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What is retrograde?

All planets revolving around our sun, from the Earth’s perspective, typically move in a forward (east to west) direction due to the rotation of Earth.  However there are times when they appear to be travelling backwards in the sky from our viewpoint.  When this illusion occurs, it is called “retrograde”.  When the inner planets are in retrograde (Venus, Mercury & Mars), they move closer to Earth, which is said to create more noticeable impacts to us personally (think moon influences).

About Mercury

In ancient mythology, Mercury (or Hermes) is the messenger of the gods and epitomises the magus, wise counsellor or divine messenger.  He is also recognised as a trickster.  Mercury is known as the planet of day-today expression, communication and for ruling all forms of communication (including writing & speaking whether by letter, email, face-to-face, presenting, creating media, via phone or internet – you get the idea).

In astrology, Mercury, a fast moving planet, symbolises our intellect, mental outlook and the way we think and communicate; the expression of ideas and information, logic and analysis.  It also influences travel, literature, poetry, merchants and thieves.  Mercury rules writers, analysts, consultants, salespeople, astrologers & magicians.  It also governs scientific enquiry and research.  Mercury’s key action is to take things apart and put them back together again. It has been described as an opportunistic planet; unemotional and curious.

Mercury in Retrograde

When Mercury is in retrograde, communication can seem to slow down, misfire or go haywire with missed calls and technological issues.  Expect the unexpected (remember taking things apart & putting them back together).  Take extra care if you must make life changing decisions, sign contracts, initiate new plans or buy big ticket items during a Mercury retrograde. Expect delays, miscommunication and any number of unforeseen mishaps!

Mercury retrograde is a time to complete things already in motion, make comparisons and do your homework.  Due diligence is paramount; double check your plans!  Be patient & flexible and go with the flow, not against it.

The planet Mercury goes into retrograde three time a year, and in 2021, this will occur on during the following dates:

  • 30 January – 19 February
  • 31 May – 21 June
  • 28 September – 16 October


The effects of Mercury Retrograde may start being felt several weeks prior to the date retrograde commences, and for several weeks after it returns to forward motion.

An experience with Mercury Retrograde  (cira 2013)

All pumped up for my boxing class on Monday after work… get a flat tyre… can’t be repaired… need to buy a new one!  Get down to the gym on Wednesday… my personal trainer calls to reschedule!  People not showing up for appointments at work… and conversations that have me doing eye rolls so far back it makes my head hurt.  Having to make calls to sort out incorrect bills… chasing up financial matters that were meant to be sorted out last year.  Frustrated!  Emotions all over the place… wanting to reach out, yet feeling a strong desire to retreat from the world. It seems nothing is able to hold my attention… my thoughts… out of control!! Restless! Patience… stretched to the limit!

Rather than propelling myself forward as was the intention at the beginning of this year, I’ve experienced several set-backs in areas where I was doing so well.  And apparently, this is all par for the course with Mercury in retrograde.  It is a time when we are meant to move back spiritually… forced to slow down… reflect and take the time to repair… to fix the things that are not working… tie up loose ends.

Truth seeking Mercury is clearly here to help me peel back yet another layer… if only I can still the frustration and restlessness.  And diving into the learnings that are just beneath the surface… confronting, challenging and just a little bit scary.  I get that sometimes you have to take a step or two backwards in order to start the forward momentum again… but damn Mercury… what a mess you make!