The basics: A retrograde occurs when a planet appears to be moving backwards from our vantage point here on Earth. It isn't actually moving backwards, 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 tends 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 July 26th at 1:02AM ET and ends on August 19th at 12:25AM ET. The shadow period is July 7th - September 2nd. The first storm period is July 17th - August 4th, and second storm period is August 12th - 24th.
Here comes to second round of Mercury madness for 2018! This Mercury retrograde occurs entirely in fire sign Leo, the sign of drama and theatricality. So get ready for some drama? We do tend to love theatrics with Mercury retrograde in Leo, turning little things into big ones, and acting like everything is the end of the world. We’re a little desperate for attention at times, and that can make us act too dramatic to get that attention. We need a little love, a little affection, a little heart. We need to remember to be good to our hearts and consider the feelings and needs of others.
Leo rules who and what we love, so we may focus more on issues in love relationships or with hobbies. We may want more time for fun and play, have less focus on work, our children may need more attention and act more rebellious, old flames may come back into our lives, and existing flames may look for some renewed sparks. Creative outlets can be very helpful whenever Leo is involved, so try to make time for your hobbies in healthy and positive ways.
The rub with this retrograde is it’s occurring in the middle of Mars retrograde in opposing sign Aquarius, and squares (hard aspect) Jupiter in Scorpio and Uranus in Taurus (who will also turn retrograde August 7th), forming a fixed grand cross. The fixed energy is super strong this summer, and we can feel extra stubborn, extra stuck, extra fixed in our ways, and extra frustrated. There can be a lot of heated rhetoric in the world, but may not be much to back it up initially (at least until Mars retrograde out of Aquarius and into Capricorn). We’ve got to keep ourselves from getting stuck and staying that way, and open up our minds and hearts.
During the retrograde, we’ll have two eclipses, a lunar eclipse on July 27th and solar eclipse on August 11th, The lunar eclipse occurs the day after the retrograde starts and is in Aquarius, the sign opposite Leo, so emotions can be super high and we can to work a lot harder at open communication and understanding. But for the Mercury retrograde, the August 11th solar eclipse is more important because it’ll be conjunct (aligned with) Mercury. Uh oh? So the solar eclipse can bring extra hot focus on the Mercury retrograde energy, and it can make some difficulties even more difficult and explosive, while others may become easier and we can find a way out. Try not to give in to the drama, use creative energy to your advantage, and keep yourself moving through the energy.
While Mercury is retrograde, he’ll make 3 major aspects, first a conjunction to the Sun on August 8th (10:06PM ET). The inferior conjunction, this can be a good point in the retrograde to get started with something new, and it can be a focus for the next two months or so. Then Mercury squares (hard aspect, 3 signs away) Jupiter in Scorpio on August 11th (2:31AM ET), and we can be extra lazy, indulgent, prone to excess, or prone to big talk with little action to back it up. We can feel extra stuck and frustrated around this aspect. Mercury retrograde also sextiles (positive aspect, two signs away) Venus in Libra on August 18th (11:35AM ET), the day before the retrograde ends, so the retrograde ends sextile Venus. We can come out of the retrograde with easier energy, and work to get along better and find some balance (or maybe overindulge on junk food!).
Mercury will be at a critical degree, points of critical energy, early in the retrograde, July 29th - August 2nd at 21-22 degrees Leo. There can be some extra hot energy at that time, and we can be mightily frustrated and annoyed and hysterical. Breathe!
The retrograde begins at 23 degrees Leo, so those of you Leos born August 14th - 18th can feel the start of this retrograde most. The retrograde ends at 11 degrees Leo, so those of you Leos born August 2nd - 6th can feel the end of the retrograde most.
For the rest of you, check the house(s) Mercury will be retrograding in of your own natal chart, and any aspects Mercury will make during its retrograde to your natal planets, to fully understand how it will impact you personally.
If you have Mercury retrograde in your natal or progressed chart, you may not feel the worst of this. Those individuals generally don't experience the difficulties of the retrograde because it feels more natural to them. Of course, chances are everyone else around them doesn't have the same aspect, so they can still experience difficulties brought on by others.
Suggested Reading: The Mercury, Venus and Mars Retrogrades page for general interpretations