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An Altered View: How Planets in Retrograde and the Major Arcana Intertwine… with Jo Tracey

By April 24, 2013

Today, I welcome back Jo Tracey, Astrology super-star and Tarot enthusiast. Last time, Jo shared her Horoscope Tarot Spread. Today, she gives us new insight into the connections between the Major Arcana and retrograde planets and shows how each intertwines with the other. This is perfect if you’re strong on Tarot but not on Astrology, or vice versa, because you can bring your knowledge of one field to understand the other.

Over to you, Jo…

In a tarot spread, when a reversed card appears in a spread, it changes the energy of the card.

The meaning of the card isn’t reversed. Instead the energy of that card may be blocked, or delayed. Depending on the card, it could be that there is something that you need to accept or. Maybe it’s an indication that you need to go internally to look for a solution.

In astrology when a planet goes retrograde, the message is the same.

Aside from the Sun and the Moon, all the other planets go retrograde – some more than others. It’s not that they actually go backwards, but rather that from the perspective of Earth, they appear to.

Just like a tarot card, when a planet goes into reverse, you need to see its messages differently. You need to look inwards, look for a new spin on the situation.

When a planet goes retrograde, the Universe is giving you the opportunity to look at details you may have otherwise missed. Sometimes you need a little nudge to prompt you to look at things from a new perspective.

With a tarot spread, the surrounding cards will indicate where you need to look for help. In the case of a major arcana card being reversed, there is very often a lesson that needs to be learned in order to progress.

Given that each card in the major arcana corresponds to either a planet or the zodiac sign that planet rules*, it stands to reason that just like a reversed card, the nature of the planet will give you the hints that you need.

Mercury Retrograde & the Magician

Mercury, represented by the Magician, is the planet that manages our messages, our communication- what we say, how we say it, how we hear it, how we learn it, how we get to where we need to get to.

When Mercury goes retrograde – which it does three or four times a year, more than any other planet, we are forced to slow down, take our time, check the fine print, confirm arrangements, check and recheck your work and back up important files.

It’s only when we insist on continuing with our usual pattern of multi-tasking and trying to do everything at a million miles an hour, that we come undone. In scattering our energies, we risk squandering our opportunities.

If the Magician is reversed in a spread, the message is one of scattered focus and energy, and, potentially, wasted talent.

The planet Mercury rules the signs of Gemini (represented by The Lovers) and Virgo (represented by The Hermit). When these cards are reversed the message (briefly) is one of differences and divisiveness, and an inability or resistance to listen to your gut or inner voice. When Mercury is retrograde, we may have problems analysing data, making decisions, managing conflict. When Mercury is retrograde we need time alone with our thoughts, to go within ourselves.

We can layer this by looking at the sign in which the planet is retrograde, and the planet that rules that sign.

As an example, Mercury was recently retrograde in Neptune (the Hanged Man) ruled Pisces (the Moon).

Major Arcana and Retrograde Planets

It was a time to let go of emotions, dreams and patterns of behaviour – sort of like when you release balloons to the sky.




Get the idea?

Looking at the next Mercury retrograde in Cancer, we use the Mercury cards mentioned above (the Magician, the Lovers and the Hermit). Our starting point is the same as we discussed above. The descriptive layer this time is provided by the sign of Cancer (the Chariot) and it’s ruler the Moon (the High Priestess).

This Mercury retrograde you may be at risk of giving up the fight, of retreating back into your shell, behind your defences. For these few weeks it’s especially important to listen to your dreams, intuition and imagination. Through this you’ll find the awareness you need and the courage required to illuminate the real truth.

It says so in the spread.


Pluto Retrograde & the Devil

The next planet to go retrograde is Pluto, on April 12, in Capricorn (the Devil).

In the tarot, Pluto identifies with the Judgement card and, as the ruler of Scorpio, the Death card.


Astrologically, Pluto is associated with death, transformation, sex, power, ambition and obsession.  When Pluto is retrograde, we go within to examine these principles. Power can be lost or expanded, and massive transformation and healing can result from the resolution of previously deeply buried wounds. It’s almost as if we are being reborn – a little like a cosmic wake up call.

Failure to do this work and denial of those issues that are limiting you can lead to stagnation and bring potential to a standstill.

Sound familiar? That’s right – it’s a reversal of the Death and Judgment cards.

Capricorn is about responsibilities and structures – the ties that bind. Often these ties, and the fear of consequences should we break them, prevent us from letting loose and exploring that deep hidden part of yourself. During this retrograde we need to dig deep into your unacknowledged or hidden depths to release the bonds that hold you back.

Why not try it for yourself?

Astrological Correspondences for the Major Arcana

Different texts may allocate different planetary rulerships to the major arcana than those I’ve used. As an example, Cancer is often given either Temperance (home) or the Chariot (carry me home). Sagittarius is also often given either Temperance (the Alchemist) or the Chariot (carry me away). Both work.

Here’s the table that I use – remember though, that card titles vary from deck to deck. I’ve used the Rider-Waite titles.

Major ArcanaSignPlanetary Ruler
The EmperorAriesMars
The HierophantTaurusVenus
The LoversGeminiMercury
The ChariotCancerThe Moon
StrengthLeoThe Sun
The HermitVirgoMercury
The DevilCapricornSaturn
The StarAquariusUranus
The MoonPiscesNeptune
Major ArcanaPlanetRules
The SunThe SunLeo
The High PriestessThe MoonCancer
The MagicianMercuryGemini, Virgo
The EmpressVenusTaurus, Libra
The TowerMarsAries
The Wheel of FortuneJupiterSagittarius
The WorldSaturnCapricorn
The FoolUranusAquarius
The Hanged ManNeptunePisces

Planetary Retrogrades 2013

  • Saturn (the World) will be retrograde in the sign of Scorpio (Death) until 7 July, 2013. Saturn rules the sign of Capricorn (the Devil).
  • Pluto (Judgement) will be retrograde in the sign of Capricorn (The Devil) between 12 April and 19 September, 2013.
  • Neptune (the Hanged Man) will be retrograde in Pisces (the Moon) between 7 June and 12 November, 2013. Neptune rules the sign of Pisces.
  • Uranus (the Fool) will be retrograde in Aries (The Emperor) between 17 July and 16 December, 2013. Uranus rules the sign of Aquarius (the Star). Mars (the Tower) rules the sign of Aries.
  • Jupiter (the Wheel of Fortune) is retrograde in Cancer (the Chariot) between 7 November, 2013 and March 5, 2014.
  • Venus (the Empress) is retrograde in Capricorn (the Devil) between 21 December, 2013 and 30 January, 2014.

Mercury Retrogrades 2013

  • Between 26 June and 19 July, 2013 in the sign of Cancer (the Chariot)
  • Between 21 October 2013 and 9 November 2013 in the sign of Scorpio (Death)

About Jo Tracey

jo-tracey-astrologyJo Tracey is a Sydney-based Astrologer, Blogger, Writer, Domestic Diva, Cookbook Queen, Melbourne Tragic and Corporate Refugee…in no particular order. Pisces to the core, her dream job title would be Author/World Traveler. You can follow her blogs at , Your Career and the Cosmos for or email her at [email protected]




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