When Mercury begins its dance “backwards,” you may hear people say, "Oh no, Mercury is retrograde? Should I just hide under the covers and wait for it to pass?!"
It's really not that scary a time, although Mercury rules transportation, dexterity, and communication of all sorts, so when it goes retrograde these various domains can become affected. Misunderstandings can occur, for example, so I don't recommend signing any important documents, electronics and vehicles may encounter problems, and surgery is not recommended during Mercury retrograde periods, unless you would like to repeat the surgery!
There is good news, however! We tend to live more in our left-brain, logical, more rational mind, especially in the western world, but when Mercury goes retrograde we flip into our right-brain, which is the artistic, inspired, and inventive side. So while it can be a confusing time because we may be less logical, it can be a great time to be more creative and innovative. It’s a perfect time to let your creative juices flow—journal, paint, review past work, and fix something that may need fixing. It's a time to welcome the opportunity to reflect, reprise, reconsider, repeat...you get the idea.
It’s also a wonderful time to mend relationships in need of some tender loving care; to perhaps apologize and/or come to a greater understanding. Easy does it though, because just as it's a good time to repair a misunderstanding, it's also a time when misunderstandings can be created (as I mentioned earlier), so be sure to be very clear. You can say things like: "This is what I heard you say…is that what you said; is my memory serving me; or…is that what you meant?” I also do my best to believe that those in my world have benevolent intentions—this alone goes a long way towards creating peace.
So What Is Mercury Retrograde?
Three or sometimes four times per year, Mercury goes retrograde for approximately three weeks. Now no planet actually moves backwards (retrograde), but from our perspective on Earth they occasionally appear to do so. In other words, all planets in the solar system move in a counterclockwise direction around the Sun, which we astrologers call “direct,” but during their retrograde periods they appear to travel in a clockwise direction, or backwards, relative to Earth.
With Mercury and Venus (the planets with orbits closer to the Sun than the Earth’s orbit around the Sun), they appear to move retrograde when they transit between the Earth and the Sun. During this time, their energy becomes more pronounced because they are located between the Sun and the Earth’s energy and magnetic exchange, and also due to the mere fact that they are closer to us than when they are on the other side of the Sun.
WARNING: Super Technical Information Ahead; Many People Are Confused by This!
This particular Mercury retrograde is happening between the degrees of 28°51’ Sagittarius and 15°08’ Capricorn, from beginning of the pre-shadow to the end of the post-shadow period. We entered the pre-shadow period on December 2nd when Mercury first hit 28°51’ Sagittarius and appears to slow down. Then on December 19th Mercury will station retrograde when it reaches 15°08’ Capricorn, and will then begin its dance backwards from our perspective. Mercury will be retrograde until January 8th when it reaches 28°51’ Sagittarius. It will then station direct and enter the post-shadow period. It will appear to move slowly forward until it reaches the end of the post-shadow period on January 27th when it reaches 15°08’ Capricorn.
NOTE: If you have any cardinal planets (Aries, Cancer, Libra, or Capricorn) within the first 15 degrees, you may be especially affected. Also, Mercury will conjunct the New Moon on December 28th between 6º and 7° of Capricorn, and this particular New Moon/Mercury conjunction has very harmonious aspects: Trine/Sextile aspects to the Nodes of Fate, Sextile to Mars and Neptune, which are conjunct the South Node in Pisces (I will be writing about nodes in a separate post).
Most importantly, as at all times in life…stay calm and enjoy the ride!