Your Guide To Every Single Planetary Retrograde

Even if you don't read your horoscope regularly, you've probably heard it before: Something mild goes wrong (an important call is dropped, a scheduled delivery arrives late), which prompts someone in the astrological know to say, "Mercury must be retrograde."

In other words, the planet Mercury has begun its regular period in which it appears to move backward in the sky, which in astrological circles is received as a time when matters of communication, logistics, and information are thrown into peril. After all, those are the areas of life that Mercury rules, so they're turned topsy-turvy when it seems to move in reverse.


Of course, every planet in our solar system undergoes retrograde periods — we're lucky enough to experience seven of them this past summer alone — and each one affects us a little differently.

We asked astrologer Amy Tripp what we can expect from each planet when it hits its backspin. While some retrogrades may seem like nothing but bad news, each one offers us an opportunity to grow and learn something new about ourselves — once we're done complaining about the retrograde, that is.

Here, with Tripp's help, we'll walk you through every planetary retrograde, from their effects to their (approximate) lengths and frequencies, plus how you can deal the next time they come around.

Mercury Retrograde
Frequency: Three times a year
Length: Three weeks

We alluded to Mercury's retrograde effects already, and Tripp adds travel issues, misunderstandings, and technological mishaps to the list. She explains that Mercury retrogrades like to penalize us for doing any formal decision-making or contract-signing during them, and that they make us more prone to accidents and mistakes.

How to handle it: "Return to anything you’ve already begun and fine tune it or close it out," Tripp says.
Venus Retrograde
Frequency: Every 18 months
Length: Six weeks

When the planet of love and beauty hits a retrograde, all we can say is guard your heart, stargazers. "There is a greater potential for misunderstandings in partnerships," Tripp explains, adding that these periods can call the state of your relationship and your approach to self-presentation into question. The temptation to be reckless in love and in your appearance (please, no spur-of-the-moment body piercings during a Venus retrograde) is strong.

How to handle it: "Assess what is really important to you and what it is you truly value in your life and relationships," Tripp says. "It’s also a time when you can go back to old relationships and gain closure."
Mars Retrograde
Frequency: Every 26 months
Length: 55 to 80 days

When it's direct, the red planet is our source of action, passion, and drive — when it's retrograde, Tripp says to prepare for low energy and decreased motivation. "Projects could stall [or] lose momentum, and there may be major delays in getting what you want," she says, pointing out that, yes, this tends to be rather frustrating.

How to handle it: "Reflect on the way you take action to get what you want and begin planning for projects to be initiated after Mars is direct," Tripp says. "If you’ve been pushing yourself too hard, this can be a time to give your body rest."
Jupiter Retrograde
Frequency: Once a year
Length: 120 days

Where Mars retrogrades put our outward-facing lives into slow motion, Jupiter retrogrades tend to have a similar effect on our inner selves. "Outward expression of enthusiasm and optimism may be more subdued, but still present," Tripp explains. Luckily, these periods are well-suited for gradually reevaluating your faith and reminding yourself of where your wisdom lies.

How to handle it: "Reflect and gain deeper insights on your beliefs, philosophy, moral code," Tripp says.
Saturn Retrograde
Frequency: Once a year
Length: 140 days

The planet of discipline, tradition, and long-term progress is fittingly known for its tough retrogrades — periods that often urge us to address undesirable yet necessary tasks and obligations that we've been putting off. "Often old responsibilities must be completed before moving forward," Tripp says, adding that you might want to avoid taking on new work or changing careers while the ringed planet is retrograde.

How to handle it: "Review commitments, professional goals, and ambitions. Assess yourself and the structures in your life," Tripp says.
Uranus Retrograde
Frequency: Once a year
Length: 148 days

When direct, this oddball planet is known to shake things up and prompt major changes on a global scale. When it hits a retrograde, Uranus urges us to undergo an inner revolution. Your rebellious nature may break through. You may tap into a part of yourself you've kept hidden. You may adopt a new perspective through which to view the world.

How to handle it: "Reflect on your independence, personal freedom, and truth," Tripp says.
Neptune Retrograde
Frequency: Once a year
Length: 150 days

"This is a very difficult retrograde to grasp," Tripp says. Simply put, Neptune, the planet of dreams, imagination, and creativity, asks us to nurture those very things during its retrograde periods, which can be tricky if you don't care much about your dreams and prefer thinking practically to abstractly.

How to handle it: "This is a favorable time for reviewing unconscious feelings — especially where we are sacrificing too much...or are being deceived or deceptive," Tripp says. "This is also a good time to strengthen [your] imagination."
Pluto Retrograde
Frequency: Once a year
Length: Five to six months

Pluto may be small and (very, very) far from Earth, but it still has a major influence on us, as it rules large-scale transformations, rebirth, and how power manifests in our lives. Of course, these forces don't come to our attention as often as, say, communication, so the effects of Pluto's retrogrades are definitely subtler than those of Mercury's. Simply, these periods arrive to highlight where you may need to change, adjust, or, yes, transform.

How to handle it: "[Look] within and find hidden sources of power and inner strength that furthers goals"
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