Mercury Retrograde is one of the notoriously daunting transits in astrology, with astrologers advising us to be extra careful with electronics, hold off on signing contracts, and refrain from getting involved with anyone or anything new during this time.
Mercury is the third fastest moving planet after the Sun and Moon, and is the planet that most frequently goes into retrograde motion.
The hype around Mercury retrograde is all based on the principles of astrology. Mercury rules our communication styles, thought processes, travel, machinery and electronics – when it goes into retrograde, people are affected with issues pertaining to these areas. Retrograde planets don’t actually move backwards – it only appears that way when Earth passes them during their orbits.
Mercury goes into retrograde three to four times every year for about three weeks at a time. Unfortunately, it is inevitable and it occurs so frequently. If you possibly could hold off on buying machinery and electronics, starting new relationships, ending resisting relationships, signing contracts or traveling longer than the normal commute – please do! The reason is because during Mercury retrograde, all methods of communication are clouded and negatively affected. Communication is key to all parts of our everyday life: in nature, between humans, between written words and the brain process, between parts of a machine. I know, it is irrational to hold off on living your life because of Mercury retrograde! However, it is definitely advisable to be wary of its presence, and to intelligently live under its influence.
During Mercury retrograde, when it comes to…
- buying machinery or electronics: make sure you invest in a warranty, and make your purchase frugal if possible.
- starting a new relationship or venture (business, personal, romantic, etc.): keep in mind that people and situations may not actually turn out to be the way they presented themselves or the way you perceived them.
- ending a pre-existing relationship or venture (business, personal, romantic, etc.): stick it out if you can! It’s only a few weeks. During Mercury retrograde, we can see things differently than we normally would.
- signing a contract or having a meeting: take your time reading contracts and get second opinions on it without bringing your own opinion into the situation. Use all possible modes of communication with all involved parties to clarify terms as well as possible.
- traveling: plan ahead to accommodate delays.
So you’re probably wondering, what can you actually do during Mercury retrograde?! Continue projects that were conceived before Mercury went retrograde. We all have enough of those to keep us occupied for a few weeks. Also, take a look at your natal chart in relation to Mercury retrograde in order to understand how it can uniquely affect your life. If you don’t have your natal chart available, just input your birth information here! This chart will come in handy in a bit.
The Pre-Shadow & Post Shadow Meanings:
Before and after a planet goes retrograde, we experience a pre-shadow and post-shadow retrograde period. The pre-shadow period starts when a planet is moving forward in the zodiac and transits the degree that it will later go direct, and ends when the planet starts its retrograde motion. During the pre-shadow period, we find ourselves making decisions that may be questioned or changed during the retrograde period. Mercury retrograde’s pre-shadow period this Autumn 2015 started on August 28 and ends when Mercury goes retrograde on September 17.
The post-shadow period starts when the planet goes direct, and ends when the planet hits the degree that it went retrograde. During the post-shadow period, we get a chance to reflect and apply any lessons we have learned during the retrograde period. This Autumn 2015, the post-shadow period starts when Mercury goes direct on October 9th and ends on October 24.
How Will Mercury Retrograde Affect You Personally:
With every retrograde comes potential lessons. Mercury goes retrograde at 15°Libra and goes direct at 00°Libra. These degrees in your natal chart will be where you might find these lessons. For reference, each sign is 30°, so 00° is at the beginning of a sign and 15° is in the middle of a sign. The Libra glyph looks like this: ♎
If you know what time you were born, you can see which house(s) Mercury goes retrograde and direct in your birth chart, and you can embrace the upcoming potential lessons. Again, to get your natal chart, head here >>
If 00° or 15°Libra falls in certain houses, or if it makes an aspect to other planets it other houses, be aware of the shifts in these areas:
- 1st house: self, first impressions, appearances
- 2nd house: money, values, possessions, self-worth
- 3rd house: siblings, communication, short travel, neighbors
- 4th house: home, emotional roots, family, home furnishings
- 5th house: romance, self-expression, gambling, creativity
- 6th house: health, daily routines, work routines, acts of service
- 7th house: social contracts, business partnerships, marriage partners
- 8th house: death, regeneration, sexual intimacy, joint resources, inheritance, debt
- 9th house: travel, higher education, philosophy, teachers
- 10th house: public image, career or vocation, ambition, job attainment
- 11th house: goals, dreams, friends, networking connections
- 12th house: inner self, subconscious/unconscious dreams, the past, secrets
Quick reference on how to locate these degrees in a chart:
- First, get your natal chart, which you can easily do by inputting your birth date and place here >>
- An astrology chart is a 360° wheel, and each of the 12 signs takes up 30°.
- Your personal astrology chart starts at your Ascendant, which is determined by the date, time and location of your birth. Below, I use Caitlyn Jenner’s birth chart as our model. The Ascendant is marked below by the label “AC” by the middle-left of the chart. In Caitlyn’s chart, her AC is in Scorpio ♏.
- From your Ascendant, the signs can be found in order if you look counter-clockwise around the wheel. Example (1) highlights the border around the sign Pisces. The longer black lines are what borders the 30° that each sign takes up on the wheel.
- Example (2) points out 15°Libra ♎, which is the degree where Mercury is going to start its retrograde motion. In Caitlyn’s chart, 15°Libra falls in the 12th house – therefore, she will need to retreat in solitude to work through her confusion during Mercury retrograde. This is already in her nature because her Natal Mercury is already in the 12th house. At this time, she may feel as if results that she has been working towards are not coming along as quickly as she expected. If this is the case, it is because her intuition needs to be channeled to get the ball rolling on existing projects.
- Example (3) points out 00°Libra ♎, which is the degree where Mercury is going to go back to its direct motion. As you can see, 00°Libra is right at the border of Virgo ♍ and Libra ♎. When Mercury goes direct, Mercury-related processes focused upon, but not as strongly as they would be during the retrograde. Transiting Mercury will also go direct in conjunction with Caitlyn’s Neptune at 15°Libra in the 11th house. Neptune is the planet that represents illusions, masks, inspiration, dreams and personal sacrifice. Because of Neptune’s strong presence here, communication with friends and and within her network will be hindered – whether it will be face-to-face, or through technology. The most obvious interpretation would be that Caitlyn will find out a friend has been deceiving her in some way. Another way this would play out is if an old friend rejoins Caitlyn’s life unexpectedly. This would be a time for Caitlyn to figure out which friends are truly worth her time. Because the 11th house also represents goals and dreams, Caitlyn may have decisions to make between which goals to work on and which goals to push to the side in the meantime.