This is a technical note about astrology, though I think most folks will find it useful.
Because we all go around the Sun at different speeds, for part of the year most of the planets appear to go “backwards,” or “Retrograde.”
We use “Tropical” astrology, which means we look at the planets as they appear from Earth; in Sidereal astrology (as the planets would appear from the Sun, if you have your asbestos booties on) there are no Retrogradations, everybody’s just in the same roller derby. Also, in Tropical astrology, we locate the planets in Signs relative to the March Equinox, not relative to the location of a particular Constellation in the Sky, as Sidereal astrology does.
The planets and Moon move in the Sky from west to east; it’s the turning of the Earth that makes it look like they’re moving from east to west. To see their true movement, you have to take a series of snapshots of the Sky every night at midnight and play them in a zoetrope. When we pass a slower planet in the derby, that planet will appear in this series of midnight snapshots to stop, go westward for a while, stop again, and then resume its eastward motion.
When a planet stops, it’s said to be “Stationary,” or to be “having a Station” or “Standing Still.” But there are several important nuances to this term, that we usually gloss over.
The most important thing to know is that the influence of a planet is Strongest in the days (inner planets) or week (outer planets) before it’s Exact Station.
The influence of any planet is always relative – if there are six Big astroevents going on at the same time, any one of them by itself probably won’t seem as overwhelming. And the Strength of a Station depends on our Sensitivity – in general, to that planet, and to the Location of its Station. If it Stands Still on one of the planets in our birth chart, for instance, it may as well be Standing on our toe.
We say a week for the Strong influence of a Stationary outer planet because that’s about as much time as we can get without contamination for a zillion other astrothingies, and because that’s approximately where my span of Sensitivity lies for the average outer planet. If your Sensitivity is greater, you’ll Feel a Station earlier; if you’re a Muggle, you may not Feel it at all.
It also depends on your ability to distinguish one Energy from another. If six planets are Stationary at once, like at the Centaur Convention on the Galactic Center a few years back, or if there are a number of Strong Angles going on at the same time (like now), it’ll take a very Discerning eye to separate out the Influences – as if it mattered.
This week Neptune and Makemake were Stationary at the same time, with less than a day between them. We couldn’t really tune into Makemake while Neptune was still Stationary – the Energy we were experiencing wasn’t Neptune, but Neptune-Makemake. Once Neptune found its Exact Station, its Strength began to wane, and we could tune in to Makemake more readily.
Next week Pallas and Juno will do the same trick; Pallas’s Exact Station occurs about half-past 6pm PDT on 21 June, and Juno’s at 1pm on 22 June. So we’ll be feeling Pallas-Juno for most of the 21st, and Juno after that – though there’s a whole lot else going on next week, so I don’t expect these Energies to stand out prominently, unless they’re Standing on your toes.
While there is a moment of Exact Station, when the planet literally turns about, they don’t screech to a sudden stop, then burn rubber; they slow down and speed up gradually before and after their Stations, and in general the slower they’re moving, the more they’re saying “Hey, Look at Me!” So we often say that a planet “is Stationary” when it’s within one Degree (inner planets) or one week (outer planets) of it’s Exact Station.
We find the Energy to be Strongest before the Exact Station. A planet speeds up gradually after the Exact Station, and while it’s still moving very slowly it’s still technically Stationary and still Stronger than usual, but not as Strong as before the Station. With this week’s Neptune and Makemake Stations, for instance, we mostly talked about how Strong they were leading up to their Exact Stations, not so much afterwards.
As with any astroevent, we’ve found that Consciousness is primary. If we’re Aware that Pallas is Stationary, for instance, then we won’t be surprised if we see Boundaries coming up for renegotiation. If we aren’t Conscious of what Pallas is up to, we may be caught off guard, and avoid the suggested renegotiations. If we renegotiate in a timely fashion, then the Energy is deflated once the Exact Station passes. If we don’t, then the Energy can drag on.
In particular, Decisions can extend any astroevent. For instance, if someone insults or harasses us on the 21st and we don’t call them on it (here’s a helpful tool: https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/nwrn.org/files/Nw16N/NW16News0316.pdf ) and instead just Judge them, then we lose our Curiosity and poison our Relationship with that person. That Energy could last “forever.” If we renegotiate on the spot and Revert, then Pallas Energy moves back into the background.
The poster child for this is 9/11. The Saturn-Pluto Energy that provoked 9/11 was finished in August. But the Lizards had other plans, introducing their 1000-page Patriot Act and US-economy-supporting (as arms merchant to the World) “Perpetual War” within a few days anyway. So we’re still dealing with that Energy fifteen years later, and it shows no sign of de-escalating.
A planet can be “Stationary Retrograde,” when it’s slowing down to turn backwards, or “Stationary Direct,” when it’s slowing down to turn forward again. Personally, we find that the Strengthening of a planet’s Energy at either Station is much more important than whether it’s turning Retrograde or Direct, so we usually just focus on the Station.
Similarly, we don’t usually make a big deal out of whether a planet is Direct or Retrograde. There are some cases where the impact is obvious – as with Mercury – but usually it’s just a matter of whether we’re being Extroverted or Introverted around the planet’s Energy, and we find that whether the planet is Stationary is much more prominent than whether it Retrograde. Your experience may differ.
One thing that does matter, is that when a planet turns Retrograde it crosses a patch of Sky three (or more, if the planet is far away) times instead of once, implying that the Universe really wants us to get the hang of this piece of Sky. If the planet makes a triple Angle to another planet in the Sky, or to a planet in our birth chart, that’s a Big Deal.
When a planet makes multiple Angles to another, we refer to the first event as the “Can-Opener,” because the Energy often appears to come out of “left field” and surprise us. If we’re dealing with slow-moving outer planets, we may have little or no experience with that particular combination of Energies in our Lifetime, so it may really catch us off guard. The Can-Opener occurs before a planet turns Retrograde.
As the multiple Angle repeats, we gain experience with it, so we refer to the second (Retrograde) and subsequent events as “Expositions,” because they Expose us to the Energies so we can get more comfortable with them.
The last event of a multiple Angle we call a “Confidence-Builder,” because by now we’ve probably gained enough familiarity with the Energy combination that we feel confident dealing with it. The Confidence-Builder occurs after the planet turns Direct again.
When folks refer to a Retrogradation, they’re usually referring to the timespan when the planet is actually Retrograde. To an astrologer it’s more important to know when the planet first enters the patch of Sky over which it will later Retrograde, and when it finally exits that patch of Sky, after it turns Direct again.
This entire span is called a “Shadow Period,” in both time and astrological Degrees. It’s important because it encompasses the Can-Opener and the Confidence-Builder, while the Retrograde period itself only includes the Expositions.
The two most important things to know about Stations are (1) that a planet’s Influence is Strongest just prior to its Exact Station, whether it’s turning Retrograde or Direct, and (2) that we need to look ahead to find a planet’s Shadow Period, so we can be Conscious of Can-Openers as the arise.