Crossed Wires

This photo has done the rounds on email jokes- no idea where it originally came from.
This photo has done the rounds on email jokes- no idea where it originally came from.

House: Elevators keep crashing. Is Mercury in retrograde?

Mercury in my chart is retrograde natally, and being in Pisces (the sign of its detriment and fall) and in the 12th house, is about as undignified as it is possible for a planet to be. As a result, Mercury retrograde periods tend not to cause me too much problems (famous last words). I have a friend with a 1st house Gemini Sun and Mercury who now has these dates marked in her diary. She has had computer meltdowns, problems with televisions and phones and lost luggage during this period.

Mercury is retrograde between September 6  & 28. Readers of my previous blogs will know that this means that Mercury, relative to our position here on Earth, appears to be going backwards. Essentially there are 3 phases to a Mercury retrograde:

  • The Shadow phase- when Mercury enters the part of the zodiac he will eventually track back through. This actually started a couple of weeks ago at 21 Virgo. This is a great time to prepare. Back up your hard drive, clear up disagreements wherever possible and get your travel arrangements and appointments re-confirmed.
  • The actual retrograde period between 6-28 September.
  • Another shadow or echo phase where Mercury is tracking back to where the retrograde motion started, ie at 6 Libra. He will reach this position mid October. Often issues which commenced during the 1st shadow are given a final airing & resolution at this time.

But what does it all mean?

Mercury rules messages- information passing between people and points. During the retrograde period things don’t happen in the way that they are supposed to happen. Appointments get changed, travel plans get stuffed up, innocent conversations turn into relationship breaking arguments, emails don’t arrive and computers find new & inventive ways to dump vast quantities of data where it shouldn’t be and where it can’t be found.

General advice for Mercury retrograde periods is usually pretty simple:

  • Avoid signing contracts
  • Avoid major purchases
  • Avoid making major commitments
  • Avoid conflict
  • Avoid implementing major software or technical projects
  • Expect travel problems and delays and lost luggage
  • Expect appointments to change
  • Expect computer issues
  • Expect your message to be mis-interpreted

Useful information, but as I mentioned before, we aren’t all affected equally by Mercury retrogrades. The way in which and the extent to which this period impacts you depends on the relative strength of Mercury in your  birth chart and what part of your chart Mercury is travelling through.

Quite simply:

  • If you have the Sun, Moon, Mercury or Ascendant in Gemini or Virgo you will be impacted by every Mercury retrograde period
  • If you have any planets between 21 Virgo and 6 Libra, be on high alert during this retrograde period

Obviously we can’t just shut up shop for these few weeks every couple of months, life has to go on… so what to do? Is the Mercury retrograde really as nasty and scary as us astrologers would have you think? The answer is no, it doesn’t need to be.

As with all retrograde periods, use this period as a time to integrate. Actually listen to what people say, let the messages sink in. Really understand.  We tend to make assumptions about people and their motivations or feelings. Especially over the next few weeks ask, don’t assume.

During this period, messages can go awry or be delivered in an unfamiliar way or format. Seek clarification, check that emails have gone to the correct address (& addressee), watch what you tweet and post on Facebook.

Use this time for planning, rather than for implementing changes. A little extra effort spent in understanding the intention and scope of what you want or need to achieve will save misunderstandings and problems down the track.

If possible delay making a final commitment on major decisions or purchases until after Mercury has stationed direct. Any major commitment deserves the investment of proper consideration.

I read a great article by Eric Francis from PlanetWaves who wrote: The reason not to make commitments during Mercury retrograde is not because “you’re not supposed to” but rather because, in general, it saves time to wait. By saves time, I mean you could save yourself a year of misdirected effort by pausing for a couple of weeks. (The article in question is available from PlanetWaves on subscription & is well worth the nominal spend).

If you really have to sign a contract, check, re-check, and have someone else check the fine print. Likewise with travel plans- ensure you have adequate insurance and copies of all itineraries and travel documents… stored separately to your luggage… Also ensure you build delays into your travel plans and allow sufficient time to get to appointments.

Think carefully before confronting a difficult subject. During this period it is easy for messages to be misinterpreted and a simple discussion around why you don’t want steak for dinner can easily turn into a “You have never loved me and I can’t do anything right” relationship buster. Things have a way of just seeming to sort themselves out after Mercury stations direct, so why waste the emotional investment now in arguing over something that actually means little in the scheme of things. If you absolutely must confront someone over something that is important to you, think before you speak.

Ok, things happen, possibly more often during Mercury retrograde than at other times, but with a little planning, some disciplined back-ups and a refresher course on your communication skills, this can be a creative time. Review, revise, listen and integrate.


  1. Another astrologer with natal Mercury retro! We should start a club. Or maybe a support group.

    But yes, life does go on. I don’t think astrologers should be needlessly striking fear into people’s hearts over Mercury Rx periods- it’s more of a practical issue. The Chicken Little approach does us all more harm than good, really… especially from a professional standpoint.

  2. Hi Jo, Lucas here, just have to say im quite impressed with that you have done with the site. I dont claim to understand a lot of what you write though, its a whole other alien language!

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