Mercury Retrogrades 3-4 times per year for approximately 3 weeks. Mercury takes just 88 days to orbit the Sun compared to the 365 days it takes Earth to travel the same distance. Mercury appears to move backwards when viewed from earth during these periods.
The planet Mercury rules communication, computers, travel, contracts, the written word and cars. When Mercury is retrograde, there is confusion. People forget things. There are delays, frustrations and miscommunications - whatever can go wrong in these areas seems to if you are not careful. Gemini's and Virgo's may be more prone to complications because Mercury rules both of these signs. The author is a Gemini, and can speak from experience!
This is a time when you should be careful when signing contracts, and if you have to, make sure you read ALL the fine print TWICE. Buy your computer or accessories before or after the Retrograde period. Computers and technology in general seem to experience hiccups. Messages conveyed via mobiles and answering machines are often garbled, overwritten, ignored or overlooked - or the device itself breaks down. Your lunch date may not turn up, with you waiting at the restaurant, or your business meeting has been rescheduled without anyone telling you about it. And, please, don't buy a car during a Mercury Retrograde period; you may end up with a lemon at worst, or a car that does not suit your needs after the retrograde period is over.
Starting a new job is also fraught with potential difficulties. The job never ends up being what you expected, and is certainly not the role you think you applied for. Don't make any plans for your holidays in 12 months time, because you probably won't still be there.
Any new project started during Mercury Retrograde often has to be re-done. Which leads into all the things you CAN DO during these times though. Re-view, re-vise, re-schedule, re-think. The best advice is to take time-out; think of Mercury Retrograde as your time for a quarterly re-view and to handle unfinished tasks. Re-assess your financial position, re-do your budget, re-organise yourself, re-duce clutter in your home, workspace or any area of your life that needs attention. If a "re" fits onto the beginning of any activity you want to do, go ahead, and good luck.
For those more technical or experienced with Mercury Retrograde cycles, you will notice in the table below that Mercury moves into the Retrograde zone approximately 3 weeks before the actual Retrograde. The period either side of the Mercury Retrograde is classified as the shadow, and is said to be worthy of consideration. Some people, especially Sun in Gemini and Virgo (both signs ruled by Mercury), may experience some earlier or residual effects covering this entire cycle, so worth paying attention.
The inserted tables below has been taken from the Matrix Day Watch Stations Report and is based on Australian Eastern Daylight Time.
If you would like to know what area of your life (shown by the house position) is being affected most by Mercury Retrograde, you can purchase your own personal Retrograde/Stations Report which highlights all Retrograde Planetary cycles related to your birth chart.