The actual day of the station (station-retrograde is when the planet appears to have stopped in the sky) is technically the turning-point of the planet's motion from direct to retrograde, but the planet hovers within a 1? orb of its station for three weeks or so on either side of the station-point. In effect, the process of the station of a superior planet lasts for almost six weeks. The procedure of slowing, stationing and retrogression is often noted by events or inner mood shifts. Although rarely on the station-day itself, but frequently within a week on either side of it, there is a marked shift in energy patterns, both psychologically and physically.
A frisson stirs the foundations of the psyche, loosening contents which are deeply submerged and hidden from consciousness. The disengagement of material or unprocessed inner knowledge from the inmost levels of the unconscious often results in the famed surprise results of retrogression. Particles of underdeveloped unconscious material begin to reverberate, creating a sense of fluctuation and uncertainty, weakening the boundary between the conscious and unconscious realms.
The 'boundary' between the conscious and unconscious is in constant flux anyway: doors open and close, unconscious contents become conscious, and that which was conscious can be repressed and relegated to a storehouse which lodges information not necessary at one time yet invaluable at another. Both territories are guarded, sometimes heavily sometimes not, if the guards are sleeping, or can be eliminated, or can be bribed into allowing passage. One does not gain access to one's deep unconscious by conscious methods, but the unconscious often bleeds into or overwhelms the conscious mind. The transits of outer planets are notorious for breaking down the borders and creating access between the two aspects of the mind. When the retrograde period begins, the fissure in the 'wall' is made, and during the subsequent phase of retrogression, leaks of information occur which are gradually assimilated into the so-called conscious area, soon to become integral and eventually completely comfortable, becoming what one would call normal. Previously unknown or inadmissable intelligence suddenly becomes not only acceptable but indispensable. That which was impossible becomes possible, and feelings, attitudes, moods and concepts which have not been conscious can suddenly become the order of the day!
A malaise enters the system and one can feel suddenly ill or exhausted, incapable of drawing on the usual reserves of energy. Ultimately this time could best be utilized by allowing the natural, developmental cycle of unconscious release to occur, going with the flow in experiencing new perceptions and permitting evolutionary change in one's habitual patterns. Experience has shown that during the retrograde period one's sense of timing can shift suddenly, resulting in misjudging, delaying or ineptly handling circumstances if one continues to press on under arduous conditions.
There are times when the stationary-retrograde period manifests in a sudden withdrawal, a volte-face, which alleviates tense or dangerous conditions. If a situation has reached the explosion point and no solution appears in sight, then the station-retrograde can defuse the charge around the experience, creating a more relaxed atmosphere. The release of tension allows time for regrouping and renegotiating, creating space for natural growth and maturation. If a chart has had a repeated onslaught of high-pressure transits, a station-retrograde at the crisis point can ameliorate the situation by freeing the person emotionally to explore the meaning behind his or her predicament. By the time the transit is repeated months later when the planet is direct, the gestalt of the other transits will have changed, as will one's personal perspective, opening new channels of possibility.
Shortly after a planet stations-retrograde (with the exception of Mars) it is trined by the Sun. This is the stationary-retrograde trine and often the message of the station is triggered by this aspect from the Sun. The Sun 'collects' the station and manifests its energy, activating the retrograde period. This trine is the transition point into the full swing of the retrograde cycle -- it might be said to be the conscious turning-point, when the Sun supports the renegade movement and delivers the retrograde message. The shock of the station is assimilated and quickly absorbed at the trine and inaugurates the interior or underground experience. This is partly due to the quickening motion of the retrograde planet after the trine.
The Sun trine is the foreshadowing of the eventual outcome of the entire process, from station to final passage over the degree of the station eight to ten months in the future. If the station has occurred in aspect to a natal planet, the Sun trine to the stationary planet alerts one to a particular 'lesson' or message, and is the time when events and realizations manifest.
The station-retrograde through to the opposition from the Sun is an annual cycle for re-evaluating tactics and techniques. The process strengthens one's ability to listen to the inner voice -- the voice of the deeper Self -- bringing greater awareness of the continuing need for development in that particular area. Because the duration of time the outermost planets spend in one house in the natal chart is lengthy, the annual retrograde cycle will re-occur for several years; the results may not be immediate and startling, but they are noticeable over time, particularly in retrospect. The degree to which polarities in the psyche are unintegrated often becomes increasingly obvious during the first half of the cycle, and events, relationships and challenges crop up to highlight the imbalances.
The opposition of the Sun to the retrograde planet marks the 'full' phase, the point of maturation of that which has been in reflection, bringing about a new stage in the process. The second half of the retrograde cycle offers a more deliberate and useful period of reorientation, during which time one feels more effective and positive about clearing away the past or reviewing old material. There is much less panic about this phase, quite possibly because one simply adjusts to the retrograde influence, and can relinquish one's relentless hold on absolutes. Slowly, options begin to materialize and very fruitful discarding can take place, eliminating the outmoded or obsolete.
The opposition point marks a transition in the cycle of retrogression, heralding a more deliberate, organizational phase. Issues that become apparent at the opposition are a key to understanding what the second half of the cycle is about. The retrograde planet begins to slow again as the Sun moves onward, preparing for the release at the station-direct.
Just prior to the stationary-direct day, the Sun makes another trine to the stationing planet. The planet is now moving very slowly, and will transit only a single degree at most between the Sun trine and the station. This trine is called the stationary-direct trine. Like the stationary-retrograde trine, the Sun collects the energy, but whereas the stationary-retrograde trine relaxes the energy, the stationary-direct trine increases tension. The charge of energy built up during the retrogression is constellated in the trine aspect two to three weeks before the planet turns direct. This partly accounts for the build-up of tension around the release at the station itself. The Sun triggers the station-direct, gathering the force and intensifying the weeks leading up to the turning-point. If the stationary-direct degree is making natal aspects, then the Sun trine will be significant because it generates creative release.
The sense of anticipation is a reaction to the Sun trine, which begins the unconscious mobilization of energy and forces in preparation for the station-direction itself. When the planet does station to to turn direct, the liberation of energy and pent-up forces can be experienced as either positive or negative, depending on what has been held in psychic storage. If one has been suppressing strong needs, or attempting to control circumstances or a situation which needs to change, the station-direction can emerge in havoc. If the need for expression is guided by the deeper Self, but dominated and subordinated by what the conscious ego has designed for its future, then the result is an external form of confrontation.
Inner conflicts arise around both station-periods if there is a lack of correspondence between what the unconscious deems necessary for greater wholeness and what one has identified as one's static persona or image. This kind of irruption of the contents of the unconscious into the consciousness is what gives the station-points their fame for being so dramatically active -- they hold a tremendous charge which can magnify conditions which have been developing over long periods of time. What tends to emerge is symbolically, if not blatantly, precisely what one has been hoping to ignore, delay or control.
In mundane astrology, the station-direct is frequently marked by an obvious change in patterns of business, politics, economics and social issues, all of which were triggered at the Sun trine. Rapid reorganization and modification are frequently instituted soon after the station-point, promoting a more effective course of action. The direct motion of a planet does not always signal the release of its power on the day itself, but this will happen within a few weeks after its station, often waiting until the Sun makes a square to the planet -- squares being aspects of external manifestation. The degree of chaos unleashed at the station-direct depends on a variety of factors. Particularly important are any aspects from the stationing planet to natal planets or configurations in caelo, and also the power of the planet itself -- the stations of the outermost planets are those which provoke long-range reorganization, often lasting through to the next station-retrograde.
The retrograde phase itself might increase rather than decrease the psychologically useful aspect of a planet's power, in so far as added time is spent reviewing and examining the houses transited and planets contacted in its reversion. And, when the planet emerges at the station-direction from its battle with the Sun, we are renewed and strengthened by the reflective experience. The cycle of retrogression works by bringing in new perspectives gained through introspection. Hidden facets of our nature or within our environment which have been repressed, or are simply inert, become more accessible and manifestly useful once the retrogression cycle is complete and forward motion is resumed. The gestation period of the retrograde cycle is over at this stage, and the fruit of the inner reflection and outer reorientation emerges for better or worse, setting the tone for the coming period of direct motion.
About the Author
Erin Sullivan is an internationally renowned astrologer and author. Canadian born, she has traveled widely and in 1988 moved to London where she spent ten years. While in London she was the Series Editor for the Contemporary Astrology series, published by Arkana-Penguin, and taught for the Centre for Psychological Astrology in London, where she remains a faculty member. She has written numerous books, of which "Saturn in Transit" and "Dynasty: The Astrology of Family Dynamics". Erin Sullivan lives and practices in Tucson, Arizona. You can contact her directly at her website www.ErinSullivan.com.