Mistakes and mishaps are often blamed on this planet’s apparent reverse. But is that fair? Yasmin Boland gives us the lowdown
Have you ever mislaid your keys, forgotten your umbrella then missed your train and said, ‘It must be Mercury Retrograde’? If so, you’re not alone. The planet and its apparent about-face has a reputation for sending everything topsy turvy. But is this astrological phenomenon really to blame? Not quite… Well, what’s it all about then?
Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun and takes only 88 days to go around it. This is important to the whole Mercury retrograde phenomenon. In astrology Mercury is the trickster, the messenger of the Gods and the planet of communication. Every time you communicate, you use your Mercury. We all have a Mercury. Yours could be in Aries, Taurus, Gemini, or any of the other of the 12 signs of the zodiac, but Mercury didn’t stop moving the day you were born. It continues to move through the 12 signs of the zodiac again and again.
An optical illusion
When a planet goes retrograde, the planet appears to go backwards in the skies, reversing through the degrees of the zodiac. Of course, planets don’t actually turn around and start moving backwards. Mercury’s shorter orbit creates an optical illusion in that it appears to speed past Earth, slow down and then move in a backwards loop, giving us Mercury retrograde. It’s the planetary equivalent of runners on a race track: the inner track is shorter than the outer track.
A chance to renew
Think of Mercury as the ‘brain’ planet and think of it being a bit ‘addled’ when Mercury is in retrograde. It’s like we are all speaking different languages. There are mixed messages and cross communications. Errors do abound. Travel plans, especially, can go awry, as can anything to do with writing, publishing, computers and transport. However, on the plus side, Mercury Retrograde offers us a chance to renew, re-do, review, re-visit, re-vamp and re-negotiate.
Where’s Mercury in retrograde for you?
Knowing where Mercury is retrograde in your birth chart is very useful because it means you get an idea of where you are likely to get the re-dos, the re-vamps and, yes, let’s be frank, the reversals, frustrations and delays.
How to find Mercury in your birth chart
- First you need to know which sign Mercury is retrograde in at the moment. This time, it’s in Scorpio. You can look it up on most astrology websites or Facebook feeds, including mine at yasminboland.com and facebook.com/yasminboland.
- Next you need a copy of your own birthchart which you can get for free at theastrocode.com/freechart (see example birthchart below to for what to expect).
- Now look at the symbols (glyphs) below for each sign. Find the symbol for the sign that Mercury is retrograde in now (Scorpio).
- Then find that same symbol in your birthchart. (You can practise on the sample birthchart above).
- Where you see that symbol, trace your finger towards the centre of your chart until you get to the number. Which number is at the centre of your chart in the sector that the symbol is in? That shows you the House Mercury is retrograde in. See below for what that number means for you.
A quick guide to Mercury Retrograde through the houses
1 When Mercury is retrograde here, think about the image you present to the world – and make changes to it if necessary.
2 You can expect to be doing some rethinking and reconsidering about cash, property and/or your possessions during this cycle.
3 When Mercury appears to go backwards here you can expect to have to do some rethinking and reconsidering about: the way you communicate; your brothers and sisters; your neighbourhood and quick trips.
4 Nothing is set in stone regarding your family or your home. There could be domestic confusion, delays, or something returning from your past.
5 Expect befuddlement or a chance to have another think about a romance, a creative project or something to do with a child. An old flirtation could return.
6 Expect to be rethinking and reconsidering your daily work and health routines. There could also be confusion in one of these areas.
7 You could be confused and reconsidering your love life. For some, the most obvious manifestation of this cycle will be the reappearance of an ex.
8 It’s time to have another think about who you’re ‘getting into bed with’, both financially and sexually! Rethink your financial partners too.
9 Expect to be doing some rethinking about your ‘cosmic path’ through life and also adventure you want to take, study, travel and education.
10 Time to revise your public face, your career and/or professional standing – confusion abounds. Take extra care at work not to make silly errors.
11 It’s time to have another think about your friends and social networks, as well as your hopes and dreams.
12 This is where you keep your fears and your spirituality, so expect to rethink and reconsider one of these subjects.
Mercury is retrograde in my sign – will that affect me more?
Yes! Especially if it goes over your Sun – you might need to ask an astrologer to find out if that’s going to happen. Good luck!
I’m getting married under Mercury retrograde – is that bad luck?
No, no and no! However there could be mix ups and misunderstandings on the day, so double check everything! The last thing you want is a mistake on the wedding invitation which you don’t notice until it’s too late.
Is it true you shouldn’t buy a car under Mercury retrograde?
Yes and no. I would avoid it ideally but sometimes, you can’t. The funny thing is that if you buy a car under Mercury retrograde, yes it might have a few more faults and issues than you would like, but it could also simply turn out that you will later sell it under Mercury retrograde too.
Is it true that sometimes you can start something under one Mercury retrograde cycle and finish it under another?
Yes! These cycle weave through our lives into fascinating ways – you will start to notice once you start to follow the cycles.
Does Mercury retrograde affect me more if I was born when Mercury was retrograde?
Most people born under Mercury retrograde say the cycles affect them less. You can tell if you were born under Mercury retrograde as the Mercury on your chart will have a little red symbol which looks like an R with a cross through its leg.
Is it bad to sign a contract under Mercury retrograde?
On the one hand, there is more room for error. On the other, some of the best contracts I’ve ever signed were sealed under Mercury retrograde. They last and last and it is thought that can be renegotiated more easily.
Buy Yasmin Boland’s new book The Mercury Retrograde Book (hayhouse.co.uk, £12.99) which is on sale now. Flick to page 70 to read her column this month and find her at moonology.com or facebook.com/ yasminboland