Astrology Secrets Revealed: Eric Francis Answers Your Questions
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We usually only hear about planetary retrogrades when Mercury starts skating backwards and we're warned that our communications will be fouled-up for the duration. Can you explain what effect a retrograde planet has on its interpretation in the natal chart? Does anybody put a special interpretation on retrograde planets in the birth chart or is it one of those things that depends upon the interpreter, sort of like a reversed Tarot card? I'm curious because I have both Jupiter and Saturn retrograde in my natal chart and, interestingly enough, so does my daughter. We also share a Cancer ascendant.
Retrogrades seem to point to the past. A planet, which is a kind of time keeper, appears to move in reverse. This is an illusion based on relative movement, just like when one train passes another and you feel like you're moving in reverse. While the reverse movement is not happening (since both trains are going forward), the feeling is real.
I have worked with a few good theories about retrogrades. When I hear a plausible astrological theory I give it a trial run for a few years and if it seems to help people, I keep using it.
The first comes from an astrologer whose work I admire deeply, Martha Lang Wescott. She suggests that retrograde planets point to certain conditions of childhood wherein we had to turn off a particular energy so as not to threaten our caregivers. For example, if a parent is really threatened by a child's vitality or aggression, we might see that appear as Mars retrograde. Doing astrology, one must work like a detective. The retrograde planet will be in a certain house, and it will rule a house or two -- that is, where we find Aries or Scorpio on the house cusps, the planet will have some information for us about the affairs of that house. Then you need to put it all together. It is usually not that difficult, if you are able to gain some objectivity on your life.
Another theory that is less common but can be very helpful (explained best by a guy named Martin Schulman) is that retrogrades point to past life situations. Now, astrology itself seems to point to past life situations and the existence of past lives; you can see this if you look at charts long enough. How, after all, are human traits distributed so unevenly, yet with such precision? (Okay, the gods are demented, but we already knew that.)
While past lives are not proven, a lot of us have examples and experiences of familiarity with people, talents and events that suggest strongly that something is up. Retrograde planets can point to places where this effect is especially strong. So, look for both talents and hang-ups (unresolved situations) where these planets appear in the chart. These can be fairly extreme -- brilliant gifts and mastery; or extreme difficulties with certain situations that seem to recur.
In the instance of you and your daughter, there is a double parallel: both of you have Saturn retrograde (to give one example) and both of you have Capricorn on your house of partnerships, relationships and marriage. Do you see any parallels between your relationship life and her's? Do you notice an particular attachment to the past, or tradition, or to conservative partners?
If you work with these ideas, you can deduce the message of the retrograde.
One last note. When attempting to get the feel of retrogrades, I suggest you take a look at the secondary progressions. These track the planets at the rate of one day of real time, starting at birth, for each year of life. Hence if you're 30, your secondary progressions are the chart for your 30th day of life. Here is the question to check out: is a planet that's retrograde in the natal chart still retrograde in the progressed chart?
If not, how many days after birth did it go direct? That translates to a year when there was some action, experience or insight around this particular retrograde. Now the same holds true for direct planets, which can turn retrograde by progression.
Interpreting charts is an art and not a science, so you have to look, see, feel and reflect -- and ask people their actual experiences.
Thanks for your insight with this Eric
They have all felt like I had to compromise an aspect of my personality and who I am...and I always feel like I haven't achieved my purpose...like something is missing....and I continue searching. The problem is I don't have a clue what I'm searching for really...except that contentment with myself professionally...and what I do day in and day out. I'd like to look forward to each day, instead of counting the hours until they are done and my life is my own again.
I just finished school for massage therapy. Right now I'm excited about it, but I dread that the old feelings will return and that I will feel like I have hit another dead end. Is this going to be what I have been looking for? Is this my niche in the world? Why do I feel this way?
So tired of this dilemma Eric...
This is not so easy as it sounds, because when we work in the 10th, we must take the risk of being visible, of acquiring actual power, and of making decisions that will have consequences, including for other people. Living in the 10th means not being content with littleness, but then, you're something of a natural leader, so this should not be a problem.
Aquarius on that house, with the Moon of all things present there, tells me that if you're not pursuing a truly humanitarian career, you're unlikely to find it satisfying. This is confirmed by the fact that your Sun, Venus and Mercury are in Cancer, which suggests that you have a deep need to be a supportive person within the human family -- a giver rather than a taker.
But the complication I see involves Mars. We need Mars to get anything done in life: to get to work, to relate to people, to hold our ground, to have sex, to make money. You have Mars in your 12th house. This tells me it's challenging for you to find your initiative. It tells me you may have more initiative in your ideas than in your life.
Mars is passion. I personally think that the key to resolving the kind of dilemma you have is carefully identifying what your passion is and then going in that direction as regards work. What is the one thing in life that you absolutely must do?
That is probably what you need to do, even if you're really scared.
If you're a Cancer, that means you have Saturn near your Sun and that is calling for the kind of mature discussions that two adults have when they are trying to figure out what is right for them together, and as individuals.
So look at these things carefully, and search your life for examples of how you deal or don't deal with the situations that the chart is pointing to.
I also suggest you apply some extremely basic principles of chart interpretation to these planets. You can use these to investigate any planet in the chart. One level of reading astrology is to be methodical. Methodical means using a method, and these are about the oldest in the book.
1. What sign is the planet in, and what is its relationship to that sign? Does it rule that sign, or is it doing something else?
2. What house is ruled by that planet? Let's say we're talking about Venus. If you have Libra on the 2nd house cusp, and Venus in Aries, that points Venus back to the 2nd house. What's the connection to the matters of the 2nd house?
3. What do the aspects tell you? What houses and signs are connected by those aspects and how would you merge those themes and receive a message?
4. Look at the progressions. Have these planets changed signs, and when did that happen? What were the events around the time of the sign change?
I can give an example from my own chart. I happen to have Ceres in the very last degree of Sagittarius, in the 6th house. Ceres, among other things, is about food. It is also about the grief of mothers. I can tell you that my mother was struggling intensely when I was an infant and that food has been a lifelong issue for me, as I have a gluten intolerance. So I must always, constantly, be maintaining a food vigil. Because wheat is put into everything from beer to sausage to sauces to fried fish to soup to bread and pasta, I must constantly be checking the ingredients to everything. This involves the 6th house, health issues, and it's in Sagittarius: it feels a bit like part of my religion.
This food issue involves my mother. I have a theory that it's related to pain she suffered before I was born, and that I used illness as an infant to get her attention. Being vigilant about food certainly does plenty, to the present day, to focus attention on the theme of my nourishment. I can read a food package faster than the scanner can read the bar code. And I am reminded every time I see that planet that, though it was a struggle for certain people to take care of me as an infant, I have to do it very well for myself today.
The turning point is that Venus is about to leave the degrees in which it was retrograde, or to keep things simple, this retrograde happened in Gemini and Venus is about to move into Cancer. I am pretty certain this will come with a sense of relief
Specifically addressing your question of anxiety. This was not an especially comfortable transit for many people. Turning points rarely are, especially where they deal with such personal values as does Venus. Because Venus is so closely associated with our sense of security, I would imagine that a lot of the issues had a lot to do with this.
Venus in Gemini in my view is also an invitation to bring all the deep themes of Venus to the surface or consciousness for discussion: values, money love, sex -- the big taboos, and all closely related in astrology, by the way. These are, unfortunately, the things that we just end not to have very deep or honest conversations about, particularly with the people closest to us. This, in turn, is the cause of great struggle in our relationships, as we don't often known when a fundamental issue of values is beneath a conflict because we've never gotten beneath the conflict.
One of the most unusual, distinctive things about Venus retrograde in the current phase is that Venus has made (or will make) a total of three oppositions to outer planets and galactic points across the sky in Sagittarius, and this is really putting the heat on. For example, over the next few days, Venus will make its third and final opposition to Pluto, and this is a very intense, meaningful meeting. It is a kind of resolution point, and moment of clarity, about all that has transpired this spring and summer.
In other words, that which you are feeling anxiety about may suddenly become apparent. And it may not be what you think! Venus is meeting some powerful forces over the next week, including making an opposition to the center of the Milky Way galaxy, which is a functional astrological stand-in for the idea of God or as some would call it Shamballa, but let's say it's the core of something big, deep and important.
Venus has a lot to do with relationships -- and these relationships are, one by one, coming into focus. I'll come back to this theme in August, when we have a bit more of a sense of how things have worked out.
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