The Function of Astrological Retrogrades: Pace is the Trick

Share on facebook
Share on pinterest
Share on email
Odilon Redon – Apollo’s Chariot

I’ve been thinking over the past week or so, what is the purpose of all of these planets going retrograde.

From an astrological point of view, it’s very easy to observe the phenomenon. Anyone with a telescope/access to the internet/natural deep curiosity about the heavens above can observe it. Planets we can see moving forward much of the year….. Suddenly appear to move backward in the sky.

Mars hanging like a red dawn over us all night long. Closer. Bigger. One would not be able to miss him if one tried.

So we note the phenomenon. The more challenging questions become, what is the retrograde period for? What do we do in that time when everything languishes? Why are many of us having such a difficult time with this stop? And what are the people who are having an easier time of it doing that the rest of us are not, and what can we learn from them?

I have no solid fixed answers, but I have some ideas. But first some astrology.

As you might have picked up – planets are going backwards. Specifically, Saturn has already turned retrograde in Sagittarius from March 25. Mars is preparing to do the same on April 17. In short, the Sagittarius part of your chart is under going major renovation.

What makes this particular retrograde of Mars special, is that it’s happening in the same sign as Saturn. Saturn’s going to hang out in Sagittarius for much longer than Mars will, and it’s doing deeper work.

Mars’ presence in the sign inflames the themes. So we have to apply turmeric paste to that. Settle it down. Find out what’s going on there. And do the deeper work Saturn is asking us to do in that house.

Fantastically, I did hold a call on Mars Retrograde yesterday but I did not plan it to be during this period where Mars is things that are so unbecoming of him. Moving so slowly. So deliberately. Stopping completely. Turning back. Defecting.

And Mars’ stop and station is extra challenging because (not only is Saturn going backward)

BUT, first of all

Mars is fast
Sagittarius is fast, and animalistic
The first decan of Sagittarius arguably the speediest section of the whole zodiac.

It just doesn’t feel right. We want to move forward, but there is so much questioning. So much unraveling. So much chaos. So much uncertainty. So much molasses.

Ok. So I’ve been thinking. This is a built in phenomenon to our solar system. Planets go forward for a while, then they go backward. To my Earthy mind, there has to be a purpose for this. Things happen, and they have practical ends, and if not, their practical effects are undeniable. So what is this for. Can it be influenced, and how.

In a recent class e-mail thread my teacher Adam Elenbass mentioned the phrase, spiritual education, and I’d like to call on that here.

I definitely would like to invoke that, because especially in the west, especially when a web page taking 10 seconds to load is 9.5 seconds too long, especially when we walk into a grocery store and are instantly presented with a diverse array of items to select to create our meals, especially when we can walk into a chipotle and walk out with a burrito in 15 minutes, especially when we can keep our minds occupied while we wait in line by looking into our flat screens, responding to every beck and call of our thumb and index fingers….

Retrogrades can be challenging to deal with. And my proposal here is that they are exponentially more challenging to deal with because in predominant American culture, stillness, silence, solitude, going within, the value of process over time, are not publicly sanctioned activities with undeniable widespread popularity.

(Upon returning from a trip to Ireland several years ago a friend remarked about the billboards advocating the importance of mental health there, and how that’s not something so typical here in the States)

We want things to happen now, immediately, yesterday. We want things to go our way, on our schedule, according to our will, all the time. We think we are the grand coordinators of our lives (hint you’re not) (I do think you do have a fat fountain pen in your hand and graph paper parchment though).

So. A Proposed Protocol for Retrograde Planets:

Take up an introspection practice.
If you’re reading this you may already have one.
Deepen your introspection practice.

This is my solution and counsel to most everything. Why? It is undercalled on. Why else? It will absolutely change your life. It will change your relationships. It will change your work situation. It will change your relationship to your self. It will change your relationship to your kids, your pets, your property, your surroundings, your decisions. You are the only thing that can change – and it will change You.

Will it be flashy, blingy, bangy, explosiony, gaudy, shiny?

It will be absolutely none of these things that externalize our awareness, dramatically saturate, de-sensitize, and numb the senses, and turn us away from where the truth is – within you. It is within you. It is within you. The Kingdom of God is within you. The war being waged stems from and is for your inner life. Take control of it. Cultivate a deep reverence for it. Make decisions that recognize its importance. Make it prominent in your life. Tell your friends. Tell your loved ones. Tell your communities. Make Decisions Based On The Understanding Of The Importance Of Your Inner Life. Care deeply about your inner space.

And watch what changes.

Deep inside can be the most uncomfortable place to be, and it is the most important.

This requires the virtues of focus and concentration, and the ability to remain. Saturn things.

Stillness is uncomfortable. What is comfortable, familiar, is movement. Even if that movement is not purposeful, or just appears to be productive, without actually being productive.

What is difficult is remaining still.

But if you do, I promise you, the whole world will stay moving for you. All the cosmos will remain in vibration for you. The earth will remain moving at a tremendous speed for you. The sun will burn brighter than ever, and release terrific amounts of energy for you, if you choose to remain still. It won’t stop, if you do. Your heart will keep beating if you stay still. Your breath will continue.

What will change is your relationship to everything that is moving.

So let that be a healthy portion of your work during this season of retrogrades.

With love,

p.s. Mercury is about to go retrograde too, in a super slow sign, so get used to the pace, yeah? Slowness as virtue – here is a good article about it.


More reading that may interest you:

Saturn Retrograde 2016

Mars in Sagittarius 2016

Mars Retrograde 2016


Share This Post

Share on facebook
Share on pinterest
Share on email


California based astrologer in practice since 2014. Blending traditional astrology with Yogic/Vedic philosophy, and wisdom teachings, art, poetry, literature and spirituality.

Keep Reading