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©2009 by Richard Nolle

WOW!SEP 28, 2009 - Burn Rate: The Retrograde Phenomenon is timely, now that Mars is slowing down its apparent motion in the lead-up to its forthcoming retrograde cycle (December 20, 2009 to March 10, 2010). Retrogrades have always been misunderstood in the canon of astrology, and astrologers are still far from getting a handle on them. The clichés and platitudes abound, assuring us (as if somebody really knew these things) that retrograde planets are developmenetally delayed, or turned inward, or whatever. All of which comes from the seemingly unnatural motion of a retrograde planet, which appears to slow down in the sky, then stand still, and then start moving backwards . . . until it slows down in the sky, stands still again, and then resumes its normal (counter-clockwise) direction of motion. The truth of course is that retrogradation is apparent only, due to our home planet and the retrograde planet lining up on the same side of the Sun: the faster planet passes the slower one, which makes the faster one (in the case of planets inside Earth's orbit) or the slower one (in the case of planets outside our orbit) seem to move backwards in our night sky. We understand this abstractly through heliocentric (Sun-centered) astrology, but our eyes see what they see. Try to see with your mind's eye courtesy of Michael Erlewine's article, which introduces heliocentric astrology and something Michael calls the "burn rate", a ratio obtained by determining the difference between the geocentric and heliocentric positions of a given planet, and then dividing that difference by what Michael calls the phase angle for that planet (the maximum difference between that planet's geo and helio positions, assuming a circular orbit). High versus low burn rates may indicate greater or lesser flux in one's life, Michael suggests. And then there's an emphasis on the past (the geo position behind the helio) or future (the geo position ahead of the helio). Decades after Michael Erlewine brough up these ideas, they're still crying out for examination, which is easily done through comparing the geo and helio horoscope. Or, in the case of the imminent Mars retrograde, through looking up at the sky and out into the world as 2009 spills over into 2010.

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