Perhaps we only leave
So we may once again arrive,
To get a bird’s eye view
Of what it means to be alive.
For there is beauty in returning,
Oh how wonderful, how strange,
To see that everything is different
But know it’s only you who’s changed.
Erin Hanson [http://thepoeticunderground.com/]
Retrograde planets in the natal chart usually indicate an evolutionary need to undo or redo something with regards to the archetypal symbolism of that planet. In this post, I will briefly* address the possible meaning(s) of each retrograde planet in the birth chart, regardless of all other possible factors which may modify these basic interpretations. Therefore, please keep in mind that these are only possibilities rather than certainties:
This is often an indication of an evolutionary impetus to “slow down” and re-examine one’s content and style of thinking. The soul might have been underexposed or overexposed to information, languages, or means of communication in previous lifecycles, and this lifetime would be a great opportunity to achieve a degree of intellectual equilibrium and discernment regarding what information is to be retained and what is to be discarded. A direct Mercury, on the other hand, usually shows that the current flow of information can be accessed in a relatively judicious manner and with an inherent degree of discernment.
Alternatively, retrograde Mercury in the birth chart may indicate past life dedication to learning a skill which could not be easily mastered, or an inability to learn a skill one was passionate about because of certain physical or environmental limitations. In this life cycle, therefore, one is to meditate upon the “intrinsic” importance of “trying” and dedicating oneself to intellectual endeavors or learning skills, even if one may not be able to achieve absolute “mastery” in this process.
This may show that the soul carries a memory of being over-dependent, under-socialized, over-indulgent or excessively deprived with regards to material necessities. Therefore, there may exist an evolutionary need to retouch one’s interpersonal skills or balance one’s relation to the material dimension of existence. A direct Venus, on the other hand, can simply indicate that the soul is not bound by previous lack or excess, and can thus regulate one’s relation to people or things in a more moderate manner.
Alternatively, retrograde Venus in the birth chart may indicate a past life tendency to “undervalue” or “overvalue” oneself. In this case, one is to learn how to balance one’s perception in relation to oneself. A meditation upon the nature of human soul and how we are all “intrinsically” and “equally” valuable would help regulate this energy, as well as practicing to “see” oneself as “objectively” as possible by asking feedback from those near and dear to one.
This may indicate that the soul has an evolutionary urge to re-act, possibly as a result of under-action or over-action in previous life cycles. The soul might have relentlessly pursued her desires without much consideration for the “other”, or the soul’s legitimate desires might have been frequently nipped in the bud by the “other”. The current life cycle, therefore, would be an “arena” in which new possibilities would arise for the soul to practice her muscles of “action” and “initiation”. A direct Mars, on the other hand, would usually point to an uninhibited desire for action and initiation in a timely and effective manner.
Alternatively, retrograde Mars in the birth chart may indicate a past life episode of being a victim of violence, or inflicting violence on others. In this life cycle, therefore, one’s mantra should be “meditation before action”, as a karmic “vicious circle” of violence may exist in this case, which is often perpetrated by an inner urge to punish oneself because one has previously participated in a violent action, or has allowed it through inaction.
This usually shows that certain belief-formation mechanisms, moral principles, or intuitive frameworks which have bestowed “meaning” to one’s life have been carried over from previous life cycles and are now to be scrutinized, reconsidered, or discredited. A direct Jupiter, on the other hand, usually shows that this lifetime is a chance to subscribe to certain philosophies (or dogmas) which are probably “new” to the soul, and would then be carried over to future incarnations.
Alternatively, retrograde Jupiter in the birth chart may indicate that in a past life cycle one may have subscribed to certain ideologies, or may have rejected them without properly examining them or as a result of unscrupulousness. In this life cycle, therefore, one has to meditate upon all the beliefs and moral structures one is to adopt, without falling prey to social or cultural “norms”, or one’s own self-righteousness.
This often indicates releasing or concluding karmic patterns which have defined the structure of “consciousness” in the previous life cycles, whereas a direct Saturn usually shows the acquirement of new conditionings which would then be carried over to (and to a degree, define) the structure of “consciousness” in future lifetimes. Another possibility is that one might have been over-disciplined or under-disciplined in constructing one’s legacy in previous cycles, and has now been given a second chance to build a life of realism and integrity.
Alternatively, a retrograde Saturn in the birth chart may indicate that in previous life cycles one was not able to regulate one’s relation to figures of authority in a constructive manner. One may have been too overwhelmed by other people’s status or social influence, or might have completely disregarded societal norms of success or propriety. In this life cycle, therefore, one is to meditate upon the necessity of having a purposeful life, and striving towards materializing one’s potential, without losing one’s autonomy to those one respects or to the expectations of others.
This may imply that the soul has not yet come to terms with the inherent “awkwardness” or “deficiency” of Earthly life, and that there still exists a degree of “discomfort” with regards to human “pain” or “shame” in general. To learn how to be “in between” worlds, to dwell in the sheer “ineptness” of life without losing sight of its beauties, and to practice “Negative Capability” would be the ultimate evolutionary purpose of Chiron retrograding in the natal chart. A direct Chiron, however, usually indicates that the soul has more ease for eventually coming to terms with the “awkward” and “ugly” of daily existence and to relieve them through helping and healing others (and thus oneself).
This may indicate that the soul is carrying over a degree of inconsistency, excessive detachment, or inability to detach with regards to the nature of human love, the imperfection implied in human condition, or the individuation process. In this lifetime, therefore, the soul is to re-cut herself from the unconscious patterns of thought carved in prior life cycles, and re-approach such notions without falling into extremes. A direct Uranus, however, would usually indicate that one is more prepared to detach when necessary, or that new unconscious patterns of thought would be etched unto one’s soul in the current life time to be carried over to future incarnations.
This may show that the soul is carrying over a degree of confusion, excessive attachment, or inability to attach with regards to the nature of cosmic love, interconnectedness of all beings, or sacrifice. In this lifetime, therefore, the soul is to re-connect to such notions and freshly intuit the infinite nature of the Creator, the multiplicity of Being, or the merits and demerits of sacrifice. A direct Neptune, however, would usually indicate that one is more prone to perceiving inter-relation of things, the infinity of Soul, or the grace of God without these concepts necessarily overflowing into the boundaries of one’s material existence.
This may indicate that some evolutionary refining and re-defining is in order, and thus the purpose of reincarnation of an individual with Pluto retrograding in the natal chart would be streamlining the soul by yearning to undo the deep-seated habits formed over many lifetimes. Consciousness of such pre-existing patterns may come more readily to such an individual, compared to someone with a direct Pluto in his or her birth chart: a direct Pluto, indeed, may be an indication of a lifetime during which new soul habits will be formed to be carried over to future life cycles. As there is a lighter burden of past patterns in this case, one would have a heavier responsibility with regards to dictating new habits to one’s soul, and thus setting a new karmic trajectory for oneself.
* An accurate astrology reading would include interpreting each retrograde planet in the specific context of the client’s birth chart and his or her actual living experience. Retrograde planets, unlike what most people tend to think, have specific implications in each chart, which are quite pertinent to the specific evolutionary path of the individual.