“Mercury Retrograde” is a phrase that causes astrology-buffs no end of grunts and groans. Personally, I’d love to just hermit myself away during these occasions, which happen about three times a year for about three weeks each.
An astrological retrograde means that a planet looks like it stops in its orbit (this is called stationing) and then goes in reverse.
Of course, planets don’t really do this, but because astrology is a geocentric practice, if we imagine that Earth is the center of things that all of the planets (including the Sun and the Moon) revolve around, then occasionally, they seem to switch gears and move backward.
Except for the Sun and the Moon — they never go retrograde. I believe that this, along with being the luminaries and biggest influences on Earth– not just astrologically but physically– accounts for why the ancient astrologers held them in such high esteem.
This year the dates for Mercury in Retrograde are:
January 5 – January 25, 2016
April 28 – May 22, 2016
August 30 – September 22, 2016
Dec 19 2016 – Jan 8, 2017
Astronomically, Mercury is the planet closest to the sun and its orbit is the fastest. It hurtles through space at just over four times the speed of Earth, completing its ‘year’ in just 88 of our Earth days.
It seems ironic that it zooms so quickly in orbit, but rotates so slowly compared to our world. A day on Mercury takes about 176 Earth days.
Mercury sticks so close to the sun in a zodiac chart that its placement is never more than one sign away from your sun sign. This means if you are a Gemini, your Mercury placement can only be in Taurus (as mine is), Gemini, or Cancer. A Gemini will never have a Mercury placement in Scorpio or Capricorn.
In astrology, each planet has its own personality and areas that it rules over. Mercury, much like the Roman god it’s named after, rules areas of communication, travel, business, and commerce. In our modern times, this covers areas like internet and cell phones as well. When Mercury is in retrograde, we’re advised to be extra careful about signing contracts, starting communications, or making major purchases. Because of communication issues, tensions and misunderstandings are heightened during this period and people can very easily come across one way when they meant something totally different, so be patient and pay attention, ask for clarification, and save your emails in draft form and reread them before you hit ‘send’ to be sure you have said what you really meant to say in the clearest way possible — electronic communication is one of Mercury’s favorite things, being instant connection across huge distances, and is liable to be one of the areas hit the hardest during this phase.
Recently I have dealt with the effects of this because I placed an online order for some clothes.
I did this before the retrograde hit, thinking I was careful and things would arrive before this started.
No such luck.
I expected to receive this order within 8 business days, my account was billed and the money taken out, the order had been set for shipment, but whenever I checked the tracking it had not moved. After almost a week of waiting for the tracking info to update, I called and learned that the order had not been delivered to the transportation facility. It was probably still stuck in the warehouse because no delivery was given. So, they canceled that order, refunded my money, and set me up with a new order of the same merchandise at a lower cost, with free overnight shipping. When that order arrived, two of the garments were the wrong size.
Two steps forward– one step back is pretty fortunate for Mercury’s shenanigans during retrograde, so I consider myself lucky. I’ll be handling the other side of the issue — with the two wrong articles of clothing — after it stations and goes direct on the 22nd of this month.
Because Hermes is also one of the gods I work very closely with, and in no small part because I’m a Gemini (which is ruled by the planet Mercury) with several other planets in Gemini, times of Mercury retrograde hit me pretty hard. I spend as much time as possible reviewing, restructuring, releasing, and remembering as I can. I use these weeks to concentrate inward on myself, because communication with the outside world, even my boyfriend and family, is very difficult.
I also make offerings to Hermes during periods of Mercury retrograde. Last year, I wrote a “Hymn to Hermes”.
I wish you safe travels, good insight, steady communication, and peace during this hectic and confusing time.