Dawne Kovan

Sky Watching Wisdom , Astrology

Why planets change direction……….

1) Why planets change direction – direct and retrograde – and what it all means.  
Direction changes by the planets can mystify many students of astrology. Here  I am offering a short explanation for my newer readership. The planets go around the earth – we live in a subjective world here – objectively they all go around the Sun, as do we, of course. As they all have different orbits ranging from once a year for Mercury, Venus and Earth to 245 years for Pluto, with the others in between varying due to their distance from the Sun at the centre.
Imagine that we are all spinning around at varying speeds, the faster moving planets will overtake the orbits of the slower moving ones. This happens in a regular basis with the large heavier planets most of whom spend almost half the year going backwards. This is called Retrograde motion. The Sun and Moon never go backwards.
If you find it hard to get your head around then think slow trains and fast trains. If you’re on a slow train that is overtaken by a faster moving one, then you will have the weird sensation that your train is going backwards in relation to the faster one. And so it is with the orbiting planets – of course they don’t actually go backwards, it’s an optical illusion but from the standpoint of the earth, they really do. We power forwards while they stand still before appearing to move counter to our orbit.

Mercury goes retrograde 3 times a year for about 21 days – and is about to do it tomorrow, as I write this. And as he does, he stays in the particular sign he’s retrograding in. This gives a prolonged influence from his energy on your chart. Rather than leaping quickly through Aquarius, where he is now, he will slowly colonise the sign from his entry on 6th January to 13th March, a grand total of 10 weeks. This gives a heightened and intensified influence on all our charts.
Astrological lore suggests that Mercury will meddle in all the various activities that he is associated with: communication i.e. lost/misplaced messages; misunderstood directions for journeys; paperwork and emails going astray leading to misunderstandings in communications between people; changing minds on decisions made during the retrograde period after he goes forward on 11th February; goods bought during this time will likely be returned as well.
Mercury’s influence stretches from the market place to travel, communication technologies, siblings and the everyday minutiae of life. There’s little that we can do – best to just sit and watch with amusement at how powerless we are really in our lives and how powerful are the planets. Just to reassure you all that this period may be irritating at times but rarely malefic.
2) Mercury goes retrograde on your chart 21st January 2015 – through the 12 signs of the Zodiac – from your Sun, Moon or Ascendant
Mercury goes retrograde on 21st January- Wednesday which is his day, as it happens. Wednesday is named after Odin the Nordic God. In fact all our weekdays were named by the Vikings and then changed slightly through time by the prevailing cultures. They are all associated with the inner planets – from the Sun’s day (no prizes) to that of Saturn.
Mercury rules both Gemini and Virgo – so wherever they fall on your chart will be brought into the mix below. And please remember that this is Mercury, with a short attention span, NOT Saturn who will set everything in stone! So any disruptions will pass quickly enough.
NB – The readings below can either be read from your Sun Sign – ie your birthday – or your Ascendant sign, which is calculated form your time of birth. Try also reading it from your Moon Sign, as Hindu astrologers suggest. You may even read them all together for an even broader picture of your life. 
Aries : 21st March – 20th April: Mercury Retrograde in your 11th House of friendships, future plans, personal interest groups will all be meddled with through this time. Frustration abounds as you, or others, miss meetings, lose vital pieces of paper and the like. Friends may change their minds about things that involve you and you will have to wait until the dust settles in March before things clarify. You may also find that your neighbourhood is changing around you for the short term, by roadworks, for example, which necessitates a different journey to work. This will mean that you will have to factor in a longer travel time. A long lost friend from the past may appear and liven up your life.
Taurus: 20th April – 20th May: Mercury Retrograde in your 10th House of career, public profile, family matters will mean that there will be irritating short terms changes in your work place. A colleague may unexpectedly take time off necessitating a temporary person to take their place, which slows down your output. Finances can be up in the air – the promised benefits may take longer to emerge and you’re left waiting for clarification. If you are artistic creative – and which Taurean isn’t? – you will find ideas coming and going so you have to be quick to land them. Your children will also be uncertain about their plans for the future. A child who has left home may come back.
Gemini: 21st May – 21st June: Mercury Retrograde in your 9th House of higher learning, long distance travel, beliefs and foreigners brings thoughts of leaving town and heading for the hills or you may prefer a trip to the Sun. Just make sure all your travel plans are firmly organised otherwise you could spend some of your precious time sitting in an airport waiting to take off. Whenever your ruling planet Mercury is retrograde is a marked time for you as it always brings changes to you and your surroundings. Your home life may also be a little disrupted by your technologies letting you down – such as the phone or the Internet being down. A family member may appear out of the blue and want to stay a while with you.


Cancer: 21st June – 23rd July: Mercury Retrograde is in your 8th House  of shared resources, mortgages, loans and taxes. This is also the area of endings and considering the prospect of new beginnings on your chart. It brings concerns about your joint income and your ability to pay your way adequately. A tax form may go astray and take more time that it should to locate and deal with satisfactorily. A sibling or cousin may go through an important change of mind about their future or have a health issue and may come to you for support. This is a good time to meditate and ask the larger questions of life. You will need to be vigilant around your documents as they can so easily be mixed up with journals that are thrown out into the garbage. An idea long put to bed rears its head again for your perusal.
Leo: 23rd July – 23rd August: Mercury Retrograde in your 7th House of relationships, close heart friendships, business partners. This can be a time of real flux in your social life with people coming and going with uncertainty about when/if they will return. Someone may even decide to change their contract with you – or you may be the one doing the deciding. A relationship from the past may return offering you an exciting future – just wait until after March before you make any decisions about anything so important. Your finances may be uncertain but this is the time to trust yourself to make the right choices involving your resources. A new group of people who want what you have to offer could be very interested in you during this time.
Virgo: 23rd August – 23rd September: Your ruler Mercury Retrograde in your 6th House of routines, everyday events, work and health matters brings many small shifts in your daily life. This is the house of physical reality and practical outcomes. It is easy for Virgo to make themselves ill by worrying about things that may never happen in their search for that elusive perfection. Your career could go through a period of coming and going with you uncertain whether or not to act on decisions made earlier. A new position that you previously turned down  may be offered to you. You could waver overlong about  its use to you in the  longer term. Your choice is between career and job and Mercury will make certain that you understand the difference.
Libra: 23rd September – 23rd October:  Mercury Retrograde in your 5th House of creativity, children, love affairs and fun in general, promises lots of interesting short lived games to play. A lover may go through many changes of perspective during this time – or an old one may arrive on your doorstep and upset the applecart. But you’re having such a good time, who cares? I hear you ask. There is the possibility of a further education course that can open up your future prospects. Just watch that Mercury doesn’t play his changeable games with it – now you see it, now you don’t – sit back and wait until he changes direction first.
Scorpio: 23rd October – 22nd November: Mercury Retrograde in your 4th House brings much activity on the home front – lots of incoming calls and maybe none – people arranging to visit and calling it off at the last minute. It is a period of heightened stimulation both fun and irksome that makes your energy levels soar. Family members may go through their own sudden reversals – making a decision then changing their minds. And old friend you haven’t seen for an age can suddenly call in. Group plans can be changed at the last minute leaving you a little in the air. You may be looking at a different future than you thought you had in your mind. Shared finances can be a concern during this time although Mercury can bring your personal marketplace alive with a   sudden influx of client work. You may have to redo your tax returns due to a mishap with the postal service. Minimalism may suddenly appeal to you so you start to clear out those items that have passed their sell-by date.
Sagittarius: 22nd November – 22nd December:  Mercury Retrograde in your 3rd House can bring upsets in your neighbourhood. You may be surprised to notice that the houses around you are being occupied by new families. Or roadworks suddenly erupt in your locale. A cousin or sibling may expect more of you than you would wish to give at this time – no Sagittarian likes to be tied down by the demands of others, whoever they may be. Your partners, close relationships and clients may be going through their own “stuff” and also make demands on you. An old relationship may emerge from the mists of time and make an interesting offer. Your career can be frustrating due to the shifting sands in the workforce right now, making you feel as if you are retracing old steps to reach your goals.
Capricorn: 22nd December -20th January: Mercury Retrograde in your 2nd House  can bring a real shift in your values at this time, which you may then change once Mercury goes direct. This could be an interesting time however, for you to explore your many options for putting yourself on the map. You will be wondering about your income – could you increment your earnings through some creative venture? The 2nd House is really about valuing yourself and your right to exist in the world – so Mercury is giving you a great opportunity to get rid of thoughts that hold you back. You may decide to take a course to add to your skill set which can necessitate a major turn around in your home office.


Aquarius: 20th January – 19th February: Mercury Retrograde in your 1st House has you all over the place with so many things flying in and out of your life. A holiday might be a good idea – just ensure that you have all the paperwork double checked before setting off. You would be advised to also go over the small print in your insurance policies and any loans that you may have – just in case Mercury’s little fingers meddle with the computer keys and leave you doubting. Love affairs can be enlightening at this time – lots of fun and games happening! Children can be stimulating at this time – coming and going at a moment’s notice without checking out your plans first. You may decide to finally write your novel – a highly creative act for you.


Pisces: 19th February – 20th March: Mercury Retrograde in your 12th House may bring you some new philosophies to engage your search for meaning. This could bring a new group of people who share the same beliefs or ideas. Relationships are interesting in a kind of “now you see them – now you don’t” kind of way. Someone from your past may get in touch and suggest meeting up. They may then disappear once Mercury changes direction, so be warned. Your home is your safe haven, yet your attitude towards it may be going through major shifts right now. If you work from home then you may make changes in your office space – making sure that the Feng Shui is right for you to work in profitably. Clients may come and go, stay away for months then emerge again as if nothing had happened. Please make sure that you don’t make yourself small to fit someone else’s picture of you – breathe deeply and occupy your rightful place in life!


  1. Dearest Dawne,
    Thank you once again for another great explanation!
    I always learn something new when I read your insights. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and insights with such clarity and bringing the planetary energetic influences to our attention with such fluidity.
    I always enjoy reading your articles.
    Much love, blessings and joy,

  2. Thank you so much dear friend- it is always good to receive comments as they assure me that my articles are being read out there!! Keep reading – there’s more coming up. Love xx