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On April 26, 2003, the planet Mercury once again began to move in apparent reverse direction (called a retrograde), and likewise the general flow of information on this planet feels like it’s moving backward. While Mercury is retrograde, forward movement becomes more difficult, if not impossible. Communications get snarled up, transport devices need attention, and things that are about to break—well, they break. But for those who go with the flow, this is a great time to say what needs saying, to retrace one's steps, and to finish what needs finishing. Mercury in retrograde motion is not something we should fear. It’s something we need to tune into.

Mercury What?

What exactly is "Mercury retrograde?" It's when the planet Mercury (the nearest planet to the Sun) and the Earth align in such a way that Mercury appears to be moving backward against the stars of the zodiac. It never actually moves in reverse, it just looks that way from our terrestrial vantage point. Ever been on a train that was passing another train, and, in comparison to the mountains in the distance, it seemed to you as if that other train was moving backward? That's what Mercury retrograde is, an optical illusion of sorts.

These days, from the Earth's perspective, Mercury is moving backward against the zodiac. On April 26, Mercury "stopped" or "stationed" (the term preferred by astrologers) at 21 degrees of Taurus. It will head backward toward 12 degrees of Taurus, where it will stop again on May 20. Then it will slowly begin to move forward, gaining more speed every day. On  June 6, it will have caught up to where it "stationed" at 21 degrees of Taurus, and it will be moving along at its usual brisk clip. And, at that point, we'll all be ready to get on with the new.

What Should I Do During a Mercury Retrograde?

So what should we be doing right now? That's easy. Just take a look at your desk and see what needs to be completed. Look in your closet and see what needs to be recycled or thrown out. Pick up your address book and think about who you haven't talked to for a long time. It's a wonderful time for makeovers, do-overs, reruns, and renewals. If you've done something before, this is a great time to do it again!

Suppose you want to travel and your choices are a completely new destination, or one that you've had some experience with before? Choose the one you’ve been to before. Or you're at the video store and it's down to two films, one you've seen before, or a new film, with no outstanding recommendations, a shot in the dark, so to speak. You choose the one you’ve seen, of course. Or you need new pants and there you are at the mall staring at five brands of designer jeans, one of which you are wearing at the time.

What If I Bend the Rules?

OK, you've got the general idea. But what happens if you dare to choose something new? Will the sky fall on you? Probably not, but 30 years of personal observations points to the following. Either what you've chosen will need to be returned (like a pair of shoes that don't fit right), the route you've taken turns out to be the wrong one, or whatever it is that you've chosen turns out to be something you'll do again and again. Unfortunately, the first option turns out to be what happens more often than not.

Let’s give you a few examples of how this all works. Years ago I bought a camera. Later, I decided to build up a camera system and so I purchased a few lenses and accessories, while Mercury was retrograde! Everything worked out fine because I was building on a foundation that had already been established. I also bought brand names and took no chances with unknown manufacturers. Another time I took a 3-day backpacking trip in an area that I had never hiked in before. I planned a long hike in which I retraced my steps, beginning and ending at the same place. It turned out great! There are plenty of things to do under Mercury retrograde, so don't let the bad press cripple you.

Some dumb things have been done while Mercury was retrograde. Mercury rules vision and, wouldn't you know it, NASA sent up the Hubble Telescope when it was retrograde. Right away it needed some special space-age contact lenses, and later more adjustments. Some smart things have been done, however, while Mercury was retrograde. New Star Trek movies, which are continuations of an established theme, have been released during these periods with very good results. The David Letterman Show hit big when it first aired late at night when Mercury was retrograde—but this was its second shot!

Don’t Panic!

Don't ever let anyone scare you with the words "Mercury retrograde." Sure, it can be frustrating when there's a problem with your email, or your plane flight has been cancelled, or the mechanic fixing your car finds a broken part that is back-ordered and won't be available for three weeks. But think of how much you can accomplish by adjusting to the special meaning of this astrological signpost on the road to the future. Think of this time as Mercury's down-time, a sleepy time for this normally wired and fast-moving planet. We'll all be caught up and ready to move ahead in late February. Don't rush it!

For more information on Mercury and Mercury Retrograde, check out the following articles:

Mercury Retrograde: A Modern Look by Rick Levine

The Mercury Retrograde Story by Rick Levine

An Interview with the Messenger by Alice DeVille


Bruce Scofield, C.A. NCGR, is a full-time astrologer with a private practice in western Massachusetts. He is the author of twelve books (including one on electional astrology) and numerous arti­cles. More information about his work can be found at­

Also by Bruce Scofield:

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