Most astrological observations are anecdotal, based on a single symbolic link. We might say so and so got that promotion because Jupiter was going through her 10th house or its not surprising he was a serial killer because he has a close Mars / Uranus / Pluto conjunction opposite to Saturn.
These observations would often be symbolically fair and reasonable ones to make, but we could not claim any objectivity with them. Unless, that is, we had looked at hundreds of charts with the same patterns and observed the same behaviour in a statistically significant number of their owners.
But very few of us bother to do that. We just pick an activity that fits with a planetary movement an declare that as proof of an influence. And this is particularly true when it comes to Mercury Retrograde.
Everything from losing files on our computer to trains running late to airports being closed because of the recent blizzard in New York is forwarded as evidence of the things that happen when the messenger is moving backward.
And the more of these incidents we spot and declare, the more convincing we sound.
Capricorn Research recently came across a website which is basically a list of thousands of events that have occurred throughout history while Mercury was retrograde. It all sounds very convincing and this list is packaged as research.
But of course it is nothing of the sort. Any form of research has to have a control group.
So for these lists to have any relevance at all, we would have to have other much bigger lists of all the similar incidents that occurred when Mercury was in direct motion.
Mercury is retrograde about 18.48 % of the time, so if the number of incidents occurring during this period was more than 20% of the number in the control group, we might be onto something. Otherwise no, its just coincidence, that we overlook because we don’t bother to register trains running late and us losing our keys when Mercury is going forward.
Being completely objective in astrological research is very difficult. It is either done by astrologers who obviously would like their work to prove a link, or by scientists who equally obviously want to disprove one.
But perhaps Capricorn Research can help bridge this gap, because I am an astrologer who is so irritated by this constant whining about Mercury retrograde that I actually want to prove that it has no impact at all.
For a good few years I have deliberately only backed up my computer once Mercury turns direct, flying in the face of common astrological wisdom and asking for trouble. Needless to say I have yet to lose any files despite my obvious negligence.
Now of course I would not claim that this means anything at all, but if I could persuade a few thousand others to do likewise it might become interesting.
Tempted as I have been to do some extensive research into the effects of Mercury retrograde, I have been put off by the fact that my software cannot do this on mass and the only way open to me is to count each individual chart.
But having been ill recently during the recent retrograde cycle ( there see – instant proof of an effect ), I was still just about able to count so thought I might make some use of the time.
Anyone who dares to start an enterprise of any sort when Mercury is retrograde is looked down on as some sort of idiot whose efforts are doomed to failure. This being the case, what must that say about someone who dares to start their life under this influence.
So the question I asked was does a retrograde Mercury have an effect in a natal chart ?
Given that Mercury rules writers, I thought this would be a good group to test.
My database of 25,000 plus charts were taken from the astrodatabank over a period of 3 years. Every chart that had a birth time was included. There was no subjective assessment on my part as to what constituted a writer, if the person was classified on the database as a writer, they were included in this group.
This gave me a total of 2044 writers.
The assumption would be that Writers would be less likely to have Mercury retrograde than average.
The expected figure for such a sample would be 377.74.
The actual figure was 363.
So yes we could say that these writers had Mercury Retrograde less than average, but we are only talking about 96.1 % of the expected figure and this falls well within the parameters set by pure chance.
On this study we would have to say there is no clear link between Mercury’s motion, direct or retrograde and writers.
So I tried a different tack.
Since Mercury retrograde is linked with so many mishaps from small incidents of personal clumsiness to terrorists downing airlines, I thought I would look at the charts of Accident Victims.
This is a much smaller sample as I only have 321, but it is still large enough to produce some very interesting statistical connections particularly with Mars placings. For more info see Are Ariens Accident Prone ?
In this sample there were 69 cases of Mercury retrograde as opposed to the expected figure of 59.32.
This is 116.3 % of the expected figure and while still not enough to convince statisticians, it does suggest there might be something there.
Interestingly, this group includes 91 people who were involved in Air Crashes. It goes without saying that these kind of accidents are more serious than the common or garden ones.
The results for this 91 are 13 with Mercury Retrograde where the expected figure is 16.81. This figure is 77.3 % of the expected score.
So maybe Mercury retrograde is linked with accidents but people who endure the more serious variety are less likely to have this placing.
So if we take away the Air Crash victims from the larger group of Accident victims we are left with a group of 230, with a Mercury retrograde score of 56.
In this group the expected score would be 42.5, so we are looking at a result that is 131.75 % of the expected figure.
And this is statistically significant.
So it seems that there is a link between people who have Mercury retrograde in the charts and accidents that aren’t up in the air.
This group of 230 would include people who died in car crashes along with people who were simply injured. It may be that if we could just look at the less serious variety, the connection would be even stronger.
After all Mercury retrograde is supposed to be a nuisance and a hindrance with maybe some accident proneness, rather than a killer.
But even though this is a small sample and I would look forward to hearing about any other larger ones, I have to admit that there does seem to be a correlation between Mercury retrograde and accidents, even though its not as strong as some astrologers would like us to think.
And as I don’t have Mercury retrograde at birth, I will continue to leave my computer backups until it starts going forward. We Capricorns like to live on the edge.