The basics: A retrograde occurs when a planet appears to be moving backward from our vantage point here on Earth. It isn’t actually moving backward, it just appears that way. Mercury turns retrograde most often, about 3-4 times per year, and lasts for several weeks. When a planet retrogrades, what that planet rules tend to be thrown off, along with what the sign it’s retrograding in rules.
With Mercury retrograde, we experience a shadow and a storm.
The shadow period starts when Mercury first hits the point in the Zodiac it will turn direct at, and ends when it last hits the point in the Zodiac it will turn retrograde at. Most people don’t feel the effects of Mercury retrograde until it enters the storm period though. The storm period of Mercury retrograde is when Mercury is moving at its slowest, less than 40 minutes per day. Mercury is a fast-moving planet and hates it when he’s moving slowly. There’s usually two storm periods, one around the time Mercury turns retrograde, and one around when it turns direct.
This Mercury retrograde begins on December 3rd at 2:34 AM ET and ends on December 22nd at 8:51 PM ET. The shadow period is November 15th, 2017 – January 10th 2018. The first storm period is November 29th – December 7th and second storm period is December 19th – 28th.
We’re coming up on the last Mercury retrograde for 2017, and this one occurs entirely in fire sign Sagittarius. Sagittarius rules optimism, expansion, exploration, new experiences, and Mercury retrograde can mess with all of that. We can be unrealistically optimistic, or overly pessimistic and miss the optimism; we can expand too much in some ways, and not enough in others; we can explore places we shouldn’t, and avoid the places we should go to; we can dive into experiences we should run from, and avoid experiences we should have.
Travel is often disrupted in some way with Mercury retrograde in Sagittarius (particularly flight), and we may see issues with colleges/universities (higher learning is Sagittarius-ruled), or legal issues come up (Sagittarius rules the law). We can be extra boastful, make promises we don’t keep, break promises, and talk a big game that we can’t back up. We can buy into false prophets, and we can be too defensive of our beliefs and not open-minded enough. Holy war, oh holy war . . .
This retrograde is problematic in a variety of ways, to say the least, but it’s mostly focused right at the start. First, it begins at 29 degrees, which is the anaretic degree. The anaretic degree is the very last degree of any sign and a point of crisis energy, and Mercury will be anaretic in November 30th (before the retrograde starts) to December 5th (already retrograde). This can be difficult energy, and we may see a significant legal issue, accident energy may be high, and we may fight even more over beliefs (hopefully we can avoid some sort of attack, but I’m not holding my breath).
Second, the retrograde begins December 3rd, and we’ll have a full moon that very same day, and the full moon occurs in Gemini, one of the signs Mercury rules (the Moon will be in Gemini to December 4th 3:37 PM ET). Full moons are highly charged emotional energy, and with this being in one of the signs Mercury rules, that just becomes even more complicated. With Gemini and Sagittarius and Mercury all being communication rules, I’m thinking some sort of bad news, bad decision-making, bad ideas, bad plans. Maybe a combo!
Third, the retrograde begins conjunct (aligned with) Saturn, who is at the end of his tour of Sagittarius. So Saturn is wrapping things up, and Mercury retrograde comes along wanting to muck it all up – Saturn won’t like that very much! This is exact December 6th (7:05 AM ET), and there will likely be some paying of the piper, some last-ditch lesson, some complex karma coming upon us with Saturn. Maybe something with the law or with politics.