At 04:46 UT (Universal Time), on Monday, September 7th, 2009, Mercury the cosmic trickster turns retrograde at 6°13' Libra, in the sign of the Scales, sending communications
, travel, appointments, mail and the www into a general snarlup! The retro period begins some days before the actual turning point (as Mercury slows) and lasts for three weeks or so, until Sep. 29, when the Winged Messenger reaches his direct station. At this time he halts and begins his return to direct motion through the zodiac.
Everything finally straightens out on October 18, as he passes the point where he first turned retrograde. Mercury normally turns retrograde three times a year, but this year he turns tail four times, which is unusual. The effects of each period differ, according to the sign in which it happens
A planet is described as retrograde when it appears to be moving backwards through the zodiac. According to modern science
, this traditional concept arises in the illusory planetary motion created by the orbital rotation of the earth with relation to other planets in our solar system. Planets are never actually retrograde or stationary, they just seem that way due to this cosmic shadow-play.
Retrograde periods, although often problematic for us earthlings, are not particularly uncommon. Each planet retrogrades, except the Sun and Moon. Although a powerful astrological influence, Mercury is quite a small planet that travels at a relatively fast speed through the zodiac. Despite being the closest planet in our solar system to the Sun, he is not always in the same sign as the Sun. This time, Mercury turns retrograde in Libra (relationships; tastes; harmony) while the Sun is in Virgo (analysis; critical ability), but retrogrades into Virgo at the Virgo New Moon on Sep. 18 (while the Sun of course is still in Virgo). The Sun moves into Libra at the Equinox on Sep. 22 while Merc is still in Virgo, but Mercury soon heads back to join the Sun in Libra on Oct. 10.
What does Mercury affect?
In general, Mercury rules thinking and perception, processing and disseminating information and all means of communication, commerce, education and transportation. By extension, Mercury rules people who work in these areas, especially those who work with their minds or their wits: writers and orators, commentators and critics, gossips and spin doctors, teachers, travellers, tricksters and thieves.
Mercury retrograde gives rise to personal misunderstandings; flawed, disrupted, or delayed communications, negotiations and trade; glitches and breakdowns with phones, computers, cars, buses, and trains. And all of these problems usually arise because some crucial piece of information, or component, has gone astray or awry.
It is not exactly wise to make important decisions while Mercury is retrograde, since it is likely that such decisions will be clouded by misinformation, poor communication and careless thinking. Mercury is all about mental clarity and the power of the mind, so when Mercury is retrograde these intellectual characteristics tend to be less acute than usual, as the critical faculties are dimmed. Make sure you pay attention to the small print!
The Key Issue
The key issue here is one of focus. Mercury's retro phase tends to bring unforeseen changes and blockages, but the aggravation and frustration that many of us experience during these periods is often due to our own inability to roll with the punches. Is this due to our ego-fixation?
Mercury sets out to restructure our thinking processes and for many of us this is painful and frustrating. Unresolved issues from the past tend to push themselves forward. Moreover, these experiences reveal flaws in our internal organisation as well as our external planning, which can make us feel foolish and inadequate.
Mercury retrograde, like any cosmic aspect, affects people differently, depending on where it hits their personal charts. Some people actually prosper under a retro Mercury, especially if Mercury is retrograde but otherwise well-aspected in their birth charts. It is also a time when matters begun under a previous retro period will come to fruition, or completion as the case may be. Firm decisions that have been previously made when Mercury is travelling normally through the zodiac may be implemented or finalised while Mercury is retrograde without too much worry, for experience shows that this can be done without undue problems arising.