Mercury, Venus, and Mars Retrogrades
First, we need to be clear: planets don’t suddenly reverse direction in their orbit of the Sun; a change in direction is simply perceived apparent motion from our vantage point here on Earth, which means that it’s only because we’re Earth inhabitants that any body may appear to reverse course at a particular time and against the setting of a particular zodiacal sign. If we lived on another planet within our Solar system, we would see different retrograde periods (as well as different sign ‘backdrops’ to the planets), and if we lived on the Sun (referred to as a Heliocentric viewpoint—and yes, there’s a type of astrology that reads the system bodies as if one were standing on the Sun) the planets and other bodies that orbit in our Solar system would never appear to go backward. But we do live on Earth, and that means periodic shifts in the apparent direction of movement for each planet (but of course, not for the lights, the Moon and the Sun)—and astrologers have correlated some generally observed effects with these periods, when it is advisable to avoid certain behaviors, or to be aware of certain limited perceptions.
Dates may vary slightly according to your location and time zone.
Mercury retrogrades ask us to reconsider our progress, accomplishments, and satisfactions keyed to the element in which the retrograde occurs. In Earth we ask ourselves, “What do I think about what I have?”; in Water, “What do I think about how I feel?”; in Fire, “What do I think about my actions?”; and in Air, “What do I think about how I think?”, this latter examining the reasoning capacity or thought processes themselves. It’s often said that any concept that begins with ‘re-‘ is appropriate for the Mercury retrograde period, as our mission is to examine territory we’ve already covered, to re-think it, to revise, but we don’t have the acuity of perception to begin anything new—it’s a time to consider once again what already is, what’s been chosen, decided, or to which we’re already committed.
Often the period begins in one element and moves into another, so that our review and revision of the related subjects shifts focus. For instance, this year (2017) we see several periods when the retrograde starts in Earth and ends in Fire; the implication is that we begin the period reviewing what we have, what we own, and what we think of our material accomplishments, but at some point in the process shift to mulling what we might need to do, and this is likely to be a response to what we noticed during Mercury’s journey backward in the first part of the retro period: “What must I do to get more of what I want?”
The catch, though, is that during a Merc retrograde the mind isn’t working as it usually does. The trickster nature of the planet suggests that we will try to think about and address things as we normally would, but will find (often after the direction occurs) that we have missed some important piece of the puzzle. Some knowledge, conclusion, or thinking is revealed after the fact that, if we had been privy to this during the retrograde, we would’ve chosen or decided other than we did, or we would’ve drawn a much different conclusion. This is why we confine our examination to already-covered territory, and don’t sign contracts, make agreements or decisions, or engage in negotiations during a Mercury retrograde period; it’s also why we don’t make major purchases at this time, and why we postpone acquiring anything involving electricity, particularly things like televisions, phones, and computers. If we go forward anyway it isn’t always a disaster, but we often find out that the product, its performance or the conditions surrounding its use are not quite what we anticipated they would be. Too, this can sometimes act to lock us in to a kind of cycle: more than once I have seen a property bought during Mercury retrograde successfully complete a subsequent sale only once another retrograde period was in effect.
Retro December 19, 2016 in Capricorn/ Direct January 8th 2017 in Sagittarius—moves from Earth to Fire
Retro 9 April 2017 in Taurus/ Direct 3 May 2017 in Aries—moves from Earth to Fire
Retro 12 August 2017 in Virgo/ Direct 5 September 2017 in Leo—moves from Earth to Fire
Retro 2 December 2017 in Sagittarius/ Direct 22 December 2017 in Sagittarius—remains in Fire
Venus retrogrades once every eighteen months, and this happens in virtually the same spot in the natal chart every eight years. Venus loops around the chart, in the same ratio as the Golden Mean. Matters of the House where the retrogrades occur will be re-visited on that eight year basis, with circumstances of eight years before either re-created in a new form, or picking up precisely where they left off previously. Typically Venusian matters (Love, Money, Relationships, Values, Fairness, Art, Jealousy, etc.) are shaped by the subjects of the natal House(s) where the retrograde occurs; sometimes we see the same Venusian issue re-surface eight years later, other times we see another Venus matter related to House subjects. Large purchases at this time, as well as investments, aesthetic choices, relationship changes, and commitments or contracts of any kind, are discouraged; we are prone to experiment with typical Venus areas during her retrograde, and during the retro our tastes may be distinctly different than they usually are. Any experimentation should be of the kind that can be easily undone: dye your hair pink? Sure—get a tattoo? No! Wait until Venus is once again direct.
Retro 3 March 2017 in Aries/ Direct 15 April 2017 in Pisces
No Mars retrogrades in this period