It’s Not My Fault – Mercury’s Retrograde!

by C. H. Wells

Ever gone through one of those periods when it seemed that nothing could go right? When anything you tried to do somehow got screwed up? When everything you own started breaking down all at once, and the repair parts all got lost in the mail? Well … put your seatbelt on, ’cause there’s another one coming!

As of Thursday, September 17, 2015, at 14:04h, the planet Mercury is officially in retrograde motion. If you’re an astronomer, this means very little. You know these things happen regularly, and that the backward movement of Mercury is apparent, only, with the illusion being created because of its motion relative to that of planet Earth.

In fact, all of the planets go through “retrograde” phases regularly. Perhaps the best way to describe this (though slightly different for the inner planets), is to use the analogy of two trains, sitting side-by-side in a railway station: Imagine you’re on board one of those trains, when the other moves out ahead of you. You see it begin to move and then pick up speed. You know that it’s moving forward, because you can see that it’s doing so, as you stand still in the yard. But suddenly the train you’re on starts to move, too. It speeds up and soon overtakes the first.

As your train overtakes the other, and begins to pass it, it appears to your eyes as if the other train is slowing, stopping for a fraction of a second, and then moving backward, even though you know perfectly well that it is still in forward motion. In astronomy, this apparent backward motion is called ‘retrograde.’

Astrologers know this motion is only apparent, too, but for them these retrograde periods have significance. In astrology, each planet is associated with a certain kind of energy or enterprise, and it  is believed that any activities related to that planet will take a backward or inward step, while that planet retrogrades.

The planet in our solar system which retrogrades most frequently – about three times a year – is Mercury. Traditionally, Mercury is associated with communication, contracts, leases, merchandising, travel, and just plain “thinking,” generally.

Little wonder, then, that things mess up so readily under a Retrograde Mercury, if you can’t communicate effectively; if contracts – even verbal ones – will be broken; making appointments and keeping them is impossible; buying and selling prove challenging; getting to work or the grocery store is fraught with problems; and nobody is thinking straight for weeks at a time!

So, what can you do about these nasty little retrogrades? Nada! Not a gosh-danged thing! Not unless you’d like to get off the planet and push?! And if things go according to the usual astrological rules, by the end of a standard retrograde you’ll apparently be ready to do just that, since it will seem like such a good idea; as in: “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

This special little feature of the retrogrades might be called “Mercury Madness,” or “Retrograde Fever.” And even the best have been known to succumb. Theory is, the addled thinking of the retrogrades can result in a kind of psychosis, prompting you to believe that you’ve just found the answer to all of the problems of the universe – or at least of your universe. A few weeks after the retrograde ends will find you – head in hands – muttering: “What was I thinking?!”

To put it simply – under a Retrograde Mercury anything that can go wrong will go wrong. And even things that can’t go wrong will go wrong, too. You may find yourself scratching your head and asking: “How could that even happen?”

So be forewarned … and follow the cardinal rules of a Retrograde Mercury:

1) “Don’t do anything you can’t undo.”

2) “When in doubt – don’t!

Have a backup plan, and a backup plan to your backup plan. The hope is that if you over-plan, and absolutely, positively believe that every single thing you try to do is going to screw up – the retrograde may surprise you, and Plans B, C, D & E will prove to have been unnecessary and a waste of your time. But let’s face it – it’s better than the alternative.

Mercury’s first full day of “direct” motion, again, will occur on October 10. Unfortunately, as they say, it ain’t over till it’s over: as any planet moves forward out of a retrograde phase, it takes a while before it appears to be moving at full speed again. It “slows down” before entering a retrograde, as well. These periods, of a few weeks before and a couple of weeks after a retrograde are referred to as “halo” or “aura” periods, and are usually taken into account as well.

It’s best to remember that during these phases everyone else on the planet is also going through them, so be prepared to cut a little slack. The upside is, you now have a new mantra, and a new excuse. For the duration of the retrograde, every time something messes up, you get to say: “It’s not my fault – Mercury’s retrograde!”