The Beauty of Mercury Retrograde


If you're familiar with Roman myth, you know that Mercury (Hermes, in the Greek pantheon) is the messenger god. With winged feet, he would flit from one realm to the next, mediating between the world of the dead and the kingdom of the living.


Astrologically, the planet Mercury rules all things to do with the mind - thoughts, communication, writing, speaking, technology - as well as movement - transportation, moving machinery, short trips. As its orbit is so close to the Sun, it moves through the zodiac almost as swiftly as the Sun does, from our vantage point on Earth. In fact, the Sun and Mercury can never be more than two zodiac signs apart, which speaks astrologically to the fact that our identity (Sun) and our mind (Mercury) are never very far apart. However, there is one major distinction between the movement of the Sun and this little planet: Mercury retrogrades.


If you don't live under a rock, you've heard the expression "Mercury Retrograde." All that means is that, if you were to chart the movement of Mercury through the night sky, it would appear to move backwards every 3 to 4 months, for about 3 weeks at a time. Ancient astrologers didn't know that the planets were not, in fact, orbiting the Earth but rather, the Sun - so we now know it's an optical illusion. But its implication on our day-to-day life is felt just the same.


As it turns out, every planet in our solar system retrogrades - but it's Mercury we all talk about. Perhaps it's partially due to the fact that our mind and identity are so closely linked, as the proximity between Mercury & the Sun illustrates. The things Mercury rules are so vital to our day-to-day function, and we are used to these things moving swiftly and working smoothly, that it's no wonder this retrograde is the most dreaded.


But this week, smack-dab in the middle of Merc Retro, I urge you to re-examine that dread. Our society is one so invested in the impossible idea that every day is harvest season. We're expected to always be in production mode, always moving, always working, always on to the next. But look at Nature. The cycles of seasons, the cycles of the Moon, even the retrograding of planets, are reflected in our very bodies. In my work as an astrologer and Spiritual Advisor, co-creating with the cycles of life is a cornerstone of my philosophy.


After years of spiritually by-passing the "negative," I now honor it fully. The Dark Side of the Moon, the depths of winter, the blue-black ocean, the farrow fields, the retrograde of Mercury. These times are not out of alignment, they are inextricably linked to the broader, alchemical understanding of the cosmology of life. Mercury Retrograde may be frustrating at times - when the car won't start, or the email won't send, or the ex texts. But the beauty of this time is an opportunity to *s l o w d o w n*. Something we often insist there's simply no time for. But just as a field that never rests produces a weaker, less nutritious crop, so we have to honor this time within.


For the next two weeks, until June 3rd, I urge you to integrate. Reflect on the last three months, since February 3rd, when Mercury last stationed direct. A lot has changed, within and around us. If you're going to write, let it be in reflection of that time. If you're going to act, let it be on loose ends from the past that need to be tied up. If you're going to speak, let it be with compassion for yourself and others, for all of the intensity we are all experiencing in a post-pandemic world. If you're going to force, let it be to force yourself to flow, to slow, to surrender.


Next week we have a New Moon just a few days before Mercury moves direct again. We'll feel that surge of energy and desire to act, speak, and move return. But because we gave our hearts and minds that time to rest, what we produce will have one important quality so often lacking these days: meaning. When we act from a place of alignment and meaning, everything shifts. Be patient and trust.

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