Retrograde Planets

Retrograde Planets Part 1
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Vedic astrology is an ocean of interesting as well as mysterious concepts and the concept of some planets among navagraha going retrograde is one of them. Retrograde generally means moving backward or going back in time and accordingly it is assumed that when a planet goes retrograde for certain period of time, instead of continuing with its forward motion, it starts moving backward. For example, all planets among navagraha except Rahu and Ketu move in forward direction which means they move from Aries to Pisces and then they repeat this cycle again and again, where the completion of this one cycle may be different for different planets. The fastest moving planet among navagraha, Moon may complete its cycle from Aries to Pisces in less than 30 days whereas the slowest to move among navagraha, Saturn may take about 30 years to complete one cycle from Aries to Pisces.

When a planet goes retrograde, instead of moving from Aries to Pisces, it starts moving from Pisces to Aries, in the opposite direction. For instance, if Saturn is transiting through Scorpio at this time, generally it will move from Scorpio to the next sign Sagittarius which means it will move from eighth sign to the ninth sign. However when it goes retrograde for a period of some months, during those months it will start moving backward from Scorpio towards the previous sign Libra, through which it has already passed recently. Hence a retrograde planet starts moving backward for a certain period of time and then it starts moving forward again which means that after moving in backward direction for some months, Saturn in this example will start moving from Scorpio to Sagittarius, which is the forward movement of this planet.

Now that we know what a forward moving planet is and what is a backward moving planet, it is the time to know how the planets among navagraha behave when it comes to their forward as well as backward movements through various signs. Among navagraha, Sun and Moon always move in forward direction and they never go retrograde, which means that they always move from Aries to Pisces and they never move back towards the sign through which they have recently passed. On the other hand, Rahu and Ketu always move backward or so to say, they are always retrograde and they always move from Pisces to Aries. However one thing is common among these two sets of planets where the first set is that of Sun and Moon whereas the second set is that of Rahu and Ketu, and that is the fact that they never move back towards the sign they have recently passed through.

Considering an example, if Sun is transiting through Scorpio towards Sagittarius in its forward motion, it means that Sun has recently passed through the previous sign Libra and it is now passing through Scorpio. As the Sun always moves in forward direction, it will only move from Scorpio to Sagittarius and it will never move back towards Libra. Similarly if Rahu is transiting through the sign of Scorpio, it means that Rahu has recently passed through Sagittarius and now it is moving from Scorpio to Libra since it moves backward from Pisces to Aries. Here again like the Sun, though Rahu is moving backward or instead of moving forward, it will never go forward and start moving towards Sagittarius through which, it has recently passed.

Hence four out of nine planets among navagraha have defined patterns of movement where Sun and Moon always move forward whereas Rahu and Ketu always move backward. However the remaining five planets namely Jupiter, Venus, Mars, Mercury and Saturn exhibit dual patterns of movement, which means that they can move in forward as well as in backward direction and this is what makes them more interesting compared to Sun, Moon, Rahu and Ketu which exhibit movement in one direction only. These five planets generally move in forward direction but after a fixed period of time and for a fixed period of time, they go retrograde which means they start moving in backward direction. Once that period of time comes to an end, they start moving in forward direction again.

This dual pattern of movement exhibited by these five planets has fascinated many astrologers and researchers from time to time and they have tried to find the true meaning as well as true relevance of this concept of retrogradation of these five generally forward moving planets. As everything in this universe happens for a reason, there must be some reason why Sun and Moon move in forward direction only, Rahu and Ketu move in backward direction only and Jupiter, Venus, Mars, Mercury and Saturn move in forward as well as in backward direction. This dual movement of these five planets among navagraha is what has made some astrologers and researchers devote many years of their lives in order to find the true meaning of such concept of retrograde motion of these five planets which generally move in forward direction.

Hence different astrologers have assigned different meanings to such retrograde planets where some of them believe that if a planet goes retrograde in a horoscope, it starts working negatively in that horoscope. The reason assigned to such negativity is the fact that since such planet has started moving backward instead of moving forward, it has become negative as moving back is considered as a negative practice. Some other astrologers believe that if a planet goes retrograde in a horoscope, it reverses its general nature, which means that if this planet is otherwise supposed to work positively in that horoscope, it will start working negatively and if this planet is otherwise supposed to work negatively in that horoscope, it will start working positively when it goes retrograde. The logic assigned to this belief is that the movement in opposite direction indicates the movement of working nature in opposite direction too.

Yet some other astrologers believe that if a planet goes retrograde in its sign of exaltation, it will work negatively in the horoscope whereas if a planet goes retrograde in its sign of debilitation, it will work positively in the horoscope. Finally there are some other astrologers who believe that the concept of change in direction of movement of these planets has got nothing to do with their working nature and accordingly, retrograde planets behave just like the forward moving planets and nothing else. These different theories and beliefs related to the working nature of retrograde planets have caused a situation of much confusion in the mind of an average person interested in astrology as he gets confused, which one of these theories he should believe and which one he should not.

With the grace of Lord Shiva, I have myself spent a good number of years researching in the concept of retrograde planets and in finding the true meaning behind such concept of their retrogradation. It always intrigued me why a planet which generally moves forward starts moving backward? Why do Sun and Moon only move in forward direction, Rahu and Ketu only move in backward direction whereas Jupiter, Venus, Mars, Mercury and Saturn move in forward as well as in backward direction? There must be some meaning to it as otherwise there is no sense in the fact that only five specific planets among navagraha possess the ability to move in both direction whereas the other four planets can move in one direction only.

So what is the meaning of these planets being blessed with the ability to move in forward as well as in backward direction and what could change in a horoscope when a generally forward moving planet changes its direction and starts moving in backward direction? The answer to all these questions is that there is definitely something different happening when a forward moving planet suddenly starts moving in backward direction. Accordingly its behavior in a horoscope changes, sometimes by a small margin; sometimes considerably and sometimes it may start behaving in the exactly opposite manner. Through the coming lines, we will get to know some surprising, important as well as valuable facts related to the behavior of retrograde planets in a horoscope.

When a planet goes retrograde in a horoscope, it may change its working nature in that horoscope where the percentage of change in such working nature depends on the planet which has gone retrograde, the house of placement of such retrograde planet as well as the sign of placement of such retrograde planet in a horoscope and on the overall tone of the horoscope of in question. For example, if retrograde Jupiter is placed in the ninth house of a horoscope in the sign of Cancer, it may only change slightly in nature and there also, only a part of its behavior may change. On the other hand, if retrograde Jupiter is placed in the fifth house of horoscope in the sign of Cancer, it may indicate much more change in its behavior compared to the first case, though it may still remain on the same line of positivity or negativity as otherwise indicated by the overall horoscope.

However if the same retrograde Jupiter is placed in the first house of a horoscope in the sign of Cancer, it can even reverse its working nature in the horoscope, which means that it may start behaving negatively in such a horoscope if it is otherwise meant to work positively in the horoscope and it may start working positively in that horoscope if it is otherwise meant to work negatively in that horoscope. Similarly, retrograde Jupiter placed in the first house of horoscope in the sign of Libra may not indicate much change in its behavior whereas retrograde Jupiter placed in the eighth house of a horoscope in the sign of Libra may change its behavior to considerable extent. Therefore, the study of retrograde planets in astrology is very deep as well as very subjective.

One interesting fact related to these five planets which can move in forward as well as in backward direction is that once they start moving backward which means once they go retrograde, they become somewhat moody and accordingly they may start overdoing certain jobs assigned to them or they may not even do what is expected of them. Technically speaking, a retrograde planet can sometimes gain extra strength by virtue of being retrograde and it can sometimes gain extra weakness by virtue of being retrograde, depending on the overall tone of the horoscope. But one thing is common in both these cases, which is the fact that retrograde planets need more attention as their behavior is not like the other planets which move in one direction only.

In the coming series of articles, I am going to explain some of the commonly occurring results when each one of these five planets goes retrograde when placed in different houses of a horoscope.

Himanshu Shangari