What exactly is Mercury retrograde and how does it affect us?

What exactly is Mercury retrograde and how does it affect us?


A planet that is retrograde, means to astrologers that it is in apparent backward motion. We use the word “apparent” because in reality, this is an optical illusion. Due to there being no forward movement, the planet appears to go backward. Imagine a slow-moving train as viewed from another train travelling parallel to it but at a more rapid rate: the slower train would appear to be moving backwards.


In astrology all planets retrograde except the Sun and Moon. Mars, Jupiter and other planets outside the Earth’s orbit move retrograde when they are opposite the Sun. Planets inside the Earth’s orbit (Mercury and Venus) move retrograde when they are between the Earth and Sun.


Mercury is retrograde three or four times a year and is typically retrograde for approximately 24 days.


Mercury Shadow


Some astrologers take into account the affect of the “Mercury Shadow;” The reason for this is because when Mercury is retrograde it travels back to a certain degree before it is stationary, then moves forward again. The Mercury Shadow period then extends to the return date, after Mercury turns direct again. During the shadow phase

some experiences characteristic of Mercury retrograde might be felt.


What are the affects of Mercury retrograde?


Mercury is the planet of communication and therefore it is in this area that the affect of Mercury retrograde is felt most strongly. Communication can involve talking, writing, telephones, e-mails, text messages, journalism, authors and teaching.


Mercury is also about short trips, visiting, commuting and transportation. Computers, online communications and relationships with siblings are all a part of Mercury’s domain.


When Mercury is retrograde, the following are the kind of things you might expect:


  • Travel delays are likely: anyone travelling on public transport should be prepared for delays.
  • Documents can get lost or there may be some omissions or errors such as a missing signature that causes some nuisance and aggravation.
  • People are indecisive or you might find it hard to make decisions; not everything will seem clear. It might feel as if you and your loved ones are speaking a different language, you just can’t get on the same mental wave-length. Words are easily misinterpreted when Mercury is retrograde.
  • Gossip can be dangerous and misleading; don’t listen to it.
  • Mechanical failures happen when Mercury is retrograde; computers break down or documents are erased by mistake.
  • Items get lost or misplaced; you might get lost if you’re travelling.



When Mercury is retrograde it is not a good time to:


  • Sign Contracts
  • Buy a new car, computer, house or pet.
  • Make financial or professional agreements without going over everything two or three times. Better still wait until Mercury is direct before signing the dotted line.
  • Travel long distances.
  • Send out Public Relation news to newspapers, internet, televisions or other mediums.
  • Start a Blog or open a new web site.


If you go ahead and do the above, there is a chance that:


  • The contract will have hidden clauses you won’t be happy about.
  • The new car/computer/house or pet will have hidden problems that could make you regret the buy.
  • Anything agreed on may not develop as expected.
  • Long distance travel could be beset with delays and other problems. You could get lost.
  • Any Public Relation exercise is unlikely to have the hoped-for impact. It might feel as if all the hard work was in vain.
  • A new web site begun under Mercury retrograde isn’t likely to flourish as much as it would if begun once Mercury is direct.


(Occasionally the odd frustration will occur but sometimes it might feel as if everything happens at once, depending on the sign Mercury is in at the time.):


People should guard against deceit and trickery when Mercury is retrograde. Acts of terrorism might also occur. Confusion is high and people often find it difficult to concentrate during these phases.


The Good News about Mercury Retrograde


Mercury retrograde is not all about frustration and aggravation. This is a great time to catch up on anything that has been lying around for some time, to get in touch with old friends and share news, to enjoy quiet times of relaxation and taking it easy.


It’s a good time to meditate and consider the past just to make sure recent decisions are the right ones. If old arguments are rehashed, this can give you the chance to make up for past mistakes and admit to any errors that have been made. If previous plans or agreements weren’t going well, while Mercury is retrograde, people might agree to go over old ground, revise and rework in order to get it right next time. Often, during times of revision, new issues are brought to light that help to improve the process.


Times when Mercury is retrograde in 2009


The following dates are when Mercury is retrograde including the Mercury Shadow period:


(April 23 Mercury shadow begins at 22 deg Taurus)

May 7 Mercury turns retrograde at 1 deg Gemini

May 30 Mercury turns direct at 22 deg Taurus

(June 15 Mercury shadow ends at 1 deg Gemini)


(Aug 17 Mercury shadow begins at 21 deg Virgo)

Sept 7 Mercury turns retrograde at 6 deg Libra

Sept 20 Mercury turns direct in 21 Virgo

(Oct 14 Mercury shadow ends at 6 deg Libra)


(Dec 9 Mercury shadow begins at 5 deg Cap)

Dec 26 Mercury turns retrograde at 21 deg Capricorn

Jan 15 2010 Mercury turns direct at 5 deg Capricorn

(February 4 2010 Mercury shadow ends at 21 deg Capricorn)