Mercury Retrograde

Posed on 27 April 2016

Mercury is a very small planet. But it gets blamed for some very big problems. And the doom and gloomers have been working overtime lately. During the past week I’ve had panicked messages from those who’re concerned about the havoc Mercury’s retrograde cycle would cause. First I’ll explain exactly what the little planet of communication is up to – and what retrograde actually means. And then I’ll tell you what to expect, what not to – and which worries have nothing at all to do with the retrograde Mercury. While each of the heavenly bodies, with the exception of the Sun and the Moon, goes retrograde – or appears to move backwards in the heavens – from time to time, none is more noticeable than Mercury’s. Of course the planets aren’t actually moving backwards. It’s an optical illusion. Imagine you’re at a horse race. While the riders are near side of the track, they seem to be going in one direction but when on the far side, they appear to be moving in the opposite direction. Similarly, each of the planets periods has when its movement – in terms of the earth – makes it seems it’s going backwards. And the energy this signifies is also “backwards,” meaning there’ll be complications, and unexpected twists or confusion. Mercury is retrograde for 22 days or so, two to four times each year. And when it’s retrograde, there are two things to consider. First is, the areas it influences. Because Mercury it the planet of ideas, expression and communication, in all forms, when things go wrong, it’s often obvious immediately. Numbers are transposed, dates and directions mixed up, seemingly simple discussions end up as misunderstandings. Should all of life come to a halt because Mercury’s retrograde? Obviously, it can’t. However, you can plan for it. If you double check dates and appointments, and leave extra time, most inconvenient situations can be averted. More complex situations require patience and a canny strategy. Because there’s a tendency for minor mix-ups, it’s essential to be watchful. Ironically, this is where instincts come into play, because some Mercury retrograde problems aren’t apparent at the time – they surface later. But if something just doesn’t add up, then it’s worth questioning the facts, situations, others’ words or arrangements, and the moment it comes to mind. Often this can eliminate the errors typical of this cycle before they become real problems. Those born under the signs ruled by Mercury, Gemini and Virgo, tend to find the retrograde period especially troublesome. This is partly because they rely on – and enjoy – their capacity for lightening quick thinking. So the need to pause for reflection, and to note and heed intuitive messages can be uncomfortable, unsettling and even rouse doubts they’re usually able to ignore. Ironically, those minor errors often reveal undetected mistakes from the past, everything from misunderstandings to practical or even legal errors. So, yes, Mercury’s retrograde cycle can be a period of frustrating dilemmas and confusion. However, in reality, most problems aren’t really that important. Some situations are funny, and many revealing. The key to dealing with these mishaps, minor and major, is to develop a philosophical attitude – if things go wrong, take more time or mistakes lead to misunderstandings or, even, are costly, how important as these in the scheme of things? Life won’t stop, and while many refuse to sign important documents or formalise agreements, such as contracts or even marry when Mercury is retrograde, others are less concerned. It’s a cycle of nature, like the more obvious cycle of the Moon waxing and waning. The trick is to observe it, to understand it, and to behave in accordance with it. Do that and you might even find yourself welcoming Mercury’s retrograde cycle!