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 August 12th at 9PM ET and ends on September 5th at 7:29AM ET. The shadow period is July 22nd - September 19th. The first storm period is August 4th - 20th, and second storm period is August 31st - September 11th.
Mercury madness is descending upon us yet again in 2017, this time starting in earth sign Virgo. Mercury retrograded in Virgo around this time last year, so we get a second round in one of the signs that Mercury rules. Because Mercury rules this sign, we can be extra off, and experience the issues with a little more gusto.
So what does Virgo impact? First and foremost - stress! Virgo rules stress (no surprise if you've ever known a Virgo), and Mercury retrograde amps up stress in general anyway, so put the two together and you get one very high stress period. We're flipped out about everything, worried about everything, constantly focusing on the bad that can happen. It's super important to have an outlet for stress during this retrograde, otherwise you can get sucked into the stress machine.
Virgo also rules work, so we may have issues at work, with co-workers, lack focus or discipline for the work we need to do, or want to do something else. This can be a popular time for quitting, though it may not be wise if you haven't fully thought it through. On the other hand, it can also be a time for going back to work at jobs you used to do or for employers you used to work for. There may be some job news with the economy as well.
Virgo rules our daily life, so we may let things like our daily tasks and chores fall by the wayside and let slide. We just don't have the time, or feel like it, or we just need some more sleep. That can be a great thing to do during this retrograde - sleep!
With Virgo ruling health and routine, this is a good time for regular maintenance of everything in life, but especially our bodies. Get checkups, tweak your diet, get more active. Given all of the health care activity here in the U.S., I'd venture there's some big protests or something about it all.
Mercury isn't in Virgo for the entire retrograde though, and goes backward into Leo on August 31st at 11:28AM ET, and ends in Leo. Leo is the sign of theatrics, so we can see some developments with celebrities (though they’re always drama queens!), but we mostly see ourselves becoming more theatrical and dramatic.
Everything is the end of the world, and we act like the world is falling apart of the tiniest of problems. It’s important to take a step back and have a better perspective, otherwise you can turn molehills into mountain ranges.
Leo is the sign of creativity, so we may lack inspiration at times, or feel we have so much that we can’t control it. Creativity is a great outlet for the stresses of Mercury retrograde, but you should work to have some control over it, and not put too much stress on yourself if you don’t feel particularly inspired. Sometimes it’s just about letting out some steam.
Your hobbies can get more attention or less attention with Mercury retrograde in Leo, and you can focus more on spending time on your hobbies, or you may have less time for them than usual. It’s important to make time for them when you can, but not completely avoid work and responsibilities just to goof off.
Leo isn’t the most responsible sign, so we can often be quite irresponsible, lazy, and selfish with this retrograde. We want everyone to do everything for us, and feel we’re entitled to that, but it only causes problems. This tends to come out in the areas of life ruled by the house Mercury retrograde in Leo occurs in. Work on being more generous with others, and take your responsibilities seriously.
Leo rules love, dating, and the playful side of relationships, the early stages, so we often see young relationships tested with Mercury retrograde in Leo, and you can decide if this is a relationship you want to continue on with, or if it’s one that isn’t going anywhere and you want to cut ties before it goes further.
This is often a good time for reconnecting with old loves, though it may not last for very long once the retrograde is over. It is a good time for rekindling the flame in your relationship, if you’re attached, especially if the retrograde is in your or your partner’s 1st, 5th, or 7th houses.
Leo is the proud Lion, so sometimes pride can be our demise during this transit. Our egos can be easily wounded, and we can let that sway our opinions and actions. Don’t let some ruffled feathers dictate what’s right and wrong. Put pride aside and keep your ego in check. At the same time, if you’re on the insecure side naturally, you may feel even more insecure, and need to work on building up your confidence in positive ways.
Children are also the domain of Leo, so if you have any children, they can demand more attention, be more troublesome for you, or act more rebellious. It’s important not to take this too personally and give them to praise and attention they need without trying to hold them back from being who they truly are.
Mercury will be anaretic as it enters Leo. The anaretic degree is the very last degree of any sign and a point of crisis energy, and Mercury will be anaretic in Leo August 31st - September 2nd. There can be some super Leo energy at that time, and we may see some major braggadocious energy, or someone gets a lot of attention for all the wrong reasons.
We may be desperate for attention, but refrain from doing anything rash to get it. And with Leo being a fire sign, energy can be high and tempers can flare, especially if our pride is wounded. Swallow that pride!
On a personal level, you may experience this crisis energy with the areas of life ruled by the house Mercury is in at the time, so try to be prepared for anything before it comes, and try not to get too off track if anything does happen.
This Mercury retrograde will make 2 major aspects, first being a conjunction to the Sun on August 26th (1:54AM ET), aka the inferior conjunction, one of the positive points of the retrograde. Mercury is still in Virgo (@ 3 degrees 47 minutes), and this can be a good period within the retrograde for starting a small project or working on a short plan.
Personally, you may experience this with the areas of life ruled by the house this conjunction occurs in. It may be something that culminates or ends with the superior conjunction (when Mercury conjuncts the Sun again after the retrograde - October 8th).
Mercury retrograde also conjuncts Mars at the end of the retrograde (exact on September 3rd at 5:38AM during the retrograde), amping up energy, making us more impulsive, more quick to anger, more impatient, and with a shorter fuse, and this can play out with the areas of life ruled by the house location this conjunction occurs in your chart. Worldwide, there may be extra violence around the end of the retrograde.
The retrograde ends trine (positive aspect) Uranus in Aries as well, but this isn't exact. It can be good energy for change, looking toward the future, and coming together.
Mercury will also conjunct the Moon during the retrograde. The Moon is in Virgo August 21st 4:25PM ET to August 23rd 9:05PM ET, at the same time Mercury is retrograde in Virgo. The Moon is not in Leo when Mercury is retrograde in Leo, so this is the only time they’re linked. The Moon and Mercury retrograde conjunct exactly on August 22nd at 5:21AM ET at 7 degrees 41 minutes in Virgo.
The Moon in Virgo brings extra emphasis to the retrograde, and we can feel extra off, but also more focused. This is especially the case with the Sun entering Virgo on August 22nd, right in the middle (at 6:20PM ET). So there’s a good deal of focus during this time, but we can also feel more scattered, more lost in the Virgo details and weeds, harder on ourselves, more stressed, or nitpicky. If this is conjunct, square, or opposite a planet or house cusp in your chart, you can feel it even more; if it’s sextile or trine, you can handle the energy better and feel more focused.
Extra: The Moon is in Gemini August 15th (10:06AM ET) to August 17th (12:13PM ET). Gemini is the other sign Mercury rules, and we tend to feel thrown off when the Moon is in Gemini during Mercury retrograde. What’s very special about this Moon period is while Mercury is retrograde in Virgo, we’ll experience a mutable t-square, with Mercury in Virgo opposite Neptune in Pisces and both square Saturn in Sagittarius, so while Mercury is retrograde in Virgo, this just makes everything much more heightened, intense, and active.
Gemini is the missing sign of the mutable signs, and we’ll need to be more inquisitive, thoughtful, and open. But while the Moon is in Gemini, this opposes Saturn in Sagittarius and creates a mutable grand cross. Grand crosses tend to be more stable than t-squares, but there’s a lot more energy in the mix. And what stands out more is that we’ll also have a cardinal grand cross at the same time with Jupiter in Libra opposite Uranus in Aries and both square Pluto in Capricorn opposite Venus in Cancer. So we’re going to have two grand crosses while the Moon is in Gemini!
Mars will be the only planet not in a grand cross at the time (as the sole fixed sign, which brings more focus on Mars, increasing energy even more and making us desperate for some stable energy). It pretty much all boils down to, keep yourself busy, channel energy into something positive and productive, have an outlet for frustrations, and use up as much energy as you can. If you find yourself getting frustrated, impulsive, or impatient, shift your focus and don’t let your mind dawdle for too long. This is one of those occurrences where everyone is impacted by it, so you won’t be alone!
Another little extra - the end of the Mercury retrograde also triggers the August 21st Solar Eclipse in Leo, and whatever one is doing to your chart, so is the other. One-two punch!
The retrograde begins at 11 degrees Virgo, so those of you Virgoans born September 2nd - 6th can feel the start of this retrograde most. The retrograde ends at 28 degrees Leo, so those of your Lions born after August 19th 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