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 November 16th at 8:33PM ET and ends on December 6th at 4:22PM ET. The shadow period is October 28th - December 24th. The first storm period is November 11th - 21st, and second storm period is December 3rd - 11th.
The final round of Mercury retrograde for 2018 comes upon us in November, starting in Sagittarius. Mercury retrograde in Sagittarius can make us prone to talking big, but it may just be hot air, empty words, and it’s not backed up with action. We can brag, be boisterous, and we don’t take seriously how much what we’re saying actually impacts other people, so we need to be more mindful of that.
Sagittarius rules the law, so we could see some important legal rulings, decisions, and matters involving the law or legal system come to the forefront. We may be more concerned with reversals, going back, or try to rectify things from the past.
Long-distance travel comes under the domain of Sagittarius, and we may experience some difficulties with travel (could be technical/electronic or something involving the weather). We may think more about the way things impact the world as a whole instead, the big picture, but we need to make sure we’re not ignoring the important details.
Sagittarius rules our beliefs, so we may be more defensive over what we believe passionately. Some may try to force their beliefs on others, but this doesn’t usually work out well. Others may question their beliefs, and wonder if they’ve been following false idols all along.
Mercury retrograde doesn’t occur entirely in Sagittarius though, as he’ll go back to watery Scorpio on December 1st (6:12AM ET) for the last few days of his retrograde. It’s only a few days, but likely to still have an impact! We can become a bit obsessive with Scorpio, totally wrapped up in something, but this can cause us to lose objectivity. We may need to take a step back, but can find that hard to do.
Scorpio is quite passionate energy, so we need to try and use that as best as we can. We’re likely unable to squash the energy, so try funnelling it somewhere it can be put to good use. Otherwise, extreme emotions can prevail, and here come the outbursts and such.
Scorpio is the darkest sign, ruling what is held deep inside, our inner demons and darkest selves and secrets, so something of that nature can come out, be made aware, and we may have to face something that we don’t really want to, but have to. Scorpio wants us to face these things so we can learn, evolve, and be the phoenix rising from the ashes. Scorpio loves a good transformation, so that can be a good way to use this period. Transform for the better. We all can do that!
Scorpio also governs other people’s money (taxes, debts, loans, inheritances, joint finances), so that may be more difficult or there can be some developments in the world; and Scorpio governs sex, so we may focus on sex/sexuality in some way.
Mercury will be anaretic, at the 29th degree, when he goes back into Scorpio December 1st - 2nd. The anaretic degree is a point of crisis energy, and retrograde planets crossing over this degree tend to stimulate some developments, challenges, important issues, and the like. There could be something that we’re not aware of and is deeply-held that becomes exposed, something dark that gets some light, a sex scandal, or something really kind of dark and cruel that occurs. Focus on the bad guys of the world?
The Moon will be in the same sign Mercury will be retrograde in December 3rd (2:55PM ET) - 5th (9:49PM ET) in Scorpio. This can make the Scorpio energy stronger, and we can be even more emotional, even more extreme, and have extra passion and intensity. Try to get a grip on the energy and channel it into something productive to use the energy up and avoid the challenges.
Mercury retrograde doesn’t end making any aspects, thankfully, but it does start square (hard aspect) Neptune in Pisces, who will be ending his own retrograde November 24th at 13 degrees Pisces. This can make us feel like we’re in a fog at the start of the retrograde, and it may be difficult to figure out what’s real and what isn’t. We may lack clarity that we need, we may feel vulnerable and deceived. The world may need a major dose of compassion! We can get lost in daydreams and fantasies, and need to fight to maintain a grip on reality. We could see something hidden, some secret that comes out with this retrograde.
The Moon will be in the signs Mercury naturally rules November 22nd (11:10PM ET) - 25th (1:38AM ET) in Gemini, and November 29th (6:08AM ET) - December 1st (9:49AM ET) in Virgo. The time in Virgo may be more subtle, and give us feelings of feeling off and needing to focus more on daily life, work, productivity, and health. The time in Gemini may be stronger since we’ll have a full moon in Gemini on November 23rd; the full moon doesn’t aspect the Mercury retrograde, but emotions can run high, and our words can drip with emotion. It can be hard to avoid saying what you mean, even if what you mean is mean. So we definitely need to exercise more caution with words.
Mercury retrograde will be at a critical degree (4 degrees Sagittarius) November 27th - 28th, and this may bring some difficult energy, and we may be extra defensive, blow extra hot air, and talk the talk but don’t walk the way. Be mindful of what you say, how you say it, and if you really mean it or not.
This Mercury retrograde will make 3 major aspects during the retrograde. He'll square (hard aspect) Mars on November 26th (3:06AM ET) - lots of anger, frustration, fights/misunderstandings, and we need to keep cooler heads to prevail, or can get into trouble. Mercury will also conjunct (align with) Jupiter on November 27th (5:27PM ET), and we may be lazy, prone to excess, and indulgent, and need to get moving. Jupiter energy is expansive, so we can feel like however things are get expanded with this aspect. Jupiter is Mr. Happy, so try to use that expansive energy positively. Mercury will conjunct the Sun on November 27th as well (4:15AM ET), called the inferior conjunction, and this can usually be a positive aspect providing an opportunity to start something. That may especially be true with Mercury conjunct Jupiter that day too.
The retrograde begins at 13 degrees Sagittarius, so those of you Sagittarians born December 2nd - 8th can feel the start of this retrograde most. The retrograde ends at 27 degrees Scorpio, so those of your Scorpions born after November 17th 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
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