I can feel it slowing down. My mind, my internet connection, my life. Replies to my emails come but rarely and it’s been days since anyone returned my calls. Which is not surprising as I dropped my phone and now it’s in bits, my car tax is out of date and I missed the bus three times yesterday. Okay, I made up the last bit but you get the picture. Yes folks – it’s that time of year again – welcome to Mercury Retrograde!

Mercury Retrograde has become fashionable – and I mean really fashionable – as the ‘go to’ period everyone dreads because of it’s associations with communications chaos. But (and it’s a big but), between you and me? I think people are glad of having a great excuse for when stuff goes haywire. So folks, how much of this is down to Mercury and how much is due to our own desire to foist responsibility for our lives on to the heavens? Read on.

How Mercury Retrograde Works

To begin to answer that, I need to appraise you of a couple of facts. Mercury has been throwing us some shade since 20th June (23˚57′ Cancer). What? You didn’t know? Well it’s true. All planets in Retrograde Motion have two shadow phases, one in the run up to the station where they ‘turn backwards’ and one after they ‘turn forwards’ from their degree of Maximum Declination but have yet to reach the degree at which they began their Retrograde Motion.

In terms of how we are affected by Mercury, the three phases of it’s retrograde motion can be really distinctive – and that’s because of the way Mercury affects our consciousness and daily lives. So, in the first shadow phase, you are likely to become aware of things slowing up, experience muddled thinking, some frustration creeping in – and generally all things Mercury not going quite as planned.

By the time Mercury turns backwards, you often experience an event that sums the whole thing up – you literally have a big issue with your communications devices, your car, intermediaries such as estate agents and car salesmen, travel plans, internet fraud, identity theft, misunderstandings, arguments and so on. That’s quite enough to be getting on with – just be thankful you don’t experience all of them together. Oh wait, I forgot to tell you – on occasion, you will!

The second shadow phase, as Mercury moves forward towards the point at which it went into reverse, often sees you having to sort out the mess – rescheduling your plans, renewing your contacts list, your passwords, your dating profile etc. In short, whatever inconvenience you have been caused, you find yourself trying to repair the situation. However, the final resolution doesn’t happen until the second shadow phase is over. Only then can you really get on with life as normal.

This Mercury Retrograde In Detail…

In this month’s ‘Really Big Horoscope‘, I talked about the areas in your life where this particular Mercury Retrograde could affect you and what to look out for. I’m not going to repeat that here, however, what I want you to think about is this. Are all Mercury Retrogrades the same?

The answer is no, they are not. They may affect the same Mercury influenced stuff and you may experience similar issues but each Mercury Retrograde is unique. This is because each Mercury Retrograde (and it’s shadow phases) has it’s own ‘birth chart’ (i.e. the map of the heavens at the time each phase occurs) and this affects the ways in which each Mercury Retrograde is expressed – and who feels it most.

So, on this occasion, those of you with important planets (Sun, Moon, Ruling Planet) or angles/house cusps falling close to the degrees affected by the Mercury Retrograde period (or in close aspect to them), will notice the effects most. For clarity, that’s those of you with anything major between around 27˚ Cancer and 5˚ Leo.

By the way, I apologise to those of you who are familiar with how this works. For those of you who are less so, I simply wanted to make things clear – not easy during a Mercury Retrograde! So, to make things simple, the planetary aspects affecting July 2019’s Mercury Retrograde are set out below. This should give you a good idea of the type of Mercury Retrograde we are letting ourselves in for.

The Shadow Phase: June 20th – July 7th

In true Mercury Retrograde style, I’m late with this one, however, when Mercury entered the first shadow phase on June 20th (23˚ 57′ Cancer), the chart gave a real flavour of things to come. The big thing to take from this moment is the hugely powerful combination of planets influencing the beginning of the Mercury Retrograde period and you’ll see what I mean when we look at them more closely. And don’t forget – this is happening on the back of a Solar Eclipse which makes this time way more significant than usual.

Mercury Conjunct Mars

In the emotional sign of Cancer, Mercury aligns with Mars. When you look at what the two planets symbolise you can see there could be a few verbal sparks flying! You may find yourself being put on the back foot and having to argue your case rather more than usual. You could be subject to verbal aggression – or be the one dishing it out. Regardless of which side you’re on, communications could be hostile. However, be aware your decisions and thoughts could also be hasty or ill considered – something to think about when clearing up after yourself later!

Mercury/Mars Opposite Saturn/Pluto

However, this Mercury/Mars conjunction in Cancer is opposed by one of the most powerful planetary combinations currently around – the Saturn/Pluto conjunction in Capricorn. Saturn delays and Pluto destroys – so we can see the potential for some really heavy thinking. And when you consider the full range of Mercury influences in our lives – some of which I listed earlier – there are definite possibilities for events that are more serious and have much longer term implications than simply losing your car keys. Oh, and by the way, that opposition aspect? Oppositions can come at you from the outside. So, it’s probably coming right at you and you may not realise it until it’s too late. Thank you Saturn and Pluto for that.

Mercury Retrograde Phase: July 7th – August 1st

For many people, the is where the fun starts. Mercury is in reverse gear and the change in direction is the point at which many of you will notice this Mercury Retrograde start to take effect. Mercury turns at 4˚ 27’Leo, and those of you with important planets or points close to (or in close aspect to) this degree will get your wake up call. Mercury is still in close conjunction to Mars, so the hasty, rash and combative nature of this aspect is still affecting your thinking, communications and activities such as driving. In general, you feel a need to take action. The Saturn/Pluto influence has lessened – but it’s been replaced by the something much more volatile…

Mercury/Mars Opposite Uranus

Uranus speeds up everything it touches and is the planet you come to when you’re looking to blame someone for an accident. The Mercury /Mars conjunction is in a tense square aspect to Uranus – so, you may be confronted by events that are unexpected, chaotic – or if you are the initiator, it’s likely some impulsive action leads to an argument or rash move. Uranus is also the planet of ‘woke’ – shocking things may be revealed to you but, as ever, it’s how you respond that’s key.

Right now, it’s probably better to restrain yourself. Button your lip, slow down, take a deep breath and sit this one out. The problem, of course, is that you’re likely to feel as if you’re going to explode – and if you don’t – someone else will. Especially beware of letting rip on social media – anger, words and Uranian electricity are a potent mix.

Mercury Direct Phase: August 1st – August 15th

So, by the time the dust settles, you’ll be slightly shellshocked, ready to brush yourself down and ask, ‘what just happened there?’ When Mercury stations as it turns direct, you may feel the worst is over – and you could well be right as this final phase of the Mercury Retrograde is supported by a New Moon happening at 8˚ 36′ Leo. However, before you reach the fresh start indicated by that event, you’re really going to have to do a bit of soul searching. Fortunately, there is an aspect to Mercury that will really help with this…

Mercury Opposite Pluto

The final major aspect of this Mercury Retrograde sees you mentally digging deep. You’re having to formulate your responses to whatever just happened to you and, with the opposition aspect, it seems you have a choice. Do you keep on feeling intense and chewing over events way beyond the point where that’s a useful thing to do? Or, do you look into yourself, admit that you perhaps were at fault in some way, learn from your mistakes and move on? The choice it seems, is yours and yours alone. However, it’s a dialogue you need to have with yourself before you can adjust to the changes this Mercury Retrograde will undoubtedly bring to your life.


This Mercury Retrograde is unquestionably challenging – and for some it will herald a great life change in some way. I have it happening on my MC/IC axis, so can’t wait to see how it pans out – especially as I’m in the middle of a house sale!

If you’re not already familiar with your birth chart and want to see how and where this Mercury Retrograde impacts on you personally – you can print out your free natal chart from astro.com as long as you know your date, place and time of birth.

The next Mercury Retrograde hits us on Halloween – in Scorpio – and I’ll be posting about that as the witching hour approaches…

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©Sara Shipman July 2019

Picture Credit: Image by Kevin McIver from Pixabay

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