The Sun and those Retrogade Outer Planets

Sometimes the obvious is invisible, most likely because we are inclined to look at details and just simply overlook the greater picture. Although I have seen many charts and read many astrology books it never occurred to me nor has anyone recorded, in an astrology book that is, the simple observation that when an outer planet is in opposition to the Sun it is always retrograde. Always. And in the middle of the retrograde arc. I came across this in James Evans, ‘The History and Practice of Ancient Astronomy’ in the chapter on planetary theory (p. 296).

Let’s try to put this in an astrological context. To be retrograde is considered a major accidental debility, William Lilly gives it 5 points in a scale of 1 to 5. An opposition is an aspect of conflict; at best the opposing planet is in its domicile or exaltation, angular and maybe conjunct Spica; at worst it is in detriment or fall, cadent and conjunct Algol. Most likely it will be the dominant aspect in the chart forming a personal pole around which the rest of the chart ‘rotates’ (figuratively), the house axis pointing to a major life theme with which the native wrestles. An aspect of a lifetime as many years can pass until the planet goes direct by secondary progression!  For example Jupiter may take 60 or more years before he goes direct by secondary progression!

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8 thoughts on “The Sun and those Retrogade Outer Planets

  1. “Although I have seen many charts and read many astrology books it never occurred to me nor has anyone recorded, in an astrology book that is, the simple observation that when an outer planet is in opposition to the Sun it is always retrograde.”

    Hmmm, well, with all do respect, this is basic astronomy, and I try to teach students this quite in the beginning. I think the problem is that in the old books this is assumed to be known, and many modern astrologers simply don´t know it, or didn´t have a proper teacher, and learned through the poorly written books we have nowadays-

    The quantity of people which I have seen saying things like “saturn is retrograde and opposing the sun” is really huge.

    I remember, when Obama was assuming the presidency, many people saying things like “Oh, venus will be the lord of the ASC and in pisces, his government will be…”. Well, Venus is ALWAYS in pisces or capricorn in a US presidential accesion to power, and it will always be the lord of the ASC, so people should try to review the basics before making the big predictions 🙂

    • Hello Yuzuru,
      Good for you! Unfortunately Astronomy and Astrology went different ways and so while the astronomer is not expected to have any knowledge of Astrology the reverse should be the case, especially when basic astronomy is involved! As James Evans mentionsin his book, it is easier to see this when looked at heliocentrically, which might explain why this usually isn’t taken up in the older texts. Whether it was assumed or not, that is one reason why ‘The History and Practice of Ancient Astronomy’ should be essential reading for the Astrologer.
      best regards,
      Thomas

  2. Ah glad to have you back, dear Thomas!
    As for your subject: I am proud to share that after 3 yrs of counselling (that is: drawing natal charts by hand – now 30+ yrs into it, I still do!) I figured that out! Also, doing regularly solar return charts, which are a kind of transit-chart, it is easy to spot from the actual positions when this or that planet will go direct again, or another go retrograde: just move the sun along the zodiak, every sign counting for one month. As a very rough rule, a superior will change direction when it is trined by the Sun!

    Cheers,
    Herman

  3. And thank you too dear Herman! It is indeed something that one should notice over time isn’t it? Thank you for sharing your observation that the trine roughly marks the superior planet going direct again.
    Cheers,
    Thomas

  4. Dear Thomas,

    Good to hear from you again!

    As to your statement that the above was never recorded in any book on astrology, I beg to differ. In her book “Ruecklaeufige Planeten”, edition Astrodata, 1993, [orig. published as “Retrograde Planets in 1992] Erin Sullivan writes on p18:
    “Aeussere Planeten werden nur ruecklaeufig, wenn sie sich in der Naehe der Opposition zur Sonne befinden” (Outer planets are only retrograde when they are close to an opposition to the sun).
    Hope you are doing well!

    Best wishes,
    Peter

  5. Dear Peter,
    Sorry I haven’t answered earlier. Thank you for the citation. I am not familiar with Erin Sullivan’s book. Yes I am better and improving. 🙂
    best wishes,
    Thomas

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