Aug 22 Hazel

Your computer fries. Your flight gets canceled. Your check is in the mail, but on its way to Brazil. Welcome to the havoc of Mercury retrograde. Although the next time this little troublemaker begins to moonwalk through the sky isn’t until October, now is a good time to learn some hidden benefits of these retrograde periods.

The Romans didn’t call Mercury the Trickster just for fun. Even if you barely know your Sun sign, I’ll bet you think you know plenty about retrograde, and it’s all rotten. Your horoscope says not to sign anything, your ex wants to crawl back in your bed, and you feel like locking the door and phoning it in. Oops, can’t do that. Your cell’s battery is dead. For years, I’ve watched the phenomenon of retro-fever grow. Rational adults start acting like superstitious cave dwellers and blame Mercury for everything that goes wrong. Today, you can even get a phone app that “warns” you of a retrograde period.

Three times each year, for about three weeks each time, Mercury appears to reverse its orbit around the Sun. Of course, no planet changes direction. Mercury’s closer to the Sun, and its orbit is smaller and faster than the Earth’s. Each time they pass each other, Mercury seems to move backward. It’s an optical illusion like when the rims on a car appear to spin backward even though it’s moving forward.

Although the impression of backpedaling through the sky is a mirage, the effects are mind-melting. When the Universe’s social butterfly flits out of sight, everything disconnects. You not only forget where you parked the car, you forget that you were supposed to get the slow leak in the radiator fixed, and the engine grinds to a smoking halt in the middle of rush hour. The boss hands you back the report you handed her. You didn’t spell-check it in your rush to get out the door to meet a long-lost friend for lunch.

However, it isn’t a coincidence that your old pal called during Mercury retrograde. The odds are just as great that something good will happen. My best friend used to panic until I reminded her that more often than not she receives money or finds a new client when Mercury is retro. Many Fortune 500 companies were started during a retro period. Goodyear. Disney. General Motors. Boeing. Does that mean you can sign mortgage papers on your new home? Sure. Don’t rush, and read the fine print.

A good way to think about Mercury retrograde is to think of words that begin with “re.” Revise. Reconsider. Remind. Repair. Relax. Mercury rules telecommunication and electronics. He also governs your personal adaptability, memory, and language. During retrograde periods these mental processes slow down. You make a mistake. The good news is that it’s more likely to be caught and fixed. You feel more like daydreaming than working. Great. Make time to do something creative. Write down your ideas because it’s almost guaranteed that you won’t remember them once Mercury’s whizzing forward again. These are good periods of time to schedule long weekends or a vacation. Just make sure that you communicate slowly and clearly with the travel agent or reservations clerk. No matter what you do during a retrograde period, it’s always best to ask questions, and keep asking until you understand the answers.

During a retrograde, Mercury turns his auto-pilot switch off and forces you to pay attention. He changes your impressions and the way you process information. He tosses the mix-ups and miscommunications around so that you learn how to be flexible. You may hate the changes, foul-ups, and déjà vu atmosphere. He’s fine-tuning your perception. Did your computer just quit, or did it stop working because you haven’t upgraded it in five years? Was it Mercury’s fault you forgot to get your car repaired? Or did you keep putting it off?

Ever hear of the self-fulfilling prophecy? If you expect the worst, the worst will happen. When you expect Mercury to mess with your life, he will. If you expect Mercury to send you second chances and help you take charge of your life, he’ll do that too.

The power of Mercury retrograde is that it gives you a chance to reclaim a hidden strength or recall a forgotten idea. You can receive an unexpected gift, hear from a long-lost friend, or find that pair of earrings you misplaced. You can figure out someone’s motives, straighten out a misunderstanding, and rework a plan. Retrograde is a good time to recover your emotional balance, or make someone an offer they can’t refuse. Yes, foul-ups happen. However, you can lessen the impact if you work with the slower energy.

Here are ten tips to help you maximize the positive side of Mercury retrograde:

  • Use your intuition. It’s easier to turn off the chatter in your brain under a retrograde.
  • Think about how you feel. Don’t auto-answer, “fine,” when someone asks, “How are you?”
  • Speak the truth. You don’t have to get nasty about it, but Mercury retros are great at bringing up old issues so you can finally resolve them.
  • Re-examine an important decision. Do you really want to elope with the guy you met at the neighborhood bar a month ago? Can you afford that 96-inch flat screen and 1000-channel cable package?
  • Dump a bad habit. Start a good one.
  • Make a repair list. Walk through your home and assess what needs to be fixed.
  • Pay attention to your body. Do you need a check-up? Schedule it.
  • Take a vacation. Whether it’s a long weekend or a seven-day getaway, the slow energy of Mercury retrograde is perfect for relaxing. Just be sure to double-check your reservations and allow extra travel time in case of delays.
  • Pause before you commit. You can get a little foggy-headed during a retro period. Don’t make a promise you’ll regret tomorrow.
  • Slow down. Take a break from the outside world and concentrate on knowing yourself a little better.

Now stop fearing Mercury retrograde and start making it work for you.


With the mouth of a Gemini, the soul of a Pisces, and an intuitive Aquarius Moon, Hazel Dixon-Cooper can nail anyone’s personality the moment she knows their birthday. She’s been an astrologer for more than twenty-five years and is the author of the internationally best-selling Rotten Day humorous astrology book series and a recently released book on Pluto, the planet of transformation.

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  1. Clayton Bye

    I must admit to not being an expert about astrology, but I am a big fan of introspection. Having used the I Ching for many years, I suspect the movement of the planets can also provide a useful way for us to look deeper into our inner worlds. I encourage all to put aside their doubts and try this long used tool as a way to get a glimpse of your inner being. Think of it as a mirror you can hold up and see yourself in relation to the world around you. At the very least you’ll have some fun.

  2. Cynthia B Ainsworthe

    Such an interesting post. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this piece. I was born June 9th. Maybe that’s why I have a difficulty focusing at times. Hmm… Gemini is the air sign and likes to be everywhere.


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