Mercury Retrograde and Other Planetary Retrogrades
A retrograde planet is when the planet appears to be moving backwards from our vantage point here on Earth; it’s not ACTUALLY moving backwards, it only appears that way. Every planet with the exception of the sun and moon retrogrades, and mercury is the planet that retrogrades the most often at 3-4 times per year. This is because of the close proximity of the planet Mercury to earth.
In astrology, Mercury rules communications, which is why when it retrogrades, everything seems to be thrown off. Things slow, things hasten, things get jumbled up and gobbled up because we’re not thinking clearly.
Mercury retrograde contains two periods called the shadow and the storm. The shadow starts when mercury first hits the placement that it will turn direct at and ends when it lastly hits the placement it goes retrograde at (example: say Mercury turns retrograde at 20 degrees Virgo and goes direct at 2 degrees Virgo; it enters the shadow period when it first hits 2 degrees Virgo and doesn’t leave until it hits 20 degrees Virgo the 2nd time). For some, the shadow may signal when effects will be felt from the retrograde.
The worst time is traditionally the storm period. The storm of mercury occurs when mercury is moving at less than 40 minutes per day; Mercury is normally a fast planet and likes to stay that way, so slowness makes him mad. The storm can last a few days or many weeks, and is usually the time when most people feel the effects of Mercury retrograde.
So how do you know if you’ll feel the effects of mercury retrograde? It’s worst for you when it’s occurring in your sun sign, conjuncting, squaring, or opposing a personal planet, or when it crosses over a house cusp. You may also feel it if you have a prominent mercury in your chart. If you don’t have any of these things occurring, then Mercury retrograde will usually not cause quite the stir for you.
A positive way to manifest mercury retrograde is by following the re-‘s: redo, reevaluate, redecorate, renovate, etc. Think of mercury retrograde as the universe’s do-over.
Those born with mercury retrograde in the natal chart or who have mercury retrograde in their progressed chart should have much less problems with mercury retrograde because its energy feels more natural to you. This may be a time when you’re the one getting everything done and leaving others in the dust. But that doesn’t mean you’re exempt from problems; just because you have mercury retrograde natal or progressed doesn’t mean everyone else in your life does too.
Mercury retrograde often feels like a time when we should just hide under the covers, but if you work with the energy instead of against it and stay calm, you should come out of it just fine.
A lot of time is spent on mercury retrograde, but the other planets go retrograde too. Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto go retrograde for months at a time. Venus and Mars go retrograde once every 1 ½ - 2 years, and the Sun and Moon don’t ever go retrograde.
Being born with a planet retrograde or having a planet go retrograde in a progressed chart can be helpful when that planet is currently retrograde because you’ll be better able to handle the energy of a retrograde planet since it’ll feel more natural to you; that’s not to say you’ll be exempt from any and all problems, since not everyone else will have the same planet retrograde in their own chart which could in turn affect you, and of course, there are always many aspects occurring at the same time that can hinder things (which is why you shouldn’t freak out too much with a retrograde; in and of itself, it’s not so bad, it’s when you pile on the other aspects that it tends to get wonky!).
With Venus retrograde, love will obviously be hit. You may find yourself feeling less loving or romantic, having problems with your mate (especially if the retrograde is in your or their 5th 7th or 8th houses), and might have problems meeting new people. It’s not the best time to start new relationships (but again, that’s a general statement; if you have superb aspects going on at the same time, then it could manifest in another way). Be careful with your purchases and with overspending (since Venus rules both love AND money). Don’t want to end the retrograde out of love and knee-deep in debt!
With Mars retrograde, there can be a lack of energy, and feeling more aggressive. You may encounter feelings of stagnation, and become easily frustrated.
Since Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto go retrograde every year for months at a time, the effects of them retrograde are much more subtle. With Jupiter may come a lack of opportunities or a less optimistic attitude; with Saturn, being lazy and not wanting to get work done; Uranus, sudden setbacks; Neptune, feeling stuck, your mind clouded and confused; and Pluto, trying to find balance in areas where you’ve had change.
Remember to look at the houses the planets are retrograding, since that’s the area of your life that will mostly be affected. Also, when your Sun, Moon, or AC ruler is retrograde, you tend to feel the retrograde more (so, if you’re a Libra or Taurus Sun, Venus retrograde may be harder for you, or if you’re a Capricorn rising, Saturn retrograde, an Aries Moon, Mars retrograde, etc.).
Midpoints are literally the middle of two points in your chart. It can be between two planets, a planet and a house, or two houses. The sun/moon midpoint gets the most attention since it shows how your ego (sun) and emotions (moon) come together. It can also be a trigger for important events. You don’t have to just work with the sun/moon midpoint however; you can find the midpoint of any two planets, houses, or a planet and house to see how they come together.
Just keep in mind what each planet/house represents, and see the midpoint as a clue on how to best get the energies to work together. This can be especially useful between planets in the natal chart that are in hard aspect to one another (like a square or opposition), because the midpoint can help you to lesson the difficulty and increase the positives of the aspect.
To calculate a midpoint of the sun and moon, we’re going to use an example of a sun located at 4 degrees 24 minutes in Libra and moon at 18 degrees 14 minutes in Pisces. First, see the table below:
The easiest way to do it by hand is to change the position of the planets from the degree and sign notation to just degrees. First find the sign the planet is in and then add the amount of degrees and minutes to it. In this case, the sun is in Libra; we can see Libra is 180; the sun is at 4 degrees 24 minutes in Libra, so we add 4 degrees 24 minutes to 180, getting 184 degrees 24 minutes for the sun. The moon is in Pisces; Pisces is 330; the moon is at 18 degrees 14 minutes Pisces, so we add 18 degrees 14 minutes to 330, getting 348 degrees 14 minutes for the moon.
Then we add the 2 numbers together, 184 degrees 24 minutes and 348 degrees 14 minutes; 184 + 348 = 532; 24 + 14 = 38; so we have 532 degrees 38 minutes total. Then we divide this number by 2 and get 266 degrees 19 minutes. Now we look at the table again. You can see that 266 degrees comes in after Sagittarius but just before Capricorn, so we subtract the number for Sagittarius (240) from the 266 degrees (equaling 26 degrees). That makes the sun/moon midpoint 26 degrees 19 minutes in Sagittarius.
In this example, the sun and moon are in difficult aspect to one another (quindecile to be exact), so it would be useful to understand the sun/moon midpoint to conquer that aspect. As it so happens, it’s also conjunct the Galactic Center, adding more layers; you’ll probably find at least a few of your own midpoints aspecting another planet, house cusp, or astrological point. This just gives more to tap into; again, consider the energy of the other players involved and add it to the mix. How you utilize your own sun/moon midpoint will generally be the activities that allow you to feel most “whole”.
In prediction, you only look at particular aspects to the midpoint: an opposition (180 degrees), sesquiquadrate (135), square (90), semisquare (45), or conjunction (0) by Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. When a planet aspects a midpoint, expect for the energies to collide, being brought forth in some way. Midpoints are used a lot for triggers, and it can help to find the midpoint of two areas you’re interested in and see if the planets will be hitting it anytime soon.
Astrological Progressions and the Progressed Chart
A progressed chart is used in conjunction with your natal chart to help with predictions. In a progressed chart, 1 year of your life is equal to 1 day, so for each year of your life, 1 day is added to your birth date to find your progressed chart (example: take a person born at 9:30a on March 2nd, 1975. This person would be 34 years old in 2009, so you would add 34 days to their birth date, making April 5th 1975 the date of their progressed chart).
In a progressed chart, the 3 main things you want to look for are when a planet changes sign or houses, and when a progressed planet aspects one of your natal planets. Right now, we’ll figure out how to determine when a progressed planet makes an aspect to one of your natal planets.
I wrote that 1 year of your life is equal to 1 day, so 1 year of your life is equal to 24 hours. Doing a little math, you can determine that 6 months equals 12 hours, 3 months equals 6 hours, 2 months equals 4 hours, 1 month equals 2 hours, and 1 week roughly equals a ½ hour. Here it is in table form:
1 year = 24 hours
6 months =12 hours
3 months = 6 hours
2 months = 4 hours
1 month = 2 hours
1 week = ½ hour
What I recommend is calculating the positions of your progressed planets for each month. In this way, the positions will work like an ephemeris, and you can see the progressed planets moving like transit planets do, and can determine when they’ll make an aspect to your natal planets.
First you need the date of your progressed chart. For this example, we’ll stick with the person born March 2nd 1975 @ 9:30a. The date used in the progressed chart here is April 5th 1975. April 5th 1975 @ 9:30a would give the progressed chart for this person on their birthday for 2009, March 2nd 2009. To figure out where the progressed planets are located 1 month after the person’s birthday of 2009, we have to add 2 hours to their time of birth (1 month = 2 hrs). The time of birth in this example is 9:30a, so this becomes 11:30a. Put 11:30a for the birth time. Then put in the person’s birth place (for this example we’ll use Orlando FL). Then we just create a regular natal chart.
The chart that comes up shows the location of the person’s progressed planets 1 month after their birthday of 2009, or April 2nd 2009. Here are the planets positions:
Next you find the planets locations 2 months after their birthday. Edit the birth data and add another 2 hours to the birth time (so 11:30a becomes 1:30p). The new chart shows the placement of the progressed planets 2 months after the person’s birthday, or May 2nd 2009. Add another 2 hours to the birth time (3:30p), and you get the positions for June 2nd 2009. You can continue adding 2 hours at a time to the birth time to find the positions month by month until you reach the next birthday. You should be able to see each planet moving little by little, and be able to determine when each planet will aspect a natal planet, and when the planets will change signs and houses.
This is how to do it manually; astro.com can also generate the progressed chart for you (select Progressed chart in the dropdown menu, and put in the date just below that you want the progressed chart to be for).
The progressed Moon gets the most attention because it moves the fastest and therefore makes the most aspects. It also helps show your development as you mature and deal with its movement through each sign and house similar to Saturn.
The progressed Moon stays in 1 sign for about 2 ½ years. When your progressed Moon enters a new sign, you will take on more traits of that sign. People of that sign will be more attracted to you. Some progressed Moon signs will be easier for you than others . . . usually signs that are in the same element as your natal Moon sign will be easier to deal with (although progressed Moon in Scorpio has a reputation for being hard for everyone, even those with water Moons). The natal house the progressed Moon is in will be highlighted, and the issues brought forth. When your progressed Moon makes aspects to your natal planets, its effects are felt up to 3 months before the aspect goes exact.
Aspects made by planets other than the moon are very significant and last much longer. The progressed Sun moves about 5 minutes per month, the progressed Mercury moves about 7-8 minutes per month, progressed Venus moves about 6 minutes per month, and progressed Mars moves about 3 minutes per month (compared to the Moon, which moves a little over 1 degree, or 60 minutes, per month). The Sun obviously rules you, so when it changes sign or houses, your personality will change somewhat. With progressions, it’s really all about “maturing”. You “progress”, or mature, to the next stage of life, or sign/house. With Mercury it’s all about your mental state. Mercury progressions show how your thinking evolves. Venus rules love, and progressed Venus shows how your feelings about love and how you express love evolves as you mature. Mars rules your energy and your drive, and shows where and how that energy becomes directed.
The progressions explained here are called secondary progressions; there is another type of progression called converse progressions. The converse progressed chart is calculated in reverse of secondary progressions, by going backwards one day for every year of your life. The effects of converse progressions are similar to secondary progressions, except there is in added element of fatefulness.
Astrological Returns and Return Charts
A solar return is when the transit Sun is at the exact position it was when you were born. This usually happens on your birthday, but can be the day before or after sometimes. You can get your solar return chart for free on astro.com. The solar return chart is used in conjunction with your natal chart to help in predicting events more precisely. The solar return chart is only good for one year.
The most important thing in the solar return chart is, of course, the Sun. The house the Sun is located in the solar return chart will show where you can have the greatest potential for growth, self expression, and recognition over the next year. You also want to check which house cusp has Leo on it, because the issues of that house will also become more prevalent.
The rising sign in the solar return chart will seep into your personality a bit, and the house the solar return ascendant falls in your natal chart will become more prevalent as well. If a natal or solar planet conjuncts a house cusp in the solar return chart, it will help show what other influences there will be on the matters of that particular house. A good thing to do too is to see where your natal planets fall in your solar return houses and where your solar return planets fall in the solar return houses. A natal planet in a solar house shows the energy you’ll bring into the new period, and a solar planet in a solar house shows what the world is bringing to you (basically, natal/solar- what you give, solar/solar- what you get).
You can also generate Mercury, Venus, and Mars return charts to help you better understand how each will affect you (there are also Jupiter return charts, but that only happens every 12 years, and Saturn return charts, but that's only once every 28-32 years. There are lunar return charts as well for the Moon, and you have to do 13 of those each year). Now, as far as I know, there aren’t any sites that will do this for you, so you have to do a little work on your own. Let’s take Mars – grab an ephemeris and look to see when Mars is in the sign your natal Mars is in. At the beginning of September 2009, mars was located in Cancer. Match up the numbers to see which date your return will be (example: if you use the free ephemeris at astro.com, it says that for September 1st, 2009, Mars starts at 3 degrees 58 minutes in Cancer. On September 2nd, mars was at 4 degrees 35 minutes in Cancer. If your mars falls in between those 2 numbers, then your return was September 1st). Once you’ve figured out the date, then it’s just trial and error to find the exact time. Go to astro.com, type in the date, your birth town and current location (you’ll need to generate a relocation chart since return charts factor in current location; info in relocation charts is below), and start with midnight for the time and work your way up until Mars in the chart matches your natal Mars (degrees, minutes, and seconds).
Mars returns happen every 22-24 months (roughly every 2 years). Its chart shows where you will be more determined and possibly courageous and daring. Venus returns happen about every 11 months and give some info on the relationships, creative ventures, and experiences that will come to you and how to make them happen. Mercury returns occur every 10-11 months, and shows how your way of thinking and views are changing, and where your mind will be most focused on. You want to check the house location and rulership of the return planet and the aspects it makes to the other planets in the return chart.
There is a possibility that each return will occur more than once in a year if the planet is retrograding in your sign. When this happens, it represents important changes for you based on each planet (like with Mercury, some serious mental changes and possibly breakthroughs, Venus can trigger important events with love or money, and Mars a change in your ways of taking a stand and being aggressive).
Astrological Solar Arcs
Arcs use your progressed chart to calculate new points with your natal planets to further help with prediction. Of all the arcs, solar arcs are used the most because the sun “lights up” the areas it touches, so when you have a solar arc aspecting a certain point, it acts as a trigger for events.
To calculate your solar arc planets and houses, you “progress” each planet the exact same amount as the Sun has progressed (meaning you add as many degrees and minutes to each natal planet as your progressed Sun has moved from its natal position. Example: say your natal Sun is at 3 degrees 30 minutes in Scorpio, and your progressed Sun is at 12 degrees 18 minutes in Sagittarius. Your Sun has moved 38 degrees 48 minutes, so you would add 38 degrees 48 minutes to each of your natal planets, Ascendant, and Midheaven).
A solar arc planet or house making an opposition (180 degrees), sesquiquadrate (135), square (90), semisquare (45), or conjunction (0) to any of your natal planets or midpoints can be a trigger for events (these are the only aspects used for arcs). For clues as to what, consider each planet involved and check the house the solar arc planet making the aspect rules.
Arcs can be done not only for the Sun, but for any planet in your progressed chart. Calculate how much the planet has progressed from its natal position and add the amount to the rest of your natal planets. Just remember what the planet rules, since that will be the dominant energy (for example, if you want to know more about your love life, try doing Venus arcs).
Relocation Astrology: Relocation Charts and Astrocartography
Your personality is always your natal chart, but in predictions, when you move can change timing. Location is very important in timing events, so you must take current location into consideration. A relocation chart is a chart that uses your natal information and current place of residence to create a new chart incorporating your new vantage point of the universe.
In a relocation chart, usually all that changes is the house cusps and not the planets. This can however move one or more of your planets to another house (for example, my Moon moved from the end of my 4th to the 5th when I moved). This mainly impacts prediction in that the date a planet enters a house will be different, which can be especially significant for the slower moving planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto), sometimes a difference of years. It can also change the house rulers if the sign of the house cusp changes, which will also impact prediction (remember each planet rules a house, and when it’s aspected by another planet, the house it rules will be impacted as well).
Location is important in many parts of astrology, like in progressions and returns, which are current and so they must take into consideration your current climate. In my belief, I think it’s important to view predictions in the same way; as I said, you’re always your natal chart, but it’s important to recognize that astrology doesn’t show you what WILL happen, only possible outcomes that can be changed depending on many factors in your CURRENT life. We all change as we grow older, and we evolve from our natal chart, and things like relocation charts, progressions, and returns help show that.
To create a relocation chart, just go to www.astro.com and input all your natal birth data. Go to the free horoscopes section, click on extended chart selection, and click on 'modify reference place'. Input your current place of residence there. You'll be brought back to the extended chart selection page, and you'll select 'relocation chart' from the "Please select the type of chart you want" drop-down menu. That will generate a relocation chart. For an example, I'll use March 2nd 1975 @ 9:30a in Orlando FL. Let's say this person now lives in Los Angeles, CA. The planetary positions in their relocation chart would be:
And the angles:
Astro.com also offers a free version in their free horoscopes section of astrocartography. You can select any region of the world and click on the map to see what astrological lines certain places fall on for you. Every place on Earth has a different energy for each person, so some places that are good for you will be not-so-good for others, and vice versa. When you’re going to make a move and want to consult astrology, you want to take into consideration both the astrocartography to see what influences the location will have on your personality, as well as what your relocation chart will look like to see how much it will change what’s to come for you predictively.
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