Mercury retrograde gets a bad rap these days, with everyone keen to blame mishaps and misunderstandings on these regular periods of Mercurial mischief. But actually, Mercury retrograde can be a blessing as well as a curse. The key is to understand how and when it affects you – not every Mercury retrograde is felt by everyone, though.
What Happens When Mercury is Retrograde?
Retrograde motion – which happens to all planets, not just Mercury – is when the planet appears, as seen from earth, to be moving backwards through the zodiac for a period of time. Planets never move backwards, it’s just an illusion, caused because each planet has its own orbiting speed that sometimes gets out of synch with the earth’s.
Mercury is the most famous planet to do this, with most people having heard of Mercury retrograde even if they’re not familiar with astrology. Mercury turns retrograde sometimes four times a year, but usually three times a year – typically in the spring, late summer and last few weeks of the year. Each retrograde period lasts for approximately three weeks.
Because it happens so frequently, it’s not unusual of course for someone to be born during a Mercury retrograde period. If this is the case for you, then you have what we call a natal Mercury retrograde in your birth chart, which affects how Mercury’s energies will play out on a day to day basis in your chart.
Despite the myths that communication is doomed and everyone is affected by mistakes during a Mercury retrograde period, most people are largely unaffected by any given period. However, when Mercury turns retrograde while transiting a significant area of your chart, or when it contacts important planets during its retrograde, then you will definitely feel the effects.
What Is the Importance of Mercury Retrograde in Astrology?
Mercury is the messenger planet, linked heavily to communication and also to ideas, thoughts and intellect. When Mercury is retrograde, it can be like trying to communicate through thick fog or trying to piece together a complicated jigsaw in the dark, during a storm, having lost a third of the pieces. Thoughts are scattered, and because we’re not communicating clearly, words get misunderstood or lost in translation.
At work or in business, it can be difficult to get decisions finalized or negotiations underway while Mercury is retrograde. In your personal life, you may find it hard to voice your feelings or to compromise with your sweetheart.
Mercury also has a role to play in travel and transport, machinery and IT and if Mercury retrograde hits your chart just so you may find that your travel plans are disrupted, your appliances break down or your phone or laptop refuses to play ball.
Sometimes the effects of Mercury retrograde can be serious, but mostly they’re just irritating. Knowing what to expect can help you plan ahead, which is why astrology is helpful in highlighting these potentially disruptive weeks.
Mercury retrograde also brings benefits, however. It’s a chance to step back from the busy-busy of life and to either have some fun or to reflect on where you’ve been so far. Although it’s not a great time for making new decisions, it is an excellent time for reviewing what may have gone wrong in the past, so that you can tweak the future accordingly.
Mercury retrograde can also bring valuable down time into our lives. Make a point of switching off your phone and postponing meetings; use the time you save to engage with nature, to play with your kids or simply to daydream. In astrology, nothing is ever purely positive or purely negative; if you look for the bright side of Mercury retrograde, it’s not too hard to find.
Mercury Retrograde in the Natal Chart
If you were born during a Mercury retrograde period, then the way Mercury energy is expressed in your birth chart is a little different to normal. You may seem to have an unspoken link to the past and perhaps you experience karmic insight or déjà vu more often than other people. It can be difficult for you to express yourself as you would like, however, and some natal Mercury retrograde people can be a little shy.
Astrology suggests that you are highly intelligent, but that you doubt your own mental abilities. This may lead to a lack of confidence at school, unless someone finds the right way to nurture your talents. Going back to education in later life is often highly successful, as by that time you will have found your feet and will be able to let your natural abilities shine.
Mercury Retrograde Transiting the Astrological Houses
When it comes to retrograde planets, the zodiac sign the planet is traveling through gives us an overall flavor of what to expect, but this changes during each retrograde period. For a better insight into what to expect during a Mercury retrograde transit period, we look at which astrological house the planet is moving through.
Mercury Retrograde Transiting 1st House
Use this energy to review how you’re coming across to others. It’s not that your image or your attitude need to change but try to make sure that you are expressing yourself clearly and that others understand what you want or need from them. Figure out where your communication style has failed in the past and fix it.
Mercury Retrograde Transiting 2nd House
Use this time to streamline your finances and to cut back on unnecessary expenses. It is not a good time for new investments or for big spending, but it’s a great time to work out a budget, get a better deal on a credit card or re-set your schedule to allow you extra time to work on lucrative projects.
Mercury Retrograde Transiting 3rd House
Be flexible. Your schedule is likely to be chaotic during this period, and other people will let you down for meetings and appointments. Give them the benefit of the doubt, because you might end up letting someone down too. Adapt, reschedule, re-think, do things a different way. Being determined to stick to a plan will only end in tears.
Mercury Retrograde Transiting 4th House
When Mercury is retrograde in your home zone, it’s the ideal time for decluttering. Get rid of objects which no longer serve you and give your home a thorough refresh. This is also a good time to think deeply about your family relationships; if you have difficult relatives to handle, observe how you could try a different approach next time.
Mercury Retrograde Transiting 5th House
Creativity may stall during this period, but your imagination and ideas can be revitalized by seeking out inspiring places and people. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to perform; instead, just focus on having fun, whatever that means to you. By bringing light and laughter into your life at this time, you’ll naturally find renewed inspiration.
Mercury Retrograde Transiting 6th House
This period is perfect for clearing office or work-related clutter, and for re-organizing your diary or setting up a new time management process. It’s also important to pay attention to your health. Quiet niggles and things you’ve been meaning to attend to for months may now become more urgent – nip that in the bud by being proactive with your wellbeing.
Mercury Retrograde Transiting 7th House
Revisit the unspoken rules which govern your relationship – who does what, what’s acceptable and what isn’t. Some of this likely isn’t working for you or your partner, so renegotiate and rethink. In business, avoid signing contracts at this time and seek more time for negotiation.
Mercury Retrograde Transiting 8th House
Just as this energy has been good for de-cluttering in other areas of the chart, Mercury retrograde in the 8th house is good for de-cluttering your mind. Forgiveness is a big way to do this. Forgive those who have hurt you, so that they no longer take up your head space. Do it for your own sake, not for theirs.
Mercury Retrograde Transiting 9th House
Travel plans are especially vulnerable while Mercury retrograde transits this house, so double and treble check the details before a lengthy journey. Elsewhere, don’t be surprised to find your beliefs challenged, especially spiritually. It’s OK to change your mind if you learn something new and discover you have been wrong.
Mercury Retrograde Transiting 10th House
In your career, making a good first impression is likely to be difficult at this time. Your best bet is to focus on existing clients or customers. It’s not a great time to job hunt and misunderstandings with colleagues may abound. Having said that, it’s a great time for a vacation away from work altogether!
Mercury Retrograde Transiting 11th House
Don’t pay too much attention to gossip in this period, as it’s likely to be untrue. It’s important not to judge others without having the full facts, so be fair-minded with friends, even if they let you down. Double check the details of social events as these are liable to change or become muddled. It’s a good time to cut back on social engagements for a couple of weeks.
Mercury Retrograde Transiting 12th House
Dreams can be very important during this Mercury retrograde period; note them carefully and look for insights which may help with your current problems, or themes which may suggest a karmic or past life influence. If you feel sadness or regret over something, sit with the feeling and acknowledge it. Only then can you let it go.