When is Mercury Retrograde? And what does it mean?

After observing and experiencing Mercury retrograde with awareness for the past 30 years, and now seeing how it has caught on in the mainstream as something to get dramatic and crazed over, I must say something about it with the intention of creating understanding around it.

First, the basics: 

Mercury is the smallest planet in our solar system and the planet closest to the sun. It's been considered the "messenger" planet for thousands of years. Its domain is the mind, communication, thought, perception, logic, and exploration, which includes modes of transportation.

About 3-4 times every year for around 21 days, Mercury appears to slow down its orbit in our sky, stop entirely, and begin to go backward. This reversal doesn't actually occur, but from our vantage point, the planet has turned itself around and goes retrograde, which literally means "moving backward." For some reason, it is like fingernails sliding down a chalkboard when I read or hear someone say, "Mercury is in retrograde." It simply is... retrograde. You wouldn't say, "Mercury is in moving backward." You would just say, "Mercury is moving backward." Thus, "Mercury is retrograde."

Remember, three to four times a year, depending on how it falls in any given year, for about three weeks at a time. Now, let me say why you can relax about it.

When I first began to work more deeply with astrology, my wonderful mentor, in a very calm, wise way, said this about Mercury retrograde: during these three weeks be more mindful, watch your words, try to avoid any commitments or contractual decisions, be generous with forgiveness for misunderstandings, and relax. Take it easy. Clean out a closet. Stop trying so hard. Take a nap. Allow yourself to flow with the cycle the way nature intended. You will only have trouble with it if you don't allow it to guide you into a restful, reflective period.

Along I went, noting the retrograde periods, observing what happened during them, and occasionally poo-pooing the entire notion. I mean after all, a wee planet placing so much force on my life that my car breaks down? That an entire article I wrote and edited simply disappeared? That when I said, "See you at 2:00 you heard 3:00?" Really?

Yes. Really.  

The reason: the communication planet has stopped its normal forward flow. This makes an impact on all of our communications, including technology. For me, the most noticeable days of change are right before it begins its retrograde motion, when the planet is seemingly at a standstill. I know from experience that anything I try to make happen, anything I try to force into place, simply is going to resist me. It is an attempt to go against the flow of the natural order.

Have you ever been in the ocean and tried to swim to shore when the tide is heading back out? It's nearly impossible. You have to wait until the waves come in again, and you flow with them to get to shore. It's the same with Mercury retrograde. 

So, how do you flow with it, allow it to help you in your life, and not get caught up in the apparent madness that seems to have taken everyone over during this phase? Follow these simple steps:

Relax, renew, rejuvenate, recycle, repair, reflect, reminisce, revise, recollect, rest, regenerate, replenish, refresh, restore, reorganize, research, reschedule, redo... oh my... are we seeing a pattern?

Meditate. Go with the flow. If dates have to be arranged, contracts have to be signed, or a major purchase must be made during those three weeks, know that a glitch is likely to occur. Try to go against the tide and you'll exhaust and frustrate yourself. You'll often find things need to be done over, people misunderstand, paperwork becomes a living hell, and you will not have given your body and soul exactly what it needed: renewal.

You have a job to do, you say? Things to do, people to see, places to go? Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to get off your self-made hamster wheel, just for a brief period of time.

I did my taxes this year while Mercury was retrograde. I did not take note ahead of time that the retrograde period would go beyond the deadline for filing taxes. Normally I go with the flow and don't do anything major in those three weeks, but I had to go forth into the tangle of confusion that is the American tax return. In the midst of it, I looked everywhere for a tiny piece of paper where I had written down my 2017 income. I took apart my files, went through drawers, fretted I was going to have to go through my records, painstakingly, month-by-month, to figure it out all over again. After a couple of hours of fussing over it, I saw what I was looking for, quietly sitting directly in front of me on my desk, right where I had put it. I grumbled and texted friends about my misery, that I was in prison woefully and was there no mercy? Sympathy from friends having helped a little, I pressed on, spending another couple of hours trying to figure out totals and details on another segment of the form, which included lengthy phone calls whereby I was placed on hold for ungodly periods of time listening to migraine-inducing music. When all was said and done, I found out that none of that part of the tax return applied to me and I could have skipped over the entire section to begin with. AARRGGHH!! Just after I pressed "send" for e-filing, I went for a walk in the forest with Rami to help ease my pounding headache. I'll just add a little side note that Mercury is also referred to as the "Trickster." I'm most sure he loves to dance a little jig while watching us lose our minds down here on planet Earth. After all, he said to rest and relax the mind, didn't he?

When I look at your birth chart, I can see what sign Mercury is in when you were born, and what area of your life it wants to express itself. This explains your style of expression, learning, communication, and thinking. I also look at where Mercury is going to be retrograde in your chart. This reveals what area of your life is under review during the retrograde phase. This knowledge further helps us to use the energy wisely. Some of us are born while Mercury is retrograde and this can be seen in your natal chart. I can look at yours to see if this was the case when you were born. Yes, this affects your thinking and communication style. I was born while Mercury was retrograde. I arrived a week late, my mother's doctor had left for vacation, and I am constantly having to re-explain myself because people didn't hear correctly what I said, or what I meant. I'm somewhat adjusted to the influence of Mercury retrograde given that it is a part of my inborn processing, and, tax form preparation aside, I am in the practice of just going with it. During the following dates, I highly recommend taking lots of naps.

Mercury retrograde dates for 2018:

March 23 - April 15

July 26 - August 19

November 17 - December 6 

To learn more about your own personal Mercury and more, contact me for a phone session.