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  • Writer's pictureYolanda McAdam

Retrograde Planets: Mercury, Venus and Mars

Updated: Dec 16, 2020

If you’re a sky-watcher you would have seen Mars in all his fiery splendour throughout September and October. Mars was especially bright in October, because he was at his closest to Earth. This coincided with his opposition to the Sun (in Libra) on October 13th and 14th.

The personal planets, Mercury, Venus and Mars function with great potency when retrograde because retrograde planets are closer to Earth than at any other times in their orbit and so it’s because they are so close that we need to pay extra attention.

When a planet is at its nearest point to the Earth, it is, in theory, “in our faces.” It is telling us that there is something about its function that we cannot ignore. We need to take a close look at what is going on in our lives and make adjustments when deemed necessary. - Joanne Wickenburg

Planetary Motion

In astrology, planets are said to be either direct, retrograde or stationary. In reality, the planets are all in direct motion but because the Earth is also moving, it appears to us that the planets are moving backward through the zodiac. So retrograde motion is actually an optical illusion. The Sun and Moon never retrograde but all the other planets do.

Mercury Retrograde

Mercury retrograde is the most notorious of all optical illusions and for good reason! It’s a period punctuated by breakdowns, confusion and delays.

While it’s true that you should postpone purchasing vehicles and electronics, signing contracts and taking up a new course of study, Mercury retrograde is actually a signal to pause and reflect.

Mercury is retrograde about three times a year for three weeks at a time. Mercury rules among other things, communication, technology, transportation and learning. Because Mercury has domain over the workings of our minds, our nervous system, language and everything “wired” or “connected” when Mercury is in reverse, things and people will “short circuit” because of an “overload”. It’s not unusual to hear of website crashes because of “server overload” during these periods, it’s also the time we are most frazzled, forgetful and distracted because our brains and nervous systems are experiencing an overload.

What to watch out for BEFORE Mercury retrograde

Just before Mercury reverses, Mercury lets you know beforehand which area of your life requires review. If you have your birth chart, a basic understanding of astrological houses will reveal the life area that needs your attention. However if you don’t have a copy of your birth chart, take a moment to consider where you’re in “over your head” or “you’ve bitten off more than you can chew”. It comes down to where you feel overwhelmed.

You can get a free copy of your birth chart on

What to do DURING Mercury Retrograde

Ask yourself:

  1. What have I been putting off doing? And then commit to completing that task or finalizing something during Mercury Retrograde.

Mercury Retrograde in your chart

According to Dane Rudhyar, the functions of the retrograde planets in your birth chart need to be developed because their energies are in contrast to the life force in your body. In other words, the planet’s function is not conscious and has to be brought to consciousness.

Mercury retrograde according to Rudhyar is the “mind turned inward” so if you have Mercury retrograde you have a contemplative personality. According to Tracy Marks, you may have literary interests and abilities, you may be self-conscious about the way you speak and your communication abilities, you may enjoy your own company and you may despise small talk and casual interactions. I have personally noticed in my practice that Mercury retrograde often indicates exceptional writing and speaking abilities.

Download your free printable 2021 Guide to Celestial Events! A 12-month calendar that will help you plan ahead! Click on image below for immediate access.