Mercury Retrograde

The planet Mercury symbolizes the alchemical magic of the mind, how we process information, how we perceive our reality and how we communicate. Mercury is also noted for being quick completing  one orbit around the Sun in 88 days. Thus, Mercury’s speed is also linked to the quickness of the mind. Our minds, our thoughts, our perceptions are not necessarily limited by time and space. Our thoughts can take us beyond these boundaries in an instant.

Often seen as a trickster, a magician, an alchemist, the one who knows how to work with the hidden forces of nature, Mercury assists us in exploring the realms of magic and mystery, while keeping us alert through its trickster antics. Napolean Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, summed up one version of Mercury type wisdom when he said,

I am not who you think I am. I am not who I think I am. I am who I think You think I am. 

If that makes sense to you then you have a feel for Mercury wisdom.

NASA image of Mercury

As already mentioned, from the Earth’s perspective Mercury is the fastest moving visible planet (the Moon is not a planet) completing its orbit around the Sun every 88 days. So for every one of Earth’s years (365 days) Mercury has experienced 4.15 of its years.

Additionally, again from the perspective of observing Mercury from the Earth it disappears and reappears more often than any other visible planet, lending itself to the archetypal magician or shapeshifter who appears and disappears so often we must stay alert to understand Mercury’s teachings. We might ask: when Mercury is not visible, where is it?

With modern technology we know the details of Mercury’s orbit around the Sun so in one sense we do know where Mercury is in its orbital cycle. However, from the perspective of Shamanic Astrology when a visible planet is not visible to Earth it is considered to be in the underworld, or otherworld.

This is a place of mystery and initiation. From our inherited mythic stories about Mercury he was the only God able to come and go at will from the underworld, or other worlds. He was not from any one particular place, but able to go to all realms and dimensions easily as the messenger of the Gods.

Earth experiences a complete Mercury cycle in about 105 to 120 days or three times a year. During the Mercury cycle it conjuncts the Sun (on the interior track or closest to the Earth) in its retrograde phase, then Mercury rises as a Morning Star some days later still retrograde. Mercury completes its retrograde cycle, spending about 40 days as a morning star before disappearing on the other side of the Sun, on the exterior track, for about 20 days.

When Mercury conjuncts the Sun in this phase it is not retrograde and is the furthest away from the Earth. Then Mercury reappears in the evening sky as an evening star for about 40 days. Mercury goes retrograde as an evening star and spends about 20 days in its retrograde phase. During this time Mercury disappears from the evening sky, rejoins with the Sun on the interior track and a new Mercury cycles begins.

From the perspective of the Earth-based observer Mercury retrograde appears to reverse directions in the sky. Astronomically, planets do not really reverse directions, they only appear to do so in relationship to the Earth. However, the appearance of this phenomenon affects our So Below reality.

What we observe in the sky is the planet retracing over the same star patterns it has just crossed, crossing the same stars three times. Our So Below experience when Mercury goes retrograde is a reflection of our observance of the As Above phenomenon occurring in the sky. Mercury slows down, reverses direction, slows down again, and returns to a direct motion, much like a pendulum swinging back and forth.

Robert Wilkinson says in his book A New Look At Mercury Retrograde, that this timing is an opportunity for us to witness magic revealing itself. When the magician slows down we have an opportunity to witness how s/he performs magic. The invisible becomes visible, the unknown becomes known. It is a time for fully exploring the magic and mystery of life in a way that is not always available to us. This timing, if worked with consciously, is an opportunity to experience and understand exactly how magic works.

It is also helpful to remember that whatever is not in alignment with the unfolding mysteries surfaces for processing and clearing. Mercury Retrograde is a notorious timing when things glitch, communication breaks down and things don’t always turn out in the ways we desire or expect. However, if we can relax and release our attachments to outcome, then this timing carries innovative, magically creative energy, inspiring insights, understanding and wisdom.


  1. Cayelin, this is a wonderful article. My husband has mercury R, conjuncting venus R, in Aries in 2nd house. He also has Jupiter, and neptune retrograde. His power time is during a mercury R period. this is when his thinking and planning is the clearest. Normally he has to take everything within and digested before being able to use the energy, this make him appear slow in school, as a youger child. He had to understand and know his knowlege before owning or accepting. Everything, even today has to be taken within and digested. I have learned that a Mercury R mind is very logical and when a lesson is learned it is never forgotten. The mercury R energy combined with his other R planets, makes him a very interesting person to live with. We have been together now for 40 years and I am always receiving new insights on his thinking. As am astrologer I have met only a few people with this same configeration. One lady who was born the same year and month as he, was the mirror image of him only female. Both had Pices rising.

    thank you

  2. Love this article and the thoughtful look at how the chart aligns with Michelle’s journey. Well done and instructive for me in how to look at a chart of a famous person!

  3. Excellent website and article on Mercury Retrograde. Love that Mercury just went into Aquarius today and will be retrograde by the end of the month – so finding this now is very timely for me!

    I will share this with others and thank you so much for sharing your unique brilliance!

  4. What a great way to describe Mercury Retrograde. I am relieved to have a new perspective and excited to experience the next one from this understanding.

  5. Love these insights and refreshing perspective on Mercury Retrograde. I appreciate all the time energy you put into creating this brilliant perspective.

  6. I’m thoroughly enjoying this insight into the Mercury Retrograde. I have always heard the more negative perspectives about this time so it is great to have a new perspective.

  7. Remarkable! Love the reminder about going backward to go forward in a more clear energized way. Thank you for sharing your insights!

  8. Communication and understanding is the basis of our social interacting and your Mercury style of communicating is so very clear. Thank you for sharing!

  9. This is a great look at Mercury Retrograde, truly fascinating and altering my perception on what it means. So thank you for that.

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