Understanding Mercury Retrograde and the power of self-reflection.
Mercury Retrograde is arguably one of the most talked-about and misunderstood movements in the sky. But before we dive into an Astrological interpretation, let’s look at things from a planetary perspective.
The word ‘retrograde’ means moving backwards. When any planet is said to be retrograde, the direction of its orbit appears to change – ‘appears’ being the operative word here. When we speak of planets going retrograde, it is in fact an optical illusion that happens when the Earth laps an outer planet or when an inner planet laps Earth, like Mercury does every four months or so. When this happens from the perspective of Earth, Mercury makes a loop on itself; it’s simply a function of two objects orbiting in the same direction at different speeds. If you stood on Mercury you would see Earth make a loop on itself.
In an attempt to communicate this concept more tangibly; imagine you’re driving along the highway and you drive up alongside a truck. If you start accelerating faster than the truck is, it will appear that the truck is moving backwards; that you are going forward and the truck is reversing.
Obviously, this is not what is actually happening, although we can all agree that the relationship between the two objects has shifted. This is the case of Mercury and Earth. It is this shift in the relationship that is significant when we read the planets through an astrological lens.
When we look at any retrograde period through an astrological framework, it symbolises a time where there is an acceleration of the evolutionary process of individuation. Individuation in this context – as simple or complex as its expression may be – refers to the process by which every individual becomes what they are destined to become. In short, a retrograde period is a time of recognising your innermost uniqueness.
As we enter a Mercury Retrograde period, I invite you to notice any attempt of defining this experience through expectation. (I know that’s somewhat of a paradoxical thing to say when writing an article in an attempt to bring definition to such a thing. To be clear, the intention for this piece of writing is to create some context and guidance for your subjective experience to play out.)
Mercury is the planet that rules the mind, and if there is anything I want you to take away from this it is to engage with this experience with yours wide open. As you relate to the Mercurys Retrograde period with openness, allow your experience of it to be the very thing that informs your definition.
This is a period of revisiting the things we have been avoiding.
The nuances of this period will affect everyone differently. We can gain greater specificity of our personal themes by looking at what house the transiting Mercury is moving through as well as what aspects it is making to our individual birth charts. To not overcomplicate things, I’m going to speak to the overarching themes of this period.
As I said, Mercury rules the mind, more specifically the left brain. This is the natural way we gather and digest information through fact, observation, critical thinking, learning and reading. It then becomes the way we define the nature of our reality and therefore the way we communicate, to others and ourselves. It’s through linear thinking that Mercury expresses itself.
This is a time of restructuring the mental and intellectual framework when it comes to the way we relate to ourselves. There is an evolutionary desire to strip back any outdated thought patterns and rewire the mind towards being of greater service to our individual growth and evolution.
The premise of a retrograde period is going back to go forwards. It’s a time of revisiting, reviewing, renewing, redoing, repeating, restarting, re-examining, you get my point… It’s a retrospective period with the intention of completing what was initiated when Mercury was direct. The invitation is to look at any loose ends; anything that wasn’t completed fully and that needs revisiting.
Let’s start to clear away some of the information out there that isn’t actually empowering us but just keeping us distracted. This time isn’t about stopping your life, not getting on planes or signing the contract, or buying a new phone out of the fear that things are going to go wrong. The truth is, it can feel as if everything that can go wrong is going wrong and there is an intention to this madness.
The reason Mercury Retrograde stereotypically gets such a bad rap is because the restructuring of the mental and intellectual framework happens by re-living and re-visiting past dynamics so that review and resolution can take place. When we don’t have resolution relative to thoughts, ideas, people or events of the past they are likely to resurface during this time so you can integrate them. This resurfacing stimulates purging and this is what Mercury Retrograde is essentially about.
The gift of this period is the gift of inner revelation and this is why it causes so much upheaval. The greatest inner revelations happen on the threshold of our lives being uprooted. If the intention is inner revelation and an external trigger is what is needed to initiate such revelation, then we can see why this period is synonymous with so much upheaval.
The pulling up of these past dynamics can bring with it pain. How our minds react to the pain is where we are reminded to bring our awareness. Observing our thinking and mental reactions to circumstances is where the gold lies. This is a time to pay close attention to habits of the mind as we are looking to shift and rewire stagnant mental patterns that have been preventing growth.
Another thing to note is that Mercury retrograde is an opportunity to look at your relationship to control, as an intention of this cycle is to expose your resistance to releasing control.
If you are a person that needs to feel like your life is predictable and neatly packaged, holding onto that way of relating to life is going to make this time especially difficult. Basically, you can ride this tornado and look at the things you have buried with love, or you can resist, continue to project and blame everything outside of yourself, and sit in your self-induced suffering.
This is a period of revisiting the things we have been avoiding. The fact is there are limiting beliefs dictating our avoidance. We will encounter the opportunity to look at these beliefs and if we do this honestly they will be painful. The pain being the very thing that is dictating the avoidance in the first place.
So we have two choices, the first choice being that of resistance. From here we are engaging with the experiences of this period from a disempowered place. Choosing this option we will feel victimised by our circumstances, blaming, projecting, judging and tantruming as a result, leading to an experience that feels more destructive than transformative. The second option is to willingly choose to work with our minds in service to our hearts, using the mind as a tool to observe what arises with love and allow this to gift us access to more truth and transformation.
Assuming you want to choose option two, let’s look at how we can support ourselves:
1. The first and most important thing is to enhance our practice of self-reflection. Rather than outwardly searching for things to look at, the invitation is for us to turn our awareness inwards with love to claim our projections. To bring more mindfulness to what naturally wants to arise within us when we are engaging with our environment, thoughts, ideas, and people.
2. Observe your thought patterns and take the time to sit with your reactions before acting from that place. Your shadows are going to make an appearance during this time, allow them to surface so you can observe, reflect and integrate.
When things do arise, ask yourself, “what am I making this mean? What am I choosing to believe about myself?”
3. Bring awareness to your communication. This is a time where triggers are high, be deliberate with what you say to save any unneeded pain. Bring awareness to where you’re communicating from.
Is it really what I have to say or is it pain speaking?
Am I grounded in my heart’s voice?
How can I communicate what I really need in this moment?
4. Don’t take things personally. I laugh as I write this as I know it’s not that simple. Do keep in mind though that projection is at an all-time high because everyone’s shadow is being activated. People will say things they don’t mean; a lot of people will be acting from pain rather than lovingly observing it.
Ask yourself, “Is this really about me?” Your heart won’t lie to you.
5. Practice the art of allowing, surrendering to the flow and developing an attitude of curiosity. What wants to reveal itself to me?
6. Catch up with yourself. This is a time of revisiting, purifying and closure. Observe if any old uncompleted projects start to nag for your attention. Watch as people and circumstances that still need resolving reappear in your life. This is a powerful opportunity to tie up any loose ends.
7. The intention of this period is of completion, so by the time Mercury goes direct there is an opening for newness. Put energy into redefining what you actually desire.
What do I want the new version of my life to feel and look like?
Mercury Retrograde simply asks us to slow down and bring more awareness into our lives. Having periods of time where we are more introspective and observant of our internal landscape is a foundational necessity to our overall wellbeing and growth. If we can harness the potential of Mercury Retrograde we will only be gifted more peace of mind and depth of being as we continue to experience life.
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