Retrogrades often evoke worry for many, though they are some of my fav astrological events. As a planet appears to move backwards, with it we often get a do-over or time machine effect (read more about in another post). Understanding astrological happenings gives us opportunities to prepare for certain energies and keep an archetypal eye out for their influence.
In July both Mars and Neptune join Saturn, Pluto, and Jupiter in retrograde. It's also important to remember that all planets, asteroids, and Centaurs (comet/asteroid combo) retrograde, most days many celestial beings are not moving forward and things are still okay.;)
While asteroid retrogrades are fairly short, every planet has a certain number of days per year it moves backward:
Mercury // 24 days 3x per year
Venus // 42 days every 1.5 years
Mars // 80 days every 2 years
Jupiter // 4 months once a year
Saturn // 4 months once a year
Uranus // 155 days once a year
Neptune // 158 days once a year
Pluto // 160 days once a year
Here are a few ways to prepare:
1) Know which planets are retrograde in your natal chart. This is hugely important, if you were born when Mars or Mercury was in retrograde, those phases in the current time may actually be easier for you or feel more familiar. Conversely, if Mercury wasn't retrograde when you were born, may require you to develop new, unfamiliar ways of thinking now.
2) Understand which planets are in relationship to your Sun, Moon, and Rising. In archetypal astrology, we are often more interested in which planets are touching your Sun versus the sign it is in because that means you are more connected to it. If your Sun is conjunct Venus, Venus retrograde may be particularly powerful for you as that planet is an important aspect of your being.
3) Explore the archetypal nature of the planet in retrograde. This is the fun part, write out your understanding and keywords of that particular energy. Think about the entire spectrum, the shadow and elevated expressions. Perhaps even use Google for ideas, put it somewhere visible as a reminder. Is it a personal planet or one farther from Earth and the Sun? If so, this may also offer suggestions about different ways to work with it. Keep this somewhere visible and you could check next to keywords or phrases you experience throughout a retrograde.
4) Bring it down to Earth. What are some possible manifestations of that planetary energy you can utilize? Think business tools, creative projects, new goals, etc. Retrogrades are a time of renewal, so visiting things you didn't get done before is perfect, a mini time machine gift from the sky.
Mercury: Complete an old writing projects, sign up for a course you have wanted to take, redo your online presence such as social media profiles or blog
Venus: Revisit your desires around love and connection, reunite with old friends, spend some time thinking about past relationships and what may still need healing
Mars: Get clear on goals you have made before, resume a workout routine, remember your tools for managing conflict or anger
Jupiter: Re-evaluate your vision for your life, revisit places you have been before and loved, think about places of over-indulgence or how to cut back on waste
Saturn: Look for places to slow down and practice more discipline, rethink your long-term goals from the standpoint of the legacy you want to leave
Chiron: Go back into therapy or work with healers dedicated to uncovering trauma from a balanced perspective, own more of your own healing capacities
Uranus: Revisit causes you feel passionately about that impacts the collective, reconnect with old communities or groups you used to be a part of, rethink your political stance
Neptune: Resume creative project, restart a former meditation practice, do things that connect you more with your own intuition, watch out for projections and fantasy
Pluto: Dive into shadow work, remove intensity or dramatic people or situations from your life, release grudges or shame, do a past life regression
Because archetypal astrology takes a multi-valent/many-sided view to planets, it doesn't presume that any retrograde (or planet for that matter), would be considered bad. In this way, Mercury Retrograde isn't something to be blamed or fearful of, it may manifest differently for everyone as it also depends on your personal chart. The celestial relationship gets co-created with the planetary bodies, they are not making us do anything or wish us ill-will.