Sooner or later, everyone has to deal with Mercury Retrograde (explained in detail in my article Mercury Retrograde). The general recommendation is to keep your wits about you and be willing to revise or redo.
Every three months or so, the “trickster” planet Mercury appears to move backward through the zodiac for about three weeks. Since it’s the planet of communication and local transportation – key matters in our everyday lives – it can have a strong impact! Sometimes, you’ll hardly notice its effects, but when the range of degrees where it backtracks connects to your chart strongly, you’ll definitely feel its influence. The most intense effect occurs at the degree where Mercury appears to stop to change direction, called the “station.” For about a week centering on the date of the directional change, Mercury remains nearly motionless in that degree. [Check if any Mercury station degrees hit your chart using the Janet’s Plan-its “On a Page” bar graphs.]
The time frame for Mercury’s discombobulating effects is not just during the three weeks it’s actually moving in reverse. It also includes a period of about 2-1/2 weeks before and afterward as Mercury moves forward through the range of degrees of its retrograde. These are known as the entry and exit “shadow” periods. Actions undertaken in the shadow before the retrograde (entry shadow) often require revision or modification in the retrograde back-up period and in the shadow following the backtrack (exit shadow). When Mercury links to your chart, it makes three “hits” – one before the retrograde, one during and one after. So the overall time frame lasts for about two months altogether, with about two months free and clear between bouts.
Things that occur during a Mercury Retrograde can have a long-lasting impact. One important example that comes to mind is the US presidential election of 2000, which occurred as Mercury stood still ending a Retrograde backtrack. The recount mess during the exit shadow resulted in a Supreme Court ruling decided by one vote that resulted in denying Al Gore his victory. Think of how different our world would be now if we had had an environmentally friendly president at the start of this millennium!
When we take into account the weeks and months before and after a person’s birth, long-term experiences of Mercury Retrograde come into play. The astrological technique called “progressions” correlates the consecutive days after one’s birth with the consecutive years of one’s life, on a day-for-a-year basis. (See “Making Progress – Astrologically” in the Study Booth Articles.) With this forecasting system, if you are both during a Mercury Retrograde, sometime in your first 22 years, you move past its strongest effects, but it still takes another decade-plus to get out of its “shadow.” You could be live through decades when your progressed Mercury goes through the entire cycle of entry shadow, retrograde and exit shadow. If you’re born just after an exit shadow, in your later life you enter a shadow. The only people who avoid any extended period of Mercury Retrograde or its shadows by progression are those born after an exit shadow and who die before the next entry shadow. So chances are, you’ll have to live a while with some influence from a Mercury Retrograde.
The extended, progressed version of the Mercury Retrograde cycle is not easily observable on a day-to-day basis. Long-term trends or projects are where we see it at work. Since it’s an influence inclining us to re-do or go back to something, the progressed Mercury Retrograde is a period to undertake an activity or project you wanted to do before but didn’t get around to, or to complete something that was unfinished. Mercury is associated with the hands, so the Retrograde is a good time to learn something new that’s done with the hands, such as a craft or playing an instrument.
I can say for myself that I have progressed Mercury Retrograde from 2002 to 2022. I always wanted to be a writer and during this time, I created my Janet’s Plan-its calendars and they grew to be quite a detailed and involved annual book. Since they became a lot of work that is only meaningful for a brief period of time (a year), before I finish my retrograde I want to complete a book that won’t “expire.” This is a key reason I decided to forego writing more calendars and focus on other writing and other means of communication. Another thing I attribute to my progressed Mercury Retrograde period is that for the past few years, I’ve noticed I frequently, unconsciously hold my lips closed and retract them inward. For someone who’s been pretty “big-mouthed” most of my life, this is an interesting change!
If you want to learn about your natal and progressed Mercury, you can look in an ephemeris to see what was going on in the months before and after your birth and compare Mercury Retrograde station degrees to your natal chart. In a full general reading, I always look at that for a client, or it can easily be covered in a mini-reading with me. (Contact me and we’ll set something up.) We’ll discuss how you can “live with Mercury Retrograde.”