2020 Retrogrades - Necessary Detours

Updated: Feb 23

If you change the way you look at things

The things you look at change

Wayne Dyer

“We're not on our journey to save the world but to save ourselves. But in doing that you save the world. The influence of a vital person vitalizes.” ― Joseph Campbell

When a planet moves retrograde, it appears to be moving back over territory it had has already traversed. It cues us to do the same. Living in western 21st century culture, productivity is a predominant value, spawning a lifestyle where we are encouraged to constantly move forward, make progress, and are rewarded for achievement. Yet in the cycles of life, we see ebbs and flows, summer and winter, day and night, activity and rest. Retrogrades herald periods of time that invite us to press the pause button on the neverending drive to make things happen, get things done and get on with it - and turn our attention to something else.


The Invitation of a Retrograde


During retrograde cycles our attention turns inward. We become more reflective. We embark on an journey that takes us beyond the world of dimension, as into the forest of myth. Schedules, timelines and the predictable road forward is discarded momentarily as we elect, willingly or not, to take the detour where we encounter an unknown landscape and destination. To the degree we welcome the unknown, is the degree we can revel in a given retrograde phase. It is a process of inner expansion with reduced focus on achievement in the world, but it what we discover can lead to shifts and expansion in our worldly efforts when the retrograde phase is over.


During retrograde cycles, we evaluate plans and contemplate what is missing in our lives. We have the space to tweak or adjust our approach so that when we move forward again, we are better aligned to have our endeavors be successful. We grant ourselves time to catch up with ourselves and bring our life current – whether it’s the letter that needs writing, the closet that wants to be cleaned out, or the repairs to the house that have been wanting to be done. We take time to journal, meditate, or take walks in the woods. We look to engaging in activities that create renewal, fresh perspective and a readiness to dive back into fray of what we want to achieve at the end of the retrograde cycle.


Sometimes, if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to be known. Pooh

When Things Go Awry


Chances are we have all heard someone speak of retrogrades with trepidation, as though they are periods of time where we mischief is afoot and we can expect life to go off the rails and not as planned. This is possible to the extent that we ignore the invitation to take the detour offered. By pressing forward, identifying satisfaction with making things happen and moving plans forward on a designated timeline, we leave the door open for mischief.


When the computer stops working, the meeting is canceled, our car breaks down, or a flight is delayed, we are being given a gentle, or not so gentle, nudge. It is not that the universe is being unsupportive of our plans. It is more that we are being cued that something else is possible at this time that has nothing to do with making things happen (decisions, purchases, agreements, marketing...). There is the opportunity to get off the highway, slow down, and take the scenic route. It is about listening to what is wanting to happen and not what we have determined will happen. It cues us to be curious about what we do not yet know, rather than march staunchly forward with what we do know.


How Often Retrogrades Happen


Through the course of a year, it is more notable to have a window of time where there are no retrogrades. In essence, we are in a perpetual dance between contemplation and action, known and unknown, throughout the year.


That said, there is a big difference between the retrograde cycle of the slower moving outer planets and the faster moving planets that are closer to the Sun and Earth.


Using the analogy of a car traveling down the highway, Mercury is in the fast lane traveling over the speed limit. If we were sitting half asleep in the backseat of the Mercury car and experienced this car suddenly slowing down and launching into reverse, we would feel a jolt and perhaps a mild sense of alarm. We would open our eyes, sit up and wonder what the heck is going on.


In comparison, Pluto moves at a glacial pace. Continuing the same analogy, the Pluto car moves at a pace of a car idling (without the brake on) which is around 10 miles an hour. If we were half asleep in the back seat of the Pluto car and it were to slow to a stop and back up, we may not even notice. Yes, it has reversed direction, but it doesn’t produce the same kind of jolt or potential confusion as we re-orient to what is taking place.


The outer planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto) are each retrograde roughly half of the year. Energetically, we are familiar with the experience of these planets in retrograde. Their retrogrades are part of our annual rhythm. Because they are retrograde with familiarity and consistency, on a subconscious level we more readily adjust to their moments.


There are astrologers that find significance in these planets stationing retrograde or direct. My experience is that an outer planet retrograde is big deal for us as individuals when we have a planet in our natal chart that is within a degree of the outer planet stationing retrograde or direct. Then, the retrograde cycle is activating our own natal potential in a significant way. What I have seen is that the influence of the retrograde of an outer planet has less impact on the collective and is more apparent and influential when it interacts directly with the chart of a person, place, or country (ie, the Sibly chart of the United States).


So, if we take the outer planet retrogrades off the table when discussing what periods of the year we are looking at taking a step back from worldly activity, we are down to three planets: Mercury, Venus and Mars.


Mercury has 3 retrograde cycles annually

Roughly every 3 months we have a 3-week period of Mercury being retrograde. This means 9 weeks of every year Mercury is retrograde. Most of us don’t have the luxury of stopping the forward movement of our lives for 9 weeks of every year. So the question becomes more how to move in a good way with this.


Successful businesses build processes into each year where periods of time are dedicated to performance evaluations, an annual budget process, strategic planning and meetings to tweak implementation benchmarks. Just as successful businesses have built evaluation and review into the flow of a year, we can build the same kind of process into ours by being mindful of when Mercury is retrograde, which support activities that ensure future success by allocating time to sort, evaluate and do housecleaning. The activities often can not be quantified in terms of dollars made, but can be pointed to when expansion and growth happen as a result of the time taken.


A Venus or a Mars retrograde each has their own cycle, but they are not part of every year, so it is not part of our annual rhythm. It can be argued that because there is a rhythm to the Mercury Retrograde as something we can expect every 3 months for 3 weeks, and so we have a way of moving with it, consciously or subconsciously.


Venus and Mars are unique in their retrograde cycles because they occur less frequently. Referring back to the analogy of the car on the highway, a Venus car and a Mars car both move in the fast lane, and so their movement retrograde can feel like an unexpected jolt. In 2020, we will experience both a Venus and a Mars Retrograde.


Notable Retrogrades for 2020


To begin, all planets have been in forward motion the last several weeks, and with a preponderance of planets in cardinal and earth signs, January coming into February has been marked with dynamic action, taking initiative and a drive to get things done. And then on February 16, we encounter the first retrograde of the year.

2020 Mercury Retrogrades


February 16 – March 10 / 12 Pisces to 28 Aquarius

June 18 – July 12 / 14 Cancer to 5 Cancer

October 13 – November 3 / 11 Scorpio to 25 Libra


And into

the forest I go

To lose my mind

And find my soul.

John Muir


When looking the Mercury Retrograde cycles for 2020, a theme emerges when we contemplate that each retrograde begins in water signs. Two of these retrogrades begin in a water sign and then move back into an air sign before going direct again, which also tells us something.


The water element is associated with feeling. As Mercury is the activity of the mind, its nature is logical and objective. The retrogrades introduce the intuitive and the irrational, where rational thinking takes a backseat.


Water is naturally reflective and responsive. When Mercury is in a water sign, our thinking becomes more empathic, open to nuance, inspiration, and the creative. We have an enhanced sensitivity to people and the world around and what is being communicated through a language of feeling and connection. Logic, definition, and level-headed thinking tends to get muddied when immersed in the fluidity of water.


While our thinking may become confused during these retrograde cycles, there is a marvelous and welcome opportunity in this. We swim in a culture of the mind being dissociated from the body, with thinking divorced from feeling. More and more the mind is valued for its capacity to operate like a computer. There is reward and cultural advancement for those who can function like a well-oiled machine. The thing is, we are not machines. Yielding to cultural pressure, we can feel the need to mask or minimize our humanness, as if it were a liability. Yet it is in our vulnerability, feelings, needs and what we long for that gives us our humanity and opens us to a multi-dimensional way of experiencing ourselves and life. The power of the ego mind is to devalue and distance itself from the full range of our humanity.


The hold of the ego mind loses some of its strangehold during the 2020 Mercury Retrogrades. To the degree we are identified with and rely on our ego mind, we may find the retrograde periods a truly confusing time, as if we are walking in a fog unable to rely on the clear thinking we are used to having.


The key to reveling in the Mercury Retrograde is to allow our mind to open to something beyond itself, beyond functioning like a computer of data to store, reference and spit out at a moments notice. Instead, we can imagine our mind more like a radio receiver, able to tune into different frequencies.


If we quiet the left brain and heed the call of Mercury Retrograde,

we may hear the heartbeat of the earth,

the whispering of trees, or the song of our heart.

We may perceive the fragility and beauty of life,

be inspired by the flight of a bird, or tuned into the cosmic dance of creation.

Our thinking becomes poetic, infused with

the miracle of what is all around us that we have forgotten to notice.


To meet the great opportunity available, we need to minimize the constant urge to fill our days with activities that have us feel productive. We need to step out of the rat race, the perpetual drive to get things done, and spend time sitting on the porch or by a fire. We need to walk in the woods or meditate by a river. In so doing, the mind opens to the ecstatic dance of creation and our part in it, recognizing we are not separate and life is so much more than we have ever imagined it is.


Then…for two of the Mercury Retrogrades, Mercury moves back into air signs. The element air is associated with thinking, with rational thought. If we have moved with Mercury’s passage through the watery terrain, we can then shape a vision, a plan, or articulate a viewpoint from an inspired place, where the mind has been infused with something much larger than itself, and our thinking in the wake of the Mercury Retrograde is out of the box, expanded, and able to incorporate larger and larger designs into its perspective.


As with all Mercury Retrogrades,

We can reap the benefits of what is offered when we

  • Slow Down

  • Be Suspect of Any Decision that Feels Urgent to Make

  • Dedicate time to Re-view, Re-treat, Re-evaluate

  • Refrain from a impulse purchase. We may wake up a few days later regretting having made it.

  • If decisions need to be made – and some may very well be - take the time to contemplate options, gather information and do the due diligence, and then chances are it will be successful.


**To Read More on the Mercury Retrograde 2/16 - 3/9, click here **



Venus Retrograde


May 13 – June 25 / 21 -2 degrees Gemini

April 10 – August 9 Venus will be in the sign of Gemini


The more we value things

The less we value ourselves

Bruce Lee


We experience a Venus Retrograde very 18 months. Venus is our values and what gives us pleasure. The pleasure spoken of here, is the pleasure of living our values, yielding deep satisfaction and increased sense of self worth.


When Venus moves Retrograde, we may feel the pull to take a break from relationship and interaction with others. We benefit from creating some distance to contemplate how our lives reflect our values and where they fall short, or we can be on the receiving end of someone doing this in relation to us.


We undertake this retreat to better feel our own motivations, longings, and needs. We look at how we have perhaps devalued ourselves in favor of compromising or settling, believing it’s the best that could happen given the circumstances - but now something is missing. We may feel more disgruntled and less satisfied in our relationships, our work or life situation. It is beneficial to take a step back, to remember our core values and use them as a rudder to guide us on how to shift dynamics so our values are better represented and incorporated into our lives.


Venus is Values and What we Assign Value

Venus reflects our self worth. We can get easily side-tracked in modern culture to measuring our value by our net worth. Substituting the owning of things for low self esteem, rarely has one feel more secure, or enhances one self value if it isn’t already there in the first place..


Venus is about resources (ie oil, gas, water, possessions, real estate and currency) During her retrograde, we may look at the the role of money, evaluating the substance of the attention we have been giving it. We may weigh how much attention we give to money juxtaposed to how much we give to what we value that does not have a dollar sign attached to them. During the retrograde period we may very well be going over budgets and investments. With shared assets, we may find ourselves contemplating how our values may differ from the values of a partner in how decisions are made about them.


With Venus in Gemini, Information is a Valued Resource

We will desire a greater exchange of information, avenues to communicate, to learn and means to have enriching dialogue with others. Time is held as a treasured and valuable resource -especially unstructured time to play, explore, do something that breaks from routine.


In our relationships, we can look to ways we can step beyond the predictable and what we have come to expect of the other. As stabilizing and assuring as this is, we are wanting to spice things up with new activities or different types of conversations.


In the name of having fun or doing something new, we need to watch impulse purchases. Venus in Gemini can awaken the spendthrift in us.


May 13, the day Venus turns Retrograde, she will be square to Neptune. This indicates we will be feeling stress in our relationships. As we ponder what is missing in the relationship, we need to strongly consider where we are expecting too much of others. Our ideas around romance are not realistic, and we need to evaluate if we are setting ourselves up to fail, or if we are putting too much pressure on another to meet our needs. The dilemma becomes how to want more in our relationship than is showing up and yet not have the other person feel that they are simply not enough,or could ever be enough for us. We have the opportunity discover a new way to be nurtured and have the other person in the relationship feel nurtured (Venus conjunct the North Node).


June 25, the day Venus turns Direct, she will be trine to Saturn. Emerging from the retrograde, we will be prepared to create new and realistic agreements in our relationships. There is also a good chance we will feel a readiness to sacrifice ourselves, in a good way, for the benefit of those we love. We realize that relationships take dedication and wholehearted commitment. If we have determined a relationship is worthy, we will be ready to have the conversations needed and the willingness to commit our time, energy, heart to making it work. Jupiter and Pluto are in exact conjunction on this day, which happens once every 13 years or so, only fueling our willingness to do what it takes to make a relationship work if we have determined that it one we value.

Mars Retrograde


September 7 – November 13

Mars in the sign of Aries from June 28, 2020 - January 5, 2021


“We must be willing to let go

of the life we planned

so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”

Joseph Campbell


Mars is the least happy of all the planets when it encounters a retrograde cycle. Mars is action. Mars is forward motion. Mars is passion.


For Mars to slow down, come to a standstill, and then go over the same terrain that he has already traversed, creates pent up, sometimes intense, frustration. When this happens, we may be tempted to blow off steam or make a rash decision as a way to reduce the internal pressure. But the release tends to be short lived and tends to create more trouble than it solved.


Mars is in Aries for the upcoming retrograde cycle, in the most dynamic, spontaneous, passionate of signs. In Aries, Mars is the the warrior and pioneer, moving on instinct, ready to fight the good fight. While retrograde, we will each grapple with a fiery and fighting spirit ignited within us that has no clear pathway to being fully expressed and released.


What makes this Mars retrograde especially volatile is that Mars is square Jupiter, Pluto, and Saturn. Jupiter/Saturn/Pluto traveling together in Capricorn this year is about dynamic change and at a fundamental level. We will feel a strong desire and readiness to make something happen, and yet something will either be delayed or even stalled out. We may need to go back over plans, or have conversations we thought were already complete. It is like trying to slow down a locomotive train, and yet that is what is happening. If we can trust that we are being slowed down for a good reason and that patience, collaboration and contemplation are warranted for a good movement forward, we can reap the rewards of this transit and find ourselves grateful for how we were realigned by being slowed down.


It is noteworthy that the U.S. Presidential Election will occur while Mars is Retrograde and the day Mercury is ending its retrograde. This would indicate some confusion around election results.


Mars will be in Aries June 28 – January 5, 2021

Typically Mars is in a sign for 2 months, but with the retrograde cycle, Mars will remain in Aries for the entire second half of 2020. We will be fired up. Mars in Aries for an extended period will serve to strengthen our courage, our boldness, our willingness to take a risk, to initiate and to fight for what we most want. It does come into a hard and stressful aspect with Jupiter, Pluto and Saturn several times during these months, notably September 29 when it squares Saturn, October 9 when it squares Pluto, and November 12 when it squares Jupiter/Pluto .


The end result of Mars' sojourn through Aries and coming up against three giants whose agenda is the restructuring of the status quo, is to stoke our inner fire so we are able to take bold action when the retrograde cycle completes.


Because we will all be in the Mars Retrograde together, we can recognize that everyone is feeling some level of frustration and make extra efforts to be considerate. We may find ourselves on the receiving end of someone who is erupting or making some rash and impulsive choice. Our world leaders will be prone to this type of behavior and may create situations that create further stress for us all. Still, our work is to be with the cauldron happening with us. If we can feel that the heat and intensity are necessary ingredients for a transformation that is coming, than we can move with this energy in a beautiful way.


The key to handling this transit isn’t to sit on our energy, though. If we just sit on the couch or disappear into a computer game, we may numb it for a moment, but then implode in the next. Finding defined clear tasks that require focus, discipline and tenacity help to channel the Aries Mars. Mars in Aries resists being harnessed, and yet the harness is beneficial for the passion to find a constructive outlet and not just burn down the house.


In Summary, 2020 is a year that promises dynamic change with Pluto, Jupiter, and Saturn traveling together in Capricorn. Uranus is also in an earth sign reinforcing that there is structural and transformative change that is to happen in relation to the physical shape of our lives and our lives on planet earth. The preponderance of retrogrades this year speaks to the need to periodically step back during the course of the year to evaluate, to welcome the unknown and what it has to reveal to us, and to nourish the inner realm as much as the worldly one.


To best understand how the retrogrades will show up for us in our lives, pay attention to the house that the retrograde planet is occupying in our natal chart. This will provide clues as to the types of activities and areas of life that will be most influenced.


Mercury Retrograde and You!

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So that you thrive, not just survive, the retrograde experience from February 16 - March 9.


To book your session, email Liv at livwoodford@livbydesignastrology.com

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