by Maria Shaw
(Article originally published in The Llewellyn Journal.)
For those of you who don't know about this astrological "happening," here's the lowdown in layman's terms: The planet Mercury rules communication, travel, contracts, automobiles, and such. It goes in a retrograde motion—or motion that makes it appear to be going backwards in the night sky—three times a year for approximately three weeks at a time. When Mercury is retrograde, there's usually much confusion. People forget little things. Delays and frustrations abound.
Astrologers recommend against starting anything new when Mercury goes retrograde. But even if you can't begin new endeavors, you can still put this aspect to good use. You just need to learn to work with the energy of Mercury rather than against it. Let's explore the pros and cons of this cosmic force and how to wait out this period until Mercury goes forward or "direct."
There's a "wind up" period about two weeks before Mercury goes retrograde. During this time, you should finish business at hand. When Mercury does go retrograde, make sure you have all of your current projects finished.
I have a few Mercury retrograde stories of my own to share.
I owned a rental house that I needed to rent ASAP. It was costing me money to leave it vacant, and I was eager to get someone moved in. My Realtor did background checks on all of the rental applicants and found some folks that I thought would be the perfect renters. I knew I should never sign contracts on a retrograde, but was impatient. I didn't want to wait a month to sign a lease when Mercury went direct.
The couple signed a year's lease, so I kept my fingers crossed. The following month, the rent was late. A few months later, they trashed the place, placed bills illegally in my name, moved out without notice, and filed for bankruptcy.
Years ago, I wanted to buy a home and made an offer on a house during a Mercury retrograde in June. The offer was declined. I asked for a counter-offer and never heard back. Realtors couldn't find the owners. There was a lot of miscommunication. The sellers had left state to vacation for a few weeks. It took until October to get a response. The response was a "yes&" ... but it only came after re-writing the original offer three times!
My friend and astrologer Cindy should have known better. She started a new job on the first day Mercury went retrograde. She asked how I felt the job would go. "You won't stay there," I told her. "It's a Mercury retrograde." The next day she broke her thumb and had to quit! This same friend had a lot of nerve tempting fate. She went out and bought a new car on another retrograde. It broke down on the drive home from the dealer's. It stayed parked at the dealership until Mercury went direct, waiting for a part.
Now, you can't stop your life just because a Mercury retrograde hits. There's always something you can't avoid or put off. But if you have time to plan ahead, do so; you'll save yourself a lot of headaches. Since Mercury also rules travel and trips, it is not a good time to travel unless you have backup plans in place. Expect delays, double-check accommodations, and check everything.
One year I booked a cruise for my husband's birthday. It wasn't a Mercury retrograde when I booked the trip, but the ship was set to sail during one. We went to the airport to fly to out, and the gate agent told us our trip was canceled. The ship had caught on fire! We drove to Canada instead for a quick getaway. Our trip was cut short when relatives called and told us to hurry home; there had been an emergency in the family!
Sometimes, even when you plan ahead, Mercury retrogrades can get the best of you! Once my friends and I were heading to the airport to catch a flight. I told Sherry to meet me at my house a half hour earlier than usual so we wouldn't be late. She left her house early, but missed the turn to my road and went thirty minutes out of her way! Once she picked me up and we made it to the freeway, there was a six-mile traffic back-up due to road construction. We made it through that, but because we started late we ended up in Detroit's morning rush hour traffic and were delayed again. I was doing ninety miles an hour to get to the airport, and it looked like we'd actually make the flight. Then the tire on my car blew! Luckily someone stopped to help, but we were about seven minutes late getting to the gate and had to take a later flight. Three hours later, we boarded a plane scheduled to leave on time. A worker had left some machinery sitting in front of our plane while he went to lunch. No one could locate him and our flight was stuck until he came back!
What Not To Do During Mercury Retrograde
- Start anything new
- Make important decisions
- Buy computers, appliances, TVs, radios, etc.
- Travel without back-up plans
- Sign contracts
- Buy a car
- Negotiate a contract
- File a lawsuit
- Start a new job
- Begin a new class
- Go on a "first" date
- Expect things to move quickly
- Take anything for granted
WHAT TO EXPECT
- Angrier people
- Crazy drivers
- More accidents
- Computer problems and breakdowns
- More mistakes
- Slow mail
- Games of phone tag
- Wrong directions
- Missed appointments
- Dead cell phone batteries
What's Mercury Retrograde Good For?
If you know when Mercury retrograde hits—which is about every three months—you can work with, rather than against, its energy. Remember there's a "re" in retrograde. These weeks are good for re-doing just about anything.
- Re-apply for a job
- Re-do hair color
- Re-write your resume
- Review your bank account
- Renew a loan
- Repair your car
- Re-contact past clients
Catch up on all of the tasks you set aside, and also have a game-plan in place for when Mercury goes direct.
The Mercury retrograde is also a time to reflect on what you've accomplished and where you want to redirect your energies. There's that "re" again! We all need time to review and decide if we're taking the right road. These days give us the opportunity to do so.
We can't stop our lives every time a retrograde hits. So what can you do when you don't have a choice?
- Read and re-read contracts. Have someone else look them over, too.
- Check your travel plans several times.
- If you need to, ask questions over and over during negotiations.
- ail packages and letters early. Check the zip codes.
- Fill your gas tank.
- Don't check your luggage if you're flying. Carry on everything if possible.
- If you are making purchases, keep your sales receipt and know the store's return policy.
- Keep your cell phone battery charged.
- Watch your driving.
There are people who never seem to be affected during Mercury retrogrades. Chances are they were born during one! Millions of people are. How do these weeks affect them? Well, Mercury retrograde babies thrive. Things appear easier for them and run smoothly. They get the new job, start building the new house, and travel to fun-filled destinations. If you're one of these people, you'll have the edge on everyone else! How do you find out? Your astrology chart will indicate if Mercury was retrograde when you were born.
Article originally published in The Llewellyn Journal. Copyright Llewellyn Worldwide, 2004. All rights reserved.