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 March 5th at 2:18PM ET and ends on March 28th at 9:58AM ET. The shadow period is February 19th - April 16th. The first storm period is March 1st - 10th, and second storm period is March 22nd - April 6th.
Here comes the first Mercury madness for 2019! This retrograde occurs entirely in the sign of Pisces - foggy, delusional, wandering Pisces, so here comes the fog, delusion, and aimless wandering, oh boy! We may find ourselves getting stuck in a fog pretty easily, which can make it hard to make decisions, to think clearly, and to focus. We can be more easily misled, delude ourselves or are deceived by others, and can be easily manipulated. We may wander around, flowing from this to that, seemingly directionless. It becomes important with Pisces energy to make sure we’re grounded and to be as realistic as possible, otherwise we can find ourselves with a lot of issues!
We may be more easily rundown, constantly tired, and the world may be a bit sluggish as the more dominating among us become more demanding and draining on our energy. We need to make time for rest and quiet time alone so we can recharge, otherwise we just keep getting drained until we’re dry. Healthy boundaries are always important with Pisces.
Pisces is a compassionate sign, full of empathy and understanding, and we may find that we;re either too compassionate and understanding, which leads us to be taken advantage of; or, we’re lacking compassion and understanding, and make seem especially cruel in some way. There may be some sort of situation that is seen as particularly cruel, and we have to decide if we’re going to exercise compassion and help those who can’t help themselves.
Spirituality and intuition fall under the domain of Pisces, and we may be more focused on spiritual needs. It can be a good time to tend to them, but we need to make sure we don’t get too lost in them and lack an open mind and accepting heart. Intuition can be helpful for guidance since focus may be lacking, but we need to work on truly listening to our inner guides and not just believing what we want to believe.
Pisces is the last sign of the Zodiac, so we may be focused on something that needs to come to an end. We may encounter resistance, blocks, issues as we try to finish, close out, or let go, whether internal or external, and we may need to make sure we’re eliminating from the root and no just on the surface so it doesn’t come back again. Something we thought we were done with and wouldn’t have to deal with again could come back, rearing its ugly head, and we have to make sure we really take care of it this time. Zombie period!
Water, feet, music, the arts, and toxins are all ruled by Pisces, so we may see some developments related to water/the oceans/pollution, with a musician or artist or dancer, or drugs. Large animals are also ruled by Pisces, so they may get attention in some way as well.
The Pisces energy of this retrograde is cranked up to an 11 for a lot of reasons. One, it’s going to start at the anaretic degree, which is 29 degrees of any sign, the very last degree and a point of crisis energy. In transit, this can be a difficult time, and it may trigger something very important around the start of the retrograde. Mercury will be anaretic March 2nd - 8th, so watch that space. In Pisces, this is last degree of the last sign, so it’s literally the very last degree of the Zodiac! So this may show something that we thought was going to end doesn’t end, rising back from the dead (it’s a zombie retrograde!).
The day after Mercury retrograde starts, Uranus will move into a new sign, earth sign Taurus. So to start the retrograde, Uranus will also be anaretic but in Aries! So this may be some suuuuper wild energy to kick the retrograde off. Run for the hills?
Then a new moon occurs in Pisces on March 6th, the day after the Mercury retrograde starts in Pisces. In fact, the Moon is in Pisces as the retrograde begins (March 5th 4:11AM ET - March 7th 4:28PM ET). This brings extra energy for Pisces at the start of the retrograde (like there won’t be enough!). But with the new moon, it’ll try to be helpful, not hurtful. We just have to consciously decide to use the energy as best as we can to be productive with imagination, get attuned to intuition, stay grounded in spirituality, and lend a helping hand in healthy ways.
Pisces energy can also be strong when the Mercury retrograde conjuncts (aligns with) the Sun in Pisces on March 15th (at 24 degrees 11 minutes Pisces). This is called the inferior conjunction, and can actually be a good time to start something during the retrograde that you focus on for about the next 2 months. What exactly you focus on may be related to the areas of life ruled by the house in your chart this occurs.
Mercury retrograde will be at a critical degree, 17 degrees Pisces, March 22nd - 24th, which also amplifies the Pisces energy, but it can be in a difficult way where we’re feeling extra challenged to handle the energy. We have to maintain boundaries, stay grounded, and not lose our grip. And avoid the zombies!
The retrograde then ends conjunct the natural ruler of Pisces, Neptune, who is in Pisces too! This is exact on March 24th, and with Neptune energy being dissolving, we may be coming out of the retrograde looking to dissolve something, fade into/away from something, or bring something important to a close. (I’m not British, but I am thinking about the fact that the UK is supposed to exit the EU like 8 hours or so after the retrograde officially ends - feels a little dicey!)
Mercury makes four major aspects during the retrograde (in addition to the conjunctions to the Sun and Neptune: sextile (positive aspect, two signs away) transit Mars in Taurus March 17th (good for taking action with ideas and plans), square (hard aspect, three signs away) transit Jupiter in Sagittarius March 15th (making us prone to excess and talking a little too big), sextile transit Saturn in Capricorn March 20th (giving some discipline and focus), and sextile transit Pluto in Capricorn March 16th (giving a little power and control back).
The Moon is in the signs Mercury naturally rules, Gemini and Virgo, March 12th (11:48AM) - 14th (5:49PM) and March 18th (9:42PM), - 20th (9:28PM). This can make us all a little emotionally anxious, on edge, feeling extra off, and needing to give ourselves time to calm down, to get things done, and exercise extra patience.
The retrograde begins at 29 degrees Pisces, so those of you Fishies born after March 17th may feel the start of the retrograde most. The retrograde ends at 16 degrees Pisces, so those of you Fishies born March 4th - 9th may feel the end of this retrograde most.
Note that if you have any anaretic planets in your natal or progressed charts, they get jazzed up by the start of the Mercury retrograde (and Uranus), regardless of the aspect, so pay special attention to that point in your chart!
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