Maya del Mar's Daykeeper Journal: Astrology, Consciousness and Transformation

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by Maya del Mar

Karmic Astrology, Volume 11, Retrogrades and Reincarnation by Martin Schulman. Samuel Weiser, Inc., New York, 1977. Paperback.

Martin Schulman adds depth and dimension to the study of retrograde planets. He reminds us that different retrograde planets act in different ways, in different signs, at different times, and in different manners depending on the planet and on the phase of the planet.

We are not even talking here about the planet in relation to other planets in the horoscope, or in relation to planetary patterns in the sky at stations, or about the particular degree of the retrograde planet.

Martin isolates each planet in each sign and in each house, which is the best one can do in a general book, which is a handbook to use for all conditions. As usual, the astrologer must use it in conjunction with the whole chart.

That said, I find this book very helpful. There is little written about retrogrades. Nevertheless Martin has developed a theory which sheds a bright light on these planets which venture into the darker recesses of the mind, and whose treasure is often hidden from our consciousness.

Martin looks at retrogrades as participating in a process, which of course is true. Thus an individual does not have the flexibility to use his/her retrogrades spontaneously, as we can do with planets which are traveling direct. And yet we try to do that, and then run into problems when we are not in phase with our retrogrades.

The retrograde process is one of going inward, rather than one of simply projecting our energy out. According to Martin, it is a threefold process. None of these phases involve simply living in the moment, being responsive to the here and now.

People born with Mercury retrograde, for instance, are familiar with the process of going over and over past situations in their heads, thinking of what they might have said or done.

The big challenge of retrogrades is to bring the past—or the future—into the present, so that we are, in fact, dealing with the present—which is all we really have. Retrogrades can be energy drains both for ourselves and for the people around us, as we struggle to do that.

On the other hand, we can use that process as an asset in many professions, particularly in any kind of writing. Any work where we need to access the past—or future—and show its relevance to the present, is particularly suited to retrograde planets.

I am an example. Retrograde Neptune dominates my chart. I have success with that Neptune when I use it to connect with the cosmos, to try to figure out its past and future and to set the present within a cosmic context. My retrograde Neptune is happy doing that work for which it’s particularly suited, and thus I’m happy. And it is work!

Martin says that wherever a retrograde appears in a chart, the individual does not come forward in time sequence along with the rest of his/her chart. Instead, he/she tries to resolve the earlier circumstances, which still appear to be unfinished.

Inside the person, that time seems, or feels, like the present. Its irresistible call can make that work even more important than is the current life. Perhaps it is a karmic problem which pushes to be solved now.

Martin treats retrogrades as the complex movements which they are, together with their complex psychic correlates. This is a fascinating and illuminating book.