One astrological phenomenon that has entered the collective conversation is Mercury retrograde, a period of about three weeks when the planet astrologers associate with communication, information, transportation, and some types of technology appears to go backward through the zodiac.
“The planet doesn’t really change direction; it only appears to do so from our perspective on Earth because of the orbits of Mercury and the Earth around the sun. Mercury goes retrograde three times a year,” astrologer Armand Diaz explains.
He says astrologers themselves are of two minds about the meaning of Mercury retrograde.
“Although many people get the idea that Mercury retrograde is a fretful time when you shouldn’t do just about anything, it’s really only Mercurial things that matter. Signing contracts, buying a new car or computer (or software), beginning a new writing project, or even starting to read a new book are things that have traditionally come under scrutiny with Mercury retrograde,” he said, adding:
“Many astrologers would suggest it’s better to wait until Mercury is direct (going forward) to buy a new cell phone. But Mercury retrograde also is considered to be a good time to edit, reread, and refurbish rather than start new in the relevant areas,” he says.
A time to access new information
Astrologer and author Stephanie Gailing puts it this way: “Instead of fearing Mercury retrograde, a better idea is to look at these periods as a time when valuable new perspectives can be garnered. During the retrograde period we can access information and insights that may not be readily available to us when we are approaching the arenas of communication, learning, and getting from here-to-there in our go-to rote ways.”
She recommends looking to dreams and intuition more during the retrograde periods.
Astrologer Mark Wolz has a similar perspective, questioning whether the need to slow down and reconsider is really a problem.
“With Mercury retrograde, I might have to be more attentive, more diligent, more responsible for the details. Something might need to be revisited, revised, and done twice to get it right. Is that a problem?” he asks.
In an article for The Mountain Astrologer magazine, Wolz writes that it may be useful to consider whether the problems we associate with Mercury retrograde are really true, or if we “simply notice them more because they’re expected during the retrograde period.”
Ideas about Mercury Rx challenged
On his Facebok page, astrologer and researcher Alphee Lavoie also questions the reality of our ideas about Mercury retrograde. He identifies Microsoft, Coca-Cola and Sony as corporations started under Mercury retrograde – suggesting that things may not turn out so bad for decisions initiated during a time many view as bad for business.
Diaz is books and articles editor for the Astrology News Service (ANS). He suggests that during retrograde periods Mercurial mishaps “aren’t more prevalent, but they are more prominent. It’s not that communication and technological snafus happen more often, but that they really get our attention,” he says.
As an example, Diaz cites traffic on a local highway, which is something that happens every day no matter what direction any planet happens to be travelling. However, during a recent Mercury retrograde period, a truly exceptional traffic jam was created when a drawbridge on the parkway got stuck in the “up” position.
“Although Mercury is known as a trickster among astrologers, it isn’t necessarily the case that the experiences of Mercury retrograde are meaningless cosmic pranks or delivered with malevolent intent,” he suggests.
According to Gailing, “there’s a great inner landscape of wisdom that resides in our intuitive mind that many people seem to bypass in their everyday life. Mercury Retrograde is a time to access it. And by doing so we can etch greater accessibility to this part of our mind, helping to also forge a cross-current connection, a mental hierogamos (sacred marriage), between it and our rational minds,” she added.
In 2015, Mercury is retrograde between January 21st and February 11th; May 18 and June 11th ; and between September 17th and October 9th. Next year the dates are January 5th to January 25th; April 28th to May 22nd; and August 30th to September 22nd.