Cruising with Mercury Retrograde

by C.M. Hafeman 2004-08

Each retrograde period lasts about three and a half weeks, and there are usually three retrograde periods within one year. Noting when Mercury goes retrograde provides an easy way to test how planetary energy might interact with mundane life. "Retrograde" means the planet stops and appears to reverse its direction of travel as seen from Earth. The backwards motion is apparent; it occurs because of planet Mercury's speed in orbit relative to that of the Earth. Even though retrograde motion is an optical illusion, it has a noticeable effect on affairs happening Earthside. How could this be so? Maybe all of existence is an optical illusion anyway, a sort of matter-energy hologram staged within a web of space-time, with gravity functioning as the "glue" that holds the construct together. Therefore, observation from the perspective of one illusion can result in interaction with the effects of another illusion.

So, what form does Mercury retrograde action take on Earth? Mercury rules transportation and communication, so delays, equipment breakdowns, careless mistakes and communicative misunderstandings multiply. Some folks are inspired to turn within, communing more with the inner self, while others kick into nervous, hyperdrive chatter to cover the conversation gaps. It's not a good time to sign contracts, get married, take tests, start a war, make major purchases or undergo surgery, unless the transaction is understood to be part of an ongoing series of changes or revisions. At the least, a major undertaking finalized during a Merc retro period will be subject to obstacles, revisions and delays before benefit is accrued.

On the other hand, Merc retro might be a good time to sell a lemon car or commit a crime, as evidence is apt to be muddled or lost and people are simply paying less attention; take for example, when Nichole Simpson was eliminated.1 Some astrologers counsel against it, but I think Merc retro is a great time to take a vacation. I would, however, avoid making travel arrangements during the three days Merc is stationing to go into or come out of retrograde motion. The potential for delays, canceling of flights, losing of baggage and taking detours through Des Moines is greatly increased at those times.

Merc retro is also a good time to go over, revise and finish old business, make repairs, do research or start a love affair. If, however, you are already engaged in a love affair chances are good for getting caught. Scandalous business that was buried before can become exposed to the harsh light of day, courtasy of Merc retro. It can be a very creative time, but expect the expression of the final product to change after the retro period is over. The tone and theme of the retro period is colored by the sign in which it occurs; in Aries, Merc retro can display as a decrease in daring, initiative, self-motivation or competition, while in Scorpio it encourages silent brooding, subversive intrigue and in-depth planning of revenge. Just imagine, Geminis and Virgos are ruled by Mercury, so they can enjoy additional bouts of personal vagueness and lack of attention to detail three times a year.

If you really want to go crazy with this thing, some astrologers assign equal importance to the three weeks or so before Mercury goes retrograde, calling it the "shadow" period. During this time, Mercury is traveling over the same degree area to which it will backtrack during retrograde motion. Purists would have us extend the rules of Merc retro conduct to cover this contingency, which adds up to 21 or so weeks of Merc retro per year, or about four months and a week. If you work this proposition in with other planets that go retro over the course of a year, you might not ever be able to come out of hibernation.

A very practical example of Merc retro in action: A man generates a quit-claim deed from a software program he purchased. The first time he generated the claim sheet he decided to do it on two regular-sized sheets of paper. After having the deed signed, notarized and witnessed he sent it to the title company for filing. They contacted him back, saying he would be charged double, unless he used one sheet of legal-sized paper. He went out and bought a ream of legal-sized paper, cranked out a new form, got it signed, notarized and witnessed, then re-submited it again. And, this quit-claim was one of two series of quit-claims needed to settle ownership rights of property. Everything was done twice during the Retrograde period, besides the guy being a Gemini (II). He had to do the quit claim forms one more time again when Mercury went direct, due to more careless mistakes. If Mercury had been direct all along, well, he probably would have gotten someone else to do it for him in the first place.

1 Death of Nichole Simpson, approx. 00:15 am Monday June 13, 1994, Brentwood, California.

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