Jupiter turned retrograde last week (on May 9), and Chiron turns retrograde May 25, just before Mercury and Neptune on May 26. Planets don’t really move backwards, but because we view the motion of the planets from our perspective on earth in astrology, they sometimes appear to turn backwards, or retrograde.

Retrograde planets operate on a more internal, deeper and more personal level. Individuals with a large number (4, 5 or more) of retrograde planets tend to be more inverted, with a greater internal focus and less attention to the outside world.

Before planets turn retrograde, they slow down to what is called a “station” as they prepare to turn. This is very like a car making a U-turn, which remains in the same general location for quite a while as it makes that turn. When the motion of the planets appears to slow down, the influence of those planets becomes more powerful and more intense, and this is true right now. Jupiter and Saturn (which turned direct earlier this month and is still traveling very slowly) will only cover a little more than one degree all month; Uranus about the same. Neptune travels only about ten minutes worth of distance, and Pluto only about 30 minutes. This intensifies the effect of all of the planets and their influence.

By the end of the month we’ll have four traditional planets plus Chiron traveling retrograde and it may be more difficult to navigate through the world during this time. This is rather like navigating a ship in the dark of night – we have to rely on our instincts and our inner maps rather than guidance from external landmarks.

Retrograde periods are not “bad,” they are merely times of assimilation and deepening of our internal wisdom before we turn back to the outer world and our lives of action.

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