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Having a Good Retrograde Mercury Experience

I like to read other astrologer’s blogs and newsletters and I also write my own newsletter. Last month I wrote a short piece about the current (then upcoming) retrograde Mercury and gave my readers some practical tips on how a retrograde Mercury might manifest. I have four planets in Virgo — Moon, Mercury, Venus, and Pluto — a nice stellium packed in the 2nd house. Practical advice is my specialty.

Another astrologer’s blog commented on the current retrograde Mercury, remarking, “Whatever you do, don’t travel while Mercury is retrograde.” I was surprised. Never? I remember from grade school that one could eliminate the wrong answers on a multiple choice test if they contained the words “always” or “never.”

Never travel while Mercury is retrograde? Well, what if you don’t really have a choice? For example, a relative falls ill or dies, your employer requires you to travel, or it is the only vacation time you can take from work. I can think of a lot of reasons why one might have to, or simply want to, travel during a retrograde Mercury period.

Therefore, I’m writing this blog to clear up a few misconceptions about retrograde Mercury by relating a few of my own experiences.

I just traveled across the country via car. I arrived in one piece, happy (making one unscheduled stop at a hot spring — it was wonderful) and on schedule. I had a few minor hiccups along the way, but I had contingency plans for them. I fell into the category of not having a choice as to when I traveled or how, but I did know that Mercury was retrograde and that made a huge difference in my planning and therefore my experience. Let me tell you how.

First, the bare-bones basics: Mercury goes retrograde (looks like it is moving backwards in the sky) three times a year, or every four months. The retrograde period lasts about three weeks. For approximately three weeks before and after Mercury goes retrograde, it is in what is called its shadow period, because it is not at its normal speed; it is either slowing down or speeding up. During the shadow period, it can feel like a mild Mercury retrograde, when things start to go a little haywire.

To understand retrograde Mercury periods, one should understand what Mercury governs. In ourselves, Mercury rules the mind, how one communicates (talks and writes), how well, and the style in which, one does so, one’s memory, and one’s intelligence. On the mundane level, it governs our collective consciousness (or lack thereof), telephones, the internet, texting, computers, travel, elections, etc.

When Mercury goes into its shadow period and then retrogrades, all of these areas can be adversely affected. All kinds of misunderstandings, miscommunications, and breakdowns can occur. For example, this week we witnessed two celebrity mishaps. Mitt Romney criticized the Olympics in London and caused an international incident, while, across the channel in Paris, Madonna was booed for having only a 45-minute show. which included her personal political rant. (1) Mercury is known as the cosmic trickster; it is also the patron god of commerce, bankers, pick-pockets, and thieves. (I will go into more detail below as I relate it to my experience.)

Mercury governs the mail, so while Mercury is not up to par, shipping will be affected.

While Mercury was in its shadow period, I had to order things for my trip, so I used express delivery with tracking numbers to be on the safe side. Still, things ended up lost or delayed: one shipper put the wrong tracking number on a package and it got lost. My post office lost another package by putting it in someone else’s box and it was, uncharacteristically, not returned. Also, I had several pieces of mail from someone else’s box in my box, and while I was waiting in line to return that mail, I noticed another woman having the same problem. If it absolutely has to be there, put a tracking number on it, and have a backup plan if it doesn’t make it the first time, or on time.

Mercury governs communication and computers, and that includes email.

Three of the four hotels I stayed in during my trip did not have functioning internet service and weren’t able to get it working. They didn’t know why, but, of course, I did — it was Mercury retrograde! This led to all kinds of problems for me, as I missed important emails from clients and other people. As part of my contingency plan, I always travel with a wi-fi booster and my own ethernet cable, but neither helped me this time. Oh well, I tried!

When my husband owned a computer repair business, retrograde Mercury periods were always his busiest times of the year, but also the most difficult. Common quotes from clients were: “What do you mean all my data is gone?” or “What’s a backup?”

While he would try to repair customers’ computers, it was not unusual for software to take longer to install for no apparent reason. All kinds of atypical problems often surfaced (screws stripping, parts breaking). If a client had a backup program, it was a frequent occurrence that it was not functioning properly, and had not been since a previous retrograde Mercury period. It is best not to have someone work on your computer while Mercury is retrograde, although, once again, you may not be able to help it. Have your backups run and checked and new software/hardware installed beforehand.

Mercury rules contracts, so read the fine print.

As I checked into one hotel, I noticed a small sign behind the desk clerk that said something about using a debit card. My husband was chatting with the clerk as she was about to run my debit card, so I had to say, “Stop!” I asked her to bring me the sign; it was a notice of contract for debit card users and should have been placed on the front counter. It indicated that a several hundred dollar hold would be placed on my bank account just for using my debit card instead of a credit card. I switched to a credit card and gave the clerk a piece of my mind.

You need to be extra careful during Mercury retrograde about signing any contracts or legal agreements. Avoid signing if at all possible, or go over them with a fine tooth comb. Expect there to be problems you are overlooking. If you do sign something, or enter into any kind of agreement, e.g. getting married, buying a vehicle, or finalizing business deals, during this period, unexpected results may pop up after Mercury goes direct.

Mercury rules travel — planes, trains, and automobiles.

Yes, I drove nearly all the way across the country, but it was in a brand new rental vehicle — and I’m not home yet! I did have a few minor glitches, but not with the car. We thought of driving our own car, but as Mercury co-rules autos (along with Uranus) and can cause its fair share of problems with them while retrograde, we decided to let the potential mechanical problems afflict a rental and not our own vehicle.

One of the biggest complications with retrograde Mercury can be travel delay, and I ran into quite a bit of traffic and road construction. If you are flying or using a train and need to check your luggage, be extra careful: buy the best luggage insurance you can find, as well as refundable tickets. It is expensive to be cheap.

I do not trust the airlines with my luggage on a regular day, and I certainly wouldn’t do so during a Mercury retrograde period. For example, if you are flying to Hawaii, pack your bathing suit and flip-flops, along with whatever else you cannot replace, in your carry-on; at least you can hit the beach as soon as you land. Allow extra time between your connections, reconfirm reservation details, and be prepared for cancellations and delays.

Remember, Mercury rules pick-pockets and thieves as well, so guard your luggage and valuables attentively, as they are more likely to be stolen or lost during this time. Use a money pouch (even if you think they are silly), and take advantage of your hotel’s safe. Make copies of your credit cards, traveler’s checks, and passport, and know how to have them replaced. There are fewer worse feelings than being stranded without money or ID.

Business Sense

Many astrologers know that patience is a virtue during Mercury retrograde periods. One of those important emails I missed for a few days was the offer to write this blog. Fortunately, Mary has so much experience with retrograde Mercury periods that she knew to wait a bit for my answer. Thank you, Mary! (2)

Before I left on my trip I realized that I was very low on business cards. I needed to reorder them, but I chose not to do so until Mercury was clear of its post-retrograde shadow period. [Mary, is this “post-retrograde going to work here?] I decided to do without them rather than risk a blunder at the printers. It is not advisable to have anything printed when Mercury is retrograde, and, if possible, not until it is out of its shadow, because typos or other problems will likely surface. I am also having my website redesigned, but all implementation of it on the web will not happen until Mercury is well past its shadow period.

By the way, I also help clients improve their businesses. One client was offering workshops and retreats, but some of these events were scheduled during retrograde Mercury periods, and very few people were showing up. Turns out he was also sending his workshop email announcements during Mercury retrograde. I suggested that he stop doing this during retrograde and shadow periods and this solved his low attendance problem.

Retrograde Mercury is not a good time to start a new business or venture of any kind. If it is your own business, you should be able to wait three weeks to launch (nine, if you include the shadow period). If you work for someone else, and your boss is putting on the pressure to close the deal or make a large sale, your customer may be delayed somehow, or come up with excuses, until Mercury is direct. I have found that new clients who show up during a Mercury retrograde period usually do not pan out. They cancel more often than clients who show up at other times of the year.

What is retrograde Mercury good for?

Retrograde Mercury periods, including their shadow times, are great for introspection and looking back at what we’ve been doing. We can reflect on where we’ve been for the past four months, note when we’ve been misunderstood or we’ve misunderstood others, and so make things better and clearer for the future.

It is also a great time to reconnect with old friends and relatives, and even to contact old business associates to find out why deals might not have gone through. This just happened to me. A client who contacted me during a previous retrograde, but never followed through with a session, just contacted me.

If you are presented with a sales deadline, or something similar, from your employer, you can choose to be cool, calm, and collected. Take it from someone with a Virgo stellium — get organized, take care of yourself, and breathe. Watch for errors, and be prepared for the possibility that your clients may change their minds and back out of the deal. Now you know it is best not to try to “seal the deal” or pressure a client to sign a contract until Mercury goes direct.

Mercury retrogrades are also a great time to brainstorm ideas and let your creative side run free. You may want to have meetings in which to consider future possibilities during these time periods, but making any definitive decisions should not be on the agenda.

In Conclusion

What I have tried to elucidate here is that, while Mercury is retrograde, you don’t have to hide in your house with a tub of ice cream waiting for it to pass. As with any planetary transit to an important point in your natal chart, there can be positive and negative manifestations during this mundane transit; how you deal with it is up to you, but a little preparation goes a long way.

Remember, retrograde Mercury periods are not a time to sit back on your laurels. They can be a time to be proactive and alert. Things that Mercury governs do not necessarily go smoothly and always work out the way we planned, but that doesn’t mean one can, or should, avoid doing them. Rather, we can do things that Mercury rules a bit differently, with a higher level of awareness, and have alternate plans when things do not work out.

This is how one can navigate the setbacks and complications often associated with retrograde Mercury and its shadow periods. With a bit of patience and preparation, you can have a good retrograde Mercury experience and smile to yourself while everyone else is fussing about aimlessly.

(1) Democracy Now
and BBC
(2) Mary’s note: You are so welcome, Audra. I love what you’ve written, thank you very much.


  1. Good article. Another thing to note is the degree and sign on which Mercury turns retrograde, and the degree and sign in which it goes forward again. If it’s prominent in your chart, it can result in doing or saying something that has to be re-explained, re-assessed, etc. etc. A good example is that Mercury went retrograde on July 15, the same day that Pres. Obama made his now-famous remarks about small businesses not building their businesses on their own. I use this because it’s a very recent example of what I’m talking about. Mercury went retrograde at 12 Leo. The President’s Sun is at 12 Leo.

  2. Thanks Audra. Great summary of the practical considerations during MR. I appreciate your inner Virgo. 🙂

    In addition to the above, I consider Mercury Retrograde periods as the perfect time to move in the realm of spontaneity with clear intention and willful surrender. Our logical, left-brain habits need a break, and MR provides us a way of letting go of plans and structure, so other magical forces can reveal themselves e.g. travel delays opens the door for you to experience something different…new acquaintance, new information, new connections etc.

    Also, as Michele posted, understanding the influence of MR in one’s natal chart can be a learning moment, providing a clearer strategy for how to navigate this energy during its entire 8 week shadow period, including the retrograde phase. At a minimum, understanding which natal house(s) Mercury transits during its retrograde phases can be quite the aha!

    • Dear Joseph,

      My left brain really needed some spontaneity, and that was my unscheduled Hot Spring stop on this trip. I did not include enough about letting go, and I appreciate your input.

      I also didn’t mention it in the article, but Mercury stationed retrograde within a degree of my Sun/Mars conjunction in my 12th, so it was apropos that I wrote this article about avoiding self undoing, about having a choice as to how one uses the retrograde experience, etc..

      And what set me to writing was that I was unhappy (read Mars) that another astrologer would write something which I felt was over the top about retrograde Mercury.

      Thank you so much for appreciating my inner Virgo, and for sharing your insights.

      • I agree Audra. Creating fear about any planetary cycle diminishes its value in our evolving journey.

        I “attempted” 3x last week to book a flight for early Sept (I have Saturn/Virgo in the 1st, so I can be persistent 😉 ). Each time an “error” appeared. Turns out my travel plans changed 2 days ago due to changes in friends plans. If I had purchased the original tx, I would have had to pay a substantial change fee. Thank you MR. 🙂

  3. Hi Michele,
    You are so on top on this! I forgot to mention this part. That’s Mercury Rx. Another excellent example of celeb foot-in-mouth disease during this Mercury retrograde season!
    Madonna has a 12th House Uranus at 12 Leo and Mitt has a 4th House Pluto at 11 Leo+change. We can put the pieces together based on what they have said.
    Obama also faces fallout based on this Mercury Rx. Obama’s 6th House Sun at 12 Leo- people not working hard enough- so 6th House.
    Thanks so much!

  4. Great explanation of MR. It’s the one astrological term that has become popular thanks to pop culture, tv and magazines. Yet many people are spooked by it and want to blame very horrendous occurrences on MR.
    I have Mercury at 16 Leo and Pluto at 11 Leo so I’ve had a good workout with this MR. As a writer, I’ve long learned to utilize these three week periods to edit, re-edit, review and organize my work…this time I had my novel ms., due out from Viking in summer 2013, to review prior to its going to press. That’s been grueling but a strengthening process for the novel. Also I’ve been mending since ankle surgery and had a bit of a relapse July 4th (too much walking around at a BBQ). And lastly a large check that I was expecting had to be recomputed by a state agency and was delayed from June 22 to July 26.
    Through all this the Mars retrograde (n. Mars 17 Vir & n. Venus 6 Vir) has helped me pay strict attention and study retrogrades even more. You know better , you do better .

    • Hi Judy,
      Thank you for giving us more examples of retrograde Mercury, and of retrograde Mars and Venus. They are equally important.
      Thank you for sharing.

  5. Loved your article on mercury retro; had to chuckle about your trip and no internet at 3 of the 4 hotels. How mercury retrograde is that? I appreciate that you set the record straight that it is impractical to have universal qualifiers for mercury retro, never, always, etc just doesn’t cut it in the world and that we need to be aware and conscious. Mercury retro gives us the chance, whether we want to or not to pay attention to the details of life.

    • Thank you for your comments Donna. They are much appreciated.

  6. Thank you Audra,
    Now I know more about Mercury Retrograde than ever before.

  7. Thank You Audra,

    I am happy to read your posts on this site. It is also good to see you were able to work with your own experience of retrograde Mercury and get this post to us under these conditions. This new information will help me to be more proactive and diligent during retrograde Mercury.

    I have a question about this “shadow period” though; I am currently undergoing a career change and class begins on August 13th – which it appears is in this shadow period. Could this affect the entire term of my class?

    Please help me understand what it may help me to be prepared for during this period.

    Happy Trails for the rest of your trip!

    • Hi Janice,

      Congratulations on beginning a new career! Mercury’s shadow period will be ending not long after your classes begin, and will be winding down. Good News!!

      The best thing to do is to (because this is a huge change in your life) is to be prepared for your first day of school, just like when you were little. Mercury is known as the trickster, so its easy for all of us to misplace to our car keys, our notebook, our pens, important papers, etc.. during this time period. So pack everything for school the early. Lay out your clothes, too. All these things add up to us being late. Know your route to school, and if there are road construction delays. Have your school parking permit already.

      In school, you may find the staff is still half on “vacation”, but that should quickly subside. They may be looking for their papers, old tests, books, where they are suppose to park, etc..

      Perhaps student loans may take a few extra days to come through, but again, it should not be a major problem as Mercury will be nearly back to normal speed in a jiffy.

      Patience will help you, and remember, if you have not been in school for a while, the first week or two will be your biggest adjustment period. Mercury being in its shadow can make it difficult to focus for us all, so don’t take it personally or hard on yourself. Go to a study skills lab or class or ask your guidance counselor for advice in reintegrating as an adult student.

      Best of luck to you, and enjoy this new part of your life!

      • Thank you Audra, I will make sure everything is ready before school starts. And better than that, I will be more prepared for this event as it occurs routinely in the heavens.

  8. Now I understand why we were having trouble with transferring some tuition from a Canadian bank into our bank in the U.S. Several mishaps along the way and I finally went to the bank and asked what the best way would be to handle this in the future. Planning ahead for the next time. 🙂 It also seems to make sense to schedule some of our classes during MR and the shadow period as it is a time for creativity.

    Since I also work in healthcare, I’m curious if medical tests are more likely to have errors or be misinterpreted during mercury retrogrades. Would you be able to elaborate on that?

    Thanks Audra!

    • Hi Julie, I would think there is an increased chance that a medical test might have to be done again, maybe due to unusual or inconclusive readings. Re-doing things is very Mercury retrograde. Or, yes, misinterpretation, too.

    • Hi Julie,
      Money transfers can be especially problematic. You got it!

      About scheduling workshops… although people can be creative, they tend not to be punctual or to commit to things during Mercury retrograde periods. So, at least for the three weeks while Mercury is retrograde, you may find attendance is lower than usual or with higher cancelation rates.

      If you have had your business for a while, you could look back over the years and see if you have had workshops during Mercury retrogrades. I suggest comparing those attendance rates to those workshops when Mercury was direct. Here is a free online Ephemeris to look up Mercury retrograde periods:

      And Tem, of course, is right about the medical tests. Tem is too fast for me! There is the computer and human element which can go a bit off during this time period, so if one can put off a non-essential test, I would recommend it. I would also double check that the name on the top of the test result going in your chart is actually yours. This mishap has happened to me so many times I have lost count.

      Thanks for writing in, sharing, and asking your question.

  9. Many thanks from a Mercury-ruled person for this very readable, practical and helpful article, and for the comments in response to it.
    Just off to put the link on my Twitter feed!

  10. It’s always great to see an article that presents a fresh look at an old standard. I remember when I first did my chart many years ago how amazed I was that almost half of it was right on; in the intervening years I’ve been amazed to discover how the other half has turned out to be right as well. It’s not easy to be objective. What between projection, expectation, need and a selective and declining memory, I am most grateful for your fresh perspectives!

    • Hi Les,
      Thanks for writing in and sharing. Your input is deeply appreciated. As Rob Hand said in a TMA interview not too long ago, he doesn’t believe in astrology, he experiences it. I think that is where you are. I know I am.

  11. HI Audra,

    Once again, your way of writing and explaining astrology to those of us who are not that familiar with it has been enlightening. I do feel a huge heavy shift going on where I live as the energy is shifting very fast for me. I look forward to consulting with you regarding my business. I do hope others speak to you so they can plan new business ventures in a productive and creative manner.

    Peace to You,

    • Hi Judy,
      Thank you for your comments. I really wanted to write this article for everyone of every level of experience. I appreciate that you think I did I good job! I look forward to working with you, too.

  12. “All kinds of misunderstandings, miscommunications, and breakdowns can occur. You think.” Audra

    Yes, it has been one of those retrograde periods but I am so thankful that those projects that didn’t work out are just part of the grand plan. I have clarity now. Knowing that it is a Mercury retrograde period provides further peace of mind that all is well. Misunderstandings due to miscommunication leading to further breakdowns in regards to family and business seems to be my own personal experience of this recent period. From full moon to full moon this month. August should be interesting with the upcoming Blue full moon at the end month to be the same day as my girlfriends birthday. Lots of good things ahead now that we’re getting the kinks worked out during this retrograde period. Continue navigating with awareness. Thanks for another awesome article Yellow Lotus.

    • Dear Keith,
      I am glad you found your clarity, and that you liked the article. Thank you for sharing your Mercury retrograde experience.

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