Mercury Retrograde: Why All the Fuss?

by Judith Hill

Judith Hill astrologerA client called me frantic over a surgery appointment set "while Mercury is retrograde!!"

"All right already," thought I, "I've had enough now of this Mercury retrograde hysteria. It's time to set the record straight."
Mercury is retrograde for 20% of its cycle and is retrograde generally three times per year, for roughly three weeks each. Should we really suspend all activity for one fifth of each year? Obviously not.

Mercury governs those people, activities and objects "ruled" by Mercury, not Mars, Venus or any other planet. For example: Mercury governs all communications equipment, including phones and computers, small vehicles, letters, writings, paperwork. This is just for starters, but you get the drift.

One might expect a higher rate of malfunction or mistakes with communications under a Mercury "retrograde", when this speedy little "messenger" planet appears from our vantage point on Earth to travel backwards. But this is especially so when Mercury is transiting through his least favorite signs of Pisces, Sagittarius, Cancer, Leo and Scorpio. If he is receiving bad aspects from other planets, ever the more so. If he is poorly placed in your birth chart, or transiting your natal South Node, or another difficult natal planet, even moreso!

Not all Mercury retrogrades will perform badly for communications. Should transiting Mercury be well placed by sign and/or in decent aspect to other transiting planets; and/or is happily placed in your birth chart; you may find the retrograde period goes unnoticed, or even positively!

The Importance of the Station

What is stunningly important is not the retrograde of Mercury, but his "station." The station is that point where normally fast moving Mercury slows to a stop, stands still, or "stations," before reversing directions in the sky, from our viewpoint on Earth. This is when Mercury is in the very act of changing directions or polarities. He is also unusually strong at stations, especially for focused, high concentration mental work. A study I read years ago proved statistically that marriage contracts signed during Mercury stations had a significantly higher percentage of divorces later on down the line, than weddings that begun on non-stations.

I believe this extends to Mercury retrograde too, and of course, Mercury has much to do with contract signing.

So What Should I Be Careful Doing?

God of merchants and the market place, Mercury's retrograde produces curious effects on purchases. Badly aspected, there is a higher chance of buying a lemon, or an item of need of return. Personally, I would not buy an important communications device under this transit, or send books off for publication either! Sometimes, excellent sales can be found under this same period, or really spectacular "finds." Again, this all depends on his overall aspects by transit and to your natal chart.

Mercury retrograde has some effect on everything, but is a minor consideration when planning events or actions "ruled" by other planets. A dance party is more dependent on Venus, Mars and the Moon. Surgery is not truly the province of Mercury, unless we are dealing with Mercury-ruled body parts such as the  hands, fingers, ears, nerves, etc. Mars, being the surgeon's knife, is the one to watch for most surgeries, and if all else is well, Mercury's retrograde would be the least of your concerns.

Farming, planting, boating, sports, music, and a million more actives get along just fine, thank you very much, despite frequent Mercury's retrograde periods!

So don't stop all trains and run to your room when noting in your calendar "Mercury retrograde begins today."  It might be wise to hold off buying those tickets, signing a contract, or starting a new phone service. Or, it could be fine, depending on the sign of transiting Mercury, and many other factors described earlier in this article. Generally speaking, avoid major purchases, most especially of communications related devices, avoid signing contracts or marrying (you may change your mind). It is a better time to edit than to publish. A better time to mull over speeches than to speak. Back up your data, plan for technological glitches, double check dates and numbers, and be careful where you place important papers or tickets!

Mercury retrograde is a wonderful time to "rethink" anything, withdraw from debates to rest and rethink, edit, practice silence, contemplate, go through old documents, and also to revisit those unfinished discussions.

To learn more about Mercury, download the mp3 Understanding Mercury with Judith Hill.

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