Over at our awesome Chart Harmony Discord, I get asked questions. Recently, one of ’em was about figuring out the difference between the super-popular Mercury retrograde we all know and love… and all the other planetary illusions we label as retrogradity. (J/K: We don’t label anything as “retrogradity” — that’s not a word.) So…

Here’s my list o’ what to expect with each planet’s retrograde illusion (follow any of the [READ MORE] links to go deeper on the topic):

First off, RETROGRADE is the term we use to describe the illusion that one of the other planets orbiting the Sun (just like Earth is doing) has begun moving backward. It’s not actually doing so; that’s just how it appears from our ALSO-MOVING vantage point. Personally, I’m really looking forward to the days when folks are born on Mars and in *their* charts, Earth will go retrograde now and then. WOW! Right? 😉

While we can always go deeper with this, in general, retrogrades turn THAT PLANET’S energy inward for us (and the “outers” are retrograde for MONTHS at a time; that’s why many of us are born with at least one planet retrograde… the odds are pretty good for that).

Mercury retrograde = communication snags are likely (“Don’t start no shit; don’t sign no shit” is my motto) [READ MORE]

Venus retrograde = what you find beautiful may be “off” (wait ’til she’s direct before committing to a new look or new love) [READ MORE]

Mars retrograde = motivation turns inward/turns down (or you could feel some inner rage that needs to get OUT) [READ MORE]

Jupiter retrograde = leaps of faith, spiritual expansion (lots of inner growth, if you’ll let it happen) [WATCH MORE]

Saturn retrograde = inner structure revisited, boundaries tested (great reminders of the value Saturn has in our lives) [READ MORE]

Uranus retrograde = internal innovation, freedom quest furthered (chaos possible)

Neptune retrograde = are you lying to yourself? watch for addictive escape (also, medical misdiagnoses are possible)

Pluto retrograde = what needs transforming from within? you are the Tower card now (total makeover in the house Pluto’s transiting for you)

Chiron and the nodes are retrograde more often than they are direct, so we don’t look to their retrograde illusion/mathematical calculations the same way. Their “retrograde purpose” is baked into their description as-is (Chiron = the wounded healer; south node = karmic past/a familiar and comfortable energy drain; north node = destiny/challenging to lean into but so worth it).

And while I’m here, I’ll note some timeline info:

💫 Mercury is retrograde 3-4 times each year for ~3 weeks at a time.
💫 Venus is retrograde ~40 days each ~18 months.
💫 Mars is retrograde for 2 months every 2 years.
💫 Jupiter and Saturn are each retrograde for 4-5 months each year.
💫 Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto are each retrograde for 5-6+ months each year.

Got all that?

While my favorite “Is Mercury retrograde?” site is this one, Astro-Seek will give you a quick list o’ retrogrades here (try not to get overwhelmed at all the tools).

Were you born during a planet’s retrograde illusion? That can mean that the things that planet rules might have been slower to develop in your life (natal Mercury retrograde can mean you were “late” to speak your first words… but possibly spoke in complete sentences once you finally did decide to get verbal). Natal retrogrades can also mean you’re way more comfy when those same planets are in their retrograde illusion throughout your life. Cool, huh?

Share in the comments below (or come on over to our Chart Harmony Discord server). And if you’d like to go deeper with any of my free (or non-free) on-demand resources, head over here to the library I’m continuing to build for you!

Much love,


Bonnie Gillespie is simultaneously all characters in The Wizard of Oz (esp. the yellow-brick road). Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!

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