Mercury Retrograde (and any other planetary retrograde) is a significant astrological event that impacts our lives and emotions. The term “retrograde motion” comes from the impression that another planet is orbiting the sun in reverse, which stargazers have observed since ancient times. With Mercury, the impact manifests in areas and issues of communication.
What Causes Mercury Retrograde?
The backward motion of any planet in the zodiac is actually an optical illusion to us on Earth. The given planet is simply moving slower. With Earth continuing to orbit through space at normal speed, it only appears that the slower planet is going backward.
Mercury Retrograde happens because Mercury is closer to the sun than Earth, so it orbits the sun faster than we do. In fact, it only takes about 88 Earth days for Mercury to fully orbit the sun, while it takes us about 365 days. However, due to Mercury’s extreme elliptical path, it “slows down” when it is rounding the bend at its furthest point from the sun. This gives Earth a chance to “catch up” and even move past Mercury, creating the illusion in our skies that the planet is moving in reverse.
It’s like you’re sprinting, trying to catch up with the runner ahead of you, and this runner gets tired so he or she starts to slow down. You keep steadily sprinting at the pace you were going and fly past this runner. Even though this person is still moving forward, it appears to you that he or she is moving backward as you run past.
Thanks to Nicolaus Copernicus, we know that all retrograde motion is relative, due to the planets orbiting the sun at varying speeds and distances on their respective paths. Still, this distinct planetary movement has some emotional and behavioral consequences among us humans, especially those of us who are energetically sensitive.
How Does Mercury Retrograde Affect Us?
Mercury is the ruling planet of all communication. From cognition, to speech, to intake. Verbal, written, typed, texted, or recorded. Business partnerships, creative projects, friendships, romance. If you think about it, pretty much everything revolves around communication. So, does Mercury Retrograde mean communication is going to go backward?
Not exactly. It means things can go awry more easily than usual, but there are lessons to be learned during these phases. Astrologers recommend easing off certain pursuits, like starting new endeavors, signing contracts, completing tasks, and building new relationships. If traveling, it is even recommended that you allot extra time for mishaps. Generally, you should make space for heightened miscommunications among the people you interact with on a daily basis. Take this time to be mindful, stay calm, and reflect. Practice compassion with yourself and everyone else.
That way, when Mercury Retrograde comes to an end, you can get back on your path full speed ahead, with few casualties.
When Does Mercury Retrograde Happen?
This planetary phenomenon typically occurs about three time per year, sometimes four. It last about three weeks each time until the planet goes direct, or back to its normal pace. During the year 2016, the dates to heed are as follows: