Mercury turned retrograde January 21, at 17 degrees of Aquarius. Mercury goes retrograde 3 or 4 times a year, and generally has a bad name and elicits groans when mentioned. To an extent this is perfectly understandable, as retrograde Mercury is the planet that causes delays, glitches, breakdowns in computers and equipment, relationships, slowdowns and brings hidden factors to the surface. Plans can be put on hold, miscommunication can occur, relationships can end or change, and cars, computers and other machinery can break down at the most inopportune moment.
All of this will occur, but this period does not have to be the disaster many believe it to be with some basic knowledge ahead of time. The four most important things are to 1)understand what retrograde Mercury means 2)know what to expect 3) know what to avoid and lastly 4)understand what you can gain from it. With this basic information available, you should be able to make the most of the time, and benefit from the retrograde as oppose to being caught off guard.
The first step is to know what retrograde Mercury means. In the strictest sense of the word, the planet of communication does not actually go backward, it only appears to. This will occur three or four times every year. A planet is described as retrograde when it appears to be moving backwards through the zodiac, and this is referred to as apparent retrograde motion. When planets retrograde, their effects on humans are different than when in direct motion. Thinking is deeper, situations often appear to go underground for a time, or change altogether, and sometimes our focus shifts. Mercury retrograde is the most talked about retrograde, because it is a fast moving planet that controls our thinking, speech, travel, and cognitive skills. When Mercury retrogrades, there are several phases. The first phase is the pre-retrograde shadow period which began January 5. This period is where Mercurial energy starts to shift and it is time to start wrapping up new projects for the time being and focusing on what is at hand. The second phase of retrograde Mercury is the stationary retrograde period, when Mercury starts to shift into apparent backward motion. This period begins January 21-22, when Mercury starts its retrograde. This is the period most glitches start to become evident, and if you have a prominent Mercury in your chart, thinking may become foggy. Mercury continues to retrograde in Aquarius through February 11, when it turns stationary direct. This is the second period when glitches, breakdowns and changes in direction may well occur. Mercury begins to move forward again on February 16, but remains in the shadow direct phase until March 3. Mercurial energy does not pick up its normal pace until completion of the second shadow period. So, the retrograde Mercury period is actually a much longer cycle than most people understand. Changes will occur at the juncture of each retrograde phase.
The second step in surviving a retrograde is to know what to expect. What you can expect and prepare for are slowdowns, delays, miscommunications, interference with travel and travel plans and appointments, and the breakdown of machinery, situations and even relationships. If your car has been limping along and you have been putting off a repair, know this is the likely time it will become obvious that you have to fix it. If your computer is slow or having problems be sure and back up everything important. (I learned this one the hard way several times!) If you are in a relationship that is tottering on the brink of ending, this may well be the period that can occur, and often does. Of course, I always tell people, ‘Mercury retrograde is a wild card.” Sometimes, relationships can be fixed and problems brought out into the open if it is worth saving. Expect delays, changes of plans and try and not have situations set in stone. In other words, prepare to be flexible. Mercury retrograde is often a frustrating time to be looking for a job. Don’t give up though, just keep plugging on and stay on top of all communication. And make sure you are direct and to the point in your communication with others. If you don’t understand what someone is telling you, by all means ask for clarification.
The third and perhaps most important step in surviving retrograde Mercury is to know what to avoid. Don’t get married, start a new business, start new projects or begin anything you hope will become permanent during the most important three week phase of the retrograde. Don’t purchase high ticket items, important Christmas gifts, paint, or anything you expect to be there for a long time if you can avoid it. Retrograde Mercury is not the time to start new projects, but rather finish up the old, and redo, re-organize or re-work. Go against this advice and you may wish you hadn’t. I chose the paint color in my office on retrograde Mercury just to test it, and as I write this post, I wish I had time to get out a paintbrush today.
The fourth step to surviving retrograde Mercury is to understand what you can gain from it. Know that retrograde Mercury is part of the natural cycle of life and it is not anything out of the ordinary. Everything serves a purpose and the point of a retrograde Mercury is to slow down a bit, reflect, rethink, re-do, re-plan and reorganize and reconsider. It is a period of correction. Rather than starting new projects it is time to look at what is on the drawing board. Often during a retrograde, thinking changes direction and a more appropriate course of action can be mapped out. Often new information comes to the surface that must be considered. Sometimes secrets are revealed, and the truth comes out into the open. The truth may not be what your want to hear, but it can set you free. Retrograde Mercury is a time to plan, work on you, and delve into the spiritual side of life. Sometimes important contacts with people from our past can be initiated, and there is generally a focus on the past or past situations that can come back up to be resolved. Just focus on what is at hand rather than starting new situations. If you are forced to start a job during a retrograde, it could be altered when Mercury goes direct, or you may not have all the facts. If you begin a new relationship on a retrograde, it may end or change when Mercury goes forward, time will tell.
All in all, retrograde Mercury is a period where we should reflect on our current state, and plan rather than initiate new ventures. Reconsider your options, re-write, re-organize, and re-think. If you follow these basic principles, I can’t guarantee you won’t experience frustration, but you will survive the retrograde and perhaps come out of it better than you had believed possible.