Retrograde Retrospective

Written By Montine Rummel, Guest Contributor

Oct. 13, 2021 

Can we please stop using retrogrades as a scapegoat for our discomfort and lack of preparation?  

As astrology has become more mainstream over the last few years, there has been growing panic surrounding retrogrades because it seems like it’s a fun thing for media companies to sensationalize for clicks and ad revenue (from my perspective, anyway). Looking at some of the language being used in the last few weeks we see “a reign of retrograde confusion” that’s “coming for your relationships” and so many “survival guides” to get one through.  

While astrological retrogrades have had a bad rap for centuries, and they can indeed shake things up, ultimately, we are the ones who are in the driver’s seat for this ride, and it doesn’t need to be a wild one.  

While astrological retrogrades have had a bad rap for centuries, and they can indeed shake things up, ultimately, we are the ones who are in the driver’s seat for this ride, and it doesn’t need to be a wild one.

montine rummel

What is a retrograde? 

A retrograde is when the apparent motion of a planet from the perspective of someone on Earth appears to slow down and even move backwards for a period of time before appearing to move forward again. Here are two of my favorite gifs that show what it would look like if we looked at the same spot in the sky over the course of a few weeks. 

Venus Retrograde

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/b6/32/dd/b632dd33ada494ef64526e0b72519eac.gif

Mars Retrograde (this link goes to a video, not a gif)

https://external-preview.redd.it/W04sJNvzt9QzGptfE0ZiuH8lgRV_-QSpFl1CyyCpP4E.gif?format=mp4&s=cdc7a9c775a19dcfa21e1146f6c2193eed9bdf5

As you can see, the apparent motion of Venus and Mars seems to slow down and move backwards. 

Astrologically speaking, during this time when the planet appears to be slowing down or moving backwards, the energy of the planet also is said to slow down or be stalled. 

This movement was not lost on ancient astronomers and astrologers. Vettius Valens was a Hellenistic astrologer born in 120 AD who wrote “The Anthology” — the longest and most detailed treatise on astrology which has survived from that period (thank you, Wikipedia!).  

It is clear from some of his writing that even 2,000 years ago retrogrades were deemed unpleasant: 

“If the star is setting or proceeding with a retrograde motion, it will be harmful and hazardous.” Vettius Valens, The Anthology, Book III, translated by Mark T. Riley 

Vettius could totally write for Bustle.  

Changing our perception of retrogrades

Even if retrograde energy is here to fuck shit up, we don’t have to let them overtake us. We can accurately predict retrogrades, so much like a hurricane, we can prepare for what is coming. The challenge is that this requires a bit of self-awareness and forethought which is seemingly more of a luxury in this post-capitalist hellscape we call life. The demands of merely surviving in this world don’t often leave everyone with enough time to reflect on the ways we move through and react to it.  

Also, retrogrades can affect us in many ways. Most articles about retrogrades are only written based on how they might affect a Sun sign, which is about as much as general audiences know about their birth chart. But the placement of Mercury in one’s chart, as well as house placements come into play, as well. This article was written a couple years ago and does a great job describing the 3 ways to observe a retrograde based on the planets in your own chart. If you don’t have your birth chart, Café Astrology has a great one for free.  

If this starts to feel overwhelming, just keep in mind that these are just offerings of different perceptions to observe during a retrograde! Remember: a retrograde is only the perception from our viewpoint, it is not the only source of truth. If we were to view a Venus retrograde looking down on the solar system like in the gif above, we would see Venus continue in her orbit as usual; it would not look like she’s slowing down or moving backwards. So, what we can do for ourselves during these times is seek out new perspectives and ways of thinking about whatever energy the retrograde is supposed to represent. For example, if this Mercury retrograde in Libra was “coming for our relationships,” what perspectives would be best to learn and understand?  

Start each retrograde by being curious about at least one aspect and see what you notice! 

woman in gray tank top and black cap
Photo by Anthony Brown on Pexels.com

You could have told me this a few weeks ago… 

Both Jupiter and Mercury will go direct in the next few days, Saturn is already direct, so why mention saying any of this now? If I want to prepare, why not say something BEFORE it happens?  

I’m glad you asked! This is the perfect time to reflect on what exactly did come up for you. Make some time to journal about the following events and their aspects from this year. You don’t need to through every single one of these, of course. They are just some of the available perspectives to choose from! 

This Mercury retrograde in Libra, Sept. 27-Oct. 18, 2021 

man in black suit and black pants painting
Photo by Eva Elijas on Pexels.com
  • Think about anything regarding communication, such as how you communicate with others, methods of communication, and so on. Pay extra attention to anything related to your relationships. What went right? What went wrong?  
  • Think about travel and transportation and anything else related. 
  • Think about thinking, mental clarity, and types of thoughts you have been having, again paying extra attention to anything related to relationships.  
  • Think about any physical feelings or ailments that appeared in your brain, nervous and respiratory systems, and thyroid. 
  • If you have any planets in Libra, look up their aspects and home in on those. 
  • If you have any planets in your seventh house, look up those aspects and home in on those. 
  • Look at the sign Mercury is in on your chart and home in on those aspects, too. 

Jupiter Retrograde in Pisces, June 20-Oct. 18, 2021 

black and white stars during night time
Photo by Guy on Pexels.com
  • Think about anything regarding growth, healing, prosperity, and fortune that happened in these last few months, especially regarding your emotions, dreams, and creativity. 
  • Think about any physical feelings or ailments that appeared related to your liver, kidneys, ears, and tongue. 
  • If you have any planets in Pisces, look up their aspects and home in on those. 
  • If you have any planets in your twelfth house, look up those aspects. 
  • Look at the sign Jupiter is in on your chart and home in on those aspects, too. 

Saturn Retrograde in Aquarius, May 23-Oct. 10, 2021 

brown and beige round fruit
Photo by Giorgi Iremadze on Pexels.com
  • Think about anything regarding your career, authority figures, stability, and achievements, especially regarding individuality, intellect, compassion, and justice. 
  • Think about any physical feelings or ailments that appeared related to your skin, hair, teeth, and bones. 
  • If you have any planets in Aquarius, look up their aspects and home in on those. 
  • If you have any planets in your eleventh house, look up those aspects. 
  • Look at the sign Saturn is in on your chart and home in on those aspects, too. 

The more you pay attention to the different aspects that exist, the more patterns will start to emerge, especially as you do it over time. Then you’ll be able to know exactly which areas of your life you need to pay closer attention to during retrogrades and other astrological events.  

Have you ever noticed that some people don’t seem phased by astrological events when others do? These people might be prepared and ready to roll with them, but they might also have aspects in their chart that don’t get shaken up as much at the time. Observing these events and paying attention to the different aspects of your chart can help you learn what you can roll with and what you need to be more prepared for! 

The upcoming Venus retrograde  

woman statuette during golden hour
Photo by Etienne Marais on Pexels.com

The next planet to go retrograde will be Venus Dec. 19, 2021-Jan. 1, 2022, in Capricorn and will be the perfect time to practice seeking these new perspectives. Here are some things to observe during this time: 

  • Anything regarding beauty, love, unification, and harmony, especially regarding the areas of work, stability, and responsibility. What might benefit from some extra care and attention? 
  • Anything regarding your reproductive system, lower back, throat, or circulatory system. Take extra care of yourself during this time if you have any conditions related to these areas. 
  • If you have any planets in Capricorn, look up their aspects and see what might benefit from some extra care and attention. 
  • If you have any planets in your tenth house, look up those aspects. 
  • Look at the sign Venus is in on your chart and home in on those aspects, too. 

Being aware of the energies and possibilities at play will help give ourselves more a sense of control as we navigate our days and help us learn even more about the way we work and what makes us tick. Knowing how different energies affect us will also allow us to prepare for ones that are heavier or take advantage of the ones that can propel us further than we’d be able to go on our own.  

If you enjoy exercises like this, check out my workbook for 2022! It will include prompts for each Full and New Moon to help you explore your psyche and get to know yourself better. You can find more at BookOfMyShadows.com

Check out a free sample from Book of My Shadows for 2022!


All opinions expressed in this article are the sole perception/experience of the writer, and may not necessarily be shared by Michelle Lewis – The Blessings Butterfly. All Rights Reserved.

About Montine:

Montine Rummel (she/they) is an astrologer and writer who likes to explore her own personal growth using these tools. She has been studying astrology since 1994 and began her personal growth journey in 2016 focusing on shadow work and emotional regulation. In 2017 she had the idea to create her own practice to explore her Shadow using the sign the new and full moons were in as a theme. After sharing the idea with some friends who told her that many more people would be interested in following along, Montine began writing Book of My Shadows and turned it into a yearly zine. She sometimes updates her blog, too!

Want some more good reads about connecting with cosmic energies? Check these out: The Third Pillar: Natural Harmony (Part 1- Connecting with Nature); Embody Your Archetype: The High Priestess; New Moon, New Beginnings