Mercury Retrograde Revisited
Except for the Sun and the Moon, every planet in our solar system has times when, due to its elliptical pathway, it appears to slow down to a stop and start moving backward. (In truth, no planet ever literally moves in reverse.) During the period between this event and when it again stops and slips its cosmic gearshift into “Forward,” the planet is said to be retrograde and its energies are not being expressed as clearly and strongly as they are when it is moving forward. In an recent article in “The Mountain Astrologer,”* Kenneth Johnson uses the metaphor of an illness to illustrate the principle, and I can’t think of a better one myself. When a planet goes retro it’s like when you’re coming down with a bad cold: your strength and energy is slipping away, weakened by whatever microbe has breached your immune system. Then, there’s the day you wake up and know you’ve turned the corner (the planet has stopped and turned direct) and recuperation speeds forward (it’s covering the same terrain it backtracked over in retrograde motion, only now it is moving forward) until you’re “back in the pink” (the planet is now moving straight ahead over new zodiacal ground.)
Down here on Planet Earth, we are particularly attuned to the directional comings and goings of versatile, communicative, quick-moving Mercury, who in classical mythology was the only god who travelled between Heaven, Earth, and Hell, delivering messages from one realm to the other. It’s no wonder that, in this digital age of ever-increasing communication frequency, urgency, and speed, when the winged messenger goes retro it’s big news. To quote Johnson, it can seem that “your right brain is where your left brain ought to be, and your left brain is nowhere at all.” Traditional advice for Mercury retrograde periods still holds up: Go inward. Try to postpone major decisions until the planet goes direct. Do “RE” things (RElax – REtrospect – REview – REnew – and, if possible, try to REschedule discretionary travel to minimize snafus like lost baggage and missed departures because Mercury rules transportation.)
But let’s face it: the reality of our fast-paced times doesn’t always allow for a three-week hiatus in our own forward motion. What to do? Mark Wolz, in his article in the “The Mountain Astrologer”** offers an interesting thought: How do our expectations of what Mercury retrograde will bring affect our experience of it? After all, not everything goes awry by a long shot. Planes land on time. Contracts get signed. Plans work out. The old adage about positive expectations upping the odds for the delivery of positive results can go a long way during these times. Back that up with an extra measure of due diligence, attention to detail, and heightened awareness of your contribution in any communication situation, and the trickster with the wings on his heels won’t be able to work you over!
Blessings on your way,
* Johnson, Kenneth. “The Many Faces of Mercury Retrograde.”
** Wolz, Mark. “Mercury Retrograde: A Slow Dance with the Trickster.”
Cedar Ridge, CA: The Mountain Astrologer, June/July 2014