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“Oh no, it’s Mercury Retrograde!” said no astrologer, ever. Mercury Retrograde is both the scapegoat and the lowest common denominator of astrological transits. A lot of people seem to have a general idea of what it is, and a lot of them blame things on Mercury Retrograde that aren’t really Mercury Retrograde’s fault.
Yet, many fear it like the boogeyman or the apocalypse. It’s now a flimsy but common excuse for making mistakes. However, it does actually exist, and does actually cause problems. It messes up communication. It makes writing difficult. It causes confusion. It makes things misunderstood. It creates messes.
But it has never caused a major problem, because it’s actually not that bad. Let’s start with what Mercury Retrograde is NOT:
• It is not an agent of chaos
• It is not a harbinger of doom
• It is not a destroyer of relationships
• It is not a destroyer of property
• It is not the cause of your brain farts
• It is not the reason you struggle to pay attention in class
• It is not the reason for everything bad that happens in your life
Good. Now that we’ve cleared that up, this is what Mercury Retrograde actually is:
Mercury Retrograde is a time when the planet Mercury appears to be moving backward in the sky from our vantage point on Earth. It happens on average three times a year, and can last for a week to three weeks. During this time, Mercury seems to express its energies backward, inverted, or suddenly not at all. In which sign or signs it goes retrograde shows how it expresses those energies. For example, Mercury will be retrograde four times in 2017:
January 1 – 9 in Capricorn then back to Sagittarius
April 9 – May 4 in Taurus then back to Aries
August 13 – September 5 in Virgo then back to Leo
December 3 – 23 in Sagittarius
There is definitely a sense of “Wait a sec. Didn’t we just do this already?” with Mercury Retrograde. This is especially true when Mercury goes back into the previous sign. It’s not uncommon to experience déjà vu during Mercury Retrograde, or to have a psychic experience of clairvoyance or gain insight into a past life. But largely, we can look back with more clarity and fix things that we didn’t get right when Mercury was direct.
See, this isn’t all bad. After all, revisions make perfection. In fact, the retrograde is a great time to go back and revise the work you’ve already done.
It’s a great time for thinking, planning, and fixing. It is not a good time for putting things out into the world.
So, What Actually Happens During a Mercury Retrograde Period?
Mercury rules the mind, communication, speaking, and writing. It rules small contracts, errands, neighbors, siblings, short communications like emails, phone calls, and letters, organization, and small tasks. It’s the ruler of small things. Not earth-shattering things, but small, everyday things.
Now, Mercury Retrograde gets a bad rep, but it isn’t actually responsible for the big problems. Mercury Retrograde can make you forget where your car keys are. It could even make you forget where you parked your car. But it isn’t responsible for someone stealing your car, or your car being wrongfully towed. Mercury Retrograde may make you forget to turn on your alarm clock and run late to work. It doesn’t give you the flu and make you miss work. It may make you accidentally say the wrong thing or forget the answer to a question in class. It won’t make you completely unprepared for your final exams. Mercury Retrograde may make you forget to pack your toothbrush. It won’t make the engine fall off your plane. Mercury Retrograde may make you get dates mixed up, and you may miss your dentist appointment. It won’t make your tooth fall out.
There are things that are best to avoid during Mercury Retrograde if they can be helped. Starting new communications, errands, or tasks is best left until Mercury goes direct. Mercury Retrograde can make a person forgetful about small things. Writing a researching paper during Mercury Retrograde may lead you to making more typos or errors than usual. Likewise, signing a new contract during Mercury Retrograde may lead you to not understanding or knowing all the details.
Well This Sucks. So, Is Mercury Retrograde Good for Anything?
Mercury Retrograde is great for some things. For example, researching for a research paper will rather well during Mercury Retrograde, as will editing your research papers. This is because the energy of Mercury Retrograde is backward and inward. Revising and editing is a backward expression of Mercury energy. Researching is an inward expression of Mercury Retrograde. Reading to learn goes well during the retrograde period. Telling people what you’ve learned however, is the problematic part. Mercury Retrograde jams typical avenues of expression.
Many people find that during Mercury Retrograde, saying what you mean and meaning what you say is easier said than done. They know what they want to say, but when the thought comes to their lips or the tip of their pen, it just doesn’t come out right. The best way to handle this is to say nothing. Hold the thought in the head without putting it to words. If it isn’t urgent, then why sputter a half-hearted attempt now?
Mercury Retrograde energies are great for circumspection. Looking deeply at something, especially within yourself, is the best use of Mercury Retrograde energies. Instead of talking, listen. Instead of doing, observe. Instead of coordinating, allow things to take shape organically. Instead of recording, let things have their moment in time. This is what Mercury Retrograde is for. Mercury Retrograde is a time to listen and interact with yourself, to sort through all the thoughts and ideas you have and determine what you really think.
The sign that Mercury is in during the retrograde gives some indication of how Mercury Retrograde will appear or behave. Any aspect Mercury Retrograde makes to a planet in your chart will make it more difficult to verbally express the energies of that planet. For example, if Mercury Retrograde makes a square to your natal Moon, then during that square, you may have difficulty expressing your emotions with words. During this time, it may be better to focus on your feelings without talking about them.
What If You Have Mercury Retrograde in Your Natal Chart?
Some people are born when Mercury is Retrograde. There are few things unique to these people. For example, they may not speak aloud too well. They can address crowds, and they can handle one-on-one conversations with people they feel comfortable with, but making small talk with new people or dealing with intimate conversation just leaves them lost. Many of these folks write more effectively than they speak. Some may be dyslexic. They may not take words or conversation at face value but rely more on tone, inflection, and what is implied in order to understand the meaning.
Those with Mercury Retrograde have an edge when it comes to getting at the heart of the matter. They not only get to the root of a problem, but they also know how to put mental images and feelings to words in a way that others cannot do. They can turn information over in their heads and analyze it without bouncing ideas off anyone else. They prefer solving problems on their own. The only problem is dealing with other people.
When it comes to any mental work, these guys would much rather work solo. Teamwork or working with a partner leaves them frustrated. Having to explain or justify themselves makes them retreat into the background. People may underestimate them because what these people say may go over a lot of heads. But these are not people to underestimate or take for granted: they see what others miss, and they’re the people you need when everyone else has run out of ideas.
And during the Mercury Retrograde, these people shine. When everyone else is confused, they feel clear-minded. When everyone else doesn’t have the right words, they know exactly what to say. When everyone else is glossing over details, they’re sharp as arrows and eagle-eyed. During those few, scant weeks a year, those with Mercury Retrograde in their natal charts shine.
And then, it goes direct and they go back to their mysterious ways.
Do not fear Mercury Retrograde. Embrace it. Deal with it. And when it comes around, just be a little more careful with the details. And if someone blames a big mistake on Mercury Retrograde, don’t say anything to them. Just walk away knowing that you know the truth.