Your Mercury Retrograde in Pisces Primer

The begining of this article is adapted from something I wrote for the first Mercury Retrograde of 2018. The rest is all new just for you.

Welcome to the first Mercury Retrograde of 2019. Allow me to help you get acquainted.

ocean goddess jennylynn fields
Artist: Jennylynn Fields

Mercury retrograde is the astrological event that gets the most hype (you know, except for all of those SUPER MOONS, which I swear used to be rare but now seem to happen every month…hmmmm…). It would in fact seem that folks love a good reason to get dramatic. When that drama is combined with vast externalizations of power, however, well… I have to set the record straight. Astrology as a way to enhance a blame game is just a sad waste of a powerful tool. Astrology as a tool for taking ownership of your life and your decisions? Now we’re talking.

Cuz, remember: the planets don’t make anything happen to you. They’re just reflecting processes and dynamics. Astrology provides a way to understand human psychology.

So… What is Mercury?

Mercury is the planet that represents communication, short-distance travel, words, language, short term memory, and the connection between our perception-thought-speech process. Mercury is the messenger of the gods, if you will. Why is that important? Because understanding Mercury in that way allows us to understand that they are the planetary deity who has the ability to travel all over the place — the above, the below, and all of the in betweens. Buzzing between worlds, Mercury has a mapping energy to it.

Covering that much territory gives you a lot of insight into so many landscapes, and that’s what Mercury does best. Mercury maps, learns and gathers information about all kinds of stuff and then puts it to use. Corresponding with the Magician in the Tarot deck, Mercury gets all kinds of info through its rulership of Gemini, and then puts it all to use in intricate,detailed and practical ways through its rulership of Virgo.

What is a planetary retrograde?

A planetary retrograde is an optical illusion, really. Planets don’t suddenly just shift and move backwards. But from our position on the earth, it appears that way. We’ve been projecting meaning onto that visual for a very long time, which makes it loaded with meaning and resonance.

All planets go retrograde. Weird, right? The outer planets — Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto — spend about half the year retrograde. Mars and Venus are the most rare of the retrogrades. Mercury’s retrograde period, however, happens all the damned time. Usually three times a year (sometimes four), for three weeks each round. Add in the shadow period and it almost seems like we’re constantly in, recovering from or preparing for a Mercury retrograde.

Sooooooo…it’s probably best to just learn how to work with them, right? Right.

All of the Mercury retrogrades in a calendar year tend to fall in the same element. Tracking that helps us to tap into a theme for all of them. This year, Mercury is retrograding through water signs (with the exception of the one this summer which starts in the early degrees of fire sign Leo and then moves back into water sign Cancer), telling us it has something to do with our emotions, dreams, sensitivities…and soul-level evolution. Mercury is a pretty zippy little planet, but it’ll be spending 120 days in water this year. That’s a whole bunch of opportunity to understand how our emotions and thoughts are connected.

Pro-tips for Mercury Retrogrades in General
Retrogrades are good times for the “re” words. During Mercury retrograde, you wanna re-think, re-visit, re-imagine, re-view, re-vision.

The 2018 Mercury retrogrades were all about re-viewing and reimagining our vision, what inspires us, our urge to manifest. This year, Mercury retrogrades are giving us an opportunity to re-examine how we feel about things.

I haven’t tended to register much about Mercury retrogrades through my astro-knowing life. That is…until it takes place in water signs. My feelings get all kinds of garbled, I tend to have a more difficult time accessing my words, and I can be more sleepy than normal. Astrology is all about observation correlation — if you’re interested in working with this stuff, I highly recommend you just make some notes throughout these three week Mercury retrograde windows and see what’s true for you.  

Solid wisdom for Mercury retrogrades regardless of the sign is to slow down, especially when it comes to communication. That means that if you have to have big conversations, you might want to really think them through beforehand and acknowledge that even with preparation, you might need to come and discuss it again after this period is over.

Technology is also a form of communication. This is part of why computers and such tend to go haywire during these periods, and why so many astro folks will tell you to remember to back-up your computer, make sure you save your files.

It’s not always possible to wait to sign a lease or book a flight or make a big purchase. If you can wait, wait. If you can’t, just make sure to go over things an extra time or three. Buy that warranty for that technology purchase. Go over the lease with the landlord but ask them if you can wait a week or two before signing.

Oh, and take it from a pro: if you have choice over when to schedule a surgery, opt out of anything in a Mercury retrograde period (or Mercury shadow, which we’ll go over soon).

If you can’t wait, do your due diligence. And recognize that there might be some piece you have to come back and re-visit again in the future.

Mercury retrograde is a time to slow it down and bring conscious awareness to what’s going on.

Mercury Shadow & Combust the Sun

A retrograde’s shadow periods have to do with the time when the planet is visiting the same degrees of the zodiac. Lemme break that down.

From February 19 – March 4, Mercury was moving in direct motion between 16 – 30 degrees of Pisces.  In this pre-retrograde shadow phase, Mercury is making its first trip through the degrees of the zodiac it’ll traverse during the retrograde itself. Here’s where you get a preview of what to expect.

From March 5-28, Mercury travels from 30 Pisces back to 16, asking us to review whatever came up during the shadow period, as well as themes associated with the sign (Pisces) and house (which will differ depending on your own chart) where it’s traveling.

Then, from March 28-April 16, Mercury goes from 16 Pisces back through 29 Pisces, giving us time to implement the revised version of our plan.  For the purists among us (ha!), it can be wise to wait until after April 16 to truly move forward.

You can generally anticipate that the days around the stations of Mercury (when it appears to stop in the sky) will be the “stormiest” — so March 5 and March 28.

The day of maximum impact during a Mercury retrograde is always the day it is in the same degree of the zodiac as the Sun. This always marks the midpoint of the retrograde. This round, Mercury and the Sun will be hanging out on March 14 at 24 degrees of Pisces.


As always, let me know if you have questions or would like help locating this transit in your chart.

A bit about this Mercury Retrograde in particular:

Oh, y’all. This Mercury retrograde kinda feels like a cosmic burst of… well, “whoooooa, dude. I’m sooooo out of it.” Part of that is because it’s in Pisces, which is the super dreamy potion of blissed out grooviness we all long for (see my Pisces New Moon article). But it’s also because there’s just SO much Pisces going on amidst a whole sea of change: Venus changing signs, Uranus changing signs (big deal alert! Big deal alert!)… New Moon… Chiron recently entering Aries…

Mercury will also make an aspect to every other planet during this retrograde. Except for Chiron. But technically it starts the retrograde conjunct Chiron – just in another sign.

So…what does that mean?

Well, the first thing that came to my mind as I started working with this retrograde was: gargling. Yep. This was mainly because I could imagine trying to speak, but having the only thing that came out resemble the sound (and feeling, for that matter) of gargling salt water. Or any water. Whatever.

Mercury is related to left brain function. Mercury retrogrades always point towards the right brain, or intuitive, function. So one simple way to understand this retrograde is that it is about trusting our intuition. Tuning into intuition and feeling before speaking. This is particularly true for Mercury through Pisces, which tends to like to just channel information through. I think of Mercury in Pisces as pure poetry. It understands the energetic imprint of words, and the necessity of tuning into the feeling of words, and the ways they’re strung together.

In addition to just general garbling of the words and the feelings, it can be important during this time to be aware of some of the more shadowy elements of Pisces. There can be some deception going on here. Just remember: mutable sign deception and lies isn’t always necessarily about overt dishonesty. Sometimes it’s just cuz things are in transition. Just try and be discerning. With people you love, this can be a fantastic time to employ the “assume best intentions” motto.

Because Pisces is a sign that relates to ‘the collective’ (gosh, y’all, I say those two words together so much…I need a new way to refer to all of us together in that big picture sense…), this Mercury retrograde is also giving us an opportunity to rethink the way we feel about the collective situation, our place in it, our beliefs about it and our dreams for it. In addition to spiritual transcendence, bliss and ecstasy, Pisces is the sign of disillusionment and despair. I’d love to see the collective headed towards the former, but oftentimes I only feel the latter. This retrograde period is a good time to reexamine beliefs about that, and what perspectives or thought patterns need to be released now.

This could also be a great time for just letting go of mental clutter and chatter. Pick up a meditation practice. Add a mantra. Listen to the sound of silence. Try not to force thoughts and communications forward if they’re not forming smoothly. Something is incubating here…

As Mercury aspects the rest of the planets throughout the retrograde, it really does seem like it’s doing some clean up work from Chiron’s transit through Pisces. Reaching out to all the other psychological functions as represented by the inner planets (Sun, Moon, Mars, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn) and making adjustments at the subtle levels as it aspects Uranus, Neptune and Pluto.

Then, at the end of it, Venus will be entering Pisces to come on through and do some warming, healing clean up work to help us embody the change. Hang in there.

Here’s to some interesting dream times…

Mercury Retrograde 2019 #1
March 5 – March 28
Pre-retrograde shadow starts February 19; Post-retrograde shadow ends April 16
From 16 through 29 Pisces

*~*Like what you read here? Please consider supporting my Patreon campaign, where you can get rad incentives that’ll help you to use astrology to understand your own psychology. Sharing helps, too!*~*

PS! Want a free guided visualization for this Pisces New Moon, which is exactly what Patrons get every month? Check it out along with some ritual design guidance here.

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