Mercury Retrograde August 20, 2010 - September 12, 2010
Astrologers love to analyze and discuss retrograde cycles. A planet is described as 'retrograde' when it appears to be moving backwards through the zodiac. Although every planet in our solar system appears to station and turn retrograde in cyclic periods, they are never actually retrograde or stationary. The planets appear to shift direction due to an optical illusion. This illusion occurs as a result of a planet's motion in relation to earth.
The outer planets move slowly in relationship to the Earth's orbit. They appear retrograde when they are in the sign(s) opposite the Sun. The gas giants often spend up to 6 months in retrograde motion effecting slower astrological changes than the inner planets.
The inner planets move more quickly than the Earth and always appear within 45 degrees of the Sun. Because they lie closer into the Sun than the Earth, Mercury and Venus are called inferior planets. As viewed from Earth, Mercury and Venus never get very far from the Sun. The maximum elongation angle for Mercury is 28 degrees and the
maximum elongation angle for Venus is 45 degrees. Mercury is always in the sign before, sign of, or sign after the sun.
Due to these elongation angles, Mercury and Venus are visible only either shortly after sunset or shortly before sunrise. And our view of Venus changes, showing phases much like the Moon's. During a retrograde cycle the inferior, or inner planets, Mercury and Venus, seem to disappear behind the sun and return as transformed figures, such as Venus Morning Star shifting to Venus Evening Star. It was viewed by ancient sky watchers as a shamanic process for a planet to disappear from the sky, fall into the Sun, and return after some sort of solar alchemical process.
In both Western and Eastern astrological traditions Mercury rules thinking and perception, as well as communication, commerce, education and transportation. While it is traditionally believed that difficulties occur during retrograde, it is also a time for reflection in order to understand the meaning of any obstacles that may occur. Western Astrologers often describe Mercury's three-week retrograde period as a challenging time for its communication and travel activities. 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, 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. Vedic astrology uses remedial measures, called upayas, like mantra, gemstones and yantras to balance these energies and the karma they bring. Below is Mercury's Yantra. By meditating on this sacred geometry, we may alleviate some of the suffering that may occur during this shift of energy.
Mercury begins its second retrograde pattern of the year in the sign of the Sun, Leo. In 2010 all Mercury retrograde cycles fall in fire signs. The fiery quality of Leo imbues Mercury with a brightness, good recall, high ideals, and creative thought. When Mercury stations in this sign, the heat gets turned up on Mercurial matters. The Market may burst into new activity, or burn up in a dramatic flair. Leo is said to rule over kings and leaders, and Mercury retrograde is a challenging time to get any kind of agreement settled. It is a great time to review, but not sign contracts as all the information may not be available. And this time Mercury stations opposite a Moon-Neptune conjunction that may cloud logical thinking with dreamy emotional thoughts. Neptune is also the modern indicator for oil, and Mercury's retrograde in the opposite sign may bring up new information about the BP oil spill that was hidden from the public eye.
Perhaps the most fruitful use of Mercury retrograde is to make time for reflection. Slow down and review the past few months' mercurial activity. For example, it is an excellent time to complete unfinished projects, or correct things that were not done right the first time. If you are involved in the business world, it is wise to back up files and make copies as Mercury retrograde can interrupt the smooth flow of information. A retrograding Mercury also influences thinking, and allows us to focus inward. Dream work and meditation may be more profound, and bring up things we have forgotten, or unfinished business on a psycho-spiritual level. Retrograde planets may also function to fulfill a karmic debt or promise, or to clear up things from the past. One must take a step backward in order to go forward later. It is a great time to clear away karmic clutter.