For the astrologically unwary, Mercury retrograde periods often coincide with disruptions, interruptions and misunderstandings, but with a little cosmic knowledge you can beat the planetary prankster at his own game.
Mercury Retrograde isn’t a crisis. It is merely an inconvenience, albeit one that occurs three (and sometimes four) times a year. Moreover, while its retrograde (Rx) period lasts for about three weeks, its stationary periods often create havoc in our lives, and the “shadow” periods that precede and follow it affect us as well. However, given the dual nature of Mercury, although there is much that can go wrong, there is also much that can go right while Mercury is retrograde.
Therefore, in fairness to the Cosmic Messenger, I present both the pitfalls and the promise of this transit. By working with its energy rather than against it, you can use it to your advantage and put it to productive use, which is far better than just experiencing it as an irritating nuisance.
At the end of this article, I have included a house-by-house analysis to help you make the most of Mercury’s visit to your natal chart. Although you may not be able to beat the Cosmic Trickster at his own game, at least you might prevent him from laughing quite so hard.
Mercury Stations: Potential for Mayhem
When a planet makes a “station” it means that it is has reached a point where it appears to change its direction. When planets “station retrograde” they appear to be moving in reverse motion, and when they “station direct” they appear to be moving forward.
The days immediately before and after either Mercury station – retrograde or direct – are often the most turbulent. Events, travel, negotiations, contracts and decisions should be avoided during this time because they are likely to be adversely affected.
Shadow Periods: A Need for Caution
By the time Mercury stations retrograde, it has already traveled passed the degree that it will eventually station direct (go forward). This degree marks the beginning of the Pre-Rx shadow that will be in effect until Mercury stations retrograde. From this point forward, Mercury appears to be slowing down.
During this period, the fleet-footed messenger is losing momentum, and as he begins to falter, we start to experience delays and misunderstandings as well as mechanical, technological and electronic breakdowns. Eventually Mercury appears to come to a stop and station retrogrades. This marks the end of the Pre-Rx shadow phase and signals the beginning of the Mercury Retrograde period that will last for approximately three weeks.
During the Retrograde period, Mercury appears to be moving backwards. As he approaches the degree where he will station direct, he will once again slow down. He will then pause, station direct and begin moving in forward motion. At this point, you are ready to start your engines and hit the gas but caution is again warranted because you just might have to hit the brakes.
From the time he stations direct until the time he reaches the degree where he stationed retrograde, Mercury is in the Post-Rx shadow period and is not functioning at full capacity. Much like an employee returning to work after battling the flu, Mercury is still experiencing some of the ill effects that had previously brought it to a grinding halt.
Navigating Life During Mercury Retrograde
Since forewarned is forearmed, below is a list featuring some of the most common events that occur during Mercury Retrograde as well as the Shadow periods.
The Potential Downside of Mercury Retrograde
- Lost and misdirected snail mail
- Emails disappear into cyberspace
- Vanishing voicemails
- Computers crash
- Internet connections fail
- SmartPhones are stupid
- Your order contains the wrong merchandise
- GPS systems provide wrong directions
- Travel plans are delayed or interrupted
- Appliances and cars break down
- Purchases are defective or missing parts
- Email and websites are hacked
- Secrets and confidential information are exposed
- X-rays and medical tests are inconclusive or need to be retaken
- Negotiations are difficult and drag on
- Contracts signed now may need to be revised or
- Jobs we accept or start at this time may work out differently than expected
- Cars leased or purchased at this time may turn out to be lemons
If you are mindful of the potential pitfalls, you can avoid falling prey to them by mailing important packages by a traceable method, following up on emails and calls, backing up your computer to an external hard drive, double-checking directions, confirming reservations and allowing for extra travel time.
The Potential Upside of Mercury Retrograde
Now, just as there are two sides to every story (make that three if you include the truth), below is a list describing activities that are favored during Mercury Retrograde and the Shadow periods:
- Reorganize your home or office
- Review, revise and edit written work
- Reconnect with people from your past
- Revisit past ideas, hobbies or interests
- Discover past errors or oversights
- Revive projects that were put on hold
- Reconsider or redefine your goals
- Review your finances
- Re-establish your priorities
- Conduct research and investigations
- Find out secret or confidential information
While the exposure of secret or confidential information is often a negative, especially if it happens to you, it can also be a good thing such as in the case of whistleblowing. Another lesser-known benefit of Mercury Rx, and one I only became aware of in recent years thanks to karmic astrologer Marguerite Manning, is that people show their true colors at this time. So if you’re in doubt about someone’s loyalty or intentions, Mercury retrograde is an excellent time to question them, or at the least, pay attention to their words and actions during this transit.
Mercury Retrograde and You
When you think about it, we have all been experiencing (and surviving) Mercury retrograde transits and Shadow periods since the day we were born without even knowing it. Although individuals with a Gemini or Virgo Sun or Ascendant are likely to feel as though there is a target on their back whenever Mercury goes retrograde, the truth of the matter is that the Cosmic Trickster views everyone as fair game.
To determine how Mercury is likely to affect you on a personal level, you should look to the house that Mercury is transiting during this time as well as the houses that it rules in your natal chart.
Mercury Transiting or Ruling Your:
Since this is the house of the physical self, you may find yourself reassessing your image and contemplating a new hairstyle, wardrobe or cosmetic procedure. However, it is best to wait until after this transit is over before taking such actions, because the odds are that you are going to change your mind and return those purchases or be unhappy with your new look. If you undergo a cosmetic procedure at this time, you are likely to be unsatisfied with the results or will need to return for some type of correction or “touch up.”
This is the house of earned income and assets (excluding real estate). Pay careful attention to your financial statements, especially your bank accounts as miscalculations, overdrafts and ATM errors are more likely to occur at this time. If you are anticipating a raise now, expect it to be delayed or less than promised; and if you are promised one now, it may not come to pass. Since this house also rules our value system and self-esteem, some of you may find yourselves examining, and perhaps reconsidering, what you hold most dear while others may be experiencing twinges of insecurity.
This is the house of communications, short trips, contracts, transportation, neighbors and siblings. Misunderstandings can occur easily now, especially with siblings and neighbors. If you are involved in a writing project, you may encounter writer’s block; and although not a common occurrence, laryngitis has been know to afflict those involved in teaching, singing or lecturing at this time. Be certain that any contract you sign contains all of the terms that were agreed upon before signing it. Make sure that your car’s maintenance is up to date, and allow extra time for traveling as trains, planes and automobiles are not likely to cooperate with you. Neither is your computer, the US Post Office or cyberspace for that matter.
This house represents your home, family, real estate, and one parent. In terms of your home, be alert for dead batteries in your smoke and fire detectors. If you have a security system, it is a good idea to test it. Appliances are more likely to break now; and if you have any repairs done, be clear about what the warranty covers before you undertake it or you may wind up with an unhappy surprise. If you are a landlord, you may encounter issues with your tenants, such as the rent check that “gets lost in the mail” (though at this time it might actually be true!) or calls for repairs in their apartments. You may have contact with relatives that you haven’t seen or heard from in a very long time. Another possibility is that unresolved issues with your parents are revived.
This is the house of children, romance, hobbies and creative expression. You may experience a renewed interest in a former hobby or creative pursuit during this time. Reconnecting with former romantic partners is also possible, although it may be as simple as just hearing news about them. In current relationships, unresolved issues from the past may resurface now, and if they do, an extra effort may be necessary to get your point across. Children may cause disruptions in your life now, or you may find yourself feeling nostalgic about your own childhood.
This is the house of health and work. If you take any medical tests during this time, especially x-rays or imaging tests, do not be surprised to hear that it has to be redone because the film is not clear or the results are inconclusive. At work, extra care is required because clerical and accounting errors are more likely to occur, and there is also a greater chance of misunderstandings with co-workers. If you accept a new job during this period, unless you are returning to a past employer, something about the position is going to turn out differently than you expected or were promised.
This is the house of marriage, committed and business partnerships, competitors and professionals that we consult. You should exert extra care now when communicating with partners, especially in connection with unresolved past issues that may resurface during this transit. Although it does not guarantee a lasting union, reconnecting with past partners is a possibility now. If possible, avoid consultations with professionals at this time, because what you are being promised is likely to change. If you must do so, be sure to obtain any fee quote in writing. If competitors have been behaving in an underhanded manner, now is the time you are likely to learn about it.
This is the house of jointly-held assets, certain financial investments, psychic occurrences and “other people’s resources.” Pay close attention to any assets you own with another person, as well as investments that you do not handle directly such as brokerage accounts, pensions, 401(k)’s, etc. You should also be careful when completing forms relating to medical, unemployment, disability, insurance or social security benefits, or scholarship, mortgage and grant applications. You could receive notice of a tax audit or discover that you are the victim of identity theft. Latent psychic ability may also reveal itself during this time.
This is the house of long distance travel, legal affairs, education, marketing, lecturing and publishing. Affairs connected to foreign cultures or long-distance travel may be subject to delays and interruptions. If you are involved in a legal matter, do not expect any progress at this time because adjournments are likely to be the only order of the day. Those involved in publishing or marketing need to carefully proofread their materials, while those who lecture need to check their presentations and projectors. If you are a teacher or student and require textbooks, they are likely to be backordered. If you are graduating from college (or higher) during this period, be sure to confirm that all of your paperwork is in order and be prepared for a long drawn-out ceremony.
This house rules our career, destiny, public status and the other parent. Tread carefully when dealing with superiors because missteps now will affect your future. This is not the time to change careers or jobs unless you are returning to a past connection. If you are promised a raise or promotion, expect it to be delayed. Since this is the house of our destiny, you may be questioning or reassessing your life path. Avoid making decisions during this time because your judgement is not at its best. If you deal with the public, you must strive to be as clear as possible. Do not engage in any questionable actions now because they are likely to be exposed after Mercury turns direct.
This is the house of friends, acquaintances, and large groups. During this time, you need to listen well and choose your words carefully to avoid misunderstandings with others. Friends may be unreliable now, or you may discover that someone is not really a good friend at all. There is a strong possibility that old friends and contacts will return to our life now. If you are a member of a group, club or fraternal organization, meetings and/or events may have to be cancelled or postponed. Since this house also presides over our hopes and goals, you may find yourself re-evaluating your objectives.
This house rules the subconscious mind, past associations, and things that are hidden. Exercise caution when dealing with other people because you are more susceptible to deception, and your intuition may be less than reliable now. There is a high likelihood that you will hear from, or at least hear news about, someone from your past. It is also possible that psychological issues stemming from your youth or childhood will re-emerge. This is a good transit for looking within, and therapy or past-life regressions can be very beneficial now. Secrets from the past may be revealed to you at this time, which may be to your benefit. However, bear in mind that if you try to hide anything now, it will likely be exposed after Mercury turns direct.
© 2010 Debra Anne Clement