Alex Trenoweth
Alex Trenoweth
How to Become an Astrologer in 26 Easy Steps
January 23, 2020
Bounced: The true story of how an astrologer took down a skeptic
February 24, 2020
Alex Trenoweth
How to Become an Astrologer in 26 Easy Steps
January 23, 2020
Bounced: The true story of how an astrologer took down a skeptic
February 24, 2020

In Praise of Mercury Retrograde

Alex Trenoweth on Mercury Retrograde

Did an astrologer tell you to worry about Mercury retrograde? Here are some reasons why you shouldn't listen. . .from a fully qualified professional astrologer!!

Oh we’re in silly season again. When everyone is blaming poor old Mercury for everything from computer meltdowns, plane crashes, lost mail and late buses. As my laptop crashed WHEN MERCURY WAS IN FORWARD MOTION in December 2019, I didn’t even realise Mercury was retrograde until I heard someone try to blame Mercury for a computer problem (yes I told him off).

Oh and my beloved cat died while Mercury was in forward motion.

The last time I published this article, Mercury was also in retrograde motion. So I’ll continue to let this stand as a testament that Mercury retrograde DOESN’T cause publishing problems.

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And. . .I’ll be making a virtual appearance in Cape Town–yes whilst Mercury is retrograde–for my friends of the Cape Astrology Association. I’ve also just found out Astrodienst will be publishing another article of mine very soon (while Mercury is retrograde) and I’ll be doing a webinar for the evolutionary astrologers whilst Mercury is in its so-called shadow period. You can check out my lecture schedule here.

But back to Mercury . . .

Oh my SEO didn’t like it that I used the words “Mercury retrograde” so often so I’ve changed it to MR in places. I schedule my posts in advance so no, this is not a MR problem.

If I were a god, I’d be pissed. . .

Mercury Retrograde
The winged-footed one as he watches over the commerce activities in London England.

I get so sick of hearing people blame Mercury Retrograde for late buses, delayed flights, mail strikes, broken glasses, computer crashes, lost mail, broken fingers, popped eardrums, natural disasters and great goddess knows what else. When something bad happens, far too many people start exclaiming: “I KNEW it!! Mercury is retrograde!” Even though they know damn well any of those things could happen when Mercury is in forward motion.

Do you think Mercury can’t HEAR you?

I once even had an astrologer friend (who shall remain anonymous) blame MR for a traffic jam.  I countered that traffic jams happen all the time along that particular stretch of road. This astrologer wasn’t having it: MR had caused the travel delays. The next day, the same astrologer refused to get into a lift because of MR. We all got to the floor we wanted without the cable snapping. 

People, get a grip.

A little science about Mercury Retrograde

Mercury retrograde is an optical illusion. Like the tilt of the earth’s axis, which gives us seasons and reasons to argue over house systems, MR is proof of the First Mover’s sense of humour. That’s right. I said it. Mercury doesn’t really move backwards: it just looks that way from our perspective.

The other thing to remember about MR is that Mercury is actually closer to us during retrograde periods.

Lap it up, Buttercup.

“Oh I knew that,” says the collective bunch of astrologers who are busy updating their statuses with little MR moans and groans.

“Someone put my astrology book between Anouilh and Brecht. Mercury must be retrograde!”

“Oh don’t post letters because of MR!”

“My car broke down. Oh what a pisser to have MR!”

“Oh it’s snowing today! I should have known it would happen: MR!”

Mercury Retrograde and disasters

MR happens 2, 3 or 4 times per year with a duration of about 3 1/2 weeks a time. Not all bad things that happen to you over the course of a year are concentrated into those 12 weeks. Let me give you a couple of examples: Chernobyl, 9/11, Fukushima, the Halifax explosion of 1917 and the tsunami in Indonesia (2004) all happened when Mercury was in happy forward motion. I had a bike accident in the summer of 2015–Mercury was not retrograde. Sure a few disasters such as the Hindenburg and the Titanic happened during MR but Buddy Holly’s plane crash did NOT happen when Mercury was retrograde. Neither did a meteor strike in Brazil in 1930 occur during Mercury retrograde.

Just let me add a few more personal examples. I take a lot of airplanes. I don’t particularly like flying and I’ll take overground transport when possible. But I’ve flown a lot over oceans. And often during periods of Mercury Retrograde. Statistically, I’ve had more problems flying with Mercury direct than Mercury Retrograde.

My worst experiences travelling? Well just let me tell you. . .

Tales of travelling while Mercury direct

  1. My flight from London to Cape Town via Istanbul was so late arriving in Istanbul that I had to stay the night (and buy an expensive visa) in Turkey. This was the only time in a long list of connections between flights that I didn’t make it. I didn’t mind too much as I loved Istanbul. I was bummed to miss a day in Cape Town as it was my first time there too. Although in the end it didn’t matter. I deliberately missed my flight back to the UK and ended up staying in Cape Town for 3 months (loved it!). This was mid November 2015. Mercury was in direct motion.
  2. In Seattle June 2017, I had a complete meltdown on the public transport system. I recorded my experience on my blog. Mercury was direct.
  3. I was denied boarding my flight from Cape Town to India because I hadn’t booked my return flight back from India to the UK. I could have ended up on Robben Island I was so pissed off and tempted to strangle a few people. The flight was 20 January 2018. Mercury was direct.
  4. On 20 March 2018, on my way through customs in Kolkata from Serbia, I was nearly denied entry back into the country. The experience left me very shaken up and paranoid. Mercury was direct (though in its shadow period)
  5. On 25 February 2019, whilst flying back to the UK from India, we went through the worst turbulence I had ever experienced. “Never flying again,” I groaned whilst puking prodigiously in front of the cabin crew. (They forced open the toilet door to see why I wasn’t in my seat. I mean, really?). Mercury was not retrograde or in its shadow period.
  6. In early June 2019, I was a bit roughed up by customs–which nearly triggered off a full blown anxiety attack. To pull myself together, I stopped to get a cup of tea. As I calmed down, I checked my emails. This turned out to be a dumb thing to do: I found out I was missing some important paper work for my teaching job and ended up losing a full week of work because I was unable to scan the necessary paperwork (because the necessary paperwork was AT HOME). Financially, this had a knock on affect for the whole summer (it’s a long story but a true consequence!). Mercury was not retrograde or in its shadow phase.
  7. In September 2019, I had to get from LA to Edmonton Alberta via Las Vegas. The traffic to LAX was HORRIFIC and I was search at security and even heard my name over the tannoy warning me that the doors to the plane were about to close. Luckily my gate was close to security so I was able to run and shout to the attendants that I was on my way. It was a very close call and I was very shaken up. Mercury not retrograde.
  8. One of my three flights was mildly delayed on my way back to the UK from Canada recently. Mercury was direct. However, I didn’t miss the big flight back to London.

Let me point out, in fairness, that I traveled extensively in May/June 2017 and 2018 during Mercury direct when there were no notable problems.

Tales of Travelling during Mercury Retrograde

As I post a lot on social media during my travels, it’s easy to check on when I travel.

  1. On the 25 September 2014, I embarked on a 6 week tour of the US–most of it during Mercury retrograde and its shadow phase. I flew to Phoenix from London UK and drove around a lot with my friend Tim in California. I took a lot of Greyhounds and internal flights too. If there were any problems, I can’t see that I would have continued travelling. I’m that much of a flightphobe that I would not have gotten on any more planes if had gotten a scare in my early days of globetrotting.

The only thing Mercury retrograde about this EPIC journey was that I often wasn’t sure of what day it was. . . .

2) I travelled extensively during two phases of Mercury retrograde in 2015. Once in January–my first trip to India–and again in October to travel extensively in the US (though it was the shadow period). No problems!

3) I was in Cape Town in early 2016 and applied–and received–my visa for India within Mercury retrograde (though it was stressful waiting). I got on one long ass flight from Cape Town to India and another long ass flight from India to Sydney. . .yup when it was MR (or its so-called shadow phase). No Problems!

4) I travelled from London to Florida in January 2017 during the shadow phase of MR. No problems.

5) I also travelled to India in December 2017 when Mercury was retrograde AND there was a super Moon. No problems!

6) I travelled to and from Portugal in March 2019 during MR. No problems!

So. . .suck it up MR bashers!

Stop Cherry Picking!

The events happening during Mercury in forward motion were so traumatising that I remembered them without much effort.

I may have had a couple of problems flying when Mercury was retrograde but nothing stands out in my mind.

But do you see where I’m headed with this? You can’t cherry pick a random event during Mercury retrograde and then proclaim it happened because Mercury was in retrograde motion. If you’re going to make a case for Mercury causing you problems, may I suggest you stop antagonising him?

The cool stuff about Mercury Retrograde

OK now let’s talk about really cool things that have happened when Mercury was retrograde. Janis Joplin was born during Mercury retrograde. Do you need more cool things? Michael Jackson was born during Mercury retrograde. More? Hillary Clinton. Oh she’s not cool enough. But it kind of shoots a hole into that theory about Mercury retrograde people being quiet and introspective, doesn’t it?

And I can tell you want one more cool person. How about me? Yes that’s right, I was born when Mercury was retrograde and you would be hard pressed to find a more mercurial person than yours truly. My ascendant is Gemini and Mercury is in my natal 3rd house, conjunct my IC and he’s unaspected to other planets too. And I’m OK. I walk and talk and travel just fine.

Mercury retrograde
Behold the god of communication, commerce, travel, medicine, thieves. . .and the only god to have seen both heaven and hell. Guide me, O thou Great Mercury!

Now I’m not doubting that awkward things happen when Mercury is retrograde but for the love of astrology, let’s put some data behind it when we start Mercury retrograde bashing. Be a little more careful about what you say. And for goddess’ sake, stop scaring the muggles. Let’s see some examples, let’s do some statistical analysis or some other form of research because guys, I’m in the choir. You get me? I’m an astrologer and I can see we’re feeding the sceptics with our sloppy practices! We got to tighten the screws.

Some final thoughts

So let me give whoever is reading this a few ideas:

1) The shadow phase of Mercury. At first I was eye rolling a bit because I thought it was just Retrograde Mercury bashers trying to extend the time of MR. But there might be something in it. Let’s see it.

This is taken from: Thank you!

2) Mercury retrograde is part of a cycle and there may be common themes or threads within those cycles. Let’s see those too. That’s a lot more interesting than hearing about your cat barfing on your magazine collection.

3) The astronomy of planets in retrograde motion is fascinating. Let’s weave a little more of the science instead of randomly tossing crap into the pot of communal reinforcement.

4) Almost every culture has a “wise fool”: someone who appears silly but actually has an important message. Instead of blaming MR when things go wrong, look at the message behind the situation. After all, Mercury is a god and is worthy of our respect whether in forward, stationary or retrograde motion.

5) Before you start blaming Mercury Retrograde for your bad day, remember this:

Alex Trenoweth
Alex Trenoweth
Alex Trenoweth, MA, DFAstrolS is an astrologer, teacher and author of "Growing Pains", "The Wolf You Feed" and the soon-to-be-released "Mirror Mirror" by The Wessex Astrologer. She travels across the globe lecturing on the topic of Astrology and Education. In 2015, she was voted "Best International Astrologer" for her innovative research on astrology and adolescence. Her work has been published in major astrological magazines around the world such as Dell Horoscope, the International Society of Astrological Research, the Organization for Professional Astrologers and she is co-editor of "Constellation News", one of the largest astrological magazines on the planet.

1 Comment

  1. […] . .I’ll be making a virtual appearance in Cape Town–yes whilst Mercury is retrograde–for my friends of the Cape Astrology Association. I’ve also just found out Astrodienst […]

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