Illustration by Taylor Dow

A Month of Retrogrades

April has us looking back before looking ahead.

“… loving you makes me foolish, hopeful, human.

I remember the first time

I ever laid eyes on your flaws.

… Loving you is a full-time job”

—Talicha Johnson, “Loving You”

Back up your digital data, double-check the location of your house keys and prepare to get flexible schedule-wise. Why? Mercury is flipping into retrograde mode on Sunday the 9th, and this time, the fun lasts until May 3. Because this Mercury retrograde starts off in an earth sign (Taurus), physical objects are more likely to break or malfunction. Like all Mercury retrogrades, we can expect an increase in communication snags and message glitches. You’ll have to repeat yourself and ask for clarification more often than usual.

Hold on. Does that mean Mercury and Venus are both retrograde right now? Yup. Until April 15 (when Venus turns direct), both planets will push us to examine how we exchange ideas and words in one-on-one scenarios. What are we saying (or not saying) to those close to us? Do we privately withhold our concerns and desires and then furiously explode at people when they can’t magically guess what we need? It’s time to smell, and then take out, that trash.

April is a backward-gazing month that’s good for questioning our go-to approaches. So much reflection can make a person feel like a dizzy, spinning mirror ball. Not only are Venus and Mercury in retrograde, but Saturn also turns backwards, from this week until late August. And Pluto will take its retrograde turn on the 20th. However, not all planetary retrogrades affect us equally.


The quick-moving planets closest to the Sun (Mercury, Venus, and Mars) are considered “personal planets” whose retrogrades we feel daily in our personal lives. Farther-out planets, though, move more slowly and change signs infrequently. We tend to notice their retrograde activity only when they slow to a halt (the term is “station”) to move backward, and then again when they station to move forward, months later. Non-personal planets don’t really influence our daily moods and decisions as much as personal planets.

But this week one, of those non-personal planets will fuss and flip directions. Saturn—embodiment of time, reality, boundaries, and seriousness—is a cosmic parent figure whose realism can feel like pessimism. On Wednesday the 5th, Saturn slows down to go into retrograde, briefly dampening spirits in the process.


Two cold reality checks from Saturn—on Saturday and Sunday—may deflate positive moods this weekend. On Saturday, a newly retrograde Saturn makes a stressful 90-degree angle (a square) to Venus, prodding us to confront difficult truths, especially about our past. Then on Sunday the 9th, Saturn squares off with the moon, causing sadness and disappointment. Saturn will splash us in the face with the striking difference between what we wish to be true and what is true, exposing any cracks that need repair. These weekend Saturn squares might wobble our confident stride and obscure hope until Tuesday the 11th, when Saturn finally makes a pleasant connection with the moon. Then the glow of optimism can return to our cheeks.

Whatever wet blanket Saturn hurls your way this weekend, keep in mind: Sadness passes, fear fades. Even if you feel exposed and raw, accept the fact that you can’t protect yourself from every possible problem by running away or closing yourself off. There’s a difference between drawing healthy boundaries and building up thick walls just to avoid potential pain. Connection requires vulnerability, and we’re in the thick of the hardest heart work right now. Keep facing those flaws!


Wednesday the 5th offers an opportunity to connect with powerful figures and expand our potential. On Thursday the 6th, we’ll want to adjust how we work with others, in both professional and personal contexts. Watch out for overly optimistic attitudes or overdoing physical activities on Friday the 7th, a day when there is crabbiness in the air due to a Virgo moon. Saturday and Sunday are fraught with power struggles and disillusionment, but they also invite us to let go of old habits or things. A full moon in Libra on Monday the 10th has us revisiting an issue from October 2015. By the morning of Tuesday the 11th, emotions will start to lift and improve.

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