This drawing illustrates Mercury's path in the sky and the different stages of the Mercury Retrograde Cycle. Each stage is color-coded, and the corresponding dates are shown in the Mercury Retrograde Calendar below.
The Mercury Retrograde process reveals the errors that come about from ignorance, from not paying attention to the details, due diligence, and not paying attention to the quality, performance, or proper execution of tasks and responsibilities. Many of the challenges that reveal themselves during Mercury Retrograde also result from false assumptions, overgeneralizing, laziness, unverified short cuts, wrong beliefs, or understandings.
For this reason, it is important to check and recheck the fine print before making important decisions, especially during this time. It is also essential to check and recheck schedules for trips and appointments for last-minute changes. Take the time to catch errors not only made by you, but also by others that may affect you. Often, it can be wrongly assumed that someone else has taken care of a matter, or done it properly.
As much as Mercury Retrograde may seem like a challenging time in some ways for some people, it is a potentially expansive time for finishing tasks that have been left undone for reviews, self-assessments and creative or intuitive writing. It is especially good for writing, journaling, and contemplative work. It is a time that supports new directions and explorations that break away from dry beliefs or stale understandings. Just don't ignore reality checking.
Mercury Retrograde is a time when Mercury appears to be going backward against the sky. We observe this up to about four times a year as Mercury's orbit switches from being on the near side of the sun to the far side. From our perspective, it appears to move in the opposite direction as the earth. By line of sight against the sky, it seems to move forward, then backward, then forward again as it returns to pass in front of the sun and past the earth again.
Most of the Phenomena that people experience and attribute to Mercury Retrograde deals with delays, difficulties, and challenges in the areas that Mercury rules, which include: communication, details, local transportation, information, the media, computers, awareness, reality checking, documents, workload and the scheduling, execution, and completion of tasks.
The actual Mercury Retrograde itself, as Mercury appears to be going backward in the sky, lasts about three weeks. However, the Pre-Shadow and Post-Shadow periods (discussed later in this article) extend this phenomenon's experiences and should not be ignored. The shadow periods last about two weeks each. The whole Mercury Retrograde process, including the shadows, lasts about five weeks.
At its core, the experiences of Mercury retrograde are the consequences of actions that occur when disconnected from our core and center. It is then that we act from our tunnel vision, from assumptions without checking or being aware. The experiences of Mercury retrograde are the consequences of actions that occur when we are disconnected from our core and center. It is then that we act from our tunnel vision, from assumptions without checking or being aware.
Although we can not do much for others' actions, we can certainly do our own part for ourselves. If you seek to do this, I recommend a book that illumines the practical path to do just that: Miami Astrologer Roman Oleh Yaworsky ► Being Centered.
Five distinct periods are related to the Mercury retrograde phenomena: The Pre Shadow Phase, The first Mercury Station (often referred to as the day it goes retrograde), The Mercury Retrograde Proper Phase, the Second Mercury Station and the Post Shadow Phase.
Within each shadow phase and while Mercury is retrograde, a darker shade indicates when the effect is stronger.
The Pre Shadow is the period of time when Mercury begins to slow down and passes over the same path in the sky that it will later stop and return to go backward or retrograde. Although the Pre-Shadow is often ignored, it is very important, because much of the difficulty encountered later with the Mercury Retrograde period itself is set up in the Pre-Shadow.
The day that Mercury enters the Pre Shadow can show up as a more sensitive time as it is at the same relative location that it will later become retrograde. This date is shown on the Mercury Retrograde Calendar as a blue square.
Common ways that we may contribute to the Pre-Shadow are to ignore our inner voice, ignore our intuition, and ignore the hints that the universe poses to us. Watch yourself during this period when you ignore things because of shortcuts, assumptions, or the untested beliefs of others.
Become aware of where your assumptions, judgments, dismissiveness or even arrogance come from, because often if their source is from hurts, reactions or emotional buttons, then they will lead you astray, and set you up for later challenges.
The effect of the Pre-Shadow strengthens as Mercury slows down before it retrogrades. It then becomes 'stationary' and is about to move backward. Often, when Mercury is stationary or has slowed down, it coincides with a peaking in the Mercury retrograde phenomena.
This time is indicated in the calendar as a darker shade of color at the end of the Pre-shadow and at the beginning of the Mercury Retrograde Proper.
The Right Attitude During the First Mercury Retrograde Station
The first Retrograde Station is a good time to have the attitude of checking and rechecking important matters or decisions and making sure others do the same. It is not uncommon for people involved with communication to experience the first station as a short period of time when the workload appears to be diminishing or quieting down. The effect is much like how the water recedes before a tsunami and may catch people off guard, as the wave of Mercury Retrograde Proper often comes roaring in with more than the expected work or challenges.
As mentioned above, this is the time span when Mercury goes back against the sky. During a Mercury Retrograde, those experiences in life often associated with Mercury, such as communication, short travel, learning, distribution of information, computers and computer programs, details and accuracy tend to become more challenging or reveal more errors.
The Right Attitude While Mercury is Actually Going Retrograde
As a rule of thumb, about a third of the people will feel a particular Mercury retrograde. It especially affects those involved more directly with communication, computers, and education. Often the workload may increase or the number of deadlines may pile up.
The best attitude during this time is to check and check again and not make assumptions without testing. It is also wise to recheck what others do and to recheck schedules, understandings, commitments, and appointments. Documents written at these times are at risk of errors of commission and omission. On the other hand, it is good to finish older, undone tasks, or for personal writing, contemplation, and inner work.
The effect of the Mercury Retrograde Proper re-strengthens as Mercury slows down before it goes direct again. It then becomes 'stationary' and is about to move forwards. Often, when Mercury is stationary or slowing down, it coincides with a peaking in the Mercury retrograde phenomena. This time is indicated in the calendar as a darker shade of color at the end of the Mercury Retrograde Proper and at the beginning of the Post-Shadow. If the first station was like the quiet before the storm or the water receding before the tsunami, the second station could be like the moment the debris field is about to be revealed. Errors made during the rush of Mercury Retrograde Proper may begin to come to light.
In the Post Shadow, as Mercury begins to speed up and move forward, it passes over the path in the sky in which it earlier went backward.
During the Post-Shadow period, errors can show up due to poor decisions, assumptions, or lack of attention during the Pre-Shadow or Mercury Retrograde periods. The effect of the Post-Shadow is stronger for the first few days.
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