A Few Thoughts on Mercury Retrograde

This post, originally published in 2017, is updated for the current Mercury retrograde cycle in May / June 2021.

Mercury is currently stationed at 24 Gemini and will continue in reverse until June 22 / 23, where Mercury will station direct at 16 Gemini. 

This week I’ve had a number of clients and students ask me about Mercury retrograde and whether they should go ahead with certain plans, or not. Mercury retrogrades occur 3 – 4 times per year and last for about 3 weeks. If you factor in shadow periods, you’re talking a big portion of time putting your entire life on standby. This simply isn’t practical, nor advisable.

In addition to putting your entire life on hold, the general advice on pop astrology social media accounts suggest blaming Mercury for every little error or mishap that occurs. That being said, these frustrating mishaps do occur.

Astronomically, Mercury is a planet that can get into other areas of the ecliptic other planets don’t reach. Mythologically, Mercury is a psychopomp, a guide of souls who traverses through the realms of the underworld, the heavens and of course, terra firma – and the only planet who does!

When a planet retrogrades, it is closer to us in orbit. In Indian astrology, retrogrades are seen as a gift. It’s the chance to turn inward, to gain insight and valuable lessons. The current Mercury station, occurring just days after a total lunar eclipse in Sagittarius, suggests turning within and processing new developments as a result of releasing or letting go of old dogmas disguised as truth.

Rather than looking “out there” for information or truth, it can be found within. The information you need may arrive if you quieten the mind enough to receive it.

This particular retrograde station sees Venus in close conjunction to Mercury. Words of encouragement, support and kindness (especially to yourself) may help you get through any pickles you may find yourself in. A tension – inducing square to Neptune at 22 Pisces may add a little extra confusion, while at the same time, softening the blow of classical Mercury retrograde snafus if you remain flexible and open to compromise.

Rather than over – relying on facts and data, lean into magic and possibility. Stretch your mind into what’s possible rather than what’s probable. Allow Mercury to guide your mind and soul into the mysteries and magic that busyness and distraction of everyday life doesn’t make room for.

My Personal Retrograde Experiences

Last weekend, in order to prove a point to a friend about Mercury retrograde periods, I jotted down some significant dates in my life.

May 1996 – resigned from a stable role and moved from Darwin to Sydney
August 2004- ditched a go-nowhere relationship and took my first formal astrology class
November 2012- left Sydney and moved to Brisbane very suddenly
November 2013 – discovered I was pregnant and chose to become a Mum

These were just a few major events from the top of my head, where I remembered the dates. I look them up in my ephemeris. All Mercury retrograde periods.

Each of these events corresponded to major shifts in Mercury ruled affairs. Logistics/living situation (hello Virgo on my 4th house) as well as me and my direction, I have Gemini rising.

Of course, not every Mercury retrograde period results in life changing events. However, if you have a strong Mercury, an ascendant or midheaven ruled by Gemini or Virgo, or are in a life period where Mercury becomes a dominant (time lord techniques) or, a retrograde cycle transits over a planet or point in your birth chart, then those retrogrades will most likely be more prominent.

So, while these abovementioned life events did cause havoc on many fronts, including mountains of paperwork, to and froing of documents, air fares, flat tyres and all the mischief and snafus we’ve learned to expect from Mercury retrogrades, they also led me to making some of the best decisions in my life, so far.

Some of these decisions required me to go back over old ground, both physically and emotionally and tie up loose ends- more air fares, documents and logistics. Not for one moment did I avoid making decisions that felt instinctively right, or cause me to put them off due to Mercury retrograde.

Making Decisions

Back in 2012, I was trying for MONTHS to make a decision about where in Sydney I wanted to live while my house was on the market. I’d been procrastinating about coming back to Brisbane to visit dear friends. A whirlwind week in November included some career highs – I was invited to talk about the eclipse on national television, as well as some personal lows, led me to make the split decision to leave my concerns behind and have some much-needed R&R up North.

I drove from Sydney to Brisbane (about an 11 hour drive) after a week where I totalled just 15 hours sleep. After about 24 hours of being in Brisbane I made the announcement, “If I don’t find a place to live by close of business Friday, I’ll go back to Sydney.”
On Friday afternoon, just as Mercury reached its station degree, I signed a lease, joined a gym and called a few people in Sydney to tell them I wasn’t coming back.

The Heart as Mind

That is one of my most profound personal examples of instead of trying make conscious choices, I followed the lead of Mercury, and allowed my inner voice to speak louder than my brain.

In ancient thought, the heart, not the head, was considered to be the mind. The heart is symbolised by the Sun, a centralising force not only of our bodies, but the entire cosmos as we know it.
When Mercury stations retrograde, it’s reached maximum elongation from the Sun. In other words, the retrograde station symbolises where our heads have strayed too far from our hearts. The retrograde phase, until the halfway point known as Cazimi, symbolises our hearts calling back our heads to become one again.

The Magic of Mercury

One of the beautiful facets of Mercury retrograde in my opinion, is the increased ability to follow ones instinct. That inner voice that guides you forward.  Mental capacities may be a little slower, allowing intuition or gut feelings to simmer up to the surface. As this retrograde begins squaring Neptune, mental clarity may be even foggier than normal, leaving instinct as our strongest ally.

Mercury is a supreme healer. A planet that can only be seen for brief periods at twilight – either as an evening star upon descent into the underworld, or rising in the pre dawn sky, with a renewed message. He he symbolised by the caticious – the sword tied by the knot of necessity at the bottom and the knot of Eros at the top. As Mercury enters the underworld in the midst of the eclipse portal, consider what you may need to heal. What new information do you need to more comfortable in embracing as you surrender what you’ve been taught or told.

Mercury now asks us to slow down. Where we may want thing to progress faster than the natural rhythm of things will allow, Mercury retrograde offers us the room to consider a new perspective, either mentally or intuitively. The old saying ‘trust your gut, because the mind can play tricks on you,’ feels particularly potent when Mercury reverses. Mercury’s delays can also give you a second chance to do something better or get a better outcome in a situation.

Where is Mercury retrograde in Gemini happening in your chart? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

 

 

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