I’ve noticed that many people, even those who do not use astrology, are aware of Mercury retrograde. Most regard it at worst, as a real problem and at best, an inconvenience. In fact, I hear many people blaming delays, communication problems and computer crashes on Mercury retrograde even when Mercury wasn’t retrograding at all. This is unfortunate for many reasons, but the biggest is that this view is very incomplete. Yes, the things I mentioned can go wrong at this time, but there is much more to the story, which is why I’d like to use this retrograde period as an illustrative example.
First, let me give you the relevant dates and locations:
1. Nov. 14, 2017: Mercury enters what’s called the ‘Shadow’ period at 13° Sagittarius.
2. Dec. 3, 2017: Mercury goes retrograde at 29° Sagittarius.
3. Dec. 12, 2017: Mercury conjuncts the Sun at 21° Sagittarius. This is called the ‘Inferior conjunction,’ because Mercury is retrograde at this time.
4. Dec. 22, 2017: Mercury goes direct at 13° Sagittarius.
5. Jan. 10, 2018: Mercury moves into new territory at 29° Sagittarius.
6. Feb. 16, 2018: Mercury conjuncts the Sun again at 28° Aquarius. Because Mercury is direct at this time it is called the ‘Superior conjunction.’
All 6 of these dates are important, not just the period in which Mercury is retrograde. The first thing to note is that Mercury will be in a small territory of only 16° (Dec. 3, 2017 – Jan. 10, 2018) for about five weeks. Ordinarily, Mercury would move through this area in about 12 days. This means that anyone who has the Ascendant, Mid-heaven, or planets in this territory in their natal chart will be having to put much greater attention on these matters at this time. Please note that this period is not to be regarded as negative. Instead one may think of it as cycle that happens every 4 months wherein we must review, reconsider, or shift one’s thinking in some way.
Here’s a brief description of the meaning of each of the phases I have listed:
1. The ‘Shadow’ period.
It is helpful to recognize that this cycle is not defined by only the period in which Mercury is retrograde.
Here is the first factor. This period begins at the point where Mercury will return to when it turns back to its direct motion. There are two things to emphasize. The first is that any major decisions you make now ‘may’ be reviewed in the next month. It doesn’t mean you should not act. Instead try to assess whether or not you are certain about your action. If so, then go ahead and act. If all or part of it doesn’t work out, then deal with it at that time.
The second factor is that the ‘shadow’ period often represents an upsurge of unconscious material that one must become aware of and deal with. Try not to project your stuff onto others, because one could create a lot of needless drama that will have to be dealt with later in this cycle.
2. The first phase of Mercury retrograde which starts on Dec. 3rd.
This is the beginning of the review period, however, there is also another factor. Those things that must be done should be finished at this point if possible. I refer to the unfinished things we need to do. The reason for this is that when the Sun conjuncts the retrograde Mercury (Dec. 12th) it is the beginning of new cycle, similar to a New Moon. Thus, the 10-day period prior to when the Sun conjuncts retrograde Mercury is a time to finish old projects or issues. This can be a very busy time, ironically, and difficult because we may prefer to rest and spend some needed quiet time.
3. December 12th – the ‘Inferior Conjunction.’
This period is actually quite important as it is similar to a New Moon in that a new ‘seed’ idea is being born now that can take root in the next 10 days. Oftentimes, this idea is very subtle, even unconscious, and yet can bring us into new considerations or approaches that we haven’t thought of before. To the Greeks, Mercury was thought to be the ‘Messenger of the gods.’ They felt that we were receivers of thoughts, not just the sole source of them. It is possible to test this theory now. It can be done by being alert to any ideas that come to you now and watch them go through changes or adjustments in the next weeks. The review period is still in force, so whatever emerges is best thought of as tentative, but worth consideration.
4. December 22nd – Mercury goes direct.
The retrograde period has ended and with it, the review process as well. It is time to confidently go forward in developing whatever ideas you have considered and/or reconsidered.
5. February 16th – The Superior Conjunction at 28° Aquarius (Sun/Mercury conjunction when Mercury is in direct motion).
This is similar to the Full Moon in that whatever ‘seed idea’ developed on or about Dec. 12th, will now manifest in whatever new direction that idea took you. The value of the idea can now be tested, so that one can decide to continue in the new direction or modify it yet again.
To review, it is true that during the Mercury retrograde period, there can be breakdowns, delays, misunderstandings, miscommunications, etc. But, these inconveniences are not the key point of this 4-month cycle. I urge the reader to test this period out for yourself. Perhaps, take notes or journal your thoughts during the key dates of the cycle. Then, when the cycle has ended, see if there is any truth to the Mercury retrograde cycle as I have outlined it here. I’ve used it for many years and have found it to be very helpful, especially when the territory it is retrograding in is making important aspects in my chart.
Any comments you might have would be appreciated.