This morning, I found a request in my in-box, asking me to post something about Mercury Retrograde, since we are already into a retrograde phase by a week or more.
There were many much more interesting (and aesthetically pleasing) images of retrograde motion for the superior planets, i.e., those beyond the earth's orbit, but very few for the inferior planets, Mercury and Venus, whose orbits lie between the Earth and the Sun. The image above, though, does demonstrate very simply why Mercury will on occasion have an apparent retrograde motion, even though it continues in direct motion all of the time, as do all of the other planets.
E stands for Earth, M for Mercury, and S for the Sun. The numbers at the top, among the stars that act as visual references, are slightly out of order, because of differences in orbital speed between the two bodies. Mercury travels more quickly than Earth, and so appears to get ahead more quickly, but then to reverse its course. However, it is only an apparent reversal, just as when you are sitting in a train, and pass another train, making it seem as if the other train is now moving in reverse. In reality, it is still going forward, but its apparent motion, relative to your train, appears to be in reverse.
Mercury is closer to the Earth when the apparent retrograde motion occurs, thus creating more "noise." Although the common wisdom is that one may not have enough knowledge to make important decisions during a Mercury retrograde, there might actually be too much noise instead. Deciphering what is important and what is not may require more time. And less noise.
The current Mercury Retrograde period began on May 7th, and will continue until May 31st. However, one should also allow a few days more at the beginning, and a week or more at the end, because the effects start earlier and end even later. The reason for this has to do with the position in the solar system where Mercury first slows down before it goes stationary, and then appears to reverse. Most astrologers do not consider the phase past until Mercury has once again passed that point, which does not occur until a week or two after it goes direct.
2009 presents an interesting challenge for those with a greater tendency to feel the effects of Mercury retrograde periods. Ordinarily, we have only three of them per year, but this year will see a total of four. The first one was in January, and the last will be in December.
Ideally, one should not make any major expenditures during a Mercury Retrograde (or Venus, for that matter, which recently finished a longer retrograde phase), especially for anything technical, like a computer or a new phone or anything mechanical. I try not to buy anything I might care about during a Mercury retrograde because I have learned that I will eventually be disappointed. Nor should one start a new job (unless one is returning to a previous employer), nor even agree to start a new job during this time, unless one considers it a stopgap, or that it is absolutely necessary to give a response. Under those conditions, remember that things may not be as they at first appeared. 1 Try not to buy a car or a house or sign a mortgage or even enter a bid, if you can possibly avoid doing so. These phases are when technical problems often seem to arise, along with interpersonal miscommunications. If you must travel during a Mercury retrograde, try, if possible, to make your plans well in advance, or if not possible, to be open to what the universe has in store.
This phase is one of those times when one has permission to be a bit of a nag in following up on unfinished business, just to make sure nothing falls through the cracks. Even if your follow-up proves irritating at first, results may prove you right in the end.
Now, for the good news... a Mercury retrograde phase is actually good for some things, in particular those actions that begin with re- ...such as revising, revisiting, reviewing, renewing. You get the idea.
If you have anything that has been neglected and needs attention, now is the time to dust it off and take a fresh look. You might have a piece of writing that needs editing. You might also find that an old friend or lover reappears in your life, or that you have the opportunity to repair a relationship or to correct a miscommunication. Traveling to places you have been before is another natural activity for a Mercury retrograde phase. Please do any of these things.
This current retrograde phase began with Mercury in early Gemini (one of Mercury's home signs), but with the Sun in Taurus, before Mercury appeared to backtrack into Taurus, where its placement suggests taking another look at resources, property and anything material of real substance or value, as well as our ideas about our own values.
Taurus, an Earth sign, is the natural ruler of the second house of the horoscope which rules earned income (not windfalls), values, self-worth, and resources that we are able to harness in pursuit of our goals. Some of these themes might seem as if you have been spending time with them recently. You may have. Venus just completed a retrograde phase, longer than Mercury's, and as the ruler of Taurus, it may have presented a prelude to Mercury's retrograde. Or, perhaps, for some, Mercury's is the epilogue to Venus's retrograde.
The current retrograde phase will finally come to a complete end on June 14th, when Mercury returns to the same spot in early Gemini where it first slowed down before appearing to reverse. Gemini is the natural ruler of the third house of the horoscope, which includes communications, early education, siblings, anything technological, short trips. My hunch is that those things will, if affected, be minor inconveniences, unless a sibling is involved, of course.
However, the areas governed by Taurus are awfully close to the mark for so many people these days, because they feel their earnings are vulnerable to the ravages of Wall Street and Washington, if they even have a job, that is. Self-worth and all personal values are well worth exploring, too.
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1 I keep trying to remember this myself, while absorbing all of the negative news about Obama's reversal on so many issues involving civil liberties and human rights.