It sometimes takes a dose of drama before our culture will incorporate esoteric information into their lives. This is noticeable with one of the astrological events that happens every four months or so: Mercury Retrograde. Common now are posters and knickknacks that say, “Don’t blame me for what I said during Mercury Retrograde,” or “Mercury made me do it.” And while it’s true that Mercury in retrograde can encourage unusual, even hasty words and actions, it is us who ultimately decides whether to allow the disruption or to block it in favor of choosing more wisely.
So instead of needing a warning that Merc Rx (as its short form is known) is coming, and hiding from it or blaming this planet for what it has always done and always will do, let’s play the game the way it is designed to be played: Let’s learn the rules; learn the purpose; and win.
We’ll start by defining the key term, retrograde; and the personality of our main actor, Mercury. Then we’ll put the two together, in order to understand the unique dynamics of Mercury when it is retrograding. The bottom line: Slow down, re-evaluate, and course correct.
What’s A Retrograde?
All of the planets in our solar system travel around the sun in their own unique orbit. When a planet is moving away from us here on Earth, it appears to us to be moving backwards, and we call this backwards motion “retrograde.”
Retrogrades therefore happen for every planet. For Mercury, specifically, they occur about every four months.
Mercury Retrograde is therefore a regular event.
How Does A Retrograde Affect Us, Generally?
Since the energetic effects of a planet moving away from us feel different than when that planet is moving towards us (which is called “direct” motion), retrogrades are noteworthy.
Overall, the pulling away motion tends to expose things that were covered up previously. As The Leo King has explained it, imagine a wave washing up onto shore; when the wave is present, you cannot see the sand underneath. But when the wave pulls away, all of the shells and detritus on the beach are revealed. Retrograde energy is like the wave pulling away from shore, revealing what was beneath: both gifts and challenges.
The gifts that are revealed depend on the personality of the planet that is retrograde. The challenges that are revealed also depend on the personality of the planet.
So let’s now understand the personality of the planet in question: Mercury.
What Is Mercury Known For?
In mythology, Mercury is the Messenger of the Gods. In physical reality, it is the smallest of our local planets and the closest one to the sun. It also moves quickly in its orbit: It traverses the sun three times for every one time that Earth does so.
Being closest to the sun–our source of light–gives Mercury the nickname “child of the light.”
In astrology, this planet is associated mostly with communication in all forms: how we speak, write, and express ourselves.
It is also known to govern our thinking and logic processes. According to astrology.com, “Mercury is about a quick wit, quick thinking, possibilities, opinions, [and] reasoning.” It is “energizing.” It “prompts us to move from one thing to the next.”
Furthermore, cafeastrology.com adds that Mercury is “opportunistic…unemotional…curious.” This planet’s “action is to take things apart and put them back together again.”
What Are The Dynamics Of Mercury In Retrograde?
Let’s look again at the characteristics of Mercury: It likes to be quick. It affects how we think. It affects how we communicate.
When the wave of Mercury energy withdraws from us during the retrograde period, then we can expect our flaws or weaknesses in these areas to be exposed. Do we take actions a bit too quickly sometimes? Do we jump to conclusions too soon? Are we not communicating clearly, even when we think we are?
Does something in our life need to be taken apart, examined, and then put back together again?
Overall Theme: Course Correction
The overall theme of a Mercury Retrograde is this: Course correction. If there’s a possibility that you are going in the wrong direction for something in your life, then Merc Rx will try to get you to correct it.
The phase will encourage this through what I call “re-, re-, re-, and complete.” This is because Merc Rx causes us to do things that involve the prefix “re-“: reconsider; re-evaluate; review; revise; refresh; renew; etc. Undergoing this process may show us that we need to adjust our plans; or, we may find that our plans were correct all along, but that they are stronger for us having reconsidered them.
Another thing that Mercury Retrograde does is help us bring things to completion. Deals close. Contracts are signed. Relationships end. Plans are finalized. Goals are accomplished. Decisions are made. Sometimes this completion is directly related to what happened in the “re-” phase, but not always. This period is simply a natural time of completion. Note: It completes only those things that had already begun before Mercury went retrograde.
Minor Themes: Communication, Technology, New Beginnings
All of our written, verbal, and non-verbal forms of communication and expression can be negatively affected when Mercury is retrograde. So it is best to slow down and take the time to communicate as clearly as possible. For example, re-read your own messages before sending them. And re-read the messages that you receive from others, since other people are also being hindered in their ability to communicate. Re-reading especially applies to important documentation such as legal documents and contracts–check and re-check for accuracy and clarity.
Technology is also affected negatively by the energy of Mercury moving away from us. Computers, phones, GPS devices, and all manner of mechanical and electronic devices seem to have extra challenges and glitches during this period. Expect disruptions, plan accordingly (such as by saving documents regularly or printing your driving directions), and stay calm if something does happen.
Since this three-week period is a time for re-evaluating what we have already been doing, it is not a time to start something brand new. If a new and even unexpected opportunity, relationship, or idea comes to you, then best is to postpone any progress until Mercury turns direct.
Subtle Themes: Your Own Natal Chart
We all experience the planets differently according to what they were doing at the moment of our birth. Some people don’t even notice that Mercury has turned retrograde, while others have their lives disrupted every time it does. How this phase affects you, specifically, will depend on what Mercury was doing when you were born. To learn more, consider creating your natal chart (which is the chart that shows where all of the planets were at the day and time you were born) and having it interpreted by an astrologer.
The Bottom Line
No matter what the solar system is doing, we are each in control of our own actions, words, and thoughts. Now we know what Mercury might do to ours. Now the responsibility is ours.
Remember that this three-week period is here to course correct you. Flow with its energies rather than against them. You may benefit from doing so.
May you play well and win.
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