If someone has ever asked you what your star sign is (or if you've spent any amount of time on Twitter), you likely know that astrology is more than just one sign. Astrology takes the human experience and spreads it across the cosmos in relation to the planets and their motions. One of the most important aspects of these motions is the retrograde. When a planet is retrograde, it appears to be moving backwards, and the aspect of life that it rules is called into question. The most common and well known of these motions is Mercury, which stations retrograde roughly three to four times a year and asks us to review and be diligent with our communications and absolutely wrecks us when we aren't. During April, Jupiter, Saturn, and Pluto all went retrograde and will stay that way for much of the summer meaning this summer will be interesting.

As the ruler of expansion, growth, and philosophy, Jupiter's energy is, well, jovial. Among Jupiter's primary domains are luck and possibility and its retrograde is no different. During these months, Jupiter asks that you take account of all that you did and learned while it was direct while nudging you to continue your growth as you need to. Moreover, the planet wants you to consider the journey you've taken before turning to Jupiter to receive your laurels. If you put in the work and did as much as you could as well as you could, Jupiter will favor you and shower you with the blessings you've earned.

In a similar vein, Saturn's retrograde also passes judgement. Where Jupiter rules growth and expansion, Saturn is charged with responsibility and limitations. The planet of maturity, age, and authority, Saturn is the recorder of time and the Lord of Karma. Saturn's message is clear. Discipline, responsibility, and the proper use of authority during its direct motions will bring a bounty of good fortune with its retrograde, think retiring at a ripe old age and enjoying the rest of your life on an island in the Caribbean. If you were overly indulgent, irresponsible, or tyrannical, Saturn's retrograde will not be so kind. Sorry, James Charles.

Pluto's movements tap into our shadow self, all of the things we don't want to acknowledge, but must in order to be completely whole and well adjusted. Pluto rules over life, death, renewal and broadly, transformation. Pluto's retrograde is closer to a sign on the highway than it is a meteor crashing through your house. It asks you to go through your corner stones, your important identifying features and see if they're still relevant and worth holding onto. If not, there's no harm in letting them go. In fact, Pluto's retrograde lasts for roughly half the year, so if you have trouble coming to terms with letting go of what defines you, think of it as a version of spring cleaning. The spring cleaning of you as a person.

The major theme of this summer is growth and growing pains. While summer is the perfect time to throw responsibility to the wind to enjoy the freedom and nice weather (believe me, I have), for the earth, summer is the busiest time of the year. After the spring thaw and everything is finally awake, the natural world scrambles to reach its peak before summer ends. In an effort to scramble to the top and reap a perfect harvest, the natural world must be merciless in its pruning of lesser quality fruit and so must we.

The question of what to do with what no longer serves us is a continual plague that has followed humans for as long as humans have had "stuff." The dominant way to deal with our trash has been to simply dump it somewhere that's out of sight, and out of mind. Our inability to face our garbage head on and figure out a solution to what to do with it has been directly harming the natural world, something that humans depend on and need. Now we are at the point of awakening. There is finally large scale discussion about what to do and how to fix the problem. While it is still early, these opportunities for discussion about the natural world mirror what we must do within ourselves and our communities. Ignoring our problems will not solve our problems any more than dumping trash into the ocean will get rid of the garbage. All you've done is throw trash into the ocean and make it that much harder to clean up the mess. But there is hope.

This is the time for understanding, not only of others, but ourselves. It is impossible to be the same people we were last month as we've had a month of new experiences, let alone being the same people we were a year ago. Given this, we must now learn how the people we've become over these past months act. We must be tender, understanding, honest, and above all ruthless. The cosmos is holding up our cue card and we must be brave enough to stare the problem in the eye and say "We need to talk." Good luck, everyone. Be bold.