Making the Most of Mercury Retrograde

Screen Shot 2018-07-25 at 12.07.51 AMMercury Retrograde is a period that happens three to four times a year, when Mercury appears to move backwards in the sky, which is what retrograde means. Mercury is the planet of thinking. It’s the part of us that processes information, communicates verbally, operates our short-term memory, and makes intellectual meaning out of our environment. When it moves retrograde, a wrench gets thrown into this domain of our life. For example, someone tells us something important, and we don’t register it or understand them properly. We go to book a flight and pick the wrong date. We misread a new contract, misrepresent ourselves in a negotiation, or struggle with weighing the pros and cons of an important decision. Or, we have all our ducks in a tidy row, but other people experiencing the fog of Mercury retrograde make mistakes like these, and we get clobbered by Mercury Retrograde in that way.

There can also be a supernatural element to Mercury Retrograde, where computers and computer systems break or become compromised. I’ve had computers spontaneously crash during Mercury Retrograde, even when I didn’t know it was happening. I’ve also watched my friends and associates experience a host of Mercury-related foibles over the years.

Strategies for Navigating Mercury Retrograde

Astrology transits are like meteorological events. When one is approaching, we know that a storm is coming (or a week of sunshine, a flash flood, a balmy month, etc.), and we can prepare accordingly. Consequently, Astrologers around the globe have undoubtedly been rushing to book flights, sign contracts, have difficult conversations, finalize important decisions, and back up their hard drives before Mercury inserts itself in the mix.

Even though it’s generally best to try to postpone our plans in this area of life until after Mercury Retrograde is over, sometimes we can’t. Sometimes the difficult conversation or contract negotiation can’t wait. But this doesn’t mean we’re hexed by Mercury to have these events blow up in our face. It just means that it’s a good idea to take extra precautions. Here are some tips, both practical and metaphysical, to mitigate the influence of Mercury Retrograde:

On a practical level, we can double-check everything important that we do. If we’re editing a piece of writing, for instance, we can give it more attention than we normally would. If we have to have a difficult conversation, we can write our thoughts out for it ahead of time so we’re super clear on our perspective in the moment. If we have no choice but to sign a contract, we can have someone else we trust look it over too. If we must book travel arrangements, it’s best to triple-check the details and make sure we receive confirmation emails.

Otherwise, it’s beneficial to back up our hard drive more than usual, and certainly after doing anything important. Also, putting items like keys in an obvious place where we’re likely find them if we forget where we put them can be helpful. This is a good time to make sure our living space is tidy so important items are in plain sight and stand out.

On the metaphysical side, here are some remedies from Vedic astrology: Worship of Lord Ganesha is said to mitigate the impact of Mercury retrograde, as well as fasting on Wednesdays. Silver jewelry worn around the neck is said to have a helpful influence, as is wearing a steel ring.

mercuryFrom Western occultism, we can also draw or visualize the banishing hexagram of Mercury before doing anything in the category of what tends to be difficult during Mercury retrograde. This hexagram is believed to counteract the effects of Mercury for a brief period of time, the amount of which varies based on how strongly we concentrate on it (i.e. how much energy we charge it with). This hexagram involves drawing two separate intersecting triangles. For the first, start in the lower left angle and draw the triangle in a counter clockwise direction, as pictured. Draw the next triangle from the upper right angle, also in a counter clockwise direction. After this, draw the symbol of Mercury within the hexagram, moving from right to left. If you visualize this symbol, imagine that the hexagram and the Mercury symbol are made of white or gold light.  

Opportunities in Mercury Retrograde

Mercury Retrograde isn’t all crossed wires and brain fog. When planets move retrograde, their energy turns inward. This can be a time to introspect and reflect on our life, particularly in the domains that connect with Mercury. How is our communication going in our relationships? How is our communication at work? Are there new communication strategies we might want to try out, like I-statements? Are we happy with any deals or initiatives before us, or are there things we might want to change? The internal energy of Mercury Retrograde can support us in this inquiry process, nudging us toward valuable insights. It can also give us some innovative ideas, even if it’s not the best moment to launch them. Mercury Retrograde is a time to listen to our deeper knowing about these areas of life.

Because we know ahead of time when Mercury Retrograde will occur, it can also become a powerful marker to hold in our calendar that helps us stay on track with our projects and goals. For example, we can ask ourselves about a month before each Mercury Retrograde how we’re doing in our communication, decision-making, professional life, travel, etc., and ask ourselves if there’s any work we’d like to complete in these areas before Mercury goes retrograde. This can help us motivate ourselves to get things done while keeping us cognizant of this area of our life. When we learn to make the best of Mercury Retrograde, and plan for it well, it can become a fruitful part of the year, helping us develop greater day-to-day awareness and clarity. 

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