Monday, 21 March 2011

Mercury Retrograde

Sometimes, stuff just happens. If you're concerned that the cosmos had it in for you recently, check the table below to see if Mercury might have been retrograde.

Retrograde Mercury is the most commonly known astrological signature for Murphy's Law ("If something can go wrong, it will"), and is one of the first features intermediate astrology students learn about. Say it to a seasoned astrologer and you'll likely get an amused smile and some delightful stories about how things can get quite unexpectedly unhinged.

Computers crash, software develops unexpected glitches, traffic jams ensue, telephone service snarls up, letters get lost on the mail, machinery breaks down, new projects fail. Ah, yes, the trickster Mercury is up to his old pranks again. In fact, at least three times a year for about three weeks each time Mercury has his way with us.

First let's look at what Mercury retrograde is, and then look at what can be done about it.

Those of a keen astronomical bent actually watch the planets each night as they travel through the zodiac. Mercury, which is only visible just before sunrise or just after sunset travels in a forward direction most of the time.

But three or four times a year, if you care to watch carefully, it appears to turn around and go backwards for about three weeks! Now Mercury really isn't going backwards. It's just an optical illusion based on the relative speeds and orbits of the Earth and Mercury around the Sun.

Here's an easy example. Think of riding in a fast car on an expressway which is passing a slower-moving car. The slower moving car appears to be moving backward, but it isn't really. It's just the relative speed and direction of the two cars gives that illusion. Retrograde Mercury is similar to that.

The apparent backward motion of Mercury is called retrograde, and it has been known and studied in western astrology for thousands of years.

In general the effect of Mercury retrograde is annoyance. Little things get snarled up and a low-grade frustration emerges. Anything involving communications, verbal activity, technology, short trips and journeys, primary education, and siblings can be affected.

While Mercury retrograde usually is in the minor irritant category, every now and then a colossal screw-up can take place.

For instance, the stock market crash of October, 2008, took place while Mercury was retrograde, although in all fairness a large number of other much stronger astrological indicators were also present pointing to a major financial failure. Retrograde Mercury was more like the astrological straw which broke the camel's back.

However, consider the Bush-Gore 2000 American presidential election in Florida. Now there's a classic colossal screw-up, and we can point our finger directly at Mercury retrograde.

For reasons best known to the Americans, they chose to have their 2000 presidential election on the exact day when Mercury retrograde energy peaked, called stationary direct. Oh, my goodness. In the end, after weeks of wrangling and legal battles, George W. Bush was declared the winner. History now records what a mess he made of virtually everything he did for the next eight years, a classic Mercury retrograde presidency.

(FWIW, astrologers, too, learned much from that Florida election. For instance, prior to the Florida election I had always thought a dimpled Chad was a good-looking man.)

One might think that after eight years of George W. Bush, the Americans might show a bit of respect for what Mercury retrograde can do to an election. But, no, apparently the Americans didn't get that message in their 2000 presidential election. Now please recall that the law of karma says if you don't get the message the first time, the lesson keeps coming back until you do get it. So, the Americans are going to get their noses rubbed in the Mercury retrograde lesson again.

The next American presidential election is scheduled to be held on Nov. 6, 2012, the exact day when Mercury is stationary retrograde. Here we go, people, instant replay.

Note two differences between the 2012 and the 2000 elections. The first is that in the 2000 election the Mercury retrograde was at the station which ended the retrograde, and in the 2012 election the Mercury retrograde will be at the station which begins the retrograde. Having made that distinction (which astrologers will relish thoroughly), for the rest of us just understand that both stations can snarl things up enormously. The beginning and ending stations are when the retrograde is the strongest.

The other difference is that in 2000 there was no incumbent running for re-election. It was anyone's race. In 2012 we can count on President Obama running for re-election. He's a Leo and Leos love the imperial limelight. But at this early date we can only speculate about who he might be running against. But we do know this. Whoever his opponent might be, that person will help significantly to define the electoral snarl up.

So, how does one say this politely? Oh boy. Anyone for another US presidential election that ends up looking like dog's breakfast? You read it here first.

Anyway, getting back to your life, with only a small amount foresight here are the precautions you can take to prevent colossal screw-ups in your life during the next Mercury retrograde:

If at all possible, avoid signing legal documents.
If at all possible, finish projects which involve communication before the retrograde.
If at all possible, avoid closing big deals during the retrograde
If at all possible, avoid launching new projects during the retrograde
If at all possible, avoid scheduling meetings to make a big decision
Allow extra time when travelling
Backup your hard drive before the retrograde
If at all possible, avoid installing new computer software during the retrograde
Do needed repairs on machinery before the retrograde
Do not hold an election during the retrograde.

This is not to say Mercury retrograde is always a bad thing. Far from it. It is actually an ideal time to do some other things, like:

Do the follow-ups on a project already started
Wrapup or complete a project already started
Research a new project thoroughly
Catch up on paperwork
Hold an information-sharing meeting
Enjoy someone's wacky sense of humour

Upcoming Mercury retrogrades

Begins:     (stationary retrograde)

Ends:     (stationary direct)

Sunday, April 18, 2010
4:01 a.m. GMT

Tuesday, May 11, 2010
10:23 p.m. GMT

Friday, August 20, 2010
7:53 p.m. GMT

Sunday, September 12, 2010
11:04 p.m. GMT

Saturday, December 10, 2010
11:58 a.m. GMT

Thursday, December 30, 2010
7:16 a.m. GMT

Wednesday, March 30, 2011
8:49 p.m. GMT

Saturday, April 23, 2011
10:05 a.m. GMT

Wednesday, August 3, 2011
3:51 a.m. GMT

Friday, August 26, 2011
10:04 p.m. GMT

Thursday, November 24, 2011
7:20 a.m. GMT

Wednesday, December 14, 2011
1:44 a.m. GMT

Monday, March 12, 2012
7:50 a.m. GMT

Wednesday, April 4, 2012
10:12 a.m. GMT

Sunday, July 15, 2012
2:17 a.m. GMT

Wednesday, August 8, 2012
5:41 a.m. GMT

Tuesday, November 6, 2012
11:05 p.m. GMT

Monday, November 26, 2012
10:49 p.m. GMT

Saturday, February 23, 2013
9:42 a.m. GMT

Sunday, March 17, 2013
8:04 p.m. GMT

Wednesday, June 26, 2013
1:09 p.m. GMT

Saturday, July 20, 2013
6:23 p.m. GMT

Monday, October 21, 2013
10:30 a.m. GMT

Sunday, November 10, 2013
9:13 p.m. GMT

Thursday, February 6, 2014
9:44 p.m. GMT

Friday, February 28, 2014
2:01 p.m. GMT

What is Mercury Retrograde?
All of the planets move in the same direction around the Sun, each with a different rate of speed.  Mercury's orbit is 88 days long; therefore approximately 4 orbits of Mercury around the Sun equals 1 Earth year. —
Periodically, Mercury appears to slow down, then stop, (stationary retrograde) and then move slowly backwards for several weeks (retrograde).  Eventually, it appears to stop again and reverse direction (stationary direct) moving slowly forward once again (direct). Eventually Mercury appears to return to its normal orbital speed.
This occurs because Mercury travels faster than the Earth, and it periodically catches up with Earth, passing us by. When Mercury "goes retrograde" it does not actually slow down, stop and move backwards. It only appears to do so. This phenomenon occurs near Mercury's inferior conjunction to the Sun—as Mercury passes closest to the Earth, between the Earth and the Sun. This phenomenon has to do with the relative speed of the Earth and Mercury as well as their relationship to each other at a particular point in their orbits. There are threeMercury Retrograde periods each year, each lasting approximately 3 weeks.
What does Mercury Retrograde mean? 
In mythology, Mercury is the messenger of the gods.  Astrologically, the planet Mercury is said to be associated with or to rule all activities that relate to communications, travel, learning such as:
    • signing agreements
    • classes and schools
    • sending correspondence
    • communications equipment such as computers, radios, and phones
    • traveling and travel equipment such as cars, bicycles, trains, and planes
Classically, Mercury retrograde periods are not considered idealfor engaging in Mercury related activities such as:
  • placing ads
  • making important decisions
  • travel
  • purchasing communications equipment
  • signing contracts
  • initiating business deals
  • sending important correspondence or any type of message
  • starting school or any important project
  • beginning any new enterprise (as plans may be reversed later)
A Mercury retrograde period is thought to be excellent for:
  • reviewing and revising plans
  • catching up on old business
  • cleaning out the metaphorical closet
  • deeply considering issues
like everything else in life, these rules are not steadfast and your experiences may differ from these generalities. Never let the planets rule your life! If you simply must sign a contract or begin a new job when Mercury is retrograde, go for it!
While some of us are very sensitive to Mercury cycles and find that certain activities become difficult during retrograde periods, while others experience no such problems. How you experience Mercury has a lot to do with planetary placements at your birth, as well as with current planetary positions. The best way to understand how Mercury retrograde periods impact you is to track your own experience. Check the dates that Mercury is retrograde to track how sensitive you are to this cycle.
My baby might be born during Mercury retrograde and I'm nervous with how this will affect him/her in life? 
Do not worry about your little baby if s/he's born with a retrograde Mercury. Many very intelligent people have that in their charts. It's the mark of a deep thinker and, depending on the sign and placement of Mercury in relation to the natal chart as a whole, it can indicate an individualistic thinker—someone who absorbs information from external sources, and processes it coming up with their own conclusion. The Mercury retrograde native does not approach things in a superficial way, and often has an uncanny ability to see beneath the surface of issues.
Again, depending on the sign and placement, it may indicate a person who is hesitant to share opinions unless they feel confident that others want to know their thoughts. So if your baby has Mercury retrograde, be sure to encourage him/her to let you know what s/he thinks—and to give him/her time to consider options. So you might say to a young child with this placement, "Do you want milk or orange juice for breakfast? Think about it while I butter your toast and let me know."