About retrogrades — well, like so much in astrology, there is a complicated technical explanation where diagrams come in handy and a very rough and simple take. The latter is that we’re going in circles around the sun and so are all the other planets, so there are times when planets seem, from our geocentric perspective, seem to be going backwards. That’s a retrograde. The further out a planet is the less significant is the retrograde period. With the inner planets (I would include here Mercury, Venus, and Mars) the retrograde periods are times when the planetary effect seems to reverse, to back up, to show us where our mistakes have been and what we need to correct.
On his tight little orbit around the Sun Mercury is in retrograde 3 times a year, for about 3 weeks at a time. Venus is retrograde every year and a half, Mars once every two years. All the planets from Jupiter on out are retrograde every year for about 4-5 months at a time. The Earth orbits the Sun directly and the Moon orbits the Earth so the Sun and Moon never go retrograde. Retrogrades only happen as an interaction of two separate orbits.
Mercury rules logic and logical systems: filing, computer programs, letters, mail… well, if you know your classical mythology you’d know he’s all about messages. Also retail sales, and short distance travels (commuting)
When he’s retrograde, any of the above issues are likely to get caught up in errors that have been lying in wait. This is when you realize that a bill has been misfiled, when communications get bollixed up, when bugs in computer programs pop up, bus schedules fall apart, and the people in your carpool strain against the scheduling.
Scheduling is a big issue when Mercury is retrograde. Allow extra time for everything.
In larger systems, this period is good for identifying problems in systems, logic, communications, transit, but not for fixing them! Apply bandaids where necessary, but make a note of what’s going wrong and the SEEMING causes. When Mercury turns direct you’ll have a better idea of what really needs to be done and how to do it.
It’s easier for writers and file clerks, and such. Don’t write new material, but edit what you’ve already written. Go through files scanning for misplaced info. Be very careful about throwing stuff out in an effort to clean up. You may soon wish you hadn’t! Setting stuff aside to reconsider and dispose of (or not) when Mercury is direct is a good idea.
In August of 2011 Mecury turns retrograde on the 3rd in very early Virgo. He backs up to 18 degrees of Leo where he turns direct (forward motion) on the 26th. Leo is very much about ego and creativity, so be careful not to go out on a limb with self-presentation, and do NOT show off. You WILL be taken down a peg! In any creative efforts edit and revise, present your stuff after Mercury goes direct and you can complete final draft. Overextension in sports are likely to cause accidents, sprains, injuries especially to hands and wrists, but also feet and ankles. Leo also rules the heart so people with latent problems may get some rude surprises there. (Niacin, up to 300mg/day is great for fighting cholesterol, but don’t take it if you’re already on statins.)
How it affects you personally depends on your own chart, but with THIS retrograde, people hit hardest are those with planets placed from 18 Leo to 1 Virgo, 18, Scorpio to 1 Sagittarius, 18 Aquarius to 1 Pisces, and 18 Taurus to 1 Gemini. For your sun signs that’s birthdays 10-25 August (personal problems, showing off), 10-23 November (professional issues and reputation), 8-20 February (relationships), and 9-22 May (home and family) These dates are all give or take a day. Sun signs wiggle around a little for the same reason we have leap years, and time zones can also put you a day forward or back.
Merk retch is a pain in the tush, but we do get through it 3 times a year. Allow extra time for everything and take the trip-ups with good humor, some resignation, and an open eye to repairs and improvements. All that will actually turn this period to your long-term advantage.