The truth about Mercury Retrograde

By Stacy Quast Jan 1, 2017

You may have seen the Facebook posts blaming everyone’s problems on Mercury Retrograde or perhaps you have friends who are in fear always talking about what they should and should not do during a Mercury Retrograde cycle and wonder, what in the heck they are talking about?  I’m here to de-bunk the myths and fear around Mercury Retrograde.  If you want to know what Mercury Retrograde is, how Mercury Retrograde affects you and how to best use this cycle for you own growth and empowerment then this post is for you.

Consciously working with the cycles of Mercury retrograde can enable you to connect more with intuitive insights, reflect on the past three months, become conscious of things that may have been blind spots, become more congruent and connected to yourself as you move forward into the months ahead.

 

What is Mercury Retrograde

About three or four times a year, Mercury passes by Earth, and that is when we experience a Mercury retrograde period. Because Mercury is the planet positioned closest to the Sun, its orbit is much shorter than Earth’s. Mercury appears to move backward as it speeds by Earth.  It isn’t actually traveling backward, but that is our perception as we are viewing it from Earth.  It is an optical Illusion.  This illusion is called a retrograde.  For example, if you were driving in a car on the highway and another car passed you, there is a moment from your perspective that the other car appears to be going backward as it passes you.

The Mercury retrograde phase is just one part of the Mercury retrograde cycle. The whole cycle includes Mercury going direct, retrograde, and direct again over the same degrees, or the retrograde zone.  After a while, or in Mercury’s case, three-and-a-half-weeks later, the planet will reverse itself and move “forward” again.  Going back to the example of the passing car, as Mercury goes direct it speeds by with great force thrusting you forward and back on course.  Metaphorically, this cycle is a time of self-reflection, self inventory and then to boldly take action from a more congruent place.

Why learn about Mercury Retrograde?

Committing to the changes that are being intuitively asked of you during or after the retrograde is over can greatly connect you to the hidden potential of this influence. By reflecting on the archetypal themes and doing self inventory, one can create a more solid and congruent foundation to build upon.  Intuitive insight and inspiration are amped up at this time.  Working with the themes of the Mercury Retrograde can give you more clarity about what isn’t working and where you need to go, awaken ideas and inspiration moving forward, learn to consciously connect to yourself and be led from within.

The real work of the retrograde often comes after Mercury goes direct.  It is then time to take action and implement these new changes.  Don’t think that because Mercury has gone direct, you are off the hook. It’s now time to take this work to the streets of your life and find ways to integrate it.   The retrograde is “over” when the changes have been implemented.  It is only then that you are you utilizing the power of this cycle.

Mercury Retrograde current cycle

Mercury Retrograde in Capricorn December 19th, 2016 – January 8th, 2017

The Set Up Phase: Began December 1st, 2016 at 29 degrees Sagittarius

Mercury Stations Retrograde: December 19th, 2016 15 degrees Capricorn

The Midpoint of this Cycle: December 28th, 2016 at 7 degrees Capricorn

Mercury Stations Direct: January 8th, 2017 at 29 degrees Sagittarius

Mercury Leaves Retrograde Zone January 27th, 2017 at 15 degrees Capricorn

Mercury Retrograde periods in 2017

 

Dec 19, 2016 to Jan 8, 2017 earth-sign Capricorn, to fire-sign Sagittarius
April 9 – May 3, 2017 earth-sign Taurus, to fire-sign Aries
August 12 – Sept 5, 2017 in earth-sign Virgo, ends in fire-sign Leo
December 3 – December 22, 2017 in fire-sign Sagittarius

Astrology in medieval times

In Astrology, the planet Mercury rules communication, travel, contracts, automobiles.  Our Mercury in a natal chart can reveal information about our learning style, how we perceive reality, how we think, how we pay attention to details and how we communicate.

When astrology originated it was during medieval times when people really believed that there were gods or sky deities presiding over the elements of sky, light and heavens and causing things to happen here on earth.  That was consciousness at the time.  As we have evolved since then, we no longer believe that same consciousness.  Viewing life from that perspective is 1) an outdated paradigm and 2) looking through the lens of victim consciousness which isn’t helpful to you or your growth.

My perception and how I use astrology is that the cycles are mirrors to inner shifts and cycles that are happening.  Tuning into these cycles can help you get better connect with yourself and what is currently being asked of you the re-evaluate, shift, end, grow and mature from a deeper soul level.

Working with Trickster archetype

An archetype is an impression or an imprinting on the psyche at birth. This forms a pattern. You’ll see them in literature, stories, movies and history. Archetypes can be people or situations. Examples of common archetypes are The Hero, The Mother, The Athlete, The Healer, The Guru, and The Teacher.

One archetype of Mercury is the “Trickster”.  The Trickster is deceptive or illusionary in some way.  He or she will pull off elaborate schemes to teach a moral lesson.  Life presents synchronistic events to meet the trickster where we are resisting, in order to wake up to change.  We often meet the trickster when we are in life transitions.  In Native American stories we see the trickster show up in the form of the coyote. He is earthbound, like man, but is constantly trying to transcend this fate.

Mercury Retrograde was traditionally associated with confusions, delay, communication issues and frustration. People often get really superstitious about what this means.  You can’t sign a contract or make a purchase, that technology is bound to fail, that communication will be misunderstood.  If you feel the whole world is against you and you need to go and hide under a rock until the retrograde is over, you are not understanding what is really going on and what it means.

A more conscious way to work with the cycle is tune into archetypal themes, intuitive hunches, unconscious parts that want to be revealed to you.   When we resist working with these themes and the intuitive hunches to slow down, we invoke the “Trickster” archetype and see more of the superstitious and seemingly fated side of Mercury playing out.  If things like communication or technology breakdown it’s often a signal for us to slow down, tune in, get in touch and connect in a different way.  I had a friend once who was building and creating three separate businesses at once.  She was working 60 hours a week, she was very intuitive and was getting the guidance over and over to slow down and do things in a different way.  She was a minor car accident during a Mercury Retrograde that forced her get quiet and do things in a different way, and give her self a whole different level of self care, quite and nourishment that she wasn’t allowing at hectic pace that she was going before.  The less conscious or connected you are, the more dramatic the signal to get your attention becomes.

Archetypal themes of this Mercury Retrograde

All Mercury Retrogrades this year begin in earth signs and move into fire signs!  This retrograde period, Mercury is in the sign of Capricorn and also Sagittarius.

Capricorn is ruled by the planet Saturn, which brings us the themes of responsibility, constrains, restrictions and boundaries.  Saturn is the task master and asks you to get serious and get to work, to build a more authentic way of living in which you are the authority.  Often when we are young we make decisions based on ways the culture has conditioned us to be, or conditioned us to value.  Getting in touch with our Saturn themes and maturing this part is us allows to take our power back and become of the author and conscious co-creator of our life.  Saturn asks for self inventory, clutter clearing or inner Feng Shui in whichever house (area of your life as depicted in your chart) that it is transiting.  It is a call to let go of that which now longer supports become more authentic.  Doing the work in the area of the chart that Saturn activates (called a Saturn Transit) and in the area where Saturn is located at our time of birth (Saturn in our natal chart) builds a more conscious, soul-directed way of living that can open the door to synchronistic, opportunity and align us to our truth.

Capricorn is a cardinal sign and initiates us into winter. The cardinal influence of Capricorn turns this cycle into one of high ambition, opportunities, focused time where one can accomplish and effort a lot into what you want to create.  It is also an earth sign and looks to the practical, grounded laws here on earth.  Its most positive influence bestows us with discretion, trustworthiness, integrity, warmth, unshakable loyalty and a thoughtfulness.  Capricorn works with the archetypal themes of survival, time, limits and asks us where can be more pragmatic, disciplined, efficient, patient, responsible and dependable in our lives.   It also asks us to look at where we are limited or restricted with the amount of time, resources, efforts, organization and stamina.  There are so many hours in a day, so many resources in our bank account and on earth.  How do we work with the energy we presently have and all other commitments and demands in our lives? What can we practically accomplish given these limits?  How can we show up for ourselves in ways we haven’t been and build the discipline, efficiently, organization, stamina to really build and foster our dreams into physical form?  Capricorn’s influence awakes our inner leadership ability, with a hard work and strong self-discipline to accomplish our tasks and create substantial achievement.

This cycle also activates the fire sign Sagittarius, which brings the themes of inspiration, enthusiasm, intuition, freedom, adventure, courage, spontaneity, faith, truth and idealism.  Sagittarius is ruled by the planet Jupiter.   Jupiter is the planet that represents our intuition, perceiving life symbolically and with meaning and purpose.  Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system, and in astrology is associated with expansion as well as optimism and hope.  Themes for Jupiter include confidence, expansion, integrity, and faith.   Working with the energy of Jupiter we gain wisdom through experiences that we have in our life.

 

When is it over?

People often ask me when the Mercury Retrograde cycle is over.   Revealed in that question is that you are viewing this period with fear and are just wanting to survive.   Often we start to get intuitive hunches and signs during the retrograde but we don’t really start to take action until after Mercury is direct and things are in forward motion again. Although many of us can feel the energies of these cycles happen, (sometimes to the day) there isn’t necessarily a date when it’s over, we are in the clear and will make it to the finish line.  I wouldn’t recommend viewing Mercury Retrograde in this way.   It is not about just surviving a chaotic time.  It is a time to slow down, to deeply reflect on the past three months, what we have accomplished and where we want to go.  In our culture, (where I live in America) of Just Do It, go go go, competition, achieving and multitasking, we don’t really have a good model or practice of going within, resting and reflecting.   We often push against it even if it’s what we feel we need.  To be a conscious co-creator with universe is to become this model that is present to the the cycles that are going on, pausing to reflect how this applies to our life and showing up with a shame-free discipline to clean up the areas where we need to grow.  Astrology is perfect tool to accompany this work.  I invite you to become this model. The world needs you present, awake and aware now more then ever. 

To explore deeper into the themes of this Mercury Retrograde,

click below for my Bonus: Mercury Retrograde Journal Prompts Exercise.

 

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The truth about Mercury Retrograde

 

 

 

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