There are all different kinds of communicators in the world: strong, silent types, who speak only when they feel it's absolutely necessary; chatty, witty types who could carry on a conversation with just about anyone -- even that strong, silent type; people who put their foot in their mouth on a regular basis, people who always seem to speak with the utmost grace and tact...

The way you communicate has a lot to do with the planet Mercury, which is often called the planet of communication and also rules your thought processes, your logic (or lack thereof), your intellectual ideas and the way you get those ideas across to the world.

You may have heard of Mercury Retrograde, which happens when Mercury seems to move backward in its path through the heavens. To understand the effects of a Mercury Retrograde period, think of it like this: Since this planet rules things that flow (communication, network connections and so on), when it goes Retrograde, it hinders that easy flow.

Communication gets difficult, and misunderstandings often result; planes take off late or your letters get lost in the mail. Lots of people experience Mercury Retrograde periods as a difficult few weeks, because every effort they make to get something across seems to be thwarted or just stopped in its tracks. Good thing they last less than a month!

Mercury rules the intellectual signs of Gemini and Virgo; read about Gemini and Virgo to learn more about these signs and Mercury's influence on them.

The planets are: Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto

Mercury, long considered the 'Messenger of the Gods,' is the closest planet to the Sun and quickly zips around the Sun in a mere 88 days. From our perspective here on Earth, Mercury is never more than 28° from the Sun; in fact, it is often even closer, which means that Mercury is always in either the same Zodiac sign as the Sun, the sign just before or the sign just after.

Mercury appears to go retrograde three times a year for approximately 21 - 22 days at a time, reminding us Earthlings to slow down and move more cautiously, by choice or by force. This planet’s retrograde periods are often held responsible for everything from traffic accidents to computer crashes to misunderstandings between lovers!

Mercury's close proximity to the Sun makes it very difficult to see. It appears for only two weeks at a time, alternating as a morning star and an evening star and disappearing for a couple weeks in between. It is never visible from areas of the world with high latitudes. If you’re lucky enough to see it, look for a bright, twinkling star near the horizon shortly before dawn or after sundown.

Mercury returns to its original position in the natal chart approximately once a year. When this occurs, it offers an opportunity to recharge the mental batteries. Pondering what one has learned in that year and how one’s thinking has evolved is a very effective activity at this time.