Don’t Fear The Retrograde!

The word retrograde has really taken off in our popular vocabulary over the past couple of years. But while you may be 100% ready to blame a bad day on Mercury retrograde…do you kind of wonder what exactly is a retrograde?

Let’s talk about it!

In astrology, when we say a planet is going retrograde it means that the planet looks like it’s moving backward. Planets don’t actually stop, turn around, and cruise in the opposite direction, but from our perspective here on Earth they sure do look like they do and it definitely feels like they do.

Picture this — you’re approaching a red light and start to slow down, there’s a car stopped in the lane next to you but then the light changes! You zoom past your neighboring car and for a second it looks like they’re moving backward – that’s retrograde!

It’s important to know that while retrograde have kind of a sketchy reputation, they are actually the Universe giving us a chance to get things right! These periods are a time when we are meant to slow down, and in today’s world we tend to resist this concept at all costs. When we get ourselves into trouble with retrogrades is when we don’t listen to this invitation, when we resist these natural cycles and continue to push forward. Ebbing and flowing with these cosmic cycles and changing our rhythms from always being ‘on’ to turning inward allows us to connect to something larger than us and also the deepest parts of ourselves allows us to grow!

Okay, let’s get into some specifics about all these planetary cha-chas…

The speed at which the planet moves impacts how we feel these effects, either more in our individual charts or as a collective:

  • The Inner planets (Mercury, Mars, Venus) move more quickly and the retrogrades are felt more in our individual charts
  • The in-between planets (officially known as transpersonal planets – Jupiter and Saturn) can be felt mostly in our individual charts OR collectively
  • The outer planets (Uranus, Neptune, Pluto) are felt more collectively

Because the outer planets move more slowly, it takes them a lot longer to stop and change directions than the inner planets. Think of it like a semi-truck coming to a stop and jamming into reverse versus a Vespa! Because it takes so much effort to stop those outer planets, we tend to feel the effects of the slowing down and stopping more than the actual backward motion. The opposite is true for the inner planets, that’s why those 3 weeks mercury goes retrograde a few times a year make headline news (or at least it seems that way on Instagram).

When a planet goes retrograde, it will travel across the same point in the sky three times:

1st time: It’s showing you what to pay attention to ahead of the retrograde, the area of your life or planetary energy you’ll want to work with during that time. This is a time to listen up and pay attention to pings from the Universe.

2nd time: Those pings you just got? This is when you tune into them and do the deep work. The planet is asking you to slow down and turn inward. Focus on introspection, meditation, learning, planning, and changing your perspective.

3rd time: You know all those things you just learned and plans you made? Time to put them into action! As soon as the planet starts flying forward, so will you if you’ve done the work during the retrograde.

There are a couple of important terms that you’ll probably hear once you start to get into the retrograde cycles:

Stationing: When the planet slows down to either start moving backward (retrograde) or forward (direct). We often feel effects strongly on the day(s) that this stopping happens.

Shadow: The period before or after a retrograde where the planet is slowing down or speeding up. It will be crossing the same slice of the sky that it either will be covering or has covered. We feel the effects either leading up to or coming out of retrograde during this time, they are just either building up or decreasing depending on the direction toward or away from the retrograde.

The general rule of thumb is to look at the planetary energies for the celestial body that is turning around and then apply any and all re- words to that retrograde period, like re-assess, re-do, re-flect, re-work, re-turn…if you can throw and re- in front of it, it’s a good action to do during a retrograde! So in the example of mercury, it’s the planet of communication and technology, so when he goes retrograde you want to align your re- words with those themes (and back up all your devices!).

Once you know how to work with the energy of a retrograde, it doesn’t seem so scary, does it? Another reason I love astrology is it lets us prepare for these energetic shifts and make the most of them!

Keep reading for 2021’s retrograde calendar (All times are Mountain Standard Time GMT – 7):


January 30, 2021 – February 20, 2021

May 29, 2021 – June 22, 2021

September 26, 2021 – October 18, 2021


December 19, 2021 – January 29, 2022




June 20, 2021 – October 17, 2021


May 23, 2021 – October 10, 2021


August 19, 2021 – January 18, 2022


June 25, 2021 – December 1, 2021


April 27, 2021 – October 6, 2021


July 15, 2021 – December 19, 2021