The word retrograde applies, in astrology, to the apparent backward motion thru the zodiac of a planet. An old encyclopedia of astrology describes this retrograde motion as "the effect of a slow-moving train as viewed from another train traveling parallel to it but at a more rapid rate, wherein the slower train appears to be moving backwards. However, in the case of the celestial bodies it is not a matter of their actual speed of travel, but of the rate at which they change their angular relationship."* This traditional concept arises from the planetary motion created by the orbital rotation of the earth, in relation to other planets in our solar system. Planets are never actually retrograde or stationary, they just seem that way, due to this optical illusion.
Retrograde periods, although often problematic for us earthlings, are not particularly uncommon. All the planets, except Sun and Moon, have these retrograde periods, but Mercury is most famous for them, probably because Mercury represents our very essential communication abilities.
In general, Mercury rules thinking and perception, processing and disseminating information and all means of communication, commerce and transportation. By extension, Mercury rules people who work in these areas, especially people who work with their minds or their wits: writers and orators, commentators and critics, gossips and spin doctors, tricksters and thieves. Mercury retrograde gives rise to personal misunderstandings; flawed, disrupted, or delayed communications, negotiations and trade; glitches and breakdowns with phones, computers, cars, buses, and trains. And all of these problems usually arise because some crucial piece of information, or component, has gone astray, or awry.
When Mercury is retrograde, everyone's thinking is more introspective and we tend to think about issues and concerns which relate to the sign involved. It should be noted that Mercury retrograde, like any cosmic aspect, affects people differently, depending on where it hits their personal charts. Some people actually prosper under a retro Mercury, especially if Mercury is retrograde but otherwise well-aspected in their birth charts. It is also a time when matters begun under a previous retro period will come to fruition, or completion as the case may be.
The good things to do when Mercury is Retrograde: meditate, contemplate, edit the book/poem/song/essay you've been writing, clean house, talk to your pet, listen to music, paint, catch up on sleep!
* Encyclopedia of Astrology, Nicholas deVore, Philosophical Library, 1947
Current retrograde periods can be found here: Astrology Zone
~© Lisa Mc Sherry 2005, 2016,
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