Spiritual Health

Here’s What It Means If You Have Retrograde Planets in Your Natal Chart

Photo: Getty Images/Kathrin Ziegler
Retrogrades in astrology are generally associated with mishaps and slowdowns—so you might find yourself a little put off if you notice, as I just did, a little "R" next to certain planets on your birth chart. That "R" means that those celestial bodies were retrograde on the day you were born. Dun, dun, dun!

According to Ambi Kavanagh, astrologer and founder of Soulstrology, retrograde planets in a natal chart are a lot more common than you might think. In fact, most of us have at least one.

What does it mean when a planet is in retrograde?

ICYWW, when a planet is "retrograde" it means that Earth is passing it in orbit and that planet appears to be moving backward from our vantage point.

"All the planets experience retrograde motion, with Mercury the most common—and feared!—as he often creates what I like to call 'Mercury mischief' in his multiple three-to-four annual retrogrades," says Kavanagh. "The larger, outer celestial bodies, such as Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus, Pluto, and Chiron, all experience a long annual retrograde motion—usually four to five months. Venus and Mars, who orbit closer to Earth, retrograde every other year." The sun and moon never go retrograde, she adds.

Lisa Stardust, an NYC-based astrologer, tarot card reader, and author, says retrogrades can be powerful times, but how powerful of an impact they make depends on the planet.

“Jupiter and Saturn retrograde are going to be lucky times for most because their energy becomes more potent and auspicious during the retrograde,” she says. “Planets like Neptune, Pluto, and Uranus, are going to have minimal effects on us or things because they are so far away from our planet that we can minimally feel their effects. However, Mercury, Venus, and Mars will have more of an effect because they are closer to us.”

Because things slow down during retrogrades, Stardust says that can wreak havoc on Earth in the way of delays or reversals of fortune. Hence why retrogrades get a bad rap. Still, retrogrades are not all bad. Stardust emphasizes that retrogrades are more so a time for us to reflect on our relationships, situations, and anything that needs revision. “We get a chance to review things, which is extremely rare and can be auspicious if we use the energy correctly,” she says.

What does it mean for your natal chart when these planets are in retrograde?

So what does it mean if you have a retrograde planet (or several) on your natal chart? Think of it as a karmic lesson to be learned within your lifetime.

"It isn’t by any means all doom or gloom, and certainly does not make for a ‘bad’ chart," says Kavanagh. "Retrograde essentially means the planet's energy is somewhat blocked externally, so those life areas that come within that planet’s domain are not as easily expressed. The chart holder’s soul chose to incarnate to learn deeper internal lessons regarding the areas of life ruled by that specific planet."

You may experience a few challenges when you navigate a retrograde planet's life themes—at least, until you work on these areas of life internally and can then enjoy them externally. Kavanagh stresses that the purpose of this process is not to punish you, "but to develop a deeper internal understanding and strength of the traits associated with that retrograde planet."

So below, learn the lesson each of the retrograde planets in a natal chart stand to offer. Not sure which planets are retrograde in your chart—if any? Run a free online generator like this one to check it out. There will be an “R” or an “RX” next to the planet signifying it is in retrograde.

Retrograde Planets in Natal Charts and What They Mean

Mercury

Chatty, brainiac Mercury is voted "Most Likely to Go Into Retrograde," so it's not uncommon to see Mercury retrograde in a natal chart. It may mean that you have lessons to learn related to thinking, communication, and the mind. Astrologer Susan Miller previously pointed out that being born during Mercury retrograde makes you more philosophical.

Venus

Romantic, smoldering Venus rules over relationships and all things enjoyable. If you were born during a Venus retrograde, you may take the long road when it comes to love, creativity, beauty, pleasure, receiving, peace, and inner harmony.

Mars

Mars is a spitfire planet with lots of physical energy—its placement in your chart informs your fitness personality and sex drive alike. If you were born during Mars retrograde, you may grapple with issues relating to energy, drive, ambition, autonomy, leadership, and manifestation.

Jupiter

Jupiter is a magnanimous, magnificent planet—we are very pro-Jupiter. If Jupiter was retrograde during your birth, you may have inner work to do around abundance, expansion, luck, and generosity.

Saturn

Oh stable, structured Saturn. We associate this planet with Saturn return—a landmark astrological event that occurs in a person's late 20s— because it speaks to our need to mature. Saturn's themes are all about authority, responsibility, stability, success, and boundaries.

Uranus

Uranus has a lot of mad scientist energy—in totally not-shocking news, it's the ruler of rebellious Aquarius. If you were born during Uranus retrograde, you may struggle to fully express your inner originality, innovation, liberation, or ingenuity.

Neptune

Neptune ebbs and flows along the same wavelength of the water sign it rules: empathic Pisces. You may be on a lifelong journey to deeply understand spirituality, creativity, compassion, and unconditional love.

Pluto

Finally there's Pluto, who deals with the shadow sides of life. If you're born during Pluto retrograde, you'll face growth opportunities in the areas of personal power, transformation, and the ability to dive deep beneath the surface.

What planets are in retrograde?

Read on to learn what planets are currently in retrograde through the last quarter of 2022.

Mercury Retrograde

For starters, there is the infamous Mercury retrograde going on through October 2 and again from December 29 to January 18, 2023. According to astrologers, there are certain things you shouldn’t do during mercury retrograde which includes holding off on signing any contracts, preparing for travel mishaps that may arise, and definitely not replying to a text from a toxic ex.

Uranus Retrograde

Uranus retrograde goes on through January 22, 2023. This revolutionary planet is generational, meaning we all will feel its effects. In true Uranus fashion, expect this retrograde to shake things up and push you to release things that are no longer serving you.

Pluto Retrograde

Pluto retrograde is happening in Capricorn until October 6. This planet is all about rebirth and transformation and this retrograde serves as an opportunity to slow down and reflect. “Specifically, Pluto in Capricorn has to do with transformation of systems around the shared ideal of success and accomplishment,” astrologer Ocean Pleasant previously told Well + Good.

Neptune Retrograde

Neptune retrograde in Pisces goes on through December 3 urging us to shift our viewpoints of the future. Mutable signs (Gemini, Sagittarius, Virgo, and Pisces) will feel the effects more so than others.

Saturn Retrograde

Through October 23, Saturn retrograde in Aquarius throws us all for a loop as it’s the planet associated with difficult periods of growth. Because it’s happening in Aquarius, this retrograde has a community-focused flavor to it, meaning it’ll illuminate needed changes that impact the collective.

Jupiter Retrograde

Jupiter retrograde in Aries through November 23 brings with it a wave of motivation to work towards big goals and dreams, but not without some reflection first. This retrograde will affect people with sun or rising signs in Aries, Sagittarius, and Pisces in particular.

So how will these upcoming retrogrades affect people with retrograde planets in their natal charts? Stardust says you’ll have an easier time than everyone else, which is great news. For instance, if you have Venus retrograde in your chart, when the Venus retrograde occurs, you won’t be affected as much as other people who don't have it in their chart. The same goes for all the other planetary retrogrades in natal charts.

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