This article by Bernie Ashman originally appears in The Llewellyn Journal and has been republished on Sun Moon Tribe with non-exclusive permission. Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd. retains the copyright to all articles published in The Llewellyn Journal. You can view the original article on The Llewellyn Journal here.
Do you start to get filled with anxiety when learning Mercury in the sky is about to turn retrograde? Don't feel bad if you answered yes. Many people experience the same nervous reaction. In my new book, How to Survive Mercury Retrograde (And Venus and Mars, Too), I give a new perspective in how to get positive results when dealing with retrograde time periods.
What is a retrograde planet? It is the apparent backward motion of a planet as it moves through an astrological sign. This is really an illusion, as planets don't in reality move backward. Think of it as a faster moving planet passing a slower moving planet, making it seem like the slower planet is moving backward, or retrograde. In reality both planets are moving forward, but the slower one has you thinking it is moving backward.
Mercury turns retrograde four times a year, about every three months. The duration of Mercury retrograde lasts about 21 to 24 days, though it can feel like six months if you run into delays or have to do a job over and over hoping to get the right result. You might be experiencing a sensation like your life is in rewind.
I am often asked can anything get done productively during a Mercury retrograde visit. The answer is definitely yes. It is actually a good time to make sure you have carefully thought out a plan you want to put into motion. With the busy schedules many of us are facing these days we can't simply bring our lives to a standstill because Mercury has decided to turn retrograde. But it is a good idea to make sure you have really thought through all of the details regarding important decisions.
Before Mercury turns retrograde you can be prepared. If there are major deals or purchases you are trying to complete, it might be a good idea to do your research carefully before a Mercury retrograde begins to ensure you make the best informed choices. There is a good chance you may need to tweak some of your goals during a Mercury retrograde. I have found as a writer that this retrograde time period is good for editing something I have written.
Be careful about obsessing too much over the details during a Mercury retrograde. You can find yourself digging up the seed before your ideas have had a real chance to come to fruition. Be patient, because you may start to realize you are on the right path with your thinking. Self-doubt can occur more frequently during some Mercury retrogrades. It is interesting that your self-confidence may be clearer during one Mercury retrograde and not as strong during another. Don't worry, because with some practice this cycle need not be aggravating. It helps to maintain your focus if you think positively.
Mercury is known as "the winged messenger; communication is definitely connected to the Gemini side of Mercury. Exchanging ideas with others is stimulating. Multi-tasking comes naturally when you tune into the full power of this planet. A fondness for diversified thinking can occur when you get influenced by this thought provoking planet.
The other side of the Mercury coin is its rulership of the sign Virgo. This gives all of us the encouragement to remain organized when trying to accomplish our goals. Attention to detail and looking for some perfection in life is stimulated by this Virgo dimension of Mercury.
So, you might be wondering what happens to this fancy and nice description of Mercury ruling two signs when you encounter a Mercury retrograde. Well, for one thing, your communication (whether it be by email, text, or phone) might seem like it is not being understood. You may examine what you were trying to say, and while it might be very clear to you it seem like a foreign language to others. Or perhaps your computer is messed up! Or your phone stops working in the middle of a conversation. I remember during one Mercury retrograde several years ago (in early the 1990s) I was on the phone with an author, Marion March, who lived in California. She started to dictate to me a quote for the back cover of my second book, Roadmap to Your Future. I was so excited to get her endorsement! There was a thunderstorm right over my house in North Carolina as we started the phone call. Right in the middle of writing down her comments for my book cover, the phone got disconnected; my phone was not fixed for a full twenty-four hours. I phoned Ms. March again the next day once my phone was fixed, and we both had a good laugh. She thought I did not like what she had said, and hung up on her!
Staying organized and efficient during a Mercury retrograde can cause some anxiety. This could be caused by trying to over control the outcome of situations. There could be a tendency to try to make your life too perfect at this time. Something to remember during a Mercury retrograde is that perfection can be the enemy of the good. Don't be afraid to make a mistake when doing a job; you can more than likely correct a mis-step later. Remember to be patient with yourself and others during this retrograde cycle. Being on the same page with someone takes more effort.
The Virgo focus of Mercury can also cross over into your work activities in a big way. Job communications often need to be done over again. You would benefit by checking over the details more than you usually do during a Mercury retrograde cycle. There is the possibility you may gain insight into a better or more efficient way to get a job done!
A question that I am often asked is: can I make a major purchase during a Mercury retrograde? Yes you can. But, it is a good idea to make sure you have carefully investigated what you are wanting to buy. If you are careful to explore all of the options you will be more successful in purchasing a car, computer, cell phone, or other big money item.
Don't forget to call a timeout during a Mercury retrograde. If your mind starts to feel overwhelmed, pick an escape to calm your nervous system. It is easy to begin feeling scattered during this time period. Mercury is a left-brain planet. The stimuli from our everyday world can seem like it is flooding our mind with too much useless information. What can you do about this?
The Virgo side of Mercury showcases this planet as a way to get some physical exercise, which can help you get back to a centered state of mind. You don't have to climb Mount Everest. Walking or yoga can do wonders to make you feel more on top of a Mercury retrograde cycle. The Gemini world of Mercury shows that travel, whether a long or short journey, may make a Mercury retrograde flow more smoothly. Entertaining your mind with your favorite subjects might help you to integrate a Mercury retrograde more smoothly into your life. Reading a good book could stimulate your thinking to make better use of this time period. Don't panic. Slow down and pace yourself. This sometimes works like magic in feeling less overwhelmed by a Mercury Retrograde.
Something else to remember about this left-brain, analytical planet is that you might need to trust your intuition. Retrograde motion may distort your normal way of perceiving the world but at the same time allow your intuition to flourish! Your left- and right-brain energies can join forces during a Mercury retrograde cycle and surprise you with new insights.
I hope you can now view the Mercury retrograde cycle as a time of opportunity. This communication planet is not limited in its capacity to offer each of us new ideas for self-growth even when moving along its retrograde path. It can be a winding road to follow that will lead you right to an enlightening door!
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