A Guide to Astrology Signs & Planetary Retrogrades

A Guide to Astrology Signs & Planetary Retrogrades

Posted on August 27, 2018

The topic of retrogrades may seem overwhelming at first, but I assure you it’s very straightforward and once you know it, it will be immeasurably helpful to you. Most people are familiar with the reputation of Mercury retrograde but don’t know how frequently it occurs nor do they usually even know when the dates are. We are going to show you why it will help you to know the general theme of the retrogrades of each planet, how often they occur, and how they might affect you differently based on your Sun sign.

First, it’s very important to know that retrogrades are actually helpful periods, despite their reputation for the opposite. Retrogrades allow us to grow, shed the past, and become better versions of ourselves. Each planet influences a part of our life and so when that planet goes retrograde, we can reassess and revamp that specific area with more mental clarity. Retrogrades often bring up the past because we are better able to see the string of events creating patterns in our lives on a subconscious level.

What Are Astrology Signs?

There are 12 zodiac signs, but most people are only familiar with their Sun sign, which is the sign the Sun was in at the moment they were born. Each zodiac sign has a ruling planet and each individual has a personal ruling planet (which may or may not be different from their Sun sign’s ruling planet). Surprisingly, your own ruling planet is actually the planet that rules your Rising sign (also known as the Ascendant). The Rising sign is not your Sun sign and is calculated based on the exact, to-the-minute time and location of your birth, instead of just the date.

Definition of Planetary Retrogrades

A retrograde period is when a planet appears to be moving backwards in the sky along its orbit. The Latin root word retrogradus means going backwards. Each planet’s retrograde has a different length and frequency, bringing a chance to review and reflect upon certain areas and themes in our lives. This means we can go over what has happened in the area of life the retrograde planet rules so we can lay it to rest or shift our behaviours with our will. It also means the area of our life that the retrograde planet rules is going to be impacted in full force, no longer hidden from our waking consciousness.

To Answer Questions Like:

  • Does Every Planet Go Into Retrograde?

In astrology, the Sun and Moon are considered to be the luminaries and they do not go into retrograde. Every other planet does experience retrograde periods, which can slow things down in the area of life they govern so we can organize our thoughts and intentions in that department.

  • How Common Are Retrogrades?

Because each planet takes a different amount of time to go through all 12 zodiac signs, their retrogrades are different lengths and occur at different time.

Think about it this way: the Sun takes 365 days to go through all 12 zodiac signs, the Moon takes 29.5 days because it’s much closer to us. Depending on how far a planet is from us, it could stay in a sign for a very long time. Neptune, for instance, spends 14 years in a sign, Uranus spends 7, Saturn spends 2 1/2, and Jupiter spends 1.

The inner planets (Mercury, Venus, and Mars) have retrogrades more frequently because they are closer to us and have a smaller orbit around the Sun. Mercury retrogrades occur generally 3-4 times a year for about 3 weeks at a time. They occur different dates each year. Venus retrogrades last about 40 to 43 days and occur every 18 months. Mars retrogrades happen once every 2 years and last roughly 10 weeks.

What to Expect from Each Planet’s Retrograde

Mercury Retrograde

Mercury retrograde affects communication, electronics, the mail, and the mind. Travel plans are often interrupted and miscommunications are common. Generally, people do not sign contracts or make major purchases and decisions during this time. It’s a great time, however, for reorganizing your home and budget, restructuring plans, and reflecting on your communication style.

Venus Retrograde

During Venus retrograde, old flames often come back into our lives so we can find closure. You may feel as if you’re in a dry spell in the romantic department because this is a time for healing old wounds. It’s generally not a time when new relationships begin because we are usually working on sorting through the baggage we have kept from old relationships. It’s a great time to assess what you value in a relationship and get clear on what you want as well as what you don’t want. Those in relationships are able to work on healing the issues in them.

Mars Retrograde

Mars in retrograde affects our vitality and sex drive. Our energy may be lower during a Mars retrograde as we are given time to slow down and evaluate if we are openly sharing our desires, how our passion is expressed and repressed, and if we need to be more or less aggressive. As we reorder our deepest desires and own them, we become more equipped to channel our energy in healthy ways when Mars moves direct again. Mars retrogrades last about 10 weeks and happen approximately every 2 years.

Saturn Retrograde

Known as the ‘Lord of Karma,’ Saturn acts as a mirror of our intentions and actions. During Saturn retrograde, our karma gets in our face so we are able to deal with the consequences of our actions instead of brushing them under the rug. It can be a time of reckoning and makes us become more mature in the areas we have been irresponsible or inconsiderate. Saturn retrogrades are valuable in that we can finally learn our lessons and become better people. This happens once per year and usually lasts about a third of the year (about four and a half months).

Pluto Retrograde

Pluto goes retrograde once a year and spends about half the year retrograde. Pluto, the planet of change and transformation, has to do with our subconscious and our darker side. We see our own intentions and fears when Pluto is in retrograde. Of course, facing our fears and the way we project onto other people when we are in pain is one of the most valuable things to work on. While it can feel like heavy work, Pluto retrogrades leave us much lighter in a spiritual sense and can greatly improve our ability to relate to others and ourselves in a much more positive way.

Jupiter Retrograde

The planet of luck and fortune goes retrograde each year for about three to four months. The planet of money usually brings us fortune when it is direct and allows us to see how to restructure our lives to make money more efficiently while it’s retrograde. Jupiter retrograde is a planting/planning phase while and a harvest when it goes direct. Jupiter is also the planet of expansion, so we can expect our intellectual growth to be slowed during a retrograde. We can use this time to locate what’s been blocking us and dig up those issues at their root cause.

Uranus Retrograde

The planet of rebellion and revolution will make us even more rebellious when it goes retrograde. Uranus retrograde is often when we see governments overthrown and it lasts 155 days each year, which means we get to be rebellious almost half the year without trying too hard. Uranus shakes down old structures of thinking that no longer serve us to make room for newer, more evolved systems. We often change our core beliefs and deepest motivations during Uranus retrogrades because we spend time examining exactly why we do things.

Neptune Retrograde

Neptune, ruler of Pisces, affects our dreams, our spiritual connection, and our love for humanity. It goes retrograde once per year and the retrograde lasts five or six months. During this time, we have a deeper connection to our spiritual side, our intuition, and our artistic abilities. The potential challenge during a Neptune retrograde is that we get lost in escapism or fantasy because we lose touch with reality much easier. It’s important to be diligent to remain balanced as we grow spiritually, meaning that we will want to help the world but need to work within the world (rather than retreating into ourselves) to do so.

Retrogrades Affect Each Astrology Signs Differently, But Why?

We each have a planet that affects us the most. We find that planet by looking to our Rising sign. Whichever planet rules your Rising sign will affect you more than other people when it is in retrograde.

  • Venus rules Taurus and Libra
  • Jupiter rules Sagittarius
  • Saturn rules Capricorn
  • Neptune rules Pisces
  • Mercury rules Gemini and Virgo
  • Pluto rules Scorpio
  • Mars rules Aries.
  • Uranus rules Aquarius
  • The Sun rules Leo and the Moon rules Cancer, but lucky for those who are ruled by these planets, they don’t experience retrogrades.

Do Retrogrades Happen At The Same Time Each Year?

Retrograde dates shift each year so you can always check to see when the retrograde dates are for the year to come. Here is a great retrograde calendar to track the retrograde dates so you know the energy shifts that will be coming well ahead of time. It’s also helpful to other people who don’t follow astrology if you casually mention how you notice yourself feeling different and that it’s linked to a specific retrograde. It can help pique their curiosity about learning how to use the energy of the retrogrades to heal and move forward in their lives.

What Happens If Your Ruling Planet Goes Into Retrograde

Your ruling planet, which is the planet that rules your Rising sign, will go into retrograde at some point unless it’s the Moon or the Sun. Your ruling planet’s retrograde will feel stronger for you. For example, let’s say your rising sign is Capricorn, which is ruled by Saturn. During a Saturn retrograde, a Capricorn may go through an even deeper soul reckoning and maturation because it’s their ruling planet.

How Do Retrogrades Affect Us?

If we know there is a retrograde occurring, we can use this time to do housecleaning in the area of life that the planet rules. In that way, a retrograde can very much be a growth phase for us. For those who don’t know which planets are retrograde when, it can be confusing because they don’t know why their focus and energy isn’t the same as usual. This can lead to frustration and inefficient use of energy. Reread the descriptions of each planet’s retrograde and mark the dates on your calendar so you can be prepared for these shifts and ride the cosmic tides.

Are Retrogrades Always Bad?

Absolutely not! They’re a challenge for sure but when we know how to harness the direction these energies push our brains in, we can remove our resistance to the process and really make headway in our progress as humans and spiritual beings trying to evolve. Don’t let people scare you into thinking that retrogrades are bad. That is a very fear-based and limited viewpoint. It comes from people who don’t understand astrology enough and just observe strange events without seeing beneath the surface.


You just learned a lot of information and it would probably be good to revisit this article a few times to really digest it. Astrology throws a lot of new terms at us and it can take time for our brain to get used to the language, the cycles, the connections between the planets and signs, and how all of this ties into our daily lives. However, if you pay attention to when retrogrades and planetary transits occur, you’ll notice predictable shifts in your reality.

Be patient as you get to know the retrogrades and observe their effects. Know that in the big picture, as you expand your own view of yourself from just a human to a spirit evolving in this lifetime, you’ll see how these larger cycles affect you and help you. Astrology is a very empowering system that has a lot of wisdom in it that has been collected painstakingly over thousands of years. People that doubt it usually don’t realize that many separate cultures have found very similar cycles and traits in the stars and their effects on our psyche.

About The Author

Shannon Yrizarry has taught metaphysical subjects since 2013 including the deeply esoteric lineage of kundalini yoga. She has worked as a healer, clairvoyant and card reader and be…

You might also be interested in