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  • Writer's pictureYolanda McAdam

Retrograde Planets: Mercury, Venus and Mars

Updated: Dec 16, 2020

If you’re a sky-watcher you would have seen Mars in all his fiery splendour throughout September and October. Mars was especially bright in October, because he was at his closest to Earth. This coincided with his opposition to the Sun (in Libra) on October 13th and 14th.

The personal planets, Mercury, Venus and Mars function with great potency when retrograde because retrograde planets are closer to Earth than at any other times in their orbit and so it’s because they are so close that we need to pay extra attention.

When a planet is at its nearest point to the Earth, it is, in theory, “in our faces.” It is telling us that there is something about its function that we cannot ignore. We need to take a close look at what is going on in our lives and make adjustments when deemed necessary. - Joanne Wickenburg

Planetary Motion

In astrology, planets are said to be either direct, retrograde or stationary. In reality, the planets are all in direct motion but because the Earth is also moving, it appears to us that the planets are moving backward through the zodiac. So retrograde motion is actually an optical illusion. The Sun and Moon never retrograde but all the other planets do.

Mercury Retrograde

Mercury retrograde is the most notorious of all optical illusions and for good reason! It’s a period punctuated by breakdowns, confusion and delays.

While it’s true that you should postpone purchasing vehicles and electronics, signing contracts and taking up a new course of study, Mercury retrograde is actually a signal to pause and reflect.

Mercury is retrograde about three times a year for three weeks at a time. Mercury rules among other things, communication, technology, transportation and learning. Because Mercury has domain over the workings of our minds, our nervous system, language and everything “wired” or “connected” when Mercury is in reverse, things and people will “short circuit” because of an “overload”. It’s not unusual to hear of website crashes because of “server overload” during these periods, it’s also the time we are most frazzled, forgetful and distracted because our brains and nervous systems are experiencing an overload.

What to watch out for BEFORE Mercury retrograde

Just before Mercury reverses, Mercury lets you know beforehand which area of your life requires review. If you have your birth chart, a basic understanding of astrological houses will reveal the life area that needs your attention. However if you don’t have a copy of your birth chart, take a moment to consider where you’re in “over your head” or “you’ve bitten off more than you can chew”. It comes down to where you feel overwhelmed.

You can get a free copy of your birth chart on

What to do DURING Mercury Retrograde

Ask yourself:

  1. What have I been putting off doing? And then commit to completing that task or finalizing something during Mercury Retrograde.

Mercury Retrograde in your chart

According to Dane Rudhyar, the functions of the retrograde planets in your birth chart need to be developed because their energies are in contrast to the life force in your body. In other words, the planet’s function is not conscious and has to be brought to consciousness.

Mercury retrograde according to Rudhyar is the “mind turned inward” so if you have Mercury retrograde you have a contemplative personality. According to Tracy Marks, you may have literary interests and abilities, you may be self-conscious about the way you speak and your communication abilities, you may enjoy your own company and you may despise small talk and casual interactions. I have personally noticed in my practice that Mercury retrograde often indicates exceptional writing and speaking abilities.

Download your free printable 2021 Guide to Celestial Events! A 12-month calendar that will help you plan ahead! Click on image below for immediate access.

Venus Retrograde

Venus retrograde happens once every eighteen months and when she’s retracing her steps she encourages us to clarify and reevaluate what is most important to us. The question that must be answered during her retrograde period is: Are my values reflected in the people and the things I choose to have in my life?

Venus is the planet of beauty, love, relationships, money and personal values. Venus retrograde often brings people from our past back into our lives. This is either because we need closure or because our soul contract with that person has yet to be fulfilled. Issues around abundance and money also surface at this time. This is because Venus wants us to examine our relationship with money and to revisit our financial goals.

The house through which Venus retrogrades indicates the area of life that is about to transition. This area is the area where we need to examine whether or not the experiences we encounter are valuable and aligned to our deepest desires.

What to do BEFORE Venus retrograde

Take note of any red flags in your closest relationships. Do you and your partner struggle to talk about your feelings? Does your partner know how to take care of him/herself? Are they good at managing their finances? Have you caught your partner or a friend lying to you? Is your partner trying to drive a wedge between you and other people you care about? Are you still thinking about an ex-lover? Is your partner abusive? Do your friends accept you for who you are? Do your friends celebrate your successes? Etc.

Consider ways you can add more beauty into your life preferably without spending too much money - if any. Venus rules art, decor and fashion so it may be time to recycle that old sofa and donate items. If you want to buy jewelry, cosmetics or any decor items do so before Venus goes retrograde.

What to do DURING Venus Retrograde

Venus retrograde in your birth chart

The emotional life is unsatisfied, and unconscious contents disturb the natural flow of consciousness and love. At times a strong emphasis on artistic creation is found, but this is usually coloured by abnormal feelings. - Dane Rudhyar

If you were born during Venus retrograde you may have trouble expressing your feelings and you may have a fear of intimacy. You may be very creative and you tend to form unconventional relationships. Watch for narcissism!

Mars Retrograde

Mars retrograde happens every two years. Mars is the energy that gets us out of bed in the morning. It is Mars energy that motivates us to pursue our heart's desire, seek employment, take a course of study and take up a sport or hobby. Mars is our drive and libido so when he is moving backwards he challenges us to take a closer look at how we are asserting ourselves.

What to do BEFORE Mars Retrograde

Mars energy can be war-like and abusive but Mars can also be protective. In other words, Mars fends off or cuts off abusive behaviour. So questions that come up during Mars retrograde periods are:

  • Do you think (Mercury) before you act (Mars)?

  • Are you assertive or aggressive and do you know the difference?

  • Are your old Mars-like strategies still working for you or do you need to make some changes in order to evolve?

  • Do you take responsibility for your actions?

  • Are you owning your power?

  • Do you feel a sense of agency?

It's worth reflecting on these questions before Mars retrograde because they will inevitably come up.

For more on Mars read this and for a Mars remediation read this.

What to do DURING Mars Retrograde

Mars Retrograde in your birth chart

If Mars was moving backwards at the time of your birth you may be internally directed and solitary. You may suffer from repressed anger and you may have self-destructive tendencies. You don't like taking risks and you doubt your own capabilities. Watch out for passive-aggressive behaviour!

Now over to you,

Do you have any of the personal planets retrograde in your chart? How are their energies functioning in your life?




Wickenburg, Joanne. Your Hidden Powers: Intercepted signs and Retrograde Planets (1992)

Marks, Tracy. The Art of Chart Interpretation (2009)


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