Within as Without: Learning to Release & Reclaim from Retrograde

To understand astrology is to understand self. Whether or not you believe that celestial motions of hunks of rock, ice, and gas affect your personality it’s impossible to deny the message that lies in the symbology of a retrograde phase. 

Astrology is a tool, a map of energy. Each planet, asteroid, and moon represents an archetype, a god or goddess. And each alignment of these celestial bodies (square, opposition, conjunction) represents an interaction between the archetypal energies.

Are they supporting each other and working together? Or are they competing, striving in opposite directions? Or are they negotiating, discussing the pros & cons of a decision?

And all of this is happening inside of each of us.

Take a moment to listen to you, talk to yourself, in yourself. The second-guessing and disagreement. The hyping and conspiring. There are many aspects of you with different priorities and outlooks, co-creating your actions and choices. You contain multitudes.

These aspects, these energies, spend most of their time, your time, focused on things outside your body and mind. Taking action, making things happen, marching forward. In the sky, the corresponding planets and asteroids are “direct,” traveling east to west with the sun and stars across the earth’s sky.

Then the tiny dot of planet starts to go the other direction. West to east. This is retrograde. A backward motion as viewed from earth, caused by the relative motion of earth and the retrograding planet on their orbital paths.

Retrograde is a metaphor, a way to understand the seemingly inexplicable shifts in our own personal solar systems. When these direct, forward acting energies suddenly slow down, turn around, and move backward into our psychic depths.

Retrograde is an unstable time, a time to put off important decisions, to look before you leap. So they say.

It’s true that the surface of retrograde can be rough and roiling. But the gifts of retrograde aren’t found on the surface. To access them, we too must slow down, turn around, and descend into our depths, depths swirling with reflection, with illumination, with transformation.

Turning Within, Questioning Conditioning

Take a moment to come into yourself. Into a space where you can be real, where you can be open, where you can be radically honest with yourself.

Take a deep breath here. Appreciate the spaciousness. Prepare yourself to go even deeper.

Now let yourself sink further into your shadows. Into your underworld. Into the part of self that feels ancient, depthless, primordial.

Let yourself sink beyond all ingrained concepts about what is right and what is wrong. Beyond good/bad, forward/backward, black/white. Their foundations don’t go this far. The understanding rooted this deep is, “Is this in my highest good? Is this authentically true for me?”

Find yourself here, clear-eyed, open-minded, curious. Curious about what is really, actually, true for you. You don’t have to be able to see it, just open to finding it.

Now feel around this space of authenticity, of honesty, for friction. Friction that may manifest as shame, as guilt, as a sense of not being good enough, of being selfish.
You’ve stepped into a psychic battleground. Parts of you are colliding, soul wisdom and absorbed beliefs. Beliefs that are making it hard, so hard to step into your truth.

What are they? What are the beliefs that are deeply ingrained, yet feel somehow toxic, somehow harmful, somehow wrong.

If you’re not sure, that’s perfect and beautiful and exactly where you are supposed to be. No comparison here.

Stay as open and honest as you can, scanning these shares about absorbed thought patterns from our recent Facebook LIVE, to see which hit you, which trigger you, which find your soft spot:

“Masculine attributes, doing, achieving, accomplishing, logical thinking, are more valuable than feminine attributes, intuition, healing, embodying, expressing.”

“That I can’t trust myself.”

“Follow through to the end with whatever I set myself to… No matter what.”

“There is only one way to be successful.”

“Doing things for me is selfish.”

“I need to be able to do everything on my own.”


“Stick to a job, even if it doesn’t fit.”

“I must put others first.”

“That I need others to approve my life decisions.”

“That it is dangerous to speak my truth.”

“That I can’t trust men. I need to protect myself, be in control.”

“That I can’t be happy the way I am.”

“Little girls should be seen, not heard.”

“I will never be whole without religion.”

“I have to be the best at everything.”

“It is not acceptable to question the status quo.”

“I must be humble and avoid any spotlight, recognition.”

“I am responsible for the happiness of others.”

“Menstruation is an inconvenience to be dealt with, not revered.”

“Pushing through is the only way to overcome obstacles.”

“I have to tolerate being objectified by men.”

“Stay small to stay safe.”

“Shame and guilt for shining, expressing myself & my sexuality.”

“My value is associated with my physical appearance. My true self is not valuable or seen.”

“Rest is not allowed, must be constantly busy doing, not being.”

“If I’m not ‘grinding” then I must not be working hard enough or doing it right.”

“I am not whole without a partner.”

Seeing the Unseen, Learning Your Limits

When you find a soft spot, bring light to it, bring love to it, honor it, witness it. However you can, sit with it without judging or admonishing it.

The simple act of acknowledging that these beliefs aren’t ours, aren’t authentically true to us, were hoisted upon us, is a huge step. Because it’s a step into a realm that we can’t see, a realm many people don’t know, or don’t want to admit, exists.

Finding a way in, having the courage to go in, is extraordinary. What you are doing here is extraordinary. Because this work, this shadow work, is hard.

We purposefully buried the parts of ourselves that didn’t fit the family & society in which we were raised. Because they hurt! They upset and disrupt our lives. Because, at one point, it was easier to forget they ever existed.

But eventually it gets to be too much. Eventually we reach the tipping point. The point where the pain of staying imprisoned by these outdated belief systems finally outweighs the fear.

The fear of what will happen when we stop compromising and conceding our truth.

The fear of witnessing, and being witnessed in, our fullness.

The fear of asking the world to change for us, instead of the other way around.

We can only put off this moment for so long, but we will go to great lengths to put it off a little while longer. We make ourselves ill, we stir up drama, we find endless ways to ignore or explain away the internal pain.

Feel into your system again, with as much honesty as you can. What are the signs of your growing pains? How does your body, your system tell you it’s time to change?

Maybe you’ve never asked yourself that question before. Maybe you’re not sure. That’s okay! You’ll recognize them when you’re ready. Allow the shares of the women on the LIVE to flow through your system and just notice your reaction to each. The ones you dislike, or want to skip, or catch your eye likely hold a grain of truth for you.

“In bed sick for weeks.”

“I make myself small.”

“I distract myself, with food, netflix, wine.”

“Solar plexus heat.”

“I start saying things like – wait, I’ve been here before.”

“I am more easily triggered.”

“I feel restless & frustrated.”

“Physically closing down my body. Not wanting to express strong emotion.”

“I get short-tempered, cry and distance myself from people.”

“I feel it in my gut, and ignore it for a long time because it doesn’t feel rational.”

“Angry, caught, guilty.”

“Tension in my gut, root chakra area.”

“It makes me want to escape and hide.”

“I ache.”

“feel unfulfilled and things that used to serve me just feel like mundane chores.”

“I feel energy building up that I can’t control. A feeling of anxiety for no reason.”

“I feel like I need to be more productive.”

“I usually get really sick. Migraines or randomly purging.”

“1,000 thoughts at the same time.”

“Irritability in all things! Things that wouldn’t generally be irritating.”

“It feels like no matter how much thinking I do I can’t seem to resolve the problem.”

“My inner child is really needy.”

“I manage to always hurt myself. Bump my head or fall off a chair.”

“I put on a kindness ’show’.”

“I hold my breath.”

“Make myself quiet, very still, freeze up.”

“A tightening in my throat.”

“I hold lots of tension in my body.”

“It’s a knowing. It’s kind of a self disgust for letting it go too long.”

“Want to hermit, numb out, or get irritable.”


“Stress rash.”

“I project my insecurities on others.”

“My inner child starts tantruming.”

“I start looking for things to do. Anything to get outside myself.”

“I just want to sleep.”

“I get judgy.”

“Eating to distract self.”

Anger, grief, anxiety, depression, disassociation, these are our bodies, our sacred bodies, talking to us. These are our sacred bodies telling us that it’s time to take the leap. Time to release. Time to grow, to get out of here, to blow up the limits we’ve been living in.

We will learn to hear, then listen to our emotions. Finally to heed their advice. That’s when our journey truly begins. For they are our ancient guides.

They see beyond both the daily distractions and lifetimes of conditioning that cloud our consciousness.

They direct us, patiently, endlessly, to the pieces of ourselves. Pieces long forgotten in places beyond maps.

They take us home, through a maze that no one else could possibly know.

As soon as we decide to trust the truth in our bones. The truth that we are valuable, powerful, ineffable. Even before we fully believe it.

Trusting the Truth, Taking the Leap

Luckily, no one ever said we had to go on this journey alone. No one ever said this was a closed-book test.

When you find yourself between a rock and an absorbed belief, reach out. Find someone or something that will inspire you to take option C and blow up, melt, or compost the limiting beliefs.

Find soul sisters and brothers, books, teachers, poems, practices, music, facilitators that feed your fire, that honor your dreams, that make you howl and sing.

Create a life, within and without, that supports the release of the falsehoods and encourages the cultivation of deep truths.

And the next time you feel the anxiety mounting, the migraine building, the growing urge to distract yourself, you’ll recognize signs; you’ll be ready to take the advice of your guides. Though you will never know what lies on the other side, you’re going to take the leap.

To reclaim a lost aspect of the feminine.

To witness the miracle of transformation.

To create space in the world for spirit, for soul, for self.

See? Retrograde is not so bad.

*The ReWilding for Women Facebook group where this conversation took place and the comments were shared has been dissolved as the organization continues to evolve and adapt to best serve the moment. 


Feeling called to dive deeper into shadow work? 

  • Check out Podcast Episode 69 where we explore this topic from a different angle!
  • If you are feeling to take your shadow work to a deeper more experiential level our Dark Goddess Workshop may be what’s calling! Have a listen to the invitation video and let your body’s wisdom decide.