Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Mercury Retrograde 2009

This weekend we will be experiencing the first Mercury Retrograde for 2009 and it seemed to me a perfect time to refresh ourselves with what it all means.

Going backwards, sort of…

Retrograde means, “going backwards”. In astrology all planets retrograde except for the Sun and the Moon (which technically aren’t planets --but we’ll save that topic for another day) Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, etc, they all appear to move backwards. But usually it is Mercury that captures most of our attention. We use the word “appear” because if we could fly through space and land on Mercury or any of the other planets we would see that they don’t technically turn around and go backwards they only appear to go backwards because of Earth’s rotation. However, this appearance is very real, astrologically speaking, and retrogrades can cause some sort of shift, occasional chaos and sure, a bit of mayhem.

Why do we care about Mercury?

Actually, we care about all retrograding planets. But there is a special zest with Mercury due to the fact that it is the fastest moving planet and when it goes backwards its own quickness adds to the mayhem.
In contrast, when the slower moving planets retrograde they have more time to unwind and although they can cause some shifts and maybe a tinge of mayhem, they just aren’t as messy.

It is the difference one might experience on a super brisk day where wind knocks down wires and trees versus a day when a big tornado hits. Velocity is important and Mercury’s own speed adds to the chaos. Additionally, Mercury is the planet of communication. It is the planet that rules how we talk, how we think, how we write, how we give information and how we receive it. It is also the planet of small journeys. Pretty important stuff , right? So, if the planet that rules communication and thinking is going backwards, you can imagine why things can go haywire quickly.

How often are there Mercury Retrogrades?

Usually there are three or four retrogrades a year and their influence is for several weeks each.

What happens during the retrograde?

Traditionally this is a time when letters get lost, computers crash, cars break down, the need for big household purchases can occur, although it would be nice if you can delay it until after the retrograde. It is when an off-handed comment to a friend or family member causes a big ol’ uproar totally confusing everyone. A little comment like, “Are you going to eat that cookie?” could cause World War Three during a retrograde. People’s sensitive sides are on steroids during a retrograde and even the simplest of comments sting to the heart. Remember Mercury rules thinking and people just get weird during Mercury retrogrades.

Specifically, the tone of the retrograde will be determined by the sign that Mercury is in. For example, Mercury retrograde in Aries with its fiery nature and short fuse is completely different than a Mercury Retrograde in a stubborn and fixed sign like Taurus. While the Mercury retrograde in Aries means lots of fights and slammed doors or phones, a Mercury retrograde in Taurus can feel like a constant money blood letting with one items after another breaking down.

Advice during a retrograde?

Listen, you are going to piss someone off during a retrograde, or you are going to get pissed off during a retrograde, there usually is no escaping it. But what you can do is learn something during the retrograde. How did you piss off the person? Or why did you get ticked off? Did you say something you have wanted to say for awhile but now you had the guts? Or did someone finally have enough of you? Okay, all is fair in love and war and retrogrades. But perhaps next time you won’t wait so long to make the changes that you should have made a lot earlier. Or maybe you can also manage your tongue and learn a thing or two about finesse. Shakespeare may have said the world is a stage and we are just mere players…but for goodness sake, “It’s in the delivery!” And also, what about those things that break during a mercury retrograde. The car that breaks down has usually been in need of a repair for a long time. Now, during a retrograde the buck stops and you have to do the fix. This is also great time to retire old ideas that no longer work or serve. It is a great time to call old friends whom you have not spoken to in years. Finally deal with some of the paperwork that has been in need of your attention. Sometimes you have to sign important papers during a retrograde but if it comes back to need more work after the retrograde you can just blame silly Mercury. Stuff happens.

How long is the influence of the retrograde?

The best way to understand the influence is by setting up a visual.
Imagine Mercury is a car and this car is leaving Seattle and heading for NYC. So, the car leaves Seattle and heads East… this is called MERCURY DIRECT. The car continues on its trip and it goes by Chicago continues on the road but as it gets close to Indianapolis it starts to slow down…and just as it hits Indianapolis it stops and turns around. The Slow down is called MERCURY STATION and the Turn around of course is called MERCURY RETROGRADE. Now the retrograde car is heading west again and heading back to Chicago. When it finally gets back to Chicago it slows down and turns around and now heads east again returning back on its journey to NYC this is MERCURY DIRECT. The car will continue on its journey and this time when it goes by Indianapolis it doesn’t stop it just continues on its merry way to NYC.

What is significant is that the road between Chicago and Indianapolis will be seen once, then twice (going backwards) and then a third time (when it goes direct again). This road between Chicago and Indianapolis is the SHADOW PERIOD. This means the very first time we see Chicago we are put on alert that there is a Retrograde ahead and so be prepared we may see this landscape again.

To continue the analogy.. On December 26th we drove by Chicago. We will be turning retrograde on Jan 11th (reaching Indianapolis) and then going all the way back to Chicago until Feb 1st where it will turn around and head again for Indianapolis and finally passing it on Feb 20th.
As you can see from shadow point (Dec 26h) to shadow point (Feb 20) is about 2 months. That doesn’t mean it will be all rocky during that time. No, not at all. The rockiest times will probably be during the actual retrograde (Jan 11 – Feb 1) but we will most likely revisit topics that come up in the time between the two month shadow dates.

In 2009 there are 4 Retrogrades.

Jan 11 Aquarius
May 6 Gemini
Sept 5 Libra
Dec 26 Capricorn

As you can see the first three retrogrades are in the air signs. Which means that these retrogrades are going to challenge our thoughts and how we think. We will be processing those thoughts that either work for us or jettison those ideas and thoughts that no longer serve. Because the first retrograde is in Aquarius---the area where our thinking will be acutely challenged is around groups of people. Many will be looking at the group of people that they hang out with and will be asking, “Do I still belong with this group?” Do they match where we are heading? Many of us will also want to shake up our world a bit since Aquarius likes to do things unusual and relishes things that are unique. There is a bit of risk taking so we might stretch ourselves in ways but that could come back and kick us in the butt. However, the center of attention should not be on the result but more on the stretch. Ask yourself if your need to stretch comes from your need for ‘air’. As we progress down the year we will discuss each air sign and its greater meaning during the Mercury Retrograde.


  1. awesome tracy, thanks a lot!!!
    Mabel in Buenos Aires

  2. What kind of effect do you think being born during a Mercury retrograde has on a person? My baby will probably be here before February 1st!

  3. Tracy, thank you, for your posting this important information regarding Mercury Retrograde. It helps understand what goes on in our surroundings. thanks, Lorena from Houston Tx

  4. typical mercury retro... I just saw these posts today!!!

    Ah, Mab---- I had hoped that BA was you!

    Lydia, well, of course there are babies born all the time with Merc retro in their chart. Depending on the sign they can be a bit quieter and sometimes a bit unsure about their communicating style. But plenty of them can still be vocal or figure a good way to communicate. Ben Affleck has Mercury Retro in Leo (I think). Also, they don't tend to be as flustered by the mercury retrogrades that throw all of us off! So, that is a big perk.

    Glad, to be of help, Lorena

  5. Tracy,
    I have been offered a job today and now I am unsure if I should set up a start dat after Feb 1.
    should i wait to sign any paperwork or should i expect some delay in the paperwork end of things.
    how would you appoach the retrograde.


  6. If you can start after Feb 1, I would. Also if you can sign the paperwork after 2/1, I would.
    I freelanced for many years and I often got assigments and gigs during retrogrades. In some cases they were so lame. And in other times, they were a job I really wanted and it took a retrograde to get it!
    Because this is aquarius, I would imagine this might be about finding a new group of people for you. congrats on the job offer!

  7. mercury goes retrograde May 8 2009.
    will botox injections be afftected if i go one week prior ? appointment date is May 1 2009?

  8. When will you discuss the retrograde now in gemini, and also the others?

  9. do you recommend entering into an agreement to buy a house that came up for us right before the retrograde?

  10. Ebay suspended me indefinitely on May 18th. The reason is because I pissed the higher ups off when I used the police fax line to send in documents.

  11. was an error and I do not think that I will EVER have the chance to be back. Quite frankly, Ebay does this very frequently, suspending good sellers for no apparent reason. I have never broken the rules, but was mistakenly accused. Now forever banned during retrograde, I fear there is no chance of resolution, let alone reconcilation.

  12. Hi and thank you for sharing this user friendly explanation of Retrograde. Now that we are approaching Retrograde in Libra, what exactly does that mean?

  13. Tracy, please help. My husband and I are in the market to buy a house. Should I wait until Sept 29 to put an offer on a house? ALso, my best friend's daughter had planned to get married June 2010 but for some reason is wanting to move the wedding to Sept 21,2009. Should we try to have her wait until after the retrograde to get married? Please help me!!