Stellar Guidance

Karma Chameleon: Everything You Need to Know About Saturn Retrograde

Karma Chameleon: Everything You Need to Know About Saturn Retrograde


Dates based on Pacific Standard Time (PST)

Stations retrograde: April 17, 2018, at 9°08′ Capricorn

Stations direct: September 6, 2018, at 2°32′ Capricorn



Normally, the planets move through the sky in a linear, forward-march. This predictable movement is what allows planets to progressively enter new zodiac signs, depending on their speed and cycle. Under normal conditions, a planet such as Saturn may enter Aries, then Taurus, and then Gemini, spending several years in each sign.

Sometimes, however, Saturn appears to move backward in the sky; this visual backward motion is known as Saturn retrograde.

Made famous by Mercury’s retrograde transits, retrograde is a term used to describe the visual phenomenon which makes it appear as if certain planets reverse directions in the skies. In astronomy, this is referred to as ‘apparent retrograde motion’, but in astrology, the term is most often shortened to ‘retrograde.’ All planets, save for the sun and moon, appear to retrograde, or move backward, from time to time, though it is important to know that no planets change direction, they only appear to do so. Some planets, like Mercury, retrograde several times a year for a few weeks every time. Others, like Pluto, retrograde only once annually but stay retrograde up to six months.

Saturn stations retrograde once every year, spending around one-third of the year retrograde; these retrogrades normally last four and a half months. During these transits, Saturn appears to move backward in the sky, recovering approximately seven degrees each retrograde. Overall, Saturn spends about thirty-six percent of its time in retrograde.


Saturn naturally rules boundaries, limits, responsibilities, discipline, and authority. During any Saturn retrograde transit, we may revisit or review those topics associated with Saturn or feel as if we are given a momentary reprieve from the typical effects of Saturn transits, which may include pressure and a sensation of burden, fear, or frustration. Similar to all retrograde transits, Saturn’s retrograde periods are excellent for reviewing what we have learned thus far from Saturn’s transits with a view to continuous improvement. Saturn retrograde periods are also ideal for revisiting form or structure and understanding how something may best be built to stand the test of time.

Because Saturn is a slow-moving planet, transits from Saturn to a natal planet normally last two and a half months; if any of our natal planets fall within the degrees of Saturn’s retrograde transit, however, the resulting transits may add up to eleven months overall. This is one key reason that Saturn retrograde transits are important: very easily, Saturn transits can dominate an entire year of our lives.

Curious about what this Saturn retrograde means for you? Find out with these horoscopes!


Since Saturn spends roughly one-third of the year in retrograde, there’s a good chance you may have Saturn retrograde in your birth chart.

Retrograde planets in the birth chart are sometimes described as being unable to fully express themselves or having oddball, round-about ways of manifesting their influence. Just as common is the idea that retrograde planets in the natal chart only begin to emerge successfully later in life after much introspection and adjustment.

In traditional astrology, however, retrograde planets are not seen as merely misguided, but as being thoroughly weakened. Speed and visibility were both important considerations to ancient astrologers, and on both accounts, retrograde planets are at a disadvantage. Fast-moving planets were interpreted as being active and able to bring about their significations, while slow-moving planets, like ones in retrograde, were deemed too sluggish to do their job properly. Equally, during the retrograde transits of some planets, they can appear to disappear from the sky; theoretically, their presence disappears from the natal chart.

Part of Saturn’s job in our natal charts is to help us befriend our inner patriarch, an archetype we can call upon when we need authority, discipline, and no-nonsense feedback. To that end, Saturn retrograde in the natal chart can suggest that our father-figure was absent or uninvolved in such a way that precluded our ability to develop self-esteem and inner security. As an effect, Saturn retrograde can inhibit one’s abilities to create effective boundaries at work or in relationships; there may exist a persistent need to always respond in the affirmative. We may suffer from repressed fears, feelings of inadequacy, or a nagging sense that despite our best efforts, we could have done more, better, or different.

Over time, the power of Saturn retrograde in the natal chart can be harnessed towards success; if we can learn to filter the inbound messages from our inner critic, we can focus on what’s helpful and ignore what’s unnecessarily hurtful.