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Why I love Mercury retrogrades

Mercury goes retrograde about three times a year. These 3 week periods when from our vantage point on Earth, Mercury seems to go backward in the sky, is often touted by pop astrology as a period of snafus, faux pas, and technological and communication disasters. While glitches may be common, especially when Mercury is in signs that rule over the tools we use in modern life to work and communicate, in and of itself the retrograde period is not per se one of disaster.

When a planet goes retrograde it is in a particular relationship to the Sun in its synodic cycle. It is preparing for renewal, as the retrograde period apexes with a conjunction with the Sun, and switches up its movement relationship with the Sun, its heliacal position. All planets go retrograde periodically; Mercury the most frequently, as it is closest to the Sun. It’s a period of maintenance checks or homecoming, depending on the relationship with the planet and the Sun. To be renewed within the heart of the Sun is the refurbishing of the planet’s significations. The period when it stations retrograde until it meets the Sun in a conjunction is that slowing down, powering down period. The planet's significations are weakened, like a computer losing charge. It is for this reason retrograde periods are seen as negative for the manifestation of that planet’s significations, its main work. A weakly charged apparatus does not go as fast, does not function as quickly, it glitches. However, after the renewal, the purification and systems check, it moves into a different phase of the cycle, still slow and with diminished function, but now looking to speed up again, with a renewed purpose, gain in light and momentum, until it stations directly again and picks up speed.

I was personally born with Mercury retrograde - stationing retrograde, in fact, standing still at 27 degrees of Aquarius. It had reached its farthest distance from the Sun and needed to go back home for renewal. Perhaps it is because of this, I find Mercury retrograde periods in the year to be extremely productive times. And so can you.

The period between the retrograde station until it meets up with the Sun - the powering down period - has proven repeatedly to be great for maintenance and sense checks to all kinds of work. Its the moment to look back on work accomplished, tasks done, to reassess the to-do lists, and take stock of what has come to transpire. Researching and editing of all kinds benefit from this close inspection period, when the slowing down can harness the more patient focus needed for such work. All those tech and communications glitches is a signal to eschew those very dynamic activities for more contemplative and reflective activities, like reading, listening deeply, reviewing details. The days around the station especially can imbue the moment with a singular focus as Mercury stands still on a single degree - if there was ever a cosmic Adderall, I imagine it would be that.

Utilizing the Mercury retrograde periods requires patience; speed leads to blunders that we often hear about in pop Astrology. The signs that Mercury fall in your birth chart can indicate where slowing down to do the reassessments and editing can lead to medium to longer term benefit. The sign your Mercury is in, its aspects and role in your chart can help to know how and in which areas of your life any given Mercury retrograde period will impact. Moving with the qualities of time has been a way I have found to meet the mishaps and miscommunications of the moment with more humor and thinking - both Mercurial pursuits ;)


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