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    Click to read Rob's bio

    The author of this article, Rob Tillett, has been an astrologer for more than three decades. A poet, musician, magician, healer, dramatist and composer, he is the editor and publisher of Astrology on the Web and has written many of the articles on this website.

    Rob lives in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, on the east coast of Australia.



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    Mercury, the messenger of the godsMercury Retrograde

    On April 6th, 2004, Mercury turns retrograde again, sending communications, missed appointments, mail and the www into a general snarlup! This awkward period begins a few days before the actual turning point (as Mercury slows) and lasts for three weeks or so, until April 30.

    It finally straightens out on May 18, bringing things back to normal. Mercury turns retrograde three times a year, as a rule, but the effects of each period differ, according to the sign in which it happens. This year, again, Mercury turns retrograde four times. How confusing! (see box for Retrograde Periods in 2004).

    A planet is described as retrograde when it appears to be moving backwards through the zodiac. This traditional concept arises in the illusory planetary motion created by the orbital rotation of the earth, with relation to other planets in our solar system. Planets are never actually retrograde or stationary, they just seem that way, due to this optical illusion.

    Retrograde periods, although often problematic for us earthlings, are not particularly uncommon. Each planet retrogrades, except the Sun and Moon.
    Mercury Retrograde 2004
    Retro Station Direct Station Return
    12 Capricorn 31
    Wed, Dec 17, 2003
    26 Sagittarius 17
    Tue, Jan 6, 2004
    12 Capricorn 31
    Sun, Jan 25, 2004
    01 Taurus 53
    Tue. Apr 6
    21 Aries 07
    Fri, Apr 30
    01 Taurus 53
    Tue, May 18
    08 Virgo 46
    Tue, Aug 10
    25 Leo 45
    Thu, Sep 2
    08 Virgo 46
    Tue, Sep 14
    26 Sagittarius 43
    Tue, Nov 30
    10 Sagittarius 27
    Mon, Dec 20
    26 Sagittarius 43
    Fri, Jan 7, 2005
    Mercury
    Mercury

    Rules: Gemini & Virgo
    Exalted: Virgo
    Detriment: Sagittarius & Pisces
    Fall: Pisces
    Exalted Degree: 15 Virgo
    Fated Events
    Mercury, Divine Messenger As a rule, retrograde planets presage a period of seemingly inevitable or fated events, which relate to their sphere of influence. They present us with a series of events over which we seem to have little or no control, relating especially to the sign in which the retrogradation occurs. For example, Mercury retrograde in Taurus presents quite different sets of circumstances from those generated when it retrogrades into Aries.

    A retrograde period is best seen as a cycle, beginning when the planet begins to slow to a halt before travelling backwards through the zodiac and ending when the planet returns to the point where it first paused. However, during the cycle, the planet's energy is most powerful (and more likely to generate critical events of universal importance) when the planet makes a station, appearing motionless in the sky. These stationary periods occur near the beginning of the cycle (when the planet first halts as it prepares to move backwards) and midway through the cycle when the retrograde planet slows to a stop before moving forward again. The "direct station" (when the planet halts before moving forward again) is the most powerful and can be used for maximum benefit.

    Some astrologers consider that the "Mercury Shadow" begins some three weeks before the actual retro station (when Mercury passes the point of direct station for the first time), but I am more inclined to think that the really noticeable peculiarities begin when Mercury slows significantly, a few days before the retro station. This period of "Mercury Shadow" extends to the Return date, some three weeks after the direct station.
    What does Mercury affect?
    In general, Mercury rules thinking and perception, processing and disseminating information and all means of communication, commerce and transportation. By extension, Mercury rules people who work in these areas, especially people who work with their minds or their wits: writers and orators, commentators and critics, gossips and spin doctors, tricksters and thieves.

    Mercury retrograde gives rise to personal misunderstandings; flawed, disrupted, or delayed communications, negotiations and trade; glitches and breakdowns with phones, computers, cars, buses, and trains. And all of these problems usually arise because some crucial piece of information, or component, has gone astray, or awry.

    It is therefore not wise to make important decisions while Mercury is retrograde, since it is very likely that these decisions will be clouded by misinformation, poor communication and careless thinking. Mercury is all about mental clarity and the power of the mind, so when Mercury is retrograde, these intellectual characteristics tend to be less acute than usual, as the critical faculties are dimmed.

    Mercury retrograde, like any cosmic aspect, affects people differently, depending on where it hits their personal charts. Some people actually prosper under a retro Mercury, especially if Mercury is retrograde but otherwise well-aspected in their birth charts. It is also a time when matters begun under a previous retro period will come to fruition, or completion as the case may be. Firm decisions that have been previously made when Mercury is travelling normally through the zodiac may be implemented or finalised while Mercury is retrograde without too much worry, for experience shows that this can be done without undue problems arising.
    Mercury Retrograde in Taurus
    When Mercury is retrograde, everyone's thinking is more introspective and we tend to think about issues and concerns which relate to the sign involved. With Mercury retrograde in Taurus, people with this sign prominent in their charts will be especially prone to such introspection. There is little choice but to reconsider one's personal views and opinions about life. There is, however, an opportunity to gain insight into one's own ego.

    Mercury retro in Taurus brings stubborn blockages connected with new ideas, powers of concentration and putting ideas into a practical format. Access to the most direct route to your goals is likely to be blocked by breakdowns in communication and unwillingness to compromise. Beauty treatments, dinner parties and artistic (especially musical) presentations will be especially subject to things going awry.

    All areas of communication are affected. Methods and motivation for learning, communication and transportation are subject to difficulties under this aspect. It brings travel snafus and missed appointments of all kinds. Documents can go astray. Be sure to carry a diary and refer to it often.

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