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October 4 until October 25

by Jeff Jawer


Mercury, the planet of communication, short trips and details, appears to stop dead in its tracks on October 4 at 2 degrees of Scorpio. The planet then turns backwards in its apparent path through the zodiac. It stops again on October 25, then turns to resume its direct motion at 16 degrees of Libra.

Mercury turns retrograde three times a year, spending a bit more than three weeks in "reverse" gear each time. The retrograde cycle is due to the fact that we are viewing the planets from a moving platform, the Earth. The planets, in fact, do not actually change direction, but appear to do so from our perspective. This geocentric, or earth-centered, point of view is the basis for astrological measurements. In a sense, what you see is what you get.

What Does It Mean?

A retrograde planet is generally considered more introverted than when it's in the normal direct motion mode. Astrologers have traditionally considered Mercury retrograde to be a time of difficulty in Mercury related endeavors like communication, travel and matters of detail. Some counsel the avoidance of launching new projects or signing contracts at this time. Glitches are considered more commonplace now, as are misunderstood or poorly delivered messages.

There are, fortunately, more optimistic views of what Mercury retrograde means. Rather than hunkering down in your bunker, this is a positive time to tie up loose ends, reconnect with people from the past, make mechanical repairs and get systems in order. This can also be a productive period for psychological review as new information can be gleaned from old experiences.

How Long Does It Last?

The primary effect of a retrograde is felt during its backward phase, in this case, from October 4 until October 25. However, there is an additional period of lesser influence called the "shadow" that extends the Mercury retrograde effect for roughly two weeks before and after the retrograde. The "front end" of the shadow began on September 14, the day when Mercury first hit 16 Libra, the point where it later turns direct. It ended on October 4, the first day of the retrograde. The "back end" of the shadow begins on October 25, the last day of the retrograde, and ends on November 10 when Mercury returns to 2 Scorpio, the place where it first went retrograde.

Mercury retrograde, in spite of the fears of some, is not a "bad" time. It is, rather, a period in which the flow of information is easily diverted and can be associated with a variety of challenges. Yet, the purpose of astrological prediction is to increase, not limit, our choices by describing the energies of the moment. Pay attention to how you communicate and gather information now. Look at the details in your life more carefully. Take the time to be introspective. These steps may not only reduce the risk of undesirable snafus, but open doors to new levels of awareness and effectiveness.

Who Gets It?

We all do, but in different ways. The idea of being more careful with communication and details is a good one for all of us now. Yet, some people are more sensitive to Mercury retrograde than others. Generally, those with strong Gemini or Virgo (the two Mercury-related signs) in their charts are more tuned to this cycle.

About fifteen percent of the population was born with Mercury retrograde. Experience shows that some of these people do quite well with this planet moving backward, yet others struggle even more than usual. Each case is unique.

Individuals with planets close to the station (turning) points of 3 Pisces and 18 Aquarius are more likely to be touched by the current Mercury retrograde cycle. Also, each of us has these degrees somewhere in our charts. The house(s) where these fall can show the areas of life in which communication issues are most likely to arise at this time.

For more on Mercury retrograde read:

Mercury Retrograde: A Modern Look

For more on Mercury read:

Interview with the Messenger


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