When a planet is in retrograde, it appears to be moving backwards in the sky when viewed from earth. Of course it is not actually moving backwards, but the illusion of backward motion is created due to the differing speeds of planetary orbits around the sun. Its effects have been described as similar to the turbulence created in the water by driving a boat in reverse. And just like driving a boat in reverse, the most intense and disruptive energies tend to be concentrated at the point of directional change. This point of directional change is known as a station, but more on that later.

Because Mercury rules mental activities, we are not advised in retrograde period to sign any contracts or make any decisions regarding businesses, buying or selling big ticket items, travel plans, and so on. Susan Miller, of AstrologyZone, frequently advises readers not to do any Christmas shopping during a Merc Rx period, as chances are, the recipient is likely to not like the present or already have one. I happened to experience the latter myself last Christmas, with the one gift I bought during the retrograde. On a more serious level, another astrologer has expressed reservations regarding President Bush’s signing of a nuclear deal with India during this period. I’ll try and write more later about Merc Rx as it relates to world events, but for now, this is what Rob Tillet has to say:

As a rule, retrograde planets presage a period of seemingly inevitable or fated events, which relate to their sphere of influence. They present us with a series of events over which we seem to have little or no control, relating especially to the sign in which the retrogradation occurs. For example, Mercury retrograde in Virgo presents quite different sets of circumstances from those generated when it retrogrades into Leo. (‘Mercury Retrograde’)

However, this doesn’t mean that you should lock yourself up at home and hide under your bed during a retrograde period. Of course, life has to go on. If you cannot avoid important decisions, making travel plans, or signing a contract, double-check everything, and if possible allow for some flexible negotiation later on. If you work with the computer a lot, back up, back up, back up. Above all — and I speak from experience — cultivate patience. Don’t yell at the call centre guy because you can’t log into your internet banking account, don’t lose your temper at the postman when the cheque you were expecting doesn’t arrive on time to make your credit card payment deadline, and don’t attempt to discuss a failing relationship with a partner during this period — you might say something you’ll later regret.

On a more positive note, let Merc Rx work for you. Merc Rx periods are said to be useful for revision, reflection and re-organisation, as I mentioned in my first post. So if you are a writer, you may find that while motivation for new work is low during retrograde periods, energy for revising previous work might be quite high. I spent the last two days revising an article I wrote in 2004 for re-publication and actually found a few more new ideas to add to it I hadn’t even been thinking about. You might want to re-organise your filing system at home or at the office, alphabetize your CD collection, tidy up your photo albums, the list is endless. In other words, retrograde periods are times for us to slow down and reassess where we are before we move ahead. Sometimes we get so caught up with moving forward, we forget to tidy up the debris we scatter in the process.

Funny, writing a blog is a new project for me. But in effect only the medium is. All the bits of debris have been floating around in my head for years. I’d been meaning to work on astrology, even in a small way, for years. And now I am. Of course I have to contend with the Blogger server acting up (which it has, a number of times in the past few days). But, hey, you can’t have everything.

Next post: Mercury Rx in Pisces.

Miller, Susan. AstrologyZone. Accessed 9 March 2006.
Paquette, Pat. The Pisces Chronicles. Accessed 9 March 2006.
Tillet, Rob. ‘Mercury Retrograde’. Astrology on the Web. Accessed 9 March 2006.