Planetary Retrogrades and Stations in 2021
What do we mean by “retrograde” and “station?”
Retrogrades and stations are particular kinds of planetary transits. Retrograde means “backwards.” Its opposite is direct, which means “forwards.” Station means “stationary.” Astrologers use these words to describe the movements of planets in the sky and to interpret their meaning for those of us here on Earth.
Each year, all the planets from fast-moving Mercury to ponderously slow Pluto go through periods when they appear to be moving backwards. Astrologers are aware that the planets never really travel backwards—retrograde motion is a factor of our viewpoint from Earth. But astrologers also know that a planetary transit has a distinct feel depending whether the planet is retrograde or direct.
The changes in motion from direct to retrograde and retrograde to direct are called “stations.” A forward-moving planet will slow down, come to a stop and then begin moving backwards; a retrograde planet will do the same in reverse. Planetary stations are transits we all experience, and they can have a lot of drama attached to them. This is why I like to call them “pivotal days—” because the planet is literally pivoting in the sky and we humans here on Earth are having corresponding pivotal experiences.
There are six slow-moving planets in our sky that make very interesting life experience for us here on Earth when they pivot. These are Jupiter, Saturn, Chiron, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. Each of these six planets turns retrograde once a year and then direct again several months later, thus there are twelve Pivotal Days. (Why “Chiron” and what is it anyway? See this.) You can read about all these planets and their yearly stations here:
This Year’s Stations of Pluto
This Year’s Stations of Neptune
This Year’s Stations of Uranus
This Year’s Stations of Chiron
This Year’s Stations of Saturn
This Year’s Stations of Jupiter
There are also three fast-moving planets that pivot, and we go through interesting changes during their retrograde periods. They are Mercury, Venus and Mars. Mercury goes through a retrograde period about three weeks long every four months, thus three times a year. Venus goes through a retrograde period about six weeks long every year and a quarter. And Mars goes through a retrograde period about twelve weeks long every two or two and a quarter years.
If you’ve heard the word “retrograde” before, it was probably because Mercury was retrograde, and your friends or coworkers were complaining about it. The reason you never hear about “Mercury direct” is because Mercury is usually direct, and we take the efficiency that’s possible at that time for granted. When Mercury goes retrograde, things get complicated and we’re often unready. Knowing when Mercury will go retrograde next can help you prepare to not only weather this difficult period, but actually get use out of it.
People complain about Mercury retrograde so much that Venus and Mars retrograde periods may be completely ignored, but understanding them is important as well, because Venus affects relationships and Mars affects energy, will and drive. Read about them all here:
This Year’s Mercury Retrogrades
This Year’s Venus Retrograde
This Year’s Juno Retrograde
This Year’s Mars Retrograde
To find out more about other astrological events happening in 2021, such as eclipses and planetary conjunctions, see this: Transits in the Year 2021.
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