of machines and computers. While a retrograde Mercury square Saturn person excel in machines and computers.

    1. Much as I’d love to say a natal Mercury Retrograde square Saturn means excellence with computers, unfortunately the astrology doesn’t agree with you!

  6. Hi Jessica,
    Looking at my birth chart – so many of my houses seem to be dominated by retrogrades. I am heartened that you mentioned that retrogrades are not negative by nature… I have always thought that these areas of my life would be difficult because they were in retrograde. Lesson learning I guess and also trying to look at things differently.

    As always, thank you for your fascinating blogs.

    1. Thank you. Retrogrades are just recycling and cycling, back and forth, and that can be very useful if you are trying to paint or create music – magnificent work often comes from them. You won’t notice your retrogrades until you have transits across them. You have a few in Scorpio in your Eighth House of joint finance and property, so that is a lifelong tendency to rehearse, renegotiate, rethink (say) a mortgage and marriage, or a legacy which names you, or a legacy where you name other people. You will notice it more in 2022 because the South Node is in Scorpio also moving backwards. The cycle ends in 2023.

  7. Hi Jessica,
    I work as a headmaster deputy. One of my work tasks is to take on new employees. This spring, we have really struggled to find all the employees we need. One teacher has even quit before even started the job at our school. What should I do to find the best teacher, and when will that happen? Thank you!

    1. With factors at 25 Virgo and 28 Capricorn, in your Sixth House of staff and Tenth House of career, you were always going to be affected by transiting Pluto moving across 25, 26, 27, 28, 29 degrees of Capricorn too. Fortunately you are aware enough to put employees first at your school, and the students too. The answer is really deep change. Nothing else is going to work. Pluto is demanding and relentless in transit, and unless you call dramatic alterations in the system in your school you will either have staff who repeatedly quit, or problems with hiring. We are now in a cycle when money matters less to people than avoiding COVID-19. They do not want Long Covid and they do not want to infect people in their world – some of whom may die. That’s the absolute bottom line, so look to the wealth of information coming from experts in the field (I follow some helpful professors on Twitter) and check off: window ventilation, HEPA filters, working from home, Zoom education and the rest. Check off health insurance, absentee cover and so on. You are a Headmaster Deputy but obviously need to canvass your colleagues and employers. There is a movement afoot where teachers will accept less pay to have maximum possible protection against COVID-19.

  8. Hi Jessica,
    Thank you for this article as always!
    May I ask how the nature of a planet changes if it is retrograde in a birth chart?
    Many thanks,

    1. A retrograde planet in the natal chart describes how you go backwards and forwards (and often get stuck) in relation to the sign and house of the planet, and the nature of that planet. I’ll use a reader (anonymously) as an example as she asked the same question. She was born with the North Node retrograde in Cancer and the South Node retrograde in Capricorn. Like all retrograde placements, nothing really happens (it is dormant) until there is an historic transit which triggers that. She went through this in April 2020, when the transiting North Node went over Cancer again, and the transiting South Node went over Capricorn. She ‘retrograded’ by moving into an apartment and town, where she would immediately do a backflip and leave. (COVID-19 was responsible). So she reverted on her home/home town plan (Cancer) and also had to go back on her commitment to her boss (Capricorn, career). So that’s how it works. Dormant, then activated. It is the slow-moving transits of the outer planets and the nodes which make the biggest difference, so watch those.

  9. Hi Jessica,
    I kniw where in saturn retrograde now but what about next year when saturn goes into pisces? I have saturn (R) chiron(R) and moon in 1st house. Athina

    1. If you have Saturn, Chiron and the Moon in Aries in the First House of image, packaging, presentation and profile, then you are going through a successful relaunch of your appearance, title and reputation as Jupiter transits Aries which will be complete by May 2023, Athina.

  10. Hi Jessica, thank you for helping with retrogrades and all your responses! When there are a few happening at the same time its alot to be mindful of, so grateful we have you to guide us! I have a few planets retrograde in my chart (Mars, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, Vesta & Psyche) The slow moving ones I’m sure I share with alot of people but Mars and Psyche…is there a difference to how to work with these signs when they are retro in your chart? Many thanks

    1. When you are born with retrograde planets, like Mars at 22 Libra in your Seventh House of duets and duels, you occasionally go backwards and forwards, with matters ruled by that house. Anyone with R next to a planet (or the nodes) should keep an eye on transits or cycles which go over it. So, for example, you will have the transiting Sun at 22 Libra on Sunday 16th October. A duet or duel will be in the spotlight then (the Sun). It will trigger the need for instant action in you (Mars) but you will go backwards at the same time, like a motorcyclist reversing. That’s unhelpful so you would skip that day to get married, to get divorced, to have a date, to battle an opponent, even to tackle an opponent at Judo! Those are the retro rules.

  11. Hi Jessica
    I have saturn (R), chiron (R) and moon in pisces in 2st house asc. I shouldve been more clearer. Apologise. Ath.

    1. You have Saturn, Chiron and the Moon in Pisces in your Twelfth House, not your Second House. The Twelfth House rules therapy, Tarot, mediumship, hypnosis, self-help, dream interpretation, religion, spirituality and the inner world. When you have transits in Pisces going over your retrograde factors, you will find your plans regarding the above are delayed or rescheduled.

  12. Dear Jessica,
    Thank you for explaining retrograde planets in the natal chart. I was told a long time ago that I would
    always be unlucky in love and money because I have Venus retrograde in Scorpio. I now understand
    That was not correct. I didn’t realize I carried that “ prediction “ with me because when I read your
    Explanation to another reader, I felt a great sense of relief that I am not doomed. Those issues are
    Dormant and will only be triggered by a transit.
    I am so happy to be a part of this community. I’m learning so much!
    Thanks again, Gia

    1. Gia, some people who claim to be using astrology should really be booted out of the profession. There are a lot of idiots in the field unfortunately. Venus Retrograde in Scorpio in your Eighth House of financial and sexual relationships, as well as family and property relationships, just shows a tendency to operate out of synch. It’s dormant. It’s only when you have transits going over Venus that you will find those complicated relationships run backwards, or get stuck, or have to be rescheduled. When you make your will, for example, on such a cycle – it may not stand. Or when you figure out an arrangement about the car, or your home, with your partner – it may take ages to sort out. It’s on that level. No big deal once you are aware of it.

  13. Hi Jessica- this post really hit home for me. Thank you for posting it.
    I have many retrograde planets in my natal chart. (Mars, Saturn, Neptune, Jupiter, Uranus and Pluto) how is this affecting me.? I’ve had one astrologer say, that she believes when a person has 4 or more retrograde planets in their chart it can indicate we are from another universe.. unrelatable..

    1. Any astrologer who thinks retrograde planets show that you are from another universe, may also be from another universe. Astrology conferences are full of idiots, unfortunately. Basically, retrogrades come to life when you have astrological weather, triggering them. They’re dormant until that happens. You have a Gemini stellium at 2 through 28 with the North Node retrograde at 6 Gemini. That last one is a good example of what I am talking about. You live in your Third House. Commuting, short journeys, the internet is central to who you are. The media, publishing or education may be central to who you are. Brothers, sisters, cousins, have had a profound impact on your personality and still do. Yet, whenever you have transits at 6 Gemini, you get stuck, or it all goes backwards. The website has problems. The train is cancelled. The sibling plan is postponed. Tracking transits across 6 Gemini can save you a lot of time and trouble – when not to do something!

  14. Hi Jessica is there anything we really should avoid with retrogrades or would that be down to your natal chart?

    1. In general, Mercury Retrograde is best avoided for paperwork, negotiation, announcements, launches. Always use the pre shadow and post shadow (many astrologers are still giving you the wrong dates, so always check here). The sign Mercury goes backwards in, tells you where there is ‘re’ in front of every word. So rescheduling, rewriting, product recall, retracted statements. To give you a real example, we just had this cycle in Taurus, which rules cryptocurrency. Bitcoin is in chaos. In fact I predicted it on this website if you want to check. Mercury Retrograde is very risky no matter what sign it appears in, just because so much of modern life depends on the web, and Mercury rules the internet. Mars Retrograde is difficult as it indicates long, drawn-out battles, and we have that in Gemini (again, the internet) from September 2022 into early 2023, so as a general rule you wouldn’t start any conflict then as it would go back and forth far longer than usual.

  15. Dear Jessica,
    Thank you for your insightful article as always.
    I apologise to reach out to you but I seem to be feeling all sorts of confused feelings and experiences and would appreciate some support in offering some guidance from the stars. I was admitted to hospital at the end of May and am wondering if it would be a wise decision to to remain where I am or to be transferred to another hospital. Is there anything in my natal chart to support this at all or may you be able to draw a tarot to help with this decision? I fear I have missed a great oppourtunity to manage things in the first hospital and not sure how life is going to unfold from here from the astrological perspective as well as a life perspective.
    Thank you for your consideration of this message Jessica, it is much appreciated and I look forward to hearing from you soon with any information of support or guidance you may wish to offer.
    Take care,
    Kindest regards,
    Bea xx

    1. Thank you Bea. You’ve told me why you are in hospital so I am better able to advise you. You are a Sun Gemini with a Pisces, Gemini, Leo stellium. Your unconscious mind is in charge of a great deal of what happens to you. The work of Carl Jung may be helpful. Looking at hypnotherapy may be useful and dream interpretation. In astrology, Pisces rules your psyche. You have a pattern in the Twelfth House of psychology, religion, spirituality, dreams, psychiatry and psychics which touches on the subconscious. You need to find out what you are doing, below the surface, to navigate. On the surface you can see what you are doing, and why you are doing it, but the chart suggests you need to look at unconscious motivation. Pisces drives the bus on autopilot and you are in the seat but may not know what the driver is doing. Leo and the Fifth House will give you clues, though. So will Gemini and the Third House. The former rules pregnancy, babies, infants, schoolchildren, teenagers and Millennials. It rules courtship and pregnancy-potential relationships. The latter rules brothers, sisters and cousins. So that may give you some clues. A journal will also help you, if you are not already writing one. You are strongly Gemini and need to write. Have a look at Pisces and the Twelfth House. Gemini and Leo, the Third House and Fifth House, can give you the rest. Unconscious drives. I hope you can resolve this.

  16. Hello, Jessica! I have Rx Saturn, Uranus in Sadge, and Neptune in Capricorn in the First House… should these energies be interpreted per usual? Thank you!

    1. You are a Sun Taurus with a Gemini and Sagittarius stellium in your Third House and Ninth House respectively. I don’t know what house system you use, but in the Natural House system, you do not have those factors in your First House. Gemini-Sagittarius is common in the charts of serial migrants or regular travellers and usually accompanies two, three or more languages. Gemini rules words and Sagittarius rules foreigners, you see. This pile-up in your chart is going to result in a radically different way of writing, broadcasting, using the web, studying, teaching (all options) using new technology, online, from the year 2026, many years into the future. Right now in 2022 your biggest job is to avoid COVID-19. Especially after March 2023, please.

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