I truly believe there are good uses for everything the heavens offer us. At a personal level, the stars are neutral: it’s what we put into them as individuals that matters rather than whatever challenging collective events they also coincidentally reflect.

But it is equally true that some times seem more difficult than others. So are the current skies. Wouldn’t you be surprised if it was otherwise?

The bigger celestial players speak symbolically of extreme evolutionary pressures for radical re-configuration of our life-supporting structures. Extreme stress in heavens reflect the same on earth and we only have tune into our favorite media stream to learn how the front lines and those most afflicted are deep in the fray, heroism and grind of the Covid-19 war. Those of us more privileged have other choices for putting this “season” with all its nuances to good use in our own personal bubbles.

Within heavier celestial hitters reflecting our current heavy context, 2020 is a year full of retrogrades – an important clue in determining a response. Retrograde suggests a need to take a step back and re-examine. In this edition, I’m focusing on the dance of two “swingers” backwards during the northern hemisphere spring and early summer, with Mercury beginning as Venus ends:

  • Venus is retrograde in Gemini from May 13-14 to June 18-19.
  • Mercury is retrograde in Cancer from June 17-18 to July 25-26.

Some believe that the entirety of these cycles is more than retrograde duration of it: the “pre” shadow when the planet begins crossing the degrees it will retrograde over later and the “post” shadow from after it begins to go forward to when the planet crosses those same degrees again . By that logic, the Venus retrograde cycle really began on April 9-10 and will end July 29-30, with Mercury’s contained within it June 2-3 to July 26-27.

Also during this period are the three northern hemisphere spring and summer eclipses: lunar – June 5-6 in Sagittarius; solar – June 21-22 in Cancer on what astrologers call the world axis; and, finally, another lunar – July 4-5 in Capricorn. Eclipses often accompany periods of high drama and the release of pent up energy. Combined it’s a time when much may be raked up to the surface.

Venus and Mercury are “swingers” because they can’t stray far from the the Sun as their orbits are inside ours. From our perspective, they literally swing back and forth as they accompany the Sun through its yearly cycle through the signs.

Mercury retrograde 1  is the better known example of the dance backwards: a planetary star appearing to stop its forward movement through the Zodiac, go backwards for a distance, stop again, and then proceed forwards as it normally does.

But all the planets do it.2 The planets Jupiter and out go retrograde for a time each year. But the ones symbolizing interpersonal channels are less regular (Mars retrograde every two years and Venus retrograde every 18 months) or occur more regularly (Mercury retrograde three  – sometimes four! –  times a year).

It’s part of the cycle that we see directly if we observed planetary movements from the perspective of earth. Part of what can make retrograde periods so difficult is our culture’s problem with the symbolism of it.

Our bias is always that moving forward is a good thing. Going backwards is seen as undesirable. The line must always go as close to straight up as possible. Circumstances that thwart this condition frustrate the achievement of our ego-driven desires. Since the dawn of the modern era, unending progress has been the expectation. We don’t like be driven into the past.

Even the astrological literature has not escaped this bias. For example, some astrologers assert that if you happen to be born with a retrograde planet, it indicates bad karma incurred in a previous lifetime.

My view is the skies suggest something else: there’s a time for every purpose under heaven. All astrological indicators can at least in potential reflect possible positive uses, including at time when planets are retrograde. There are times for: net-mending, rather than fishing; and, letting fields lie fallow, rather than seeding them for new crops. Retrograde times are for reflection and recovery and they are an absolutely necessary part of life.

Very generally:

  1. Venus, like the Ancient Greek and Roman love goddess attributed to this planetary star, symbolizes beauty, art, harmony, romance, refinement, relating, the senses, gentleness, tenderness, sensuality, pleasure, treasure, and the power to bring things and people together personally and socially.Venus retrograde is a time for re-evaluating what you’ve attracted into your life in terms of resources and relationships.
  2. Mercury, like the Ancient Greek and Roman messenger god attributed to this planetary star, symbolizes mind and its dexterity, verbalization and naming, intelligence, thoughts, reason, logic, ideas, speech, observation, speed, mediation, commerce, and the capacity to apply spin or an arrangement to any given set of facts.Mercury retrograde is a time for re-thinking your agenda, commerce, connections, knowledge, and personal inventiveness.

Anticipate delays! Anticipate interruptions! But also anticipate opportunities to indulge a distraction dear to you. Mercury and Venus projects are about intelligence and beauty: so weave a basket, plant a garden, build an elegant spreadsheet, or make advances on a side hustle or interest that gives you satisfaction. Such projects are great when communications go down and/or normal connections fail. If of course you’re not busy providing intelligent interactions on the front line!

Our difficulties with these retrogrades of these two interpersonal planets lies less in the stars, but more in ourselves. They are times for review when it’s better to avoid starting something new if you can or if you must, at least recognize there’s more to come with the story. Whatever new concerns surface, they require careful research before taking action. Even then, leave yourself a lot of leeway and build for the possibility that the nature of the concern could shift when the retrograde is over. Count on revisions being necessary later.

The quality of a retrograde varies based on what signs of the Zodiac a planetary star is in when they execute this backwards dance. Venus retrograde in the Mercury ruled sign Gemini may have a Mercury retrograde quality; Mercury retrograde in the Moon ruled sign Cancer suggests all what I have written generally elsewhere about the phenomenon, but specifically in terms of family and feeling based communication. It suggests a time of heavy nostalgia, for good or ill.

Select your horoscope below. Or to rview all 12 on one page, go here.


1. Technically, the phrase “Mercury in Retrograde” is not correct as any qualified astrologer will tell you. A planet is in a sign and its motion is retrograde.?

2. For convenience sake, the Sun and Moon are often called “planets” by astrologers, but from ancient times, they have been understood to be in a class of their own known as the lights or luminaries: nocturnal (Moon) and diurnal (Sun). The fact that they never go retrograde is a distinguishing feature, along with their visible size and brightness.?