The Wheels of Change Turn – Backwards!

There has been so much change across the world over the past several months that it almost feels unbelievable that there could be much more change.  However, May 10-15 was a significant week on the astrological front and, while nothing as prominent as the Saturn-Pluto conjunction happened over that week, there were still subtle but distinct shifts in energy that all of us will feel more or less, depending on natal chart placements.

Let’s start with Saturn, which stationed retrograde at 1 degree of Aquarius on Sunday, 5/10 in the Pacific timezone.  There was a little relief when Saturn departed from Capricorn so that it was no longer co-present with Pluto and the South Node.  Now Saturn is headed back for its last set of interactions in Capricorn for almost three decades, and there will definitely be a theme of closing things out.  Although Saturn won’t actually enter Capricorn until July 2nd, its retrograde slows down any momentum that it has been gathering in Aquarius and moves it closer to revisiting its conjunction with Pluto.  Wherever Capricorn lies in your natal chart, expect a brief return to some of those recurring, perhaps more difficult, Saturn/Pluto themes from the past 2 and a half year as those energies become fully integrated in your life and head towards their final chapter.

One day later, on May 11th, Mercury moved into Gemini.  Moving from the slow, plodding fixed sign of Taurus into its home sign of Gemini will be a move that greatly strengthens Mercury’s power, and communication will see an energetic boost.  This is one of the more positive movements in the month of May, and any boost we can get to communication (particularly given that the majority of it is now done via video conferencing for most of us!) will be welcome.

One day later, late, on May 12th, Mars finally departed Aquarius for Pisces.  While Mars in Pisces is not particularly inspiring as the Piscean dreaminess is antithetical to the Mars “get things done” attitude, this will be the first time since Feb 17th that Saturn and Mars won’t sharea sign.  Putting a sign boundary between them should definitely provide some relief from the Mars/Saturn tension from the earlier part of the year.  Mars in Pisces will likely be all about “doing”, but will direct that “doing” based on Piscean/dreamy intentions that may or may not be reflected in objective reality, so some of this Martian action may not result in the intended consequence.  When Mars departs Pisces for Aries on June 28th, we will likely see a much more aligned, effective energetic push towards movement and accomplishment!

A few hours after Mars departed Aquarius, late on May 12th, Venus stationed retrograde in Gemini.  While a retrograde Venus certainly doesn’t make relationships easier, it provides an excellent opportunity to revisit aspects of your relationships that may or may not be working and provide the chance to really evaluate what is serving you in your relationships, and what could benefit from an overhaul.

Then, two days later on May 14th, Jupiter joined Pluto, Saturn, and Venus in retrograde motion as it stationed at 27 degrees Capricorn.  All of these retrograde planets will definitely lead to a collective “slowing down” with less forward motion than we would typically like, and a lot of revisiting old ideas/thoughts/evaluations in our minds over and over as we look for better solutions, and generally experience delayed gratification, particularly since both benefics – Venus and Jupiter – are among the retrograde planets.

Bottom line: there was a lot of planetary action starting the week of May 10th, and much of it related to planets moving retrograde!

In fact, we saw three planets station retrograde during that four day period.  The word retrograde comes from the two Latin roots of gradi (meaning “to walk”) and retro (meaning “backwards”).  So the word literally means to walk backwards.  And that is exactly how retrogrades tend to feel… as though we have taken the proverbial two steps forward and one step backward, unable to make the forward progress we are trying to and likely feeling somewhat frustrated in the attempt.  This will be felt in nearly all areas of our charts that these four planets touch.  Mercury will join the retrograde party on June 18, just a few days before Venus stations direct on June 24/25.  We will be dealing with this general planetary retrograde motion for several months, as the various remaining outer planets move into retrograde (Neptune on June 23, Uranus on August 16, and Mars on September 10).  As can be seen from the rough diagram below, all of the planets will spend some amount of time retrograde in 2020, and some of them (particularly the outer planets) will spend a significant portion of the year in retrograde.

 

A rough diagram of the durations of planetary retrograde in 2020 for each of the planets
A rough timeline of planetary retrograde in 2020 for each of the planets

What do all of these retrogrades mean?  How “bad” are retrogrades?  Although the idea of taking two steps forward and one step back doesn’t sound appealing to most of us, it seems as though it is already a strikingly accurate description for the way the after-effects of the giant Saturn-Pluto conjunction that coincided with the worldwide covid-19 pandemic are playing out.  This is true on both an individual level and on a collective level.

 

Collective Retrograde Effects

As a collective, it would be hard to think of another time in recent history in which we have spent so much time agonizing and re-agonizing over decisions, trying to find the correct path forward.  The news the past few weeks is rife with economic re-opening plans that are continuously re-evaluated as more data becomes available.  Expected economic re-opening dates are announced, and then get pushed out farther.  Re-openings start to happen and then are brought to a halt again.  Restaurants are poised and ready to open and are continuously reviewing all guidelines for a safe re-opening over and over as more as the guidelines start to formalize.

 

Personal Retrograde Effects

And then, on a personal level, even for those geographic areas and industries where the economy is starting to re-open, everything looks very different than before and there is a feeling of having “retrograded” from the freedom that we experienced in January.  Going grocery shopping takes longer than usual and requires extra vigilance to keep six feet between yourself and others.  Even an activity as simple as walking down a sidewalk requires attention to detail and frequent detours to the road to keep from inadvertently passing too near another person.  Buying simple items like flour or toilet paper may require trips to multiple stores.

 

Retrograde Effects by Planet

Yes, we are certainly seeing classic retrograde symptoms in our world already.  And if we look at the four planets currently in retrograde (Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, and Pluto), how would we expect to see this manifested in particular?

Venus

Venus is retrograde in Gemini, which at a surface level would indicate that communication in our relationships would be delayed/frustrated during this time.  YES!!  Has anyone not been struggling to communicate over Zoom, with family, friends, and coworkers during this time!  Has anyone not experienced Zoom fatigue on multiple levels over the past few months?  Is there anyone whose communication has been been overall easier and more understandable and concise recently.  (If so, we should talk; I would love to see your natal chart!  😉 )

Jupiter & Pluto

Jupiter and Pluto are retrograde in Capricorn, which would lead us to think  transformation (Pluto) and prosperity/growth (Jupiter) would experience delays/frustration in many of our erected structures (whether political, social, governmental, etc).  YES!!  All of the boundaries which we have erected based on social distancing/flattening the curve are slowing down prosperity/growth on a global as well as a personal scale.  In addition, our efforts to transform the structures around the ways we work has been painful and difficult for many of us.  Finding our new daily routine, adapting to life without physically spending time with friends, family, or coworkers, figuring out how to either manage being unemployed during this time or how to continue working effectively from home…. this has required a transformation for all of us in all of our daily habits and routines.

Saturn

Saturn is currently retrograde in Aquarius (and soon to be Capricorn) before it goes direct.  That would lead us to look for delays relating to boundaries and new and potentially revolutionary technologies as well as humanitarian efforts.  Again, we are certainly seeing struggles in those areas.  As we attempt to find a balance between providing support for those affected either physically or economically by the virus, we are all caught in a macroscopic and microscopic struggle to find new ways of working, new ways of helping others, new ways of slowing down the virus, etc.

Neptune?

What can we expect next?  Neptune is the next planet to go retrograde in Pisces (its home sign) on June 23.  All of this collective energy of dreaminess may result in assumptions based on fantasy rather than reality that further slow down our ability to move out of this massive covid-19 time.  Or, since Neptune is in its  home sign in Pisces and hopefully exhibiting its more positive qualities despite the retrograde, maybe the Piscean collective dreaminess and knowledge that we are all together in this will result in some creative (although potentially delayed) solutions?

 

Conclusion

Regardless, while this is a long stretch with a variety of planetary challenges and we find ourselves re-evaluating decisions over and over as more data becomes available and conclusions we made last week may now be irrelevant, it is important to find the areas where these configurations can counter-intuitively set us up for success and help us move forward in the longer-term.

We have all been given a unique opportunity to evaluate what really has a purpose in our lives versus what has just “been there” but doesn’t reflect an energy we want to cultivate.  This could be a habit we want to break, a person who doesn’t contribute to the energy we want to surround ourselves with, a job that doesn’t fulfill us, a lifestyle choice that we have outgrown, a routine we don’t have job in following.  We can all pay particular attention to the houses in which these retrograde planets fall for us for pointers on which areas of our lives could benefit from a second look.  (Certainly the Capricorn house in each person’s chart will have been particularly activated over the past several years and especially in the first half of 2020.)

Essentially as some of the largest cyclical motions in our solar system have temporarily ground to a halt and slowly reversed directions, a pause button has effectively been pressed.  We all have the opportunity to step back, evaluate the direction of our lives, and make any needed changes so that we are ready as the pause button is released.  When fairer skies come in the future, they may be even fairer based on our ability to evaluate the areas of our lives that need to be transformed and on our motivation to put in the work (whether physical, psychological, spiritual, or emotional) to do just that.

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