Retrograde series 2013-2014

In a highly unusual pattern of retrogrades we saw from late 2011 until mid 2013 a pattern of retrogrades (planets moving backwards) involving Mars, Venus and Jupiter that was interlinked and repeatedly touched upon key parts of the skies, pressing home a message about our personal lives, our relationships and the communities and societies we live in. This was reinforced by repeating aspect patterns driving home the same message time and again and supported by eclipses which were involved in this same set of influences.

We are now (March 2013) moving into another phase of influence, once again involving those same planets moving backwards over key parts of the skies, and once again driving home a message with repeated contact to key places in the sky and particular aspects. It is significant that these retrogrades will happen in reverse order from the ones we have just had and it is also significant that just as the last retrograde series took place in mutable (changeable energy) signs the coming ones take place in cardinal signs. This shift from mutable to cardinal energy is important – the past months have opened us to new possibilities, awakened a desire for change, an ability to see that things might be difference, and an urge to experience what that change might be. The cardinal energy consolidates, makes manifest – you wanted to find out what might be on the other side of those changes, now you get to taste it for real. Cardinal energy is sure unto itself, it is what it is so definitely that it can recognise no other way of being – while fixed energy recognises other possibilities and is determined to resist them and mutable energies welcome a change, cardinal energies are not open to other possibilities, they are too involved in being what they are as purely and as powerfully as possible. These coming retrogrades will not change the quality of this energy, but they will force a real, deep exploration of exactly what the quality of that energy is. The retrograde movements will bring self-knowledge and awareness like nothing else – and whether you like it or not!

The difference between cardinal, fixed and mutable energies is seen in the move from one season to the next. Cardinal energies are that season at it's freshest, but definitely not the season before. Fixed energies are the season at it's height, just about to turn and mutable energies are the season as it turns from one into another

The difference between cardinal, fixed and mutable energies is seen in the move from one season to the next. Cardinal energies are that season at it’s freshest, but definitely not the season before. Fixed energies are the season at it’s height, just about to turn and mutable energies are the season as it turns from one into another.

What is more, this coming series of retrogrades will interact strongly with the ongoing cardinal square being formed between Uranus and Pluto, ramping up the challenge to our sense of self that comes from the status quo and the demands that are put upon us by society. We may be confronted by realisations of our own selfishness, self-centredness, tendency to portray ourselves as martyrs or as victims and so on. At the same time we will be able to get insights to our own unique contribution to the world and to those we care about and live with – cardinal signs rule those parts of the horoscope associated with self, parents, partners and authorities. This is about those relationships that form the basic structure of our lives with others and we are to offered an opportunity to really understand what this means to us on a very deep level. Any changes that have been made over the preceding months of mutable retrogrades crystallises over the coming months and forms the structure of our lives going forward. The time is past for making big changes to these things, the task now is to understand and to make them work – and if they are not quite what we hoped for, then tough, we need to make the most of it.

This cycle begins at the end of March with the beginning of the next Venus retrograde cycle at the superior conjunction. In fact you can see the Venus cycle as beginning with either the superior conjunction (when Venus is moving forwards) or the inferior conjunction (when Venus is moving backwards). In this case the superior conjunction falls in a cardinal sign and is conjunct Uranus and so playing into the cardinal square and so sets the scene perfectly for the coming series of cardinal retrogrades. Plus the fact that the energy of the coming series is cardinal – it is what it is, this series is not a time for setting new things in motion, it is a time for seeing, understanding and working with results so fits more with the energy of the superior conjunction. Looking at the chart for the superior conjunction we can see it is a powerfully charged chart:

Venus SC 2013

First of all there is the superior conjunction in an exact conjunction with Uranus at 8˚+ Aries – this is revolutionary, explosive, raw energy that can easily bring out the petulance of Venus as demands are made of her and can just as easily bring out reactions from others who object to her selfishness and demand that they are also paid attention to. This is by no means an easy energy, it is a clash of egos – the question is, can we get them to work together, hence making the next few months more cooperative and constructive? Or will they lock horns and each insist on their own way, thus making the next few months obstructive, frustrating and aggressive? We will see – and we will each come to know and understand our own approach as these patterns play out over the coming months.

The superior conjunction also forms a double interlocking yod with the ongoing yod that has Jupiter at its apex and Saturn and Pluto at its base. The superior conjunction works with Jupiter to form a base for the energies of Saturn, himself moving retrograde in Scorpio and digging deep into psychological and political motivations and the way power is used in our lives. The coming months may well see uncomfortable truths coming to light and are also likely to come with energies that are difficult to balance and make the most of. In this formation the energies of the superior conjunction work with or against the energies of Pluto in Capricorn – we either work creatively with the social structures around us, or we kick against them and find them domineering and authoritarian. It is the energies of Jupiter and Saturn that are difficult to get to work together and that is the greatest challenge of this formation – to find a way that the deep-digging of Saturn can be effectively communicated by the far sighted Jupiter in Gemini. If we bring these energies together effectively then we can learn and teach great lessons about the nature of power as it works in our personal and social lives. If we can’t we will find ourselves subject to that power but unable to influence it in any way that feels constructive or useful.

Aristotle - teacher of Alexander the Great and example of the Saturnine demanding instructor and the more Jupiter influence of the philosopher working together

Aristotle – teacher of Alexander the Great and example of the Saturnine demanding instructor and the more Jupiter influence of the philosopher working together

Another significant feature of the superior conjunction chart is that a cardinal, Libra Moon, moving away from the full moon of the day before, now forms an intense Thor’s Hammer with Jupiter and Chiron. This is a powerful energy indeed – the Jupiter/Chiron square has been a very important part of the mutable retrograde series, urging us to find a better way forward bringing together our spiritual and social lives and getting rid of structures, behaviours and beliefs that do not help these two work together. Normally a transit of the Moon would be just a passing thing, perhaps not even felt very strongly by many people, but here it’s energy is set into that of the superior conjunction and so it too influences the coming months. This Thor’s Hammer configuration (I have written a little more about this aspect in this earlier post) smashes through whatever it comes into contact with and here it is smashing through any lingering attachments to religious or other social structures which don’t support our spiritual development. This smashing through may be positive, or it may be so violent as to be destructive, but the hammer is in motion and over the coming months we see where it falls and with what kind of force. The question left for us to answer is how we deal with the result.

Mars cycle

Not long after the Venus superior conjunction we also get the beginning of the next Mars cycle as Mars conjuncts the Sun, also in cardinal Aries, at 28+degrees on the 18th April. The chart for this cycle is less tense than the one for the Venus cycle, however, this is only a good thing if we are able to manage our Mars energies effectively, if we are not the tendency can be for mars to operate without restraint ultimately damaging ourselves and others. At the start of the cycle Mars and the Sun are at the midpoint between Jupiter and Chiron – indicating two possibilities; either we find a way to bring together the demands of Jupiter and Chiron, the need for spiritual healing taking some kind of social, visible form, and express it in a personal and active way. Or our ego desires take the upper hand and prevent a balance being struck, instead channelling the energies into a selfish drive for personal gain.

The Moon in Cancer is moving into a square with the Sun/Mars conjunction indicating stresses and pressures from family, women and home. This will either help to keep those Mars energies in check, or it will lead to arguments and flare-ups as the very vital and forceful Mars/Sun energies resent any other demands being placed upon them.

Mars Sun 2013


The retrograde phases themselves

Jupiter 10 – 20 Cancer

In August Jupiter moves into his shadow, in Cancer, in opposition to Pluto and square to Uranus. This retrograde phase will see Jupiter move forwards to 20+deg Cancer and then back to 10+degrees with the opposition to the Sun happening early in January 2014 at 16+degrees Cancer. This retrograde phase will focus on issues related to Cancer – home, family, security – and the balance we have in our lives between that and our work, career and ambitions. We will come to understand more about how we might have favoured one more than the other, and what that means in terms of our relationships with those who have some kind of authority iover us and those who have some kind of emotional pull for us. It is also very much related to issues about parenting and we are likely to find out a lot about the impact our parents had on us, the impact we have on our own children and the ways we live out patterns that have been unconsciously adopted since our early years.

I will write in more details about each of the retrogrades and add in links, but for now it is worth looking at the headlines of the Sabian symbols for the Jupiter retrograde:

The Jupiter shadow and station direct degree is 10+ Cancer:


KEYNOTE: The value of humor in developing objectivity and independence of mind.

This is considered a DECONDITIONING step.

The Jupiter station retrograde and exiting shadow degree is 20+ Cancer:


KEYNOTE: The emotional reward accompanying cultural excellence.

Maria Callas - icon, beauty and expressive genius of the operatic stage

Maria Callas – icon, beauty and expressive genius of the operatic stage

And between the two, the opposition to the Sun and the point at which greatest illumination can be found is at 16+ Cancer/Capricorn:


KEYNOTE: The life urge to actualize one’s birth potential.



KEYNOTE: The escape from bondage to social inhibitions and a reliance upon the wisdom of the body.

You can read more about the Sabian Symbols here.

All in all the Jupiter retrograde promises to bring a depth of understanding to received patterns of behaviour and the ways we manage to deal with or transcend them. We can come to have greater understanding of what has influenced us and how we influence others and where and how we are unconsciously repeating patterns whether helpful and healthy or not.

Venus 13 – 28 Capricorn

Before Jupiter completes his retrograde phase Venus moves into her shadow and starts her own retrograde phase in opposition to him. She enters her shadow on the 20th November at 13+ Capricorn, opposing Jupiter on the 28th at 19+ Capricorn. She turns retrograde on the 21st December at 28+ Capricorn, moving back to form the inferior conjunction with the Sun on the 11th January at 21+ Capricorn.

Again, I will write in more detail about this, but the headline Sabian Symbols have a lot to offer in the first instance. The symbol for the degree at which Venus enters her shadow and later turns forwards after her retrograde journey is:


KEYNOTE: The will to unearth, in our culture as well as in any culture, what has permanent value, and to let go of nonessentials.

I particularly like this symbol as part of the Venus retrograde series as it reminds me of the ancient bas-relief sculptures of Ishtar/Astarte/Lilith and the accompanying stories of the goddess’s descent into the underworld that is so central to the Venus Retrograde story.


Venus’s opposition to Jupiter – and a key point for illumination in terms of understanding the tensions inherent in these retrogrades and the pull between obligation and desire, self and others, home and public that is such a central theme to these retrogrades and the cardinal square in general – has the following symbols associated with it which indicates groups in opposition to one another, possibly at cross purposes to one another, but ine activity many ways engaged in exactly the same activity. Venus gets:


KEYNOTE: The fulfillment of the individual’s creative function through his participation in a group performance consecrated to a transcendent realization of unity.

With Jupiter at:


KEYNOTE: Happiness as an overtone of social integration and conformity to custom.

In the Cadiz Carnival rival choirs compete - with the cardinal retrogrades the question is can they cooperate and sing in harmony?

In the Cadiz Carnival rival choirs compete – with the cardinal retrogrades the question is can they cooperate and sing in harmony?

I expect at this time we will be able to tell whether various parts of our lives are ‘singing to the same hymn sheet’ or whether we are surrounded with a cacophony of noise, each getting louder and louder in its attempts to be heard.

The degree at which Venus turns retrograde and later leaves her shadow:


KEYNOTE: The ability to see the Signature of hidden meaning in every occurrence drawing one’s attention.

And the degree of the inferior conjunction:


KEYNOTE: The realization that one may grow through defeat as well as, and perhaps more than, through success.

Altogether the Venus retrograde symbols suggest a journey into understanding how we contribute to the harmonies or discord of our lives, precipitated by an unusual or obscure message or realisation. This sends us back over things we have just come through, revisiting the point at which there was so much noise having understood how we ourselves have not only contributed to that but have also encouraged it. This is ultimately an ennobling realisation.

Mars 9 – 27 Libra

At the end of December 2013, while Jupiter and Venus are both retrograde, Mars also moves into his shadow, In Libra, completing a cardinal grand cross involving Uranus in Aries, Pluto/Venus in Capricorn and Jupiter in Cancer thus ramping up the energy being put into these cardinal signs. Mars enters his shadow at 9+ Libra on 26th December, moving forwards to square Jupiter Rx on the 8th January and Venus Rx on the 16th January before turning Rx himself on the 1st March at 27+ degrees Libra, just before he was due to make an opposition to the point where he was conjunct the Sun in April 2013.

At the point he turns retrograde he is once more square Venus, this time with Venus moving forwards. Mars continues to move retrograde, opposing the Sun on the 8th April at 18+ degrees Libra/Aries before once again squaring Jupiter on the 22ndApril. He continues to move backwards until turning forwards again at 9+ degrees Libra on the 20th May.

The Sabian symbols are as follows:

Mars enters shadow and later turns direct:


KEYNOTE: The self-control and poise necessary to reach a steady state of inner stability.


Mars turns retrograde and later leaves his shadow:


KEYNOTE: The realization, at any level of existence, that one is never alone, and that the “community” — visible or invisible — is sustaining one’s efforts.

And Mars opposes the Sun:


KEYNOTE: Protest against disharmonic social privilege.



KEYNOTE: The use of creative imagination.

During his retrograde journey Mars triggers very powerful aspects with the other planets in cardinal signs, more of which later, suffice to say at this point that the closing weeks of the retrogrades in cardinal signs will be full of tension and, as the Sabian symbol for Mars turning forwards demonstrates, it is those who have learned how to steer a steady course and maintain balance who will come out of it having gained and with a sense of having achieved something.

More later!


5 thoughts on “Retrograde series 2013-2014

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