To sum up what has been happening in my life lately, lets say this: I am feeling the mercury retrograde! From communication breakdowns to illness to delays to the past rearing it’s ugly head, this cycle has proven to be formidable indeed. The part no one tells you about getting to a place of safety and stability in your life is that your soul takes stability and safety not only as an excuse, but also as permission to heal all the unhealed parts within you. And when there is no external adversary, there is no further distraction from the adversary within. As per usual, this cycle of healing is happening in tandem with the planetary cycle we call the mercury retrograde (which we are in the middle of by the way).
In the new age, spiritual and astrological community, mercury retrogrades have a bad reputation. In fact, as many of you know it has become a joke. In the astrological community, anytime a series of unfortunate events happen you’ll hear someone say, “mercury must be in retrograde”. Those of us who have suffered from the influence of mercury going retrograde find ourselves torn between wanting to know when they are coming so we can prepare for them and not wanting to know when they are even happening. You’ll often hear the saying “I just want to hide under the covers until it is all over. But fear not, mercury retrogrades are only frightening when you don’t know how to use their energy to your advantage.
You create your own reality completely; this means that nothing that you perceive as happening outside of you (even mercury retrogrades) can impose itself on your reality. Before coming into this life, you chose to adopt the planetary frequencies as part of your reality. That is part of choosing this life, in this particular solar system. You knew the planets would be an influence in the same way that you knew your parents would be an influence. You knew these influences would lend to your individual expansion. You picked the specific astrological arrangement for your life experience in the same way that someone would pick an arrangement of specific food items off of a buffet table.
The planets influence us, but it benefits us to think of this influence as more of an offering. When the planets shift, the energy being offered from them to life on earth also changes. And some of these shifts and cycles are particularly intense and prone to create contrast for life on earth. We can either let that energy hit us and suffer because of it or we can learn how to use that energy and those cycles to our advantage.
A planetary retrograde is in fact just an illusion. Planets never reverse in their orbit around the sun; but because of our vantage point on earth, it can appear as if planets are traveling backwards through the zodiac. The mercury retrograde happens about three or four times a year. Since earth is further away from the sun than mercury is, there are times of year when it appears as if our transit surpasses that of the planet mercury and from our perspective, it looks like the planet mercury slows, stops and reverses. A good way to understand this is to think of driving on the highway. If you and a semi truck are traveling along the road, but you are traveling faster, there is a point when you pass it that the semi truck will appear to be going backwards. The truth is, you are still both traveling the same direction on the road. It is an optical illusion. It is very important to understand that retrogrades are just that… an illusion; because this tells us a lot about the actual retrograde period that we are experiencing. We will be confronting our own illusions. Anything that we suffer from is at its core, an illusion. It is something the ego has erected in front of our true self. When we have not felt resolution or integration about people, events, beliefs or ideas from the past, they will re surface during the mercury retrograde. This can lead to a sudden break out of “madness”. Meaning that mercury retrogrades can make it feel as if you are crazy and everyone you know has gone crazy.
Mercury retrogrades are famous for effecting electronic equipment, and causing travel delays and cancellations. Mercury is the planet of communication, so mercury retrogrades cause breakdowns in communication. You might notice things getting lost in translation, pieces of information going missing, the inability to finish sentences, arguments arising out of nowhere with seemingly no provocation, and the inability to form a coherent thought. Retrogrades can create some serious confusion. You may notice things getting lost and luck may seem to be against you. In fact, you can think of the mercury retrograde as the planetary manifestation of Murphy’s Law. Meaning that it can feel as if everything that can go wrong… is going wrong. Mercury retrogrades are famous for causing delays and postponements in all areas of life and this feeling of fighting upstream can lead to a sensation of severe restlessness and frustration. Mercury also particularly effects a lot of industries like publishing, writing, editing, advertising, sales, public relations & anything to do with transport, like airlines, the post office & cabs so if you have to interact with any of these industries, you can expect some mix ups to occur. Mercury retrograde can be a particular time of difficulty (or should we say opportunity) for anyone who enjoys control. If you are a person who needs to feel as if you have your life neatly organized in a predictable way, mercury retrograde is going to come in like a tornado and not so gently turn things upside down. Mercury retrograde is a metaphysical tornado entering your life. The good news is, you can ride out this tornado and use it to dig up things that are buried. Mercury retrograde offers us a huge energetic push to re-examine areas of our life that are not benefitting us.
Mercury retrograde is perhaps the very best energy for enhancing reflection. It gives us energy to reflect back on anything we have been avoiding or suppressing and see things from a new perspective. Because of this, we can use it to tie up loose ends. You can use it to re organize your life. This is really what it is asking us to do. It is asking us to clear away things that no longer serve us and re organize our lives to make way for new things to take their place. Mercury retrograde asks us to practice the art of flexibility and allowing and let’s face it; it is the only way to really survive the intensity of a mercury retrograde period. If you resist it in any way, you will amplify the chaos it causes and it will feel like destruction instead of clearing. Take some time and go slowly. We all go through cycles of movement in our lives. The mercury retrograde is a time to draw your energies in towards yourself and re-visit the things that need to be revisited and cleared. Do not expect yourself to be productive during the mercury retrograde. It is not a time to forge forward, it is a time to nurture and be kind to yourself and others. The gift of the mercury retrograde is the gift of inner revelation. This is in fact the reason why mercury retrograde causes so much upheaval. You could see the upheaval as the necessary condition for us to be able to recognize and receive the gift of revelation. After all, our greatest revelations come when our lives are uprooted to some degree.
Here are some tips, which will help you to utilize the energy of the mercury retrograde to your advantage
- Do not take things personally. Thinking and communication are both on the fritz during this period and everyone’s shadow aspects are surfacing to be healed. Projection will be at an all time high because of it. People will often say things they don’t mean during this time and if you can walk into social interactions knowing that in advance, you are much less likely to be hurt by other people’s often-bizarre behavior.
- Pay close attention to what you say and how you communicate. This is a good time to practice speaking from your heart. It is a good time to practice being very deliberate about what you put out into the world. People will spin your words against themselves during this time and misinterpretations are likely. So we can use this time period to teach ourselves how to check our words against our own sense of integrity before we say them. We can also re-read our letters before we send them.
- Practice the art of allowing. Set forth the intention to go with the flow. It will help if you maintain the awareness of what to expect during the retrograde. For example, remind yourself to expect delays. This will help you to release resistance to the unexpected upheaval of your plans. Doing this will help you to feel much less like the world is against you. Do you know how much more relaxed you’d be if you knew the computers were going to shut down or the plane would be delayed? You’d probably pack an extra book or movie and take some time to just be where you are. It can actually be enjoyable to have the experience of being the one who is calm and at peace as you are watching the chaos go on around you. It also means that you will be much more capable of helping those who are caught in the storm.
- You can’t put your life on hold, but try not to start any big deal projects, make big purchases without warranties or enter into contracts with people without reading the fine print. Communication is a mess during these periods and people (including yourself) are prone to changing their minds. Make sure you as many questions as you can and get as much information as you can before making big decisions if you have to make big decisions during this time.
- Get together with people who crop up from your past in order to heal old wounds and re visit outstanding issues in your current relationships. It is a time of closure. If they haven’t come forward to you already, reach out to people and say what needs to be said so you can both find peace. If you can, find time to reminisce and laugh as well. Just about the only communication that does go well during mercury retrogrades is communication, which facilitates healing between us and circumstances from our past.
- Look at what the universe is trying to show you. It is going to push you in unusual directions. So, if you find yourself being pushed off the path you were on, instead of trying to get back on the intended path, develop a curious attitude, sit back and watch where the universe wants to take you. What can you learn from the situation?
- Catch up with yourself. Often it can feel like we can’t catch up to our own lives. Dreams and goals get drowned out in our hectic lives. Take time to finish the projects you’ve already started. Tie up loose ends and re-organize your life. This can be a great time to clear out clutter. It is a great time to complete things you’ve already begun so you can officially cross them off your list. The mercury retrograde asks us to re visit our destiny. It allows us to catch up with our truest desires. So, re examine your true desires. If there are aspects of your life that aren’t actually that satisfying, it’s time to clean house and re define what you actually desire. Use what you’ve discovered from your past and what you discover about yourself during this period to form a new vision of what you want your future to look like. Do you like the path you’re headed down? Now is a great time to decide to change course. And when mercury goes direct again, it goes quickly. This means that once mercury goes direct, we will be propelled towards our new vision for ourselves.
- Back up your computer and any other electronic information that is important to you.
- Because delays are so much a part of mercury retrogrades, give yourself plenty of time to get where you’re trying to go. It’s a terrible time to cut things close. It is a good idea to do things slowly and deliberately during this time.
- Practice self-love. This is a preparatory phase, just like the butterfly inside a cocoon. What have you been putting off that you really need to do for yourself? What would re-vitalize you so you can be productive and proactive when mercury goes direct again?
- Allow the shadow within you to rise to the surface so you can observe it, reflect on it and integrate it. Anything that is an important part of moving forward in our lives will surface and it is best if we jump on board and allow it to surface. Some of us may even want to use this energy to deliberately go looking for our shadow. This means, do shadow work. Search for harmful core beliefs. Express your emotions. Purge what is suppressed within you. This is a time of contemplation. A time to see what you have not been seeing.
People feel the need to control their lives. We think that controlling our lives and creating our lives is the same thing, but it isn’t. When we feel the need to control our lives, we want to dictate what does and does not happen in the external world. We are in a state of resistance against what is unwanted. We are at war with the world. Creating is the opposite. When we create, we allow both wanted and unwanted things into our life because we learn to use both wanted and unwanted things like clay. We learn to shape and mold both to our advantage; because of this, we are at peace with the world and we see all things in the world as a gift. This is the mindset the mercury retrograde asks us to assume. If we can use the period that mercury is in retrograde as a time to practice this mindset, we can learn how to find the eye of peace within the storm of chaos.