Pluto turns retrograde on April 25, 2020. That in itself is not unusual since Pluto, along with all of the outer planets, spends about half the year in retrograde motion. What IS unusual is that this year we will have between five and seven planets retrograde for five months.
Retrogradation occurs because we observe the movement of planets from our perspective on earth and sometimes, because of the varying speeds at which the planets hurtle around the Sun, they appear to move backwards. When a planet is seen to be retrograde its astrological function alters somewhat. The affairs of that planet become more personalized, more significant on an individual level. Most people now are familiar with the phenomenon of Mercury retrograde which occurs for three weeks about four times a year, during which time matters of communication and anything involving messaging are potentially more chaotic and disrupted.
Traditionally, retrograde planets have been considered to be debilitated, or weakened, and there is no doubt that for some individuals a high number of retrograde planets correlates with failures and extreme introversion. Philosophical astrology often differs from observational astrology, when instead of relying on the philosophies of others we are able to learn how planetary constellations influence humans by observing these behaviors in actual clients. I have had clients with five or six retrograde planets who were successful, but also introspective and who enjoyed a rich interior life of great meaning.
Neil Michelson’s Table of Planetary Phenomena is a handy reference, telling us that zero planets are retrograde about 9% of the time, but five planets retrograde only occurs about 6% of the time and six only 1%. (These statistics do not include Chiron, but I am including Chiron in my own analysis.)
Planetary reversal: Retrograde and direct stations
When we’re talking about retrogrades, we’re not just talking about the time that a planet is retrograde. There are also the station points when a planet appears to stand still in the sky before changing direction. During these times the influence of that planet is often at its most potent. The retrograde station often brings about a reversal as our attention is drawn back to the past or to some internal transition that must be made. The direct station, when a planet changes direction to move forward again, can force decisions or actions to facilitate a new process.
Three planets will change direction within three days in May, and three again one week in June. With all of this pushing forwards and backwards it can be extremely difficult to feel that progress is being made.
The retrogrades of 2020
As you can see from the diagram that I created, this summer between June 18th and October 13th there will be between five and seven planets retrograde (except for nine days between October 4th and 13th when it will be only five). (Astrologers: Here’s the complete listing of retrogrades and direct stations, which I created copying the format of the work of Gregory Rozek.) This is a very long period to have this many retrograde planets, and highly unusual. The last time there were this many planets in retrograde motion was 1998, and that was for a much shorter period: between July 31 and August 23rd. Most of the periods with six planets excluding Chiron retrograde were just a few weeks in duration until we get to 1969. Between March 18 and June 2 of that year there were between 5-6 planets retrograde so as you can see, that is still not as long a period as we will have this year. Going back to the late 1800s I was unable to find a similar phenomenon to what we will see this year.
So what does all this mean?
Since the entire world is in the middle of a quarantine lockdown (thank you Saturn/Pluto conjunction) it seems likely that the push and pull of the retrogrades means that we are not likely to see the end of that situation for quite some time.
On a personal level, it means that if we are going through a situation in our individual lives it could take quite some time to be resolved. Retrogrades demand that we look within ourselves and also to the past in order to learn and discover more about the underlying energies affecting our situation, and therefore make more informed decisions and transitions.
Knowing about planetary difficulties can’t always magically change our situation, but it CAN inform us and help us to avoid being blindsided by the rapid swings and schizophrenic movements in financial markets, governmental actions, and global dramas.
I also did a short video about this.