A planet reaches its retrograde station when it begins to move backwards in the sky. The moment when this happens is a time when the planet's energy is operating particularly powerfully, due to its lack of apparent motion. It stays in orb of whatever aspect it is making - and conjunctions are particularly strong - far longer than it usually does. The retrograde stations of the outer planets, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, are especially powerful.
A planet moves backwards through the Zodiac in its Geocentric position - as seen from the earth. For the personal planets, Mercury, Venus and Mars, this happens rarely in terms of total duration. For Mars this type of motion occurs once every two years or so, and lasts about eight weeks. Venus is retrograde - like Mars - about every two years, but for only about six weeks. The outer planets beyond Mars go into retrograde motion for about 5 months of every year. Astrologers interpret transiting personal retrograde planets as more inner directed. Transiting Mars retrograde inhibits direct action. When Venus is retrograde we might expect relationships with other people to operate on a more internal level. The reflection on one's partnership situation or the research of possible romance is a better bet than acting on the impulse, which might not last longer than the six-week period of time.
Mercury retrograde, which occurs three times a year for about three weeks each time, is interpreted particularly strongly. Mental pursuits and connections break down. The Mercury retrograde period is best used as a time for inner reflection. It is not a good time for making new decisions or new business plans, but it is ideal for reflecting on your current situation. It is best to quietly observe your inner process during Mercury retrograde, and to carry forward with your preexisting plans. Ask yourself: Where am I heading in my life at this particular juncture? Then try to move forward with new directions only after Mercury has gone direct, and perhaps even a fortnight beyond, when Mercury has left its retrograde shadow.
A planet reaches its direct station when it begins to move forwards once again. Like the planet's retrograde station, this moment is a time when the planet is operating particularly powerfully. And again the conjunction is quite strong. The direct station of the outer planets, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, are especially powerful.
The degrees traversed by a planet's retrograde or backwards motion through the zodiac. Usually only a few degrees, as much as 12-15 degrees in the case of inner planets such as Mercury. Every Mercury retrograde period requires a few weeks after its direct station to emerge out of this shadow, to regain the original degree where it turned retrograde. Example: On March 19th 2005 Mercury went retrograde at 14 plus degrees of Aries. On April 12th it turned direct in the second degree of Aries, at 1 Aries 45. On April 30th it regained the 15th degree of Aries, and left its Retrograde Shadow.