What does mercury in retrograde actually mean?

Via Hannah Siegle
on Nov 29, 2011
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Beware Of Mercury!

(Mercury is coming around again).

Yesterday I was working on an invitation for a small get together and after a hour of formatting pictures, colors, and fonts it disappeared. My hard work gone. I threw up my hands, stepped away from the computer and after a big sigh moved on with the day. I knew why this was happening. Mercury comes around again!

As of Thursday, November 24th, Mercury moved into its third retrograde phase of 2011. The actual retrograde motion comes to a stop on December 14th when it reaches its direct station, but this is only halfway through the cycle which isn’t released until January 1, 2012.. Sounds interesting right? However what does retrograde actually mean in regards to a planet? Does is actually stop and move backwards? Not really.

A planet moves into retrograde when it slows down in relation to the earth. It never actually stops or goes backwards but instead just appears this way.  This can be likened to driving next to a car that is slowing down. They appear to be going backward, but in truth aren’t.

The actually period of going into retrograde begins when the planet starts to slow, which in this case was on November 5th. While Mercury is a distant and small planet, it has very fast spin and this can cause us on Earth to really feel its effects. Mercury generally affects thinking, perception, processing and all types of communication and technology. Periods of retrograde often cause a higher degree of technology failures, financial troubles, misunderstandings and transportation breakdowns. It is not a good time to make important life decisions or changes, purchase new technology (hello holiday season!) or to take financial risks. If you have to do these things make sure you are double and triple checking yourself since you may not be thinking as clearly.

Mercury in retrograde can also be a great time for personal introspection into our own lives and getting ready to make changes come the end of the direct station in late December or January.

In the time I started this blog post and taught a yoga class my I-Pod died and I saw a car slide off the road into two 360’s and almost flip over. Mercury at its best!

Have you noticed anything off the past few days? Please share!

Photo Credits: horoscoper.net



About Hannah Siegle

Hannah Siegle began to do yoga four years ago initially for the physical practice, however she quickly discovered that the yoga began to do her in ways she never anticipated. The mind, body and spiritual connection that yoga cultivates has helped Hannah through the ups and downs of life, both large and small. She regularly blogs at Balancing on Two Feet on topics such as yoga, mindfulness, eating disorder recovery and all those things people don't like to talk about. She was trained at the RYT 200 through Laurel Hodory and is currently working towards becoming a Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapist. She teaches yoga throughout Central Ohio with GoYoga ,yogaServe, and also works as an Assistant Editor for the elephant journal!


22 Responses to “What does mercury in retrograde actually mean?”

  1. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Woah, interesting!!

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  2. Jessica says:

    It is my understanding that Mercury goes direct on Dec. 13, approximately 5:43 pm PST (not Jan. 1, 2012).

  3. yogijulian says:

    last night i sacrificed a goat in the moonlight and saw in the entrails a message that someone would do a post this morning about how the movements of the planets control events on earth…. gosh i hope someone gives the people at the nuclear plant the exact information on mercury's retrograde periods, huh?!

  4. Susan says:

    I'm a Gemini…help!!

  5. MarySol says:

    Thanks for explaining, I've always wondered how that worked.

  6. It is everywhere!!

  7. Jessica, I was referring to the release of Mercury which is on January 1st. You are right that the direct station is earlier on December 14th.

  8. Kaleb says:

    Interesting. But I often find too many people use this as a scapegoat to explain absent mindedness and the inability to communicate.

  9. Jessica says:

    Hannah, Thanks for the reply, though I'm not sure I completely understand. Mercury goes direct on Dec 13 or 14 depending on who you consult. While it takes Mercury approximately two weeks to reach the same degree in which it initially went retrograde, it is my understanding that this does not mean that the retrograde effects are considered to linger after Mercury has gone direct again. You are using the term "released" but I'm not familiar with that terminology as it relates to the planetary movement, at least in terms of Vedic astrology. I know that during this retrograde which starts on an eclipse, in the same sign as the eclipse; as well, Mars will be aspecting this particular retrograde causing a greater degree of argument and disagreement. Could you explain specifically how you are defining the term "released" and why you do not consider Mercury going direct on Dec 5:43 pm PST, or Dec 14 to mean the end of the formal retrograde period?

  10. Jessica says:


    To add: "In Vedic astrology a retrograde planet is interpreted at being more powerful, especially on the days that it stations, so Mercury retrograde can also be viewed as a time of sharpened insight. How we experience a retrograde period is different depending on whether our natal charts have retrograde planets (if we are left-brain or right-brain oriented), or where the retrograde planet transits our natal charts. By knowing when the planets start to go retrograde, it is possible to be prepared to utilize the shifting energy effectively."


    "Mercury's dance around the Sun reflects periods when its ability to discern the truth from sensory impressions is heightened, and symbolically aligns the cognitive mind, the buddhi, with the atma in the heart. Astrologically when Mercury makes its inferior and superior conjunctions with the Sun, it is considered combust, or burned up. It is rendered powerless to think and discern; but Mercury is mutable and can use the heat to surrender and transform its heavy materialistic thinking to understanding the higher reality of the Sun. Periods of retrograde and direct motion integrate right and left brain activity at these conjunction points."


    Excerpts from: http://starworlds.blogspot.com/

  11. Jessica,
    It is my understanding that sometimes the effects of the retrograde movement can linger after Mercury has reached it's direct station in a shadow effect.
    "Many astrologers consider that the "Mercury Shadow" begins between two and three weeks before the actual retro station; so the shadow phase begins this time on November 5, when Mercury passes the point of direct station for the first time in this cycle (see the date for the beginning of each shadow period in the table). Weird things often start to happen then, but the really noticeable peculiarities begin when Mercury slows significantly, a few days before the retro station.

    "The Mercury Shadow extends to the return date, something under three weeks after the direct station. Bear this in mind, because experience shows that the effects of the retro period are still marked during the shadow phase. Some of the most characteristic annoyances often occur just after Mercury makes the direct station, while he is crawling forward before picking up speed." {http://www.astrologycom.com/mercret.html}

    As for the term released this is in reference to the whole retrograde period. I'm not using period and phase interchangeably. I consider the period to encompass the Shadow when Mercury first hits the DIrect Station, the Retrograde Phase, the Direct Station (or second Shadow) and then the Release. I would agree that the end of the formal retrograde PHASE is on Dec 14th.

  12. integralhack says:

    I'm not sure I buy it but I like it! Fun stuff. Anyone know of a good astrology book–Vedic or Western?

  13. I've been told that astrology changes too much to have any book that can remain up to date. Here are some good websites however that would be better resources: http://www.crystalwind.ca/

  14. […] What does mercury in retrograde actually mean? […]

  15. Louise Brooks says:

    What does Mercury in retrograde mean? Absolutely nothing. Hate to break it to you but astrology was de-bunked many years ago. The four forces of our universe: gravity, electro-magnetism, strong and weak nuclear force. None of these are strong enough on any planet to affect us on Earth in any way.

  16. Why then are horoscopes still in every newspaper? Are you saying even the moon doesn't affect us? I would disagree.

  17. Louise Brooks says:

    Annette, are you kidding me? I think you need to familiarize yourself with basic astronomy and physics. Astrology is hoohaw that for some crazy reason, people still want to believe in. Astrology is to astronomy as creationism is to evolution. Utter nonsense. Take a science class, I beg you.

  18. Louise Brooks says:

    Horoscopes are in papers as a source of entertainment. For newspaper owners, they help sell the paper as people like to read theirs each day. Pick any daily horoscope and see how vague and general they are. The "predictions" can apply to anyone. Its a scam, using psychology.

  19. Louise Brooks says:

    Astrology claims that the planets influence events and people on Earth. That IS astrology Annette. Again, as I responded to you below, its all utter nonsense. BTW, "modern astrologers" as you call them use so-called planetary influence as their "get out of jail free" card. If someone they are doing a personal reading for challenges them on a particular reading they gave, they pull out their card and say things such as "oh, I forgot to check about travelling overseas for the holidays.,You may be able to travel in December, as Mars, in Virgo, is moving through your ninth house of long-distance people and places".

  20. Sarah says:

    So, how does this affect EARTH?! I don’t know…

  21. Jyoti Wind says:

    Mercury 'goes' Rx, not is in Rx (Retrograde)…and Mercury entering its shadow is about 2 weeks before the Rx starts…Mercury will then come back to that degree as it turns Direct.
    Mercury Rx is a time of self-reflection, inner looking. Humanity needs these cycles 3 times a year so that they can develop a sense of self. With this inward looking, outer communications sometimes are misconstrued and misunderstood.

    This cycle has Mercury in Scorpio and may lead to deeper insights than the day to day life gives us.

    I'm an Astrologer of 44 yrs. with clients worldwide.

  22. Michael Mickelson says:

    I think If you really got down to the quantum physics of matter you will see that everything effects us including planetary movement or something as simple as observation. Electrons behave in such a way that when left to there own devices they will act as wave energy but once observed will be confined to there potential for physical properties. It really depends upon the observers preconceived notions of his or her physical space (YOUNG’s Double Slit Experiment). These properties exists simultaneously and not at all… The point being that if you do not believe in something it is not true in your space while simultaneously existing as truth in someone else’s….. One thing that people should look at though if they are to adhere to astrology is the fact that the sun was rising in a different place in comparison to the earths position than it is today due to the shift of the axis. Your sign may not be your sign and if we are to be true seekers of passion, spirituality and knowledge we had better take a look at all the variables…. There truly is a spirit and a magic behind science and all is really one!