On the Spiritus Mundi mailing list, Christopher Warnock often complains of the way in which Mercury retrograde seems to have been chosen as a New Age scapegoat: along with Luna Void-of-Course, it seems to have absorbed all the “negativity” and malific influence that was (traditionally) ascribed to numerous planetary aspects and interactions. Although I have only a little more interaction with the New Age community than I have with traditional astrologers, I can definitely see this dynamic at work. Rufus Opus has talked about the magical “storms” associated with bad astrological “weather” like Mercury retrograde in the context of his Hermetic practice.
For myself, I have an interesting relationship with Mercury in general and the retrograde period in particular. You see, while I’ve seen everyone else scrambling around me trying to deal with unanticipated communication, computer, and travel related disasters, I’ve never personally experienced any difference. I’ve never noticed periods of my magic backfiring, only to later discover that Mercury was running backwards. I kind of thought it might just be that New Age hooey. Specifically, I thought that people were just more self-conscious about the sorts of disasters they were already living with every day—you know, just like I was.
Then I discovered that I was born under Mercury retrograde.