They may say time stops for no one, but right now that’s only partially true. Almost half the planets in your sky are now officially retrograde. Mercury moves retrograde in Gemini, May 26-June 19 and if you don’t know what that means, you just haven’t been paying attention. (For those born yesterday & even if you’re not, Virgo Fern Feto Spring, an expert on such matters offers Survive & Thrive Guide to Mercury Rx ). But that’s not all, folks: Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto are alas, retrograde. Good times. “But,” as one of my clients exasperated over retro affecting a pending decision, “life doesn’t stop. I have to keep moving forward!” To this I reply: retrograde is a very good thing. Retrograde motion characterizes the inward-moving, yin cycle of any planet. We can apply the breathing room, information gathering and reflection time toward the principles any planet represents. This is an especially useful time for building sanity & repose around the larger movements of life. Slow down & contemplate where you are. If you’re compelled to take a huge leap of faith, in a backwards attempt to “fix things” – relationships, decisions, life paths, during Mercury retrograde it’s useful to re-think these scenarios. Know that if you make a decision, you may have to backtrack. I don’t need to tell you the story about the time I moved to another state (and moved back) during Mercury retro, do I?

Mercury Retrograde
Mercury retro happens 3 times a year, and always in the same element giving the guy an elemental* twist. Many of us began feeling the ‘lil devil playing tricks on us earlier this past week and that’s because Mercury has a shadow period – or the period of time that Mercury re-traces the same degree several times over (this is often up to 2 weeks before the actual retrograde date). Mercury’s slowed motion slows down travel, schedules, computers and the mind among other various errata of day to day life, like communication, and mail. During any retrograde, do everything with “re” in front of it related to the planet. Re-think. Re-decorate. Re-turn. Re-model. Re-novate. Re-finish. People often do return, long lost friends, loved ones as do other missing objects. As a writer, my mind, and words are affected by the Mercury slowdown. I find my mind spinning donuts about a week before retrograde, starting sentences I’m unable to complete (much to my embarrassment) then having quieter maverick moments of prolific writerly output. I am looking foward to finishing up quite a lot of open ended projects – hey, a girl can dream, can’t she?

*(air=thoughts, ideas, communication, social relationship; water=emotions, intuition, memory; fire=ambitions, creativity; earth= productivity, achievement, discipline)

Jupiter Retrograde
I always say, even retrograde, Jupiter is generous. That’s because sometimes, even when we’re being given goodies from an all you can eat buffet called “the Jupiter transit*” we need to learn how to graciously receive them, and decide: sure, it looks attractive and tasty, but is it what I really want? Case in point: my client had Jupiter transit over her Venus in Capricorn, and received a very generous offer for a parcel of mountain land she hadn’t considered selling. The offer far exceeded the value, so she couldn’t refuse it, although in her heart she is sentimentally attached to this piece of land having enjoyed many memorable holiday weekends, family trips there. When I saw Jupiter station, then move retrograde close to Venus, I asked if there was any word on the sale. The offer still stood, she said, but it was at a standstill. The buyer said he wanted to wait until December to close. Fittingly, Jupiter’s final pass over Venus is around Thanksgiving; she’ll have the whole summer to enjoy the land, and say her final goodbyes – if she chooses. I love this analogy because sometimes Jupiter throws gifts at us but barely gives us the time to consider the deeper implications of accepting. That’s why the Jupiter cycle; direct-retrograde-direct is so helpful in the overall scheme of giving-receiving life’s blessings.

*longer article on Jupiter forthcoming!

Neptune Retrograde
Neptune, like many of the outer planets spends a bit of time retrograde. The big watery guy goes retrograde every year, for about five months – fitting for this highly creative, spiritually minded, psychically attuned planet. Just as solitary retreat is essential for deeper spiritual work, prolonged periods of reflection and waiting for birthing creativity, retrograde is essential to the Neptune cycle. Perhaps because we, as a culture, do not characteristically devote half our lives to meditative pursuits, spirituality and right-brain creativity, we collectively miss out on his more positive aspects. However, on a personal level, many folks have made an altar to Neptune by regularly diving into the deep connective well of creativity & oneness that’s always available. That’s how we call to his more positive qualities. Neptune is a higher octave of Venus, the Goddess of Love & Beauty, but far more mysterious. In the sky, Venus shines brightly “I’m right here! Come & get it!” and Neptune is far away from the Earth, and with huge gas clouds surrounding, hazy and distant. In other words, it’s hard to know what he’s up to, exactly. It does seem like a cloud of creative chaos follows him wherever he goes. This larger Neptune drama plays out in the lives of highly creative people, and addicts, who may experience the creative process similarly: euphoria, chaos, surrender, release, and then transcendence. During retrograde, we can cultivate new ways to experience connection to the unconscious well of creative life, our unity with all people & things, and also explore how unhealthy expressions of Neptune might be more satisfying if experienced in healthier ways.

Pluto Retrograde
Pluto is the slowest moving planet of all being the furthest from us. The changes the God of the Underworld affects are slow changing too, as anyone whose ever experienced hardship, grief, or disaster knows. It’s a healing process. And although the wounding may take place “above ground,” the healing processes are often performed in the dark. Grief is experienced in private, behind closed doors, or due to the sometimes delicate nature of a violation, secretly. Pluto’s glyph or planetary symbol represents the spiritual descent, through matter, into soul. Pluto experiences are soul-making, always deeply profound, and the transformation can be uncomfortable. It’s through death and tragedy that we discover inner riches: that which is eternal, and cannot be destroyed in our self, hence he’s the God of Wealth & buried treasure. Retrograde gives us the opportunity to heal violations, grievances, trespasses, transformations and deaths we’ve experienced. I’m noting that “healing” is a light and airy word hardly describing the Pluto process – mainly we’ve suffered a descent into darkness, walked through the valley of death, burned off anything unessential (other than our soul) and kept on going. Normally, he’s this outward cathartic change, but retrograde the catharsis is inward. Usually that means less outward pain, more inward integration during retrograde. At this point the deeper healing work of more dramatic/traumatic change over the past months can mellow & inwardly deepen.