All the planets move around the Sun in the same direction (counterclockwise) but they are in different orbits and traveling at different speeds.  Thus, at certain times they "pass" each other, much as you might pass another car on the freeway; the other car isn't really moving backwards, it only appears that way.  Thus, there are times when, from the Earth, a planet appears to be retrograde, i.e. moving backwards.  Like the slower car on the freeway, this is only an illusion, but astrologically it is considered retrograde and this phenomenon has specific effects, generally to internalize the energy.

Since planetary orbits are predictable, we know when this will occur.  And this is a good thing, because there are some things that you probably don't want to do when certain planets are retrograde.  For example, Mercury retrograde is nearly famous for the communication problems it causes.  Buying a car or major appliance at this time generally does not go well.  Pardon the expression, but it's almost as if a curse has been placed on them and they are prone to breakdown and malfunction on a regular basis.  Phone, cable, internet and computer problems in general are also common as well as misunderstandings between people, who are also affected since Mercury is the natural ruler of our thought process.  You can regularly see the increase in work for mechanics, plumbers and appliance repair shops during this time period.

Each planet has a specific effect when it goes retrograde, which has been compared by astrologer, Christine Shaw, to placing it in Capricorn.  Retrograde planets aren't only a nuisance during transits, but they can also have a specific effect if found in your Natal or Progressed Chart.  Basically, the energy that planet emits will be turned inward.   For example, Mars usually lends itself to energy and action but in retrograde tends toward stalling any action related to the house it's transiting or sometimes passive aggression.  Venus affects what we find pleasing in others or aesthetically but when retrograde, we have a hard time expressing our emotions in this area.  Consider that Venus retrograde is the goddess of war as opposed to the goddess of love.  The chart at the bottom of this page gives a brief summary of the effects of each planet, though books have been written on this subject so it is far from simple in its astrological effects.

If the retrograde planet is one of your personal planets, i.e. the Sun, Moon, your Sun Sign ruler and your Ascendant ruler, then the effects for you will be more dramatic than others.  Which area of your life will take the brunt of its wayward journey will depend on which House it's transiting and any aspects it may throw along the way.  Retrograde planets are indicated on astrological charts with an "Rx." 

Before a planet can move backwards it has to stop which is referred to as "stationing."  Once it starts to slow down the retrograde effects will be felt and they won't end until it stations again and resumes posigrade motion.  And sadly, the effects of any retrograde period won't entirely diminish until the planet actually overtakes the position it was in when it decided to go backwards, which is called the "shadow period."  Once the planet resumes direct motion you will typically become aware of what was transpiring in your unconscious and begin to take action upon it.  Often, by the time the shadow period ends you will have at least started and in some cases even completed the task the Universe brought to your attention. 

The first table below outlines the schedule for 2021 so you can mark your calendar accordingly.  The second one summarizes the various retrograde effects of each of the planets (except the Sun and Moon, which have the good graces to keep moving in the proper direction) so you can know what to expect and plan accordingly, at least as much as humanly possible.  More specific analysis of the effects can be done with your individual chart.

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Planet Start Position End Position Begin Retrograde Resume Posigrade End Shadow Period
Pluto 24:59 Capricorn 22:29 Capricorn 25 April 2020 4 October 2020 25 January 2021
Saturn 01:57 Aquarius 25:20 Capricorn 11 May 2020 29 September 2020 4 January 2021
Neptune 20:57 Pisces 18:09 Pisces 23 June 2020 28 November 2020 19 March 2021
Uranus 10:41 Taurus 06:43 Taurus 15 August 2020 14 January 2021 1 May 2021
Mars 28:08 Aries 15:14 Aries 9 September 2020 14 November 2020 2 January 2021
Mercury 26:27 Pisces 11:05 Aquarius 30 January 2021 21 February 2021 13 March 2021
Pluto 26:48 Capricorn 24:18 Capricorn 27 April 2021 6 October 2021 27 January 2022
Saturn 13:31 Aquarius 06:52 Aquarius 23 May 2021 10 October 2021 15 January 2022
Mercury 24:41 Gemini 16:16 Gemini 29 May 2021 22 June 2021 17 July 2021
Jupiter 2:11 Pisces 22:20 Aquarius 20 June 2021 17 October 2021 9 January 2022
Neptune 23:12 Pisces 20:24 Pisces 25 June 2021 1 December 2021 22 March 2022
Uranus 14:48 Taurus 10:49 Taurus 20 August 2021 18 January 2022 5 May 2022
Mercury 25:28 Libra 05:34 Cancer 27 September 2021 18 October 2021 3 November 2021
Venus 26:29 Capricorn 11:06 Capricorn 19 December 2021 29 January 2022 2 March 2022
Planet Stationary Rx Frequency Rx Duration Transit Effect Natal/Progressed Chart Effect
Mercury hrs - days 3X/year 3 weeks Communications of all types, verbal and electronic, are disrupted or misinterpreted on all levels, including personal, business and legal.  Paperwork gets lost or messed up, computers crash, appliances go out, cars break down.  Anything purchased during this period is likely to never be "quite right."  You are likely to be frequently misunderstood or you may have problems with self-expression.  You are likely to be introverted.  When Mercury goes posigrade in your progressed chart, you are likely to "come out of your shell."
Venus 3-4 days 1X/18 months 6 weeks Forces a good hard look at areas affected by Venus, i.e. romantic relationships and finances.  Value system is likely to be questioned and may be redefined.  (More on Venus RX.) You may have relationship issues in that you either feel unloved, cannot accept affection comfortably or withdraw from your partner.  You could also feel you never have enough money.
~ 5 days 1X/24 months 2 months Emotions and energy are turned inward resulting in passive aggression & stress.  Competitive nature is likely to be also turned inward, causing a person to compete more with themselves than others.  Motivation and enthusiasm for a project can wane.  (More on Mars RX) May have trouble asserting yourself, be overly shy, and unable to stay focused on goals.  Allowing others to walk on you or expecting them to fight your battles for you are also possible.  If/when Mars goes direct in the progressed chart, these can reverse and vice versa.
Jupiter 5-8 days 1X/year 4 months Ethics reevaluated, religious beliefs questioned, philosophies revisited, often on a grand scale.  Not a good time to travel as plans are likely to be disrupted. May constantly seek the meaning in life and attempt to find spiritual values that never quite seem right.  Can also be enthusiastic about worn-out ideas, but on the positive side may found hidden value or potential in certain situations or businesses.  When/if Jupiter goes direct in the progressed chart, over-confidence can result in over-extending plans or finances.
11-12 days 1X/year 4.5 months Expect delays and the necessity of extra effort.  Authority issues could arise.  Projects you thought were completed will require rework. (More on Saturn RX) Likely to have frequent conflicts with authority or feel persecuted.  May fear approaching authority figures in general.  If/when Saturn goes Rx in the progressed chart, may acquire a sense of "What's the use?" and sabotage your own achievements.
Uranus 2 weeks 1X/year 5 months Expect the unexpected.  Surprises and changes abound in events and behavior.  Plans, no matter how firm, are likely to be disrupted.  Introverts may become extroverts and vice versa. Behavior is likely to be quite unpredictable, especially in areas affected by Uranus' house placement and/or aspects to planets in other houses. 
Neptune 2 weeks 1X/year 5 months Logic yields to intuition and creativity.  As the planet of illusion, there may be more media emphasis on fantasy.  More likely to be deceived or misled. Rather than feeling connected with others may feel isolated. Can be very prone to living in a fantasy world steeped in idealism.  May set unrealistic goals and not possess the logic required to meet them.  Very intuitive and possibly psychic with a deep understanding of human nature.  May be incapable of dealing with harsh realities and try to escape via denial or possibly alcohol or drug abuse.  Strong affinity for the arts.
Pluto ~ 17 days 1X/year 5 months Fresh starts/dead ends; destruction/ rebuilding.  Can be heavy forces outside your control, i.e. war, weapons, government upheaval.  May be forced to reevaluate what we value most or trigger intense soul searching and figurative digging through old baggage,  especially when opposite or in conjunction with the Ascendant. Abuse of power is common, either as the one being used and manipulated or the one on a power trip.

--Timing is Everything--

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