1/5-1/24/16 Mercury moves retrograde from 1 degree Aquarius to 15 degrees Capricorn.
Three times a year, for approximately three weeks time, Mercury slows down so that from the Earth’s perspective it appears to move backwards. We call this Mercury retrograde. Mercury is associated with the zodiacal signs Gemini and Virgo. In mythology he is the messenger to the Gods, charging communication, commerce, ideas. First, the difficult news: As the fastest moving planet in the solar system, Mercury’s slower motion will slow down or altogether stop computers, electronic gadgets, communication, transportation and mail. The errata of daily life gets interrupted; mail goes missing, checks lost, cell phone batteries die –and you’re late for an appointment. During this time, schedules are more easily bungled. Delays, cancellations and postponements are common and par for the course. The potential for miscommunication misfires is high, and the more dependent we are on technology, speed and getting it done yesterday, the greater our potential for misunderstanding and frustration. Yet there are also some clear benefits to Mercury retrograde, and ways to work with this quixotic energy. Below, 5 tips for finessing your Mercury experience.
1. Re-turn To Me
During any retrograde, for the specific planetary archetype, the astrological sages advise do nothing new. This is because the retrograde planet is simply not moving as quickly. It’s as if we all function with an invisible team (the planets) and a certain team-member is moving a bit more slowly. If Saturn were retrograde we might suggest not taking on a new responsibility or commitment. If Venus were retrograde maybe we wait until Venus direct to start a relationship. As Mercury rules contracts, commerce, transportation, travel and electronics, you may want to avoid doing anything new in these areas -your team member Mercury isn’t reliable right now.
If you can put a “Re-” in front of it, take confidence. For Venus retrograde, you might re-marry. For Saturn retrograde, you might re-dedicate yourself to a commitment. For Mercury, the great mimic, and whose quicksilver nature can take on the nature of just about anything: “Re-” away! Re-think. Re-decorate. Re-turn. Re-model. Re-novate. Re-visit. Re-place (yes, cell phones, computers, software, electronics, I believe are perfectly reasonable to replace during this time). As a writer, I use this time to edit or re-write work. Reconnecting with old friends, information-gathering activities, investigative research efforts all prove fruitful now.
Sometimes favorite things, things once lost forever, re-surface during this time. People often return, too– long lost friends, clients, and loved ones. Old love affairs and relationships can be re-kindled now. Will it work out this time? That depends on the two people. Generally, misunderstandings during this period arise easily (so make extra effort to keep communication lines open) but old misunderstandings can be repaired, too.
2. Mercury Charges The Flow
Without fail, during every Mercury retrograde I hear from at least one client in a state of mental duress over a decision. They want to make a move, a decision, yesterday – and they simply cannot bear to wait a couple of weeks until Mercury moves direct (often they cannot even wait until next week for their astrology reading, when I have an appointment available!).
Aside from a true medical emergency, there are very few decisions in life that must be made right this second. If you are agonising over a decision, hit the pause button. The cosmos do not support major decisions now- especially knee-jerk fear based ones. Those are ones we usually reverse later when we’re thinking clearly.
Yet there are some decisions that can be made, anytime. If you are in the flow, connected to your intuition, and feel no resistance or anxiety around starting something new –I say, why not? Astrology is a divination system, a way of tuning into your intuition, reading signs, making connections and living a more meaningful life. It is not a science, or a set of rules to follow.
So why do some Mercury retrogrades pass by without a hitch, and others are a nightmare? First, each Mercury retrograde transit effects our individual charts differently. Beyond that, I return to my “Are you in the flow?” theory: As we get better at heeding our own natural rhythm and internal cues, our consciousness changes, and that changes how we experience Mercury retrograde. Mercury charges the flow of life, which has slowed down. Can we gently allow our self to accommodate this slower pace? The more we hold onto trying, the more we struggle.
When we’re in the flow, that is, in touch with our intuition and aligned in our self, no matter what happens, things just tend to work out. Have you ever noticed this at work in your own life? When we’re struggling with our hopes and fears, when we’re anxiously attached to our thoughts & emotions, when we make decisions out of confusion, things don’t.
3. Check Your Mind – You May Be Confused!
Observing people’s perceptions about Mercury retrograde periods, I encounter our human tendency to favor dualism & logic over holism, intuition and higher self wisdom. On that note, be open to examining your perceptions during this time – including your ideas about Mercury retrograde. One person recently complained that Mercury retrograde was terrible as to her chagrin an unwanted break-up was not (eventually) reversed. So: Why would you want to be in a relationship with someone who does not want to be with you? We each have our preferred version of how things should be, and are often the last to know what we actually need.
That said, Mercury rules confusion, and we may feel more confused during this time. But think about confusion, prescriptively, as a positive thing: When we are confused we are forced to open our minds really wide and seek out possibilities, books, opinions that we otherwise might not have. When we’re confused, our minds are stretched to look at problems from new angles. When viewed from a higher perspective… confusion can be divine. Try not to get stuck on your version of events, ideas, or even your confusion. Relax. Open your mind. Receive.
4. Go WithYin
This period can help us tune into our inner voice. During retrograde we think more subjectively, and we are attuned to our unconscious, dreams, intuitive connections & synchronicity. Mythically, Mercury was the only God allowed free passage into the Underworld. Pay attention to omens, intuitions and signs. They will prove more helpful than logic right now.
This is a useful time for building sanity & repose around the larger movements of life, to slow down & contemplate where you are, do investigative work, readjust your thinking. If you feel compelled to take unfounded leaps of faith during Mercury retrograde, why not ponder and information-gather, instead? “Guides” of all sorts -helpers, healers, astrologers, books, counsellors – are Mercury’s messengers, and can prove helpful in sorting out your big questions right now.
During this time we have a greater ability to find that stillness so many of us crave. Our minds are primed to reconsider old assumptions with new eyes, and hungry to clear up dusty patterns of thought perceptions. Mercury craves perceptual freshness, and a retrograde time to sort, search & reflect facilitates this. Just as every astrological cycle has a divine order, the time is right to re-examine, re-evaluate and reflect on paths we are so gung-ho about.
5. Be Proactive and Intentional
Do you practice “conscious transits”, the idea that one can use any transit intentionally? When I see Mercury retrograde coming around the bend, I look at where he’s transiting my chart then free associate the possibilities. What terrain might I need to take second look at? What projects related to this area could stand revision? What needs fine-tuning? Is there anything I’ve been overlooking in this area of my life? Is there something unfinished here? Allow Mercury to take your hand and guide you to the best use of your Mercury retrograde.
I also give myself plenty of flexibility during this time period. For instance, I’ve signed up to take a new class during Mercury retrograde, and instead of springing for the whole enchilada (a series of classes) I’m listening to my intuition and experimenting with taking just one. By keeping my agreements loose, I give myself the freedom and flexibility to change my mind. Then, if I choose to walk away, my investment level is low so it’s no big deal.
Yes, retrograde can be annoying. Delays, especially those costing money and time, are annoying when we can’t imagine how they benefit us (they may later). We will come face to face with our dependence on: Speed, instant gratification, everything working properly. But follow the above tips and learn: Mercury retrograde can be so much more than an annoying fly in your soup!
Ref: Susan Millers’ excellent article Mercury Madness.