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This is one of the most notorious, and most universally hated of all astrological cycles.  In many ways it earns this reputation. Miscommunication, errors, scheduling conflicts, injuries, misbehaving pets…  All of the above and then some are known to come in abundance with a Mercury Retrograde.  


From all common descriptions, and likely from your own experiences, Mercury retrograde is bad news. It sounds like a nightmare! Is it really? Or is it just a dream?

Mercury spends about a third of his existence in retrograde. The average person spends about a third of their time sleeping. Think of how you experience the dream-state. There is little logic and much confusion. Ideas, concepts, and visions are jumbled together. You certainly aren't likely to make a solid decision or have a rational thought while sleeping.

Where would we be without sleep? It is a necessary break from the external. It is a time of healing, rest, and access to inner realms.  It is often a time of spiritual or psychic experiences. You can gain invaluable information while asleep - though you can't make sense of it or act on it until we are wide awake.  

The sleep cycle is a much needed change in flow of your attention, redirecting communication to the inner realms, and the spiritual realms. But you certainly aren't 'functional' in the external world! Much like your own sleep, the retrograde is Mercury's much needed shift in focus.


The retrograde itself is three-fold. First Mercury enters the shadow of the retrograde, covering the same territory he will 'back' over. Next, is the actual retrograde, going back over the same degrees of the Zodiac. Finally, once direct, Mercury passes through the shadow again, covering those same degrees once more.

In the first shadow (2-3 weeks before the retrograde), is the time of preparation. This is the time for straightening, organizing, backing up files, catching up on paperwork - all the things we say should be done before a retrograde. It's also the time to begin things we wish to go back over.

It is a receptive and inspirational time of connecting with the outer world, taking in sights and sounds, ideas, bits of information. Your minds and life are moving quickly - too quickly. Information is gathered, but not processed into understanding or wisdom. You are absorbed in existence itself, without taking the time to contemplate it. The seeds are planted, in a rather haphazard fashion. It is during this time the tone of the coming retrograde is set.

In the next phase, comes the actual retrograde. From our perspective here on Earth, he begins to move backward. When there is a reversal in the flow, it makes waves! In this case the flow is one of communication, attention and perception. It's only natural this would cause all sorts of confusion and glitches, especially if you are fighting against the wave.

Under 'normal' circumstances it's often difficult to look inside, to know ourselves, and hear your own spirit.  The outside world is constantly pulling on you, capturing your attention.  It's not easy to free yourself of that pull and shift your focus to the elusive inner planes of subconscious, spirit and soul.  Information is gathered and processed through Mercury - and the flow of Mercury's energy is directed forward, and outward.

When he turns retrograde, when the energy flow turns inward, your attention turns inward.  Suddenly there is a pull from within, your attention is not so easily held captive by the outer world. There is confusion as our external lives suffer a bit of the neglect your inner self is frequently confronted with.  

In the final phase begins when the retrograde ends. For 2-3 weeks after turning direct, Mercury makes one final pass over the territory of the retrograde. This is reminiscent of the Crone. In this third phase the wisdom is gathered, and the cycle is waning.

During this third and final part of the retrograde, we too make one more pass over familiar territory. The thoughts and visions of the retrograde begin to make sense. The inevitable errors made come to light, ready for correction.  Your newly gained inner understanding is integrated with the outer world. And soon enough, Mercury is wide awake and moving into new territory once more.