Is it as bad as it’s made out to be?
Transitions in life are inevitable and bring about change whether we are ready or not.
How we go about approaching these transitions determines how gracefully and unscathed we move through them….do we fight, or do we give ourselves over to the experience, looking at it more as an adventure? Mercury in Retrograde is just one of those times where life will be affected and the only thing we can do is embrace and allow.
What is Mercury in Retrograde? It is when Mercury laps Earth, which is approximately every four months or three times a year. Planets closest to the sun move faster and those further away move slower. In this day and age, it is common knowledge that it is impossible for planets to move backward, it’s merely an illusion. Essentially, whenever you have two planets orbiting at different speeds there is the appearance of a planet moving backward when one laps the other. It stands to reason that there would be an effect on us earthlings when we are being lapped by Mercury, much like static on our phones or radios when we go whizzing by a county mounty. I can think of a most recent example when this last M/R began, Verizon phones were out all over for days and it was well over a week before we saw any consistency return.
Quick moving mercury~ the smallest planet in our solar system is ruler of Gemini and Virgo, has dominion over areas of communication and connection, intelligence and imagination, money and how we accumulate wealth. Organs of the human body governed by the Mercury are the abdomen, tongue, lungs, bowels, nerve centers, bile and muscular tissues. The anatomical structures governed by the Mercury are nerves breath, air cells, sense, perception, hair and mouth. Understanding the rulership of Mercury can help us understand the areas in our lives that will be impacted.
Mercury governs the 2nd chakra, located in our abdomen. The 2nd chakra is responsible for digestion, and creativity, it strengthens the mind-governing it’s capacity to think, complexity of thoughts and concepts as well as practical applications. This is interesting when we look at how the 2nd Chakra Swadisthan, works to break up fat cells to be used by our brains while foods feed our bodies. Given that this area is also referred to as our second brain, we can make the leap that Mercury oversees the 2nd chakra or second brain. In this matter, Mercury in this chakra concurrently synthesizes, converts and disseminates food, information and processes.
Historically Mercury has been known as ‘Messenger of the Gods’, associated with the winged footed Hermes who had one foot in the physical world and one foot in the unseen realms. Hermes was also responsible for guiding souls to the underworld or through transitional periods in our lives.
Where Mercury rests in our personal charts as well as the astrological sign M/R occurs affects our intellectual self-expression, what fascinates and enchants us, directs where our minds focus, things that we want to take apart and put back together from a sense of curiosity. Mercury is also associated with the Magician in the tarot, linking it to languages, communication, spells, mantras, travel and logic.
Mercury energy is cold, objective and unemotional. It is the child who feeds its curiosity and creativity by pulling apart of things so that it can analyze, sort, group like parts and figure things out. It’s one of the many ways in which we process and make sense of our experiences and the world. Quicksilver, as it’s also known, can be tossed across the surface where the beads of mercury will scatter, but it always somehow finds a way back to itself and all its other parts. This is very much akin to the gathering of all the different facets of our lives to process and redistribute to build something new. In this, we can see Mercury is also about the symbols-the detailed parts that create a whole. Languages, details, thoughts and technology are data bits of symbols with an endless number of combinations.
The facts are that all of the planets are in retrograde at some point in the year. However, Mercury rules not just internal processes, but our physical lives as well. Navigating Mercury in Retrograde is to remember that we are to slow down. In this day and age, everything seems to be traveling at the speed of light, with life coming at us faster than we can process. In understanding the rulership of Mercury, we can apply to areas in our lives where this will be the most impactful such as travel, crossed communication, sending messages to the wrong people, errors in texts, emails, contracts, the missing of details, our minds and bodies not moving in-sync and causing accidents. We have brain fog where it seems as if a veil has been pulled during the taking apart and resorting of our internal world. Sometimes we can experience lost communications or often have old texts, emails and letters pop up out of seemingly nowhere.
It feels somewhat akin to the Dark Time period that happens around our birthdays. As in all things in life, there are cycles that bring about transitions to propel us forward. For myself I have found that when Mercury is in Retrograde, I very much feel the need to slow down and be more mindful. I am a person who is racing 100 miles a minute, I make decisions quickly and act swiftly. I definitely find myself impacted by brain fog and details that elude me which can be a source of frustration. I have to be mindful to be patient with myself and others as we are all experiencing a bit of a challenge in clear communication. The wires in our brains get crossed and symbols are not always appropriately interpreted which directly impacts verbal and written communications. With the Venus influence, M/R cycles often spontaneously bring up old ideas, details from past relationships, interactions and experiences.
During these times I feel like a Crow… a new detail or thought has caught my attention like a shiny object bouncing with sun. I can’t quite make it out so I stop to pick it up and examine this detail from all sides and ask, is there something I missed or is there some important detail here that will change an outcome or my perception on a matter? What is the connection here? Though life doesn’t stop for us. As I stop to become completely absorbed by this seemingly stray thought, the momentum of life keeps moving and I am buffeted by the sea of people flying past all around me until someone invariably knocks into me. Being unable to take that time internally causes great anxiety.
However, when we do not listen to what our internal barometers are telling us we are unable to benefit from the cycle of M/R and instead find ourselves dealing with that the darker side of Mercury/the Magician which thievery, trickery, tall tales, lies, deception, manipulation and gambling at life. We open ourselves to these things because we are not paying attention.
For this reason, we need to make the time to take that time. The timing of Mercury in Retrograde is felt more than ever since we started the transition into the Age of Aquarius where the whole of society and its systems are in upheaval. Just as Helios brought information from the Gods/the Sun to us, M/R slows things down so that we can pause long enough to align with that information. This knowledge informs our spiritual practice and the types of magic we weave.
In order to make the most of a M/R cycle double check your correspondences, perceptions, social engagement and travel plans. Limit the number of activities and commitments you put on your plate so you can actively carve out the time you need for processing, reflection and ritual. M/R has the talent for muting the majority of thoughts and guiding our attention to those unresolved pieces that have come loose for whatever reason. You will find there is a pattern that emerges.
When I start a ritual for M/R I tune into what pattern has emerged with the ideas or thoughts that have caught my attention and made me curious. If I don’t have the space to process, I will write it in my journal for later. I then set my intentions to be open to what rises to the surface guiding me in what I need to reassess and integrate in this new internal order. For instance, this last M/R has seen patterns emerge around little bits of stuff I no longer want to pack around because they are no longer important as well as doing away with making comparisons. I have also been more willing to take the time with having things be less perfect and feed my science-minded curiosity through experimenting whether that be with my clothing, my art or the way I plant items in the garden.
In the most general terms, I will set an altar with those items I am guided to use-mercury being reflective in nature guides me to use mirrors or silver gazing balls. Mercury reflects aspects needing further examination, bringing them to the forefront so that our awareness can focus. I will use an altar cloth of black, violet or sunset colors. I will bring in stones and depending on the time of year decorate the altar with herbs and flowers as well as create an incense. The moon phase will determine the type of rite and spell worked, with the final aim to recalibrate the new internal order accordingly.
We are curious to learn how you experience Mercury in Retrograde. Please share!
Blessed be my Witchy Brothers and Sisters
Herbal Helpers-Almond • Alyssum • Anise • Crocus • Fennel • Hazel • Heather • Honeysuckle • Lavender • Magnolia • Marjoram • Mulberry • Mullein • Parsley • Pelargonium • Peppermint • Rosemary • Southernwood •Vervain
Stone/Mineral Helpers- •Moss Agate • Aventurine • Carnelian • Citrine • Mercury • Mica • Muscovite • Opal • Sodalite
Colors-Orange, yellow, violet
Tarot Cards-Magician, VIII Wands, III Cups, V Pentacles, X Pentacles, VI Swords