Mercury retrograde is not to be feared. It’s a rhythm to be rocked. It’s a song to be sung. It’s an excuse to get your introspective groove on.
It happens three times a year. Three times a year people. And if one considers the shadow phases of Mercury as well as the retrograde itself (the time when the planet will occupy the degrees of its retrograde motion*) we are looking at two entire months for each retrograde. That’s six months. That’s half a year. That’s half our life.
So, instead of this time being viewed as one of communicative curses and technological condemnation from the gods on high, we can view it as essential to our growth and evolution. Yes things get tricky, testy and tedious. Yes phones get dropped and call get lost and emails go awry. No it’s not a good time to make major plans, sign big contracts or buy electronic devices. Big deal. These things are easy enough to avoid or (maybe a little harder) easy enough to deal with if we put life into perspective. The real work is much more involved.
When in retrograde, Mercury, like any planet, only appears to be going backward from our perspective on this little rock from which we stand. In actual fact the planet does more of a loopty-loo move in the sky.
This gives us a good indication of what we end up mirroring.
Retrogrades tend to bring the issues, people and opportunities back around that the planet represents in the style of the sign it occupies. Mercury represents communications, learning, thinking, reasoning and moving about. This retrograde begins at two degrees of Scorpio, just two degrees away from the October 23rd solar eclipse in the same sign. Scorpio is not afraid to penetrate facades and expose the truth. Scorpio is not afraid to see the places in life when it is both the bully and the bullied, the victim and the perpetrator, the abuser and the abused. The constellation of Scorpio is of course the lethal and deadly scorpion; feared by many and approached cautiously by anyone who values their life. As Deborah Holding points out, the ancient Egyptians thought “scorpions represent initiation into the sacred mysteries” and if Mercury is associated with the Magician or Magus in the major arcana of the tarot and being skilled at the magical arts, as David McCann states, then would this not be a deeply magical Mercury?
Scorpio does not stay just a scorpion though. Its whole MO of its life is to transform lead into gold, or unconscious psychological burdens into conscious points of power and self-mastery. Scorpio is also the eagle and the mythical phoenix, rising up anew from the ash of its former self. Scorpio must continually bump up against its own destructive nature to understand the power inherent in it.
Creation is born of destruction. Life is predicated on death.
Boomerang-like in nature, retrogrades have a way of bringing us back to the scene of the crime. Back to review what we most likely had to skip over. Back to what we could not see, understand or digest the first time round. Or the 41st.
If we are walking a path towards healing, awakening and consciousness-raising then we visit and revisit old memories and early childhood material. Every so often we get pulled under or we are brought face to face to peer into its mug of madness. This is usually the part of us that is deemed socially unacceptable; the part of us that hates, the part of us that fears and the part of us that wants revenge. We aren’t bad or un-evolved for harboring such humanness. This Mercury retrograde is an invitation (or an insistence) to deal with our sneaky selves; our liars, cheats, thieves and scoundrels.
We aren’t supposed to be angels. We aren’t supposed to be saints. We aren’t supposed to be clean and neat and tidy. We are messy Muggles and beloved bandits. We are spiritual synchronicity and sophomoric superiority. We are unconscious ninnies and natural wonders. And mostly we refuse to acknowledge the more distasteful tidbits until we are force fed them but becoming conscious of these aspects of self is the only road to peace.
In our forward moving culture a retrograde motion can be a difficult migration to value. Egos tend to love moving fast, in forward motion and fiercely which is a wonderful way to build a business but not the best way to build spiritual, emotional and intellectual wisdom. If we are afraid to go back over old hurts, if we are afraid to look our secrets in the eye and if we are afraid to deconstruct a memory to gain a deeper awareness of our lived reality then we are afraid to truly live.
There are different components to the retrograde cycle that are important to note for maximum insight, especially if you are of the more detail orientated kind (#imlookingatyouvirgo). The dates are listed below, pay special attention to the days that the planet changes direction (stations retrograde or direct) as they tend to be mighty revealing if not altogether challenging. They are good days to become still and quite contemplative.
Because this Mercury retrograde hugs two eclipses, stationing retrograde four days before a solar eclipse and stations direct two days after a lunar eclipse, we know that this is an especially potent time for healing. Eclipses are openings and closings, moments of our lights in the sky being obscured and therefore being relegated to our right size. Eclipses usually bring big events with them. Life changing moments. Pivotal pieces of our his/their/herstories.
As Mercury will be spending the majority of its time retrograde (and in its shadow phases) in Libra we will switch from water to air. From the deeply penetrating and brooding sign of Scorpio to the beauty loving, relationship oriented Libra. From the bowels of the bog and the depths of the caldron to the whirling winds of chattering friends and the intricacies of balancing self and other. Libra might make everything look pretty but relationships can get ugly, fast. They can also provide the necessary object for our reflection. We need one another to push the best and worst of us forward. We need to be held in a loving gaze and to be able to do the same for our beloveds. You can bet your bottom dollar Mercury retrograde in Libra will have us reviewing every last relationship dynamic that has been ignored, refuted and refused.
Mercury retrograde dates to observe:
Mercury enters its shadow on September 14th at 16º Libra
Mercury Stations Retrograde on October 4th at 2º Scorpio
Mercury re-enters Libra on October 10th
Mercury Stations Direct October 25th at 16º Libra
Mercury leaves its shadow on November 10th at 2º Scorpio
Look to see what houses hold these signs and if you have any planets close to these degrees for clues as to what domains (houses) of life you’ll be working things out in.
*I look to this time as still being affected by Mercury Retrograde. The pre shadow can be a foreshadowing of what will occur during the retrograde and the post shadow can often be like a wrapping up of the lessons learned in the cycle.