You may have already noticed its effects: missed appointments, confusion over details, miscommunication. Telephone equipment stops working, email goes down. Websites aren’t working. We think we told someone 2:00, they are waiting for us at 1:00.

When Mercury is retrograde our focus is more inward than usual, causing us to miss important details in the outer world. I have long suspected that the effects of Mercury retrograde are due more to this factor of human error than actual machinery problems. The New York Times did a study to determine whether Mercury Retrograde actually caused the problems that those of us who follow the planets swear by. Their research uncovered a lack of statistical correlation between Mercury Rx periods and automobile accidents and stoplight malfunctions, train delays, late flights, and lost baggage.

This is just one study in one city, and most people have their own tales of Mercury Retrograde gone bad (see a day in my own life as captured here). But let’s not make this one more thing to bring fear into our lives. Mercury retrograde periods can be very productive for many things: they are excellent times for completing old projects (especially if they were begun when Mercury was retrograde!) and for reconnecting with old friends. When Mercury is retrograde our minds are working a little differently than they usually do, and we may find ourselves with greater access to creativity and insight. These are wonderful times for spiritual retreat, for connecting the body with the mind in Tai Chi or yoga, or for writing of any kind.

Although it is optimal to begin new projects when Mercury is direct, don’t despair if you have a big presentation or contract that must be signed when Mercury is retrograde. Be alert, watch for the small details. Be sure that everyone understands all of the terms and put everything in writing to minimize later disagreements.

Mercury turns retrograde just as the Moon is new in Gemini, the sign that is ruled by Mercury and shares a focus on communication and the processing of experience as well as information. Everything moves a little more quickly under the influence of Mercury/Gemini, and we are likely to feel this as a slight speeding up of movement and activity. The New Moon (Sun conjunct Moon) is opposed by Pluto which adds an element of intensity and confrontation. Gemini is like quicksilver and prefers to move quickly through life, drinking at the fountain of experience and then moving on. Pluto forces us to face what lies beneath the surface; it shows us our fears and our darker emotions. Still, Pluto is part of a Grand Trine in fire including Saturn in Leo and Mars in Aries, so Pluto’s work is energized by the fire influence and turned into a celebration of transformation.

Get out your journals, your unfinished novels, your discarded fitness plans, your old address books. With six planets retrograde by the end of the month, it’s time for a retrograde party!

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