What really is Mercury Retrograde?

Solar system6-14Yes, Mercury is doing a retrograde right now in Gemini. So I thought it would be a good chance to look at retrogrades and understand them a little better. First of all, what is a retrograde? Technically, it’s called Relative Velocity, which is the difference in speeds between two bodies. In this case, the difference in speeds is between the planets. But it might be easier to understand with other images. For example, from the faster train, it looks like the slower train is going backwards. So, from the perspective of the faster train, it appears that the slower train is going in reverse. Of course that’s an optical illusion, because from a bird’s eye view, both trains are moving forward, only at different speeds.

Switching to the solar system, from our perspective on Earth, it appears that Mercury is going backwards three times a year, for three weeks each time. Now is one of those very predictable cycles. All the planets retrograde, except for the Sun and the Moon. The slower the planet . . . the longer the retrograde period. Pluto is the slowest of all the planets, with an orbit of 248 years. Pluto retrogrades for five months at a time each year. The rest of the planets have a retrograde period somewhere in between the three weeks of Mercury and the five months of Pluto.

Unfortunately, there has been a lot of fear around retrogrades, Mercury in particular. I do admit it can be a bit challenging with Mercury retrograde, but if we plan it right, good things can result. The only thing I wouldn’t do during Mercury retrograde, if it could possibly be avoided, is to sign a big contract, like buying a house or a car. If you do travel, make sure to have lots of time, because there could be delays. So if those are the warnings, what are the appropriate things to do during this time?

I’ve named retrogrades the “editing phases in life.” It is a perfect time to regroup, rethink and reorganize. I love to do big spring house cleanings during Mercury retrogrades. The sign Mercury is retrograding through dictates the room in your house to clean. This retrograde was kind of a hybrid, because Mercury started the reverse motion in Cancer and then finished the rest of the cycle in Gemini. The sign of Cancer is associated with the kitchen. At the peak of the retrograde, I was compelled to clean out the cupboards with my pots and pans. I sat on the floor and pulled everything out. It was so freeing to give a few things away I wasn’t using, which opened up space nicely. Now it looks clean, fresh and ready to use. New cooking ideas have been inspired by my recently organized pots and pans.

Now Mercury has moved all the way back into Gemini. After I finish my newsletter, I’m going to do a big archiving of my files. This is a great time to do a good backup of your files on your computer, clean out your paperwork and make your office or desk look sparking clean. Our next Mercury retrograde doesn’t happen until four months from now, so do a good job, because you might not be in the mood for a while.

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