Posted by: Donna Cunningham | April 18, 2010

Enough with the Mercury Retrograde Hysteria!

©4-18-2010 by Donna Cunningham, MSW

 Okay, so Mercury just turned retrograde.  I can live with that, and so can you.  It’s neither a bad thing or a good thing, it’s just what is.  Take the necessary precautions and you’ll be fine—just as you’d be wise to carry an umbrella when the weather report predicts heavy rainfall.  And use Mercury retrograde in its helpful applications—you’ll see below what they are.

But for drama queens and kings, it’s one more thing to stir up some excitement. Apparently one astrologer wrote that Mercury retrograde was the reason for the volcanic eruptions in Iceland.   Puhleeze!!

PS. Helpful hint: If anyone tells you that Mercury is IN retrograde, feel free to ignore their advice.  They clearly don’t know Jack about astrology, or they’d say that Mercury is retrograde.

Here’s an excerpt about this transit from my ebook, Astrological Analysis:       Mercury retrograde

Pop astrology has created entirely too much hysteria about Mercury retrograde. I’ve had endless phone calls from clients and prospective clients hyperventilating over the fact that Mercury was about to turn retrograde.

We are told to sign nothing, buy nothing, make no major purchases, and to expect cancellations, missed appointments, bank errors, and being stood up on social engagements. We are given reams of anecdotes and horror stories to back up this taboo.

And yet, vast numbers of people buy cars, begin jobs, get married, and buy homes while Mercury is retrograde without experiencing any difficulty whatsoever. The world simply cannot come to a screeching halt for the three or four periods a year that Mercury is retrograde for three weeks at a stretch. Imagine the impact on the economy if it did!

Why, then, do so many followers of astrology find these periods troublesome? By well-known metaphysical principles, the power of belief can cause followers of astrology to manifest more Mercury retrograde difficulties than in the general population. By repeated negative suggestion, we can talk ourselves into making major blunders during this time, because we “know” they’re going to happen.

Mercury retrogradeSelf-Fulfilling Prophecies Revisited

It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, and when the inevitable snafus of daily living do occur, devotees of astrology say, “I told you so,” reinforcing the belief.

It has also become a convenient excuse for sloppy thinking or incompetence, as well as a socially acceptable reason for not showing up for commitments. Then too, it’s more dramatic to blame your mental vagaries on the stars than to confess that you’ve had a senior moment!

It would be interesting to conduct a research project in which a roomful of people who are interested in astrology but who are not astrology students are told that Mercury is retrograde. After a description of the pitfalls ascribed to it, they are asked to write down examples of how it has been operating in their lives over the past week or two.

The only thing is, the experiment would be conducted at a time when Mercury was not retrograde at all, but direct and clipping right along. I’m willing to bet that, by power of suggestion, nearly every person in that room would come up several juicy textbook examples of Mercury retrograde situations.

 Sensible Precautions to Take When Mercury is Retrograde

That’s not to say that there’s nothing to it…there are things I simply could not be induced to do in those periods, like buy software or communications equipment. I’m cautious to check important messages and appointments and back up computer files. I double check all astrological data for my clients and advice columns and add all totals twice where money is concerned. I certainly would never send it my income tax form then.

 I back up important computer files before the retrograde starts and continue backing them up regularly. It is a good idea to do backups periodically anyway, but the impending event of Mercury going retrograde prompts me to tackle the job. (Whatever works!)

So what is Mercury retrograde good for? It’s a good time for revising and updating your procedures, mailing lists, and other systems, because during the retrograde, you tend to go over things from the past and find the glitches or dead wood.

Sort out old files, catch up on correspondence, finish that backlog of paperwork, compile those tedious statistics the boss insists on every few months, get back in touch with associates and clients, and catch details that have fallen through the cracks.

Reconcile your bank statements, adding all the figures twice for good measure. Deal with those stacks of mail and credit card receipts. Go through that pile of magazines, newspapers, or journals that has accumulated, remove the articles you need to keep, and recycle the rest. You get the picture.

Why Each Mercury Retrograde Period is Different

 Those of you who are more advanced in your studies may be interested to know that not all Mercury retrograde spans are alike. Some are smooth, passing with hardly a ripple if one uses sensible precautions. Others are real bears, with nothing running smoothly, an epidemic of computer crashes, and great difficulty in getting paperwork finished or ironing out agreements.

In my observation, Mercury’s retrograde motion is not the deciding factor, but rather the aspects Mercury forms to other planets around the time it is stationary turning retrograde. From around the time it turns retrograde to the time it turns direct, it moves fairly slowly, so any difficult aspects Mercury forms will be in effect continuously for about three weeks.

astroanalysis-2014-220x300With all the serious issues facing us during the various transiting outer planet aspects in effect now, we’d do well to take a long, hard look at potential consequences of our actions.  This transit is PERFECT and reflects the wisdom and perfection of timing of the Universe.

This has been an excerpt from Donna Cunningham’s ebook, Astrological Analysis, published by, for $15.  Order a copy

More Mercury Retrograde Articles on Skywriter:

More Excerpts from Donna’s Books:

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Art Credits:  The cartoons on this page and Skywriter in general are based on drawings found at, a subscription site with over 10 million graphics.  I tweak them and add the captions.


  1. Donna, Another wonderful column with your lovely humorous touches!! Thank you for the practical, realistic, balanced look at Mercury Retro. If not already, maybe you could touch on those of us born with Mercury Retro:)

    • Ah, Trisha, that bit about natal Mercury Retro ALMOST made the cut, but then I added the current pattern and the article was too long. Another time. All I’ll say now is that the Mercury RX natal people I know seem to routinely start things, sign contracts, etc. during the times when transiting Mercury is retrograde, and it works just fine for them. Donna

  2. Really this was so helpful especially the reminder to look at what is going on with Mercury as the retrograde period starts up.
    Once years ago a friend told me that she signed the contract to buy her condo. Well I was concerned that Mercury was retrograde at the time of the signing. Later I read from a more experienced astrologer (name lost now) that often contracts, etc are signed during the retrograde season-a culmination of plans started earlier.
    Thanks so much.

  3. Right now I am cleaning out the old paperwork and getting rid of unnecessary stuff. I am also reviewing all my thinking on the type of medical care, or lack of it that we get from most Drs and turning towards a more natural way of dealing with medical problems.

    I still have the communication problems with Mercury Retrogade. Maybe it is because we are in too much of a hurry, and need to slow down so we don’t make too many mistakes.

    • Good project for Mercury Rx, clearing out old paperwork, Susie. Oh, there are glitches in communications, etc., for sure,. but if we’re aware of the potential and double check things, it cuts down on the cosmic noise. Donna

  4. Hi Donna! Thank you for reminding us all to stay grounded. I backup, never buy electrical goods, and right now I’m doing my taxes – which seems like a good idea after reading your column!

  5. Thank you, thank you, Donna! It drives me nuts when people get panicky about Mercury retrograde periods. I barely even notice them. Sometimes I think the panic is what causes the snafus people associate with Mercury retrograde.

  6. Over-reaction to Mercury retrograde? Common.

    Yet the whole of Europe remains in travel chaos as you write Donna, thanks to all flights being grounded.

    The power of belief? Hardly.

    The power of astrology? Maybe!

    • My point, Spencer, is that an event as huge as this volcano causing so much destruction and all these delays cannot be solely due to Mercury being retrograde. It would have to correlate with major outer planet transits like the stressful and huge combinations now in effect, like Uranus opposite Saturn, Saturn quincunx Neptune, or the Neptune Chiron conjunction–or all three. Donna

  7. Amen – so called Mercury retrograde effects happen all the time in our busy, modern mercurial gadget-happy world. I’ve been fighting the battle against fear of Mercury Rx for years. I do admit, though, that sometimes it is handy for people to have something to blame when things go wrong! 😉

    Now off to go through that magazine pile like you suggested. I’ve been looking for an excuse to do that for awhile.

  8. Thank you, Donna. I’ll be clearing out old papers and throwing out old magazines this week — had already planned to do so before I realized good ol’ Mercury was backin’ up. And I agree with the Poster above who mentioned signing contracts that were initiated earlier. That revisiting and reworking somehow makes sense.

    Wonderful article and thank you for sharing your thoughts. :^)

  9. I would love to read the info on Natal Mercury Rx.
    Mr B was born with it, and was given to the wrong mother for a day ! The hospital where he was delivered had just opened it’s maternity wing…

    I am going to be working in my gardens, trying to return them to the way they were before we imported lawn and so many ornamental trees and bushes. However, I don’t trust my judgment on this, so someone from our local Agriculture Cooperative will be coming by to give me advice on invasive vs. native plants. One rule that applies ? Ivy can always go, and there is enough of it here to spend the entire Rx period removing it. Our postage stamp yard seems to get bigger every year.

    Thanks for the great insight as always.

    • Interesting!
      I know a guy born on a Mercury Rx in Virgo and they gave his time wrong on his birth certificate and his mom doesn’t remember the exact time, either.
      Also, my mother died during a Mercury RX and her death certificate misspelled her name and her mother’s name and gave the wrong date for her birth and death!

  10. I have certain things to be true during a Mercury RX:
    1. If I travel, I will have delays and I will return later to that place again.
    2. I won’t initiate new contracts but I will sign pending contracts.
    3. Any job gotten during one has been a temporary or part-time, no benefits gig.
    4. Weather is unusual. During warm seasons, it’ll get cool and vice-versa and wet, dry and vice-versa. Many of our biggest storms have been under Mercury Rx,, esp. in connect with Full/New Moons and eclipses.
    Right now in VA, we are cooler and dryer than normal for the season.
    5. Last night I tried to use an online coupon to buy some clothes, but every garment I selected was out of stock, out of my size or color choice or had been discontinued!
    6. I went to BJs Wholesale Club and every last one of their computer connections was down, so I couldn’t use my debit card.
    7. It is a great time to purge and reevaluate and I do go through old stuff, but I double check to make sure I am not purging something I will actually need in the future. I double check all pockets, etc. of clothes and purses before I give them away! Last Mercury Rx, I was giving a purse to the Goodwill and discovered $20.00 in a zippered pocket!
    8. Many school/college terms begin and end on Mercury Rx.
    9. A little planning goes a long way to avoiding Mercury Rx problems.
    10. Long lost friends and objects often reappear in my life during this period.

  11. For me This Rx is focusing my eye on my home, all the things I’ve held a blind eye to seem to now be visible.

    I’ve got a stellium in my 2nd house – Mercury, Uranus, Mars & Venus, And the T Merc Rx is squaring all that, as well as squaring my N Chiron in the 8th.

    I intend on clearing up and thinning out all I’ve been ignoring.

  12. Yes, Mercury Retrograde has been exaggerated….however as someone who was born during Mercury Retrograde, in Pisces, I find I just go into ‘intuit’ mode while it’s retrograding…and Yes, I do back up my computer and my son’s lap-top routinely crashes…but I find it best to re-do things.
    Like editing, or re-reading, or re-thinking, if you do lots of ‘re’ stuff during a retrograde then things are OK.
    And we bought this house during a retro…..and I got married during one so nice things can happen. You just need to ‘intuit’ and re-do and yer fine:)
    In Peace

    • HI, Mary, That’s an interesting observation about Mercury in Pisces Rx. And your experience of making major life transitions during the retrograde is true of many of the Mercury Rx people I’ve known. Donna

  13. I really enjoy Mercury Rx usually. Natal Mercury is in Pisces and I see the retrograde period as just a part of the ebb and flow. The tide goes out, the tide comes in. As Mercury is also my chart ruler I often find I have a need to regroup or reconsider things on a regular basis and Merc Rx gives me the perfect opportunity to do so.

    That said, last night I discovered some pipes under my kitchen sink leaking. Mercury’s station is square my natal moon in Leo. But re-tightening the fittings solved the problem.

    My sweetheart starts a new job today and the Mercury station is opposite his Uranus which rules his MC. It all fits, if you ask me.

    • A lovely perspective, Nikki, the tide going in and out. The leaky pipe might related to the Mars in Leo having gone over the Moon too. Donna

      • Donna and Nikki,
        I had a leaky roof and gas emission problems in three different residences while Neptune was transiting my 4th House (which has Capricorn on the 4th Cusp) and when Neptune oozed on over into my 5th House, the problem disappeared! Odd thing is, my neighbors started getting problems instead.
        Mercury Rx never seemed to affect the problem at all.

      • Precisely, Melo, the leaks had nothing to do with Mercury Rx at all, and everything to do with the Neptune transit to the 4th. Donna

  14. Greetings from NW Louisiana, Ms. Cunningham, and many thanks for this post! I don’t post often but I do read your shares on the regular! This post in particular helped me look at the postive of retrograde motion/acts. Thank you again for refilling my cup with healling substance and allowing me to see the glass full, my cup runneth over! Moon in 69, my Sun/RS, first house. Blessings, peace, and love unto you Ms. Cunningham!

  15. Very helpful insights!

  16. Reading this sane and sensible approach to Mercury Rx gives me such a sense of relief. After many years of paying attention, I have come to the same conclusions. Certainly have no more computer problems than any other time, or communication issues, etc, etc.

    A generous application of common sense is needed, that’s all . . . something often in short supply. 🙂 Another thought . . . hysteria/crisis sells, something any good journalist knows quite well. Diane~


    There are only a few things in astrology that I truly believe are power of suggestion bunk, and they are 1) medical astrology, 2) anything that involves being able to predict sexual orientation or mental disorders, and 3) Mercury retrograde. Provided that you’re not some careless slob who leaves all your shit till the last minute and then freaks out when it doesn’t go your way, Mercury retrograde should not be THAT much different from any other time of the year- except that you’ll want to put additional effort into clearing out the stuff that’s not working, because it becomes apparent just how much it’s not actually working. But that can be done without hysterics.

    And by the way, whatever astrologer said that Mercury retrograde was responsible for the volcano needs to be drawn and quartered and have their license revoked. If that’s how they react to Mercury retrograde, I’d hate to see how they were when Pluto turned retrograde. Idiot.

    • You go, Lucy!! I was trying to be a tad diplomatic in what I wrote, but, yeah. Donna

  18. Yes, I want to chime in here too. I was appalled at the astrologer that said the Volcano was due to Mercury retrograde. If it was the same person, she put it on Facebook too and I let her know there that I disagreed. I’m with you, Donna, it takes a much more massive influence.

    About the babies getting mixed up, I too have Mercury retrograde as my chart ruler, and I had a name change within days of my birth. I have a birth certificate with one name and then an amendment stapled to the back with another name.

    Since I know you don’t mind, Donna, I wanted to tell your readers that I wrote a post titled Best Practices for Mercury Retrograde on my blog today,

    • That’s a really good article, Ellen, and full of original, new insights and grounded advice for people in the business world. Donna

  19. Thank You Donna Cunningham !!!

    I am Reading all The Great Info From the BlogaThon but i dont want to loose this new Info !!!!

    I Found Also Today something I was Looking for Astrology and Business Together and i Saw about
    Ellen Longo and She has a Great Site also !!!

    I have Used This Mercuru Retrograde in Taurus to take some time in the Nature meditaing i have Pallas 4° Taurus and Mid Heaven 1° Taurus and thinking process is faster and deep i went to one of the deepest part of my mind and check things i wanted do check I think the flowing Trine to Pluto is also helping very much also creativity is flowing great & cooking creative recipesis fine when there is time for it !!!

    ThankYou Donna Cunningham for Opening this Great Doors for Us !!!!

    Best Regards & Blessings !!!!!!

    • Thanks, Jorge! Indeed, it’s the Taurus time of the year (April-May) when Nature is at its most beautiful and almost intoxicating. That’s a great way to shift our focus for this Mercury retrograde.

      I know Ellen’s site, and it’s a great resource. Lots of good, original insights. Donna

  20. When I first started reading, I found myself nodding my approval. People losing their heads over the apparent motion of an orbiting planet in the sky? Ridiculous. I agree.

    But then you go on to substitute one fiction for another. So the retrograde motion doesn’t matter “THAT much?” I’ll do you one better. IT DOESN’T MATTER AT ALL! The idea of sensible astrology makes me want to laugh and cry at the same time. I mean, if you’re nutty enough to believe in any of this crap, you might as well commit. What’s with the half-assed conviction? So I can do a business transaction, but I just can’t back up software? Oh, ok, that makes sense. Wait a minute.. No it doesn’t.

    Nothing short of a detailed, double-blind statistical analysis will convince me that the motion of the planets affects our lives in the slightest. And since astrology has a proud history of shirking the scientific method, I doubt I’ll find a corroborative study any time soon.

    Enjoy your day.

  21. I really enjoy the post.Really looking forward to read more. Keep writing.

  22. I appreciate you addressing the hysteria, though I’m confused still. Are you saying that to entering into contracts depends more on aspects of Mercury or other areas of the chart? Would you buy a car or sign a lease during Rx?

    • No, I probably would not sign any important legal document or make a major purchase (car, computer,. etc.) during Mercury retrograde, as too many things could go wrong. The retrograde period, after all, is likely to be over soon enough that it’s easy to wait until it’s over. But I would be especially reluctant to do so if transiting Mercury had difficult aspects, such as a square from Neptune or Uranus that lasts pretty much the whole time it’s retrograde and moving slowly. That reluctance is far from the kinds of hysteria I am talking about. Donna

  23. I’ve been trying to send an e-mail to an association for 2 days and a “message delivery failed” message keeps coming back to my inbox. I did not understand why it was happening, but then it turned out that i’m writing the e-mail address incorrectly- (the website address ends with “.org”, whereas i’ve been sending it writing “.com”). i think one does need to be careful with such things during mercury retrogrades.. though in my case the problem was easily solved.

    • I agree–Mercury retrograde does require some management, like making backups for your computer and double-checking on the spelling of email addresses or on the time and place you’re meeting someone for lunch. But it IS manageable and doesn’t need to be the source of all the drama people tend to associate with it. Donna

    • @burgse_z, the exact same thing has happened to me, with emails bouncing back. Strangely enough, I didn’t have any problem with those emails, prior to this period. The problems with the email appeared more during the” shadow period” . It is definitely work checking and re-checking email addresses, and to make sure they have been sent, and be firmly on the ball.

      • Ah, yes, Zoraidagitana, that is one part of the Mercury retrograde picture that isn’t often discussed. What the “shadow period” means, for those of you who are unfamiliar with it, is that the influence of a Mercury retrograde period doesn’t really end until it has gone direct and has passed the point where the retrograde started. I’m going to go looking on the net for an article about that and see if the author would be willing to let me reprint it as a guest blog. Thanks for mentioning it. Donna

        PS. This is hilarious! I just checked my blog stats for yesterday, and the number of page hits was 1500 higher than average! That just makes my point about how we get whipped into hysteria about Mercury retrograde.

  24. Donna,
    I had an astrologer choose our marriage date, March 2, and was horrified to find out a few days before that it was during Merc Retro (would never have chosen that had I known), and though it was fine in the end, a lot of it turned into an axlewrap, all kinds of things went “wrong.” I was wondering “What was the astrologer thinking???” But we had been together for most of 10 years with some ups and downs, so would Merc Retro be appropriate for finally doing something we should have done long ago, as we are very happy now??? Thanks, Erica

    • Hiya, Happy Mrs. One of two things could be in operation: 1) perhaps one or both of you had natal Mercury Rx, or the date you moved in together did, or 2) perhaps the astrologer did a good job and the relationship indicators in the chart were very good and outranked Mercury Retrograde. Mercury in and of itself is NOT a marriage indicator, neither good nor bad for a happy marrigae. It more often affects trivial things like missed appointment dates, not life-changing events like a wedding. Donna

  25. Oh, no! I just got the information that I have to take a very important examination on 1st July (2014)! Thanks to all the astrology reading I’ve been doing, I checked my transits for the day and found that it is the exact day when Mercury goes Stationery Direct!! To take this examination, I will have to travel (most probably alone) to another town – a place I have never been to before… So there’s a lot that could go wrong since Mercury rules education, travel and paperwork – three things that will feature strongly for me on that day. It happens right in my 9th House too – the house of higher education….

    • P.S. – More info! Saturn in also retrograde on 1 July 2014 and is exactly square my Sun. According to Erin Sullivan’s ‘Saturn in Transit’, Saturn square Sun transit could mean the ‘birth of a new creative issue after the dragons have been slain’. I s’pose this is gonna be a big day for me, whether I want it or not.

  26. I initiated escrow for a new house before mercury went retrograde, but the closing is a week before mercury goes out of retrograde. I am uneasy about it but changing the date of escrow closing might alarm the sellers. I think this needs to be treated like a pending contract (finishing something that was started before mercury retrograde) and pray that this house of my dreams will be just that in spite of the astrological conditions. I have gone trough great pains to get all escrow documents reviewed by my attorney and myself to anticipate having as little go wrong as possible. I am writing this in order to let go of apprehension that may constellate unnecessary problems due to my projection.

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