Mercury Retrograde

By Eileen Nauman, DHM (UK).
Copyright ©1997-2012. All Rights Reserved.

What does retrograde mean?

What does “retrograde” mean? It means “backwards movement.” The Earth has an orbit around the Sun. So does Mercury (and Mercury’s orbit, because it is closest to the Sun, is shorter or smaller in circumference than Earth’s).

At certain times each year, usually three of them, Mercury, because it has a shorter orbit than Earth, goes whizzing by Earth. As it’s moving away from Earth, to an observer standing on Mercury, it looks like Earth is moving backward as this is happening. Mercury is surging ahead and Earth is left behind. This is retrograde motion.

Another way to explore this is: Most of you have probably ridden in a motor boat. When the engines are in forward position, you zoom around. When you want to back up the boat, you put the throttle in reverse position. Have you ever watched the surge and turbulence of water beneath the engine, at the rear of the boat when it’s put into reverse to back up? That’s ‘retrograde’ motion. All turbulence, frothing, bubbling and boiling as water, which is flowing nice and smooth one way, suddenly has this engine and motor come and stir it all up as it reverses motion!

Take Mercury and Earth in the same analogy: Mercury is the speedboat. Earth is the water in which it floats. As Mercury passes Earth due to its shorter orbit around the Sun, this turbulence energetically is created between the two planets for a brief (3 weeks) amount of time. And I know Earth is not in reverse motion–the concept I’m trying to visually give you is that when Mercury passes Earth as it zooms around on it’s shorter circumference orbit, invisible “waves” of energy are created. And this energy is translated into retrograde motion.

Another way to state this visually is: You’re in a boat on a lake. You zoom past another boat that is anchored and the gal is fishing in one spot. You watch the waves your boat makes impact that other boat. That other boat will bob and move around as the current of the lake water, set into motion by your speeding boat, strikes it. The waves pass, and the boat that is anchored, becomes still once more.

Even though we can’t see the energy and turbulence as the faster moving planet in orbit affects a slower moving planet in its orbit, the turbulence is still there. Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there and isn’t happening–because it is.

Astrologers, from 5,000 years ago, noted that when a planet passed us–or we passed another slower moving planet (like Mars, outward–all their orbits are longer around the Sun than the Earth’s is), they noted that certain events seem to occur. Not to everyone, but to a part of their population. Today that is so, too.

Mercury, typically on a given year, passes Earth three times. This is because Mercury has a smaller orbit around the Sun because it is the closer to that star than Earth. The duration of these speedy passes past Earth is called retrograde. Usually, a retrograde Mercury influence lasts 3 weeks. As the turbulence subsides from this pass and the “water” is smooth again, Mercury is then said to be direct. Actually, it takes Mercury three weeks to approach earth in a parallel orbit (side by side like a team of horses) and as it nudges past earth with its planet body, and moves ahead, that is when it is said to be “direct” once again. When direct, all the Mercury Retrograde “things” stop happening to people around the globe. Many breathe a sigh of relief .

How does a retrograde Mercury affect me?

Mercury is the ruler of communication.

Here’s a list of some of the things you can expect from a Mercury Retrograde. Keep in mind that they won’t all happen to you! Just one or two, usually. However, if you have a natal Mercury in conjunction with the transiting (daily motion of a planet) Mercury, then your life is going to be strongly affected by that retrograde!! The only way you can find this out is to contact an astrologer and have them look at your transits to determine this.

  1. Expect indecision on your part–or the part of others. People who usually are cut/dried, can make decisions quickly and cleanly, will muddle around, hesitate, won’t be sure. And, if they do make a decision during a Merc. R transit–whatever they decided to do will CHANGE. It will NOT remain as the person decided at all. You think men and women can’t communicate with each other now, wait until the Merc. R period hits. One is speaking Chinese and the other, French!! Partners have to really work at saying what they really mean because assumptions abound during this time and worse, what you say is heard differently than how you meant it!!!! Watch for big-time communications snafus–they will complicate your life on a personal and professional level. Nothing is immune from our foot-in-mouth disease when in a Merc. R period!!!
  2. Don’t EVER sign a contract, agree to something, buy a car/boat/house/animal or start up a new project under a Merc. R!! THAT is a prescription for disaster! The contract won’t be honored. The car you bought will turn out to be a lemon!! The boat will have problems, structural or otherwise. The house you bought will be a “money pit” and the owner did not reveal all the problems the house had–but you inherited them!! The animal you bought (dog/cat/horse or whatever) will turn out to have some real ‘hidden’ problems that you could not see upon first perusal or inspection. They usually aren’t happy things you find out–for example, I bought a St. Bernard puppy under a Merc. R (and I knew better!) and I directly asked the breeder: Does this dog or his parents or anybody in his pedigree have hip dysplasia? The owner said no. Six months later, the puppy couldn’t move because his hip dysplasia was so severe! The breeder lied to me.                                (Projects begun during this time -baaaaadddd choice- will inevitably develop differently than agreed upon or expected. The only way you can avoid disappointment is to expect that the project will change!! And if you aren’t prepared for those little surprises,then don’t start something new at this time frame–just wait…..be patient…..)
  3. Do NOT buy any mechanical things, appliances, computers, software or anything else like that during this period–they will not work right! You may have to get another to replace it (providing its under warranty–and IF you have to buy something like a refrigerator, stove, radio, etc., make SURE that warranty is in force because 9 times out of 10, you’re gonna be glad you have it because you’ll be using it…..). Hold off until Mercury goes ‘direct’ to buy anything new.                                                                                                                                        (I might add that this a time when mechanical failures happen. DISK CRASHES are commonplace and I strongly recommend to Netters to back up the stuff on their hard disk BEFORE a Mercury R transit occurs–do it at least a week in advance. Believe me, you will thank me for this little piece of advice over and over again–because crashes are common. Another Net problem is that the Net will slow down, be sluggish, blocked or break down. There are more telephone lines cut and dug up during this transit than you have fingers and toes to count on! Telephones/telephone lines/cables/electrical cables are all affected badly by Mercury R. “SAVE” your stuff you’re working on every 5 minutes during a Mercury R or you’ll lose it–believe me :-).
  4. Try not to travel long distance during a Mercury R because Mercury is the ruler of travel by any conveyance. There will be delays, equipment (like a plane or car) will break down during this period. Travel will try your patience during this period–so be smart and don’t travel– you will save yourself a lot of hectic, stressful times/moments. Equipment failure is at its peak during this transit. This means ANY type of equipment–not just computers. It can be that your trash compactor explodes on you. Your knife sharpener quits working. Your telephone goes on the fritz. Your fax dies on you and you need to replace it. You name the communications device or travel device (cars/planes/boats) and it will fail.
  5. Mercury rules our thinking processes. Believe me, folks, we aren’t thinking clearly or as coherently as we’d like to think we are during a Merc. R!!!!! We become forgetful. Yesterday, we knew that person’s name, and today….well….pfffftttttt…. out the window it goes and you can’t recall that person’s name for love nor money! Or you get lost in traffic, lost in a shopping center, you can’t remember where you put something. Things get LOST and MISPLACED big time. You won’t find it until after Mercury goes direct or you won’t find it until the next Mercury retrograde period!!! Our orderly thinking dissolves. Our minds may race. Insomnia may affect a few.
  6. Delays–on everything! You’re late for an appointment. Or, they lost your appointment! The company promised it would be there on a certain day–wrooonnnnggggg! Under a Merc. R, it can get lost (permanently or temporarily) and it will never arrive on time! No one shows up at the right time. So forget it, let the punctual schedule go and just sit back and relax. You’ll never be on time–there can be an unexpected delay on the freeway/turnpike, or the other person is delayed. The appointment will never occur on time during a Merc. R.
  7. Your mind is somewhere else rather on the nuts and bolts of everyday life/demands/things you gotta do. Where it’s gone is still a mystery. We just know you aren’t functioning like you normally do :-). It requires a lot more energy and intense concentration to do your daily job right (and not lose or misplace things) than normal during this 3-week period. Pay attention! Don’t be driving and have your mind go ‘elsewhere’ because you’re an accident waiting to happen. About 5 days before Mercury goes retrograde–be especially watchful and more alert about your own driving–drive very defensively–because other drivers who aren’t in touch with what is happening in the heavens are already spacy and somewhere else and they are NOT paying full attention to their driving. The day that Mercury goes retrograde is the most dangerous of all for driving a car. PLEASE, pay attention!!! I usually opt NOT to be driving anywhere on that day–I stay home and clean up a bunch of unfinished projects instead.

Is there any good news about Mercury retrograde?

Yes, indeedee! Let’s look at this another way. We lead very stress-filled, super busy lives, right? Which one of us, voluntarily, is going to say: “Hey, I’m gonna have a ‘time-out’ for 3 weeks, kick back, relax, and just take it easy and let my poor mind and body rest up from the punishment I give it.” I don’t see any hands raised. 🙂 That’s right, Mercury retrograde is our ‘time out’ from stress and the humdrum orderly life we lead. The phones quiet down, the email demands diminish, the faxes stop making your floor look like white rolls of paper. Your mind goes ‘elsewhere’ and you just want to daydream, or just stop thinking altogether. It feels good to ‘unplug’ and rest.

Yes, Mercury retrograde is our time out to rest. And if you won’t voluntarily do it–it will do it for us to some degree or another. Geminis (those born May 21-June 20) and Virgos (those born August 23 to September 22) folks are ruled by Mercury–so for them, they are usually strongly affected by these retrogrades–more so than any of the ten other zodiac signs. Life can turn to chaos or sh– (depending upon their attitude toward these ‘time-outs’ in their life) or it can mean exquisite relief from all the powerful mental/mind stuff they do constantly 25 hours a day, 8 days a week. Speaking only for myself, being a Gemini (May 24), I look FORWARD to Merc. R because my phone stops ringing, demands of email, faxes diminish to a huge extent and I get to ‘rest’! Boy, do I look forward to these time-outs!! And I get to ‘catch-up’ on all the stuff that hasn’t been attended to because of so many phone calls, faxes and email demands! :-). I love Mercury R!!! I get a 3-week ‘breather’ three times a year and with my mental schedule, if I didn’t have these, I’m sure I’d have permanent brain burn out!

Virgos tend to get more upset over Mercury R periods because they’re such picky perfectionists and they really do expect their lives to go like clockwork and God forbid they be late for an appointment–HORRORS!! For them, it’s a major crisis if that occurs. For them, Mercury R periods are discombobulating because they can’t be perfect or strive for that near perfection for 3 weeks, three times a year. If they can ‘get over’ this need to be perfect or always on time, then it’s not such a stressful period for them :-).

  1. If, however, you want to finish up on something–Merc. R is a wonderful time to wrap up projects, attend to details, and yes, clean up your messy desk, reorganize things. The telephone stops ringing, email flow reduces, faxes are fewer, and generally there is a period of quiet so you can “catch up” on a bunch of projects you had started earlier, and finished them, too. This is a wonderful time to take hold of something you wanted to do–but just didn’t have the time to complete or finish up–and get it done.
  2. If you have a project that has lain around a long time and you just never got around to it–now is the time to look at it more closely and decide if it’s worth your investment in time and energy–if it isn’t, during this time, you’ll more than likely drop it permanently–or get serious about resurrecting it or completing it–successfully!
  3. Lies, deceit, cheating and sneaky actions by others or yourself, will come to light during a Mercury R period. It’s the the long arm of Karma unveiling such negative things. If you think you duped someone–wait–during this period is when it will come to light and boy, will you be caught ‘red-handed’!!! Or, if someone said something behind your back–it will get back to you during this time frame. Or, if you were in some way cheated, duped or lied to, you will find out about it now.
  4. Your daily routine is no more–so “go with the flow” and don’t fight it. You’ll be more day-dreamy, more spacy, more….of ‘something’–so just go ‘there.’ This is a great time for “inny” not “outy” experiences. It’s wonderful for doing internal work–either with a therapist, or digging more deeply into your psyche via meditation or other spiritual experiences–and it will produce a lot of ‘aha-s’ during this time frame.
  5. This is a great time to clean up anything you haven’t already completed! Wash the windows! Paint that cabinet! Finish off that project that has been there silently asking for completion. Dust that room! Take down the spider webs! You’ll have the time to do it now :-).