There is a familiar saying 'Two steps forward, one step back'. We tend to use it in rather a negative way, implying that our forward progress has been thwarted, that mishaps and unforeseen circumstances have not only slowed us down but made us feel that we are going in the opposite direction to our desired goal.
Retrograde Mercury can feel like this one step backwards. At an individual level there may be a misunderstanding in communicating with a friend, family or co-worker, we might lose our voice or things may break, such as computers & phones; communication and methods of communication are governed by Mercury. We may sustain an injury that means we can't walk, or our car/bike breaks down or the bus/train is not running - irritatingly inconvenient. Local journeys and methods of travel are also ruled by Mercury.
Globally Retrograde Mercury could be similar annoying disruptions but affecting huge numbers of people simultaneously. Malfunctions in online banking, train driver strikes etc. Anything that affects the regular processes of our day which we have come to rely on happening smoothly.
However, we could look at retrograde Mercury as an opportunity rather than a hindrance; an opportunity to reflect and assess decisions taken and progress made. Maybe when systems or communications are failing and we feel our progress is being thwarted the Universe is giving us a nudge to remember to take some time to evaluate before taking the next two steps forward.
Rather than becoming frustrated or disheartened with our forward progress, periods of retrograde Mercury could be deliberately scheduled into our yearly planners to use a 'step backward' to our advantage; to rest, reflect and refocus.
|Our Moon Diary & Moon Calendars show when Mercury is retrograde so you can plan how to approach these times.|
So what is happening in the sky when Mercury is said to be retrograde?
The word ‘retrograde’ suggests that the planet is appearing to move backward in it motion. This, in fact, is an optical illusion.
All the planets in our solar system travel in the same direction around the Sun. Because of the rotation of the Earth, the objects we view in the sky appear to move from east to west in our night sky. The stars we see remain in a fixed position in the sky from our view point but the planets orbit the Sun at different speeds. The orbit of Mercury around the Sun is shorter than Earth’s - Mercury takes 88 days to orbit the Sun as opposed to Earth’s 365 days. This causes the retrograde illusion as Mercury is travelling faster than us and laps us on its journey. Mercury retrogrades us three or four times a year.
You can think of it by imagining Mercury run around a track. As it runs the loop, it will start out moving from the left side of your field of vision to your right. Then, it rounds the corner and, although it’s not moving backwards, it is now moving from right to left.
All the outer planets (Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune) take longer than the Earth to make their entire journey around the Sun. Because they take longer, the Earth passes these planets during its journey and when it overtakes them they appear to travel in a backward motion from our position.
The outer planets have less frequent but longer period of retrograde whilst the inner planets, Mercury and Venus, have shorter but more frequent periods of retrograde.