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Lost mail, texts, or email. Delayed journeys. Faulty purchases. Miscommunication. Electrical problems. Doomed business decisions, contractual agreements or negotiations. The above are just a handful of negative experiences many people associate with Mercury going retrograde – or moving ‘backward.’ It gives the impression of doing this three, and occasionally, four times a year.
In truth, no planet moves backward. What we see is an optical illusion. As the planet closest to the Sun, Mercury has a smaller orbit around the Sun than Earth does. However, before Earth has finished its first rotation, Mercury has completed an orbit and passed Earth as well!
Imagine being in a car (Sun) with a friend driving another car (Mercury). You give your friend a head start and drive behind him at a slightly faster speed. As you pass your friend’s vehicle, it will appear as if he is moving backward as you overtake him, despite the fact he’s moving forward, albeit at a slower speed. That analogy sums up what happens with Earth and zippy Mercury during times of Mercury’s retrograde motion. Mercury only goes retrograde when it is furthest from the Sun.
In astrology, Mercury represents the way our mind works, thought patterns, things that interest us and how we approach them. Mercury governs our attitude to acquiring and absorbing information generally. As the ruling planet for Gemini and Virgo, it governs speaking, negotiating, buying and selling, listening, contracts, documents, travel, postal services, and shipping. So it can be said that while retrograde, Mercury is in a ‘weakened’ state. Delays and communication and commerce-related challenges are more probable. It’s not an ideal time to start new projects or ventures because a ‘change of mind’ could result once Mercury goes ‘direct.’
However, we tend to overlook or ignore the benefits of a retrograde Mercury. Mercury retrograde periods are ideal reorganizing and reflection. Through doing so, we gain new and fresh insights. Delays or frustrations experienced can encourage us to tap into and use resources in other, perhaps more imaginative and helpful, ways.
If you don’t know if you have retrograde Mercury in your natal chart, then click here to get your free, personal chart.
With Mercury retrograde in Aries, it would reflect the impulsive and fiery qualities of this sign. This could result in an antagonistic or aggressive approach taken toward confusing or contentious issues, or expressing ourselves when communicating.
There could be a tendency to over-inflate or exaggerate points. We need more mental discipline and a willingness to curb impatience. We must resist being too keen to jump to conclusions.
Mercury retrograde in earthy Taurus could bring problems and delays with earnings and material possessions as well as lovers or children. As Gemini rules personal finances, judgment could be skewed and obstacles could be encountered where romantic partners and creative endeavors are concerned.
Signing on any ‘dotted lines’ is not advised during this cycle, either.
With Mercury retrograde in the first of its two natural homes, and one governing absorbing information and conveying of ideas generally, obstacles could present themselves where communication and judgment are concerned. It is a time when assessment is vague or unclear, and ambitions and plans experience delays or a need to reassess their viability.
Mercury in Gemini will also encourage attention to be focused on home and family matters. A need to reassess or re-evaluate domestic issues, particularly where communication or conveying ideas for the future, will be likely.
Mercury retrograde in the emotional and house-proud sign of Cancer will encourage a need for patience where decisions relating to domestic or family matters are concerned. Conclusions could be drawn prematurely and it will become apparent eventually that more information was needed for accurate assessments to be made.
New initiatives relating to home or property matters will likely be delayed or postponed and reflection upon the past, possibly relating to a previous relationship or the absence of a family member, could become a focal point.
Mercury retrograde in Leo will encourage reassessment or re-evaluation of aspirations and ideals. We scrutinize motivating factors to achieve success , and make distinctions between what truly fuels our desires or passions and simply satisfies our ego.
It is a time of blurredness and impulsiveness where individuals in positions of authority are concerned. We make decisions hastily and, ultimately, regretfully. It is also a period when budding romances commence with passions building steadily until Mercury’s forward motion occurs.
Mercury retrograde in the second of its two natural homes encourages a stronger need for understanding where all forms of communication are concerned. How we convey ourselves in every sense and others’ perceptions of us could be subject to scrutiny.
This period could also encourage unnecessary or over-the-top striving for perfection. This will almost always require a need for patience to allow essential information to come to light that will help with a more practical, methodical or sensible approach given toward plans or projects.
Mercury retrograde in Libra could encourage two different scenarios. The first might involve the ‘coming to light’ of concealed information and a consequent need to reassess situations in a new light. The second could involve the need to apply judgment, particularly where issues from the past return and require re-evaluating. Communication with previous partners or lovers is common.
It is an excellent time to network or establish new contacts, either socially or professionally. It is also an ideal time to consider laying the groundwork for any creative or artistic endeavor.
Mercury retrograde in Scorpio will likely encourage a need to look beyond what is obvious and be prepared to do some ‘detective work.’ Facts need separating from fiction regarding what is told to us – or what we’re telling others!
It is a time when secrets cause confusion, resulting in premature conclusions made. Mercury retrograde in Scorpio will also instill a stronger sense of setting foundations for sexual or occult-based interests. There could also be a noticeable tendency for us to believe ‘our way is the only way’ and be less inclined to consider suggestions or assistance from others.
Mercury retrograde in Sagittarius represents a time when learning or instruction could involve more effort than we’re used to giving. It is a time of trepidation and reservation; a period when a obligation and sensibility replace our sense of adventure and taking calculated risks. We weigh up situations that would normally receive a green light instantly to proceed with. Instinctive or intuitive judgment are compromised.
Travel plans become delayed or problematic. Clashes between cultures can occur as well, particularly on the global or political stage.
Mercury retrograde in the ambitious and cautious sign of Capricorn could represent a period of reflection, reassessment or re-evaluation where ambitions or involvement with individuals in positions of power or authority are concerned. Basing decisions on premature assumptions causes decisions or agreements to be redrawn or retracted in light of new information that arrives once Mercury turns direct.
It is a time when the head rules supremely over what the heart encourages. Sensibility and practicality become more integral to plans and ambitions. Even those who normally opt for adventure and spontaneity will likely be cautious or introspective.
Mercury retrograde in Aquarius will encourage a stronger sense of liberation and independence. This could lead to considering innovative or unconventional ideas. It could also instill a stronger sense of determination which, in turn, could cause miscommunication or misunderstandings.
It is a period of intellectual reflection and forward-thinking. We give increased thought to how we – as individuals or collectively – can work together for the benefit of Humankind.
The influence of Mercury retrograde in Pisces could manifest in numerous ways. We give collective thought to showing empathy to or assisting others. A desire to escape into colorful worlds of our own creation might become stronger. An urge to express ourselves creatively might also become stronger.
Retrograde Mercury in Pisces represents a period when emotions could override practicality or common sense where thoughts and planning are concerned. A strong or even exaggerated reliance on spirituality or the use of alcohol or drugs to assist with our thought processes or strengthening points we’re keen to convey could also become stronger.