Speedy Mercury turned retrograde on June 26, 2013, and it will continue its reversal in sensitive Cancer until July 20. The backward period of the messenger planet occurs three times a year for about three weeks at a time, and it is the best known of all the retrograde cycles.
You can find out how this may affect your life personally with a 30-Day Astrology Forecast. And remember, all the other true planets make the same retrograde shifts, but these go largely unnoticed by the general public. But somehow the idea of Mercury Retrograde has leaked into the collective consciousness so much that I heard it mentioned by the fictional police chief on last week's episode of "Dexter."
During every Mercury Retrograde, we're reminded by astrologers to double-check details and to avoid signing contracts, going on trips or making serious decisions during this cycle. Yes, there may be more factual errors, communication mix-ups and technology breakdowns when Mercury is retrograde, but it isn't very practical to retreat from the business of everyday life during the 10 weeks a year when it's in effect.
The apparent backward motion of any planet has meaning and offers a shift of perspective that can be extremely valuable. Mercury Retrograde is often used an excuse for errors and oversights, which undercuts understanding and reduces our capacity to be effective when it occurs.
Retrograde is an optical illusion
It's helpful to remember that planets don't literally turn tail and orbit the Sun in the opposite direction during their retrograde periods. The phenomenon of their reversal is a visual effect caused by the motion of the Earth. We live on a moving platform that makes it seem that planets change direction, when, in fact, they don't. This doesn't negate the retrograde effect, but it reminds us that it's about Earth-bound perceptions. As such, how we perceive, interpret and use these cycles is up to us.
It's helpful to remember that retrograde planets are revisiting parts of the zodiac they recently transited. We can think of these cycles, then, as second chances to address issues that went unresolved during the first transit. This is a time of reflection as we turn inward and reconsider recent events from a more subjective perspective. It's an internal and emotional point of view that's meant to deepen our understanding of the matter at hand.
Instead of responding based on what the world wants from us, this is an opportunity to tune in on a gut level. When the transiting planet turns direct (forward) it will pass over the retrograde point for a third (and usually) final time. This is when we put together all the factors we've discovered and take action or make a decision.
The retrograde cycle may be interpreted as a problematic period by some astrologers, and it's not without its complications, but it can also help us to resolve key questions in our lives. Who wouldn't want a second chance to review a significant matter and be able to make adjustments before completing a commitment?
We will be better informed when this Mercury goes direct on July 20, as long as we don't get sidetracked by petty issues. Listening to our inner voices provides another layer of understanding that may require more time, but it will provide us with insight that can lead to better results.