The DIY Guide to Mercury Retrogrades

I’ve prattled on a lot in the past about Bali and why I love it – and the people. Possibly, though, the thing I love the most are the offerings.

The process of constructing and offering the tributes is not just a belief based ritual, but also a deliberate pause to be fully in the moment- regardless of the business of life going on around.

A local I spoke to up there said that every Australian and American he meets work so hard that they come to Bali to collapse and then go home to work so hard again to pay for the relaxation that they’ve just had and to save for the next holiday for the relaxation they need from working so hard to pay for it.

He said he didn’t understand it.

‘What do you do?’ I asked. ‘You work hard too.’

‘Yes, but we also stop for things that matter,’ he said.

‘What about the Europeans,’ I asked?

‘They seem to allow themselves more enjoyment,’ he said.

Perhaps he was typecasting, but I had similar conversations with others so maybe there’s something to it.

In our lives, we are so busy multi-tasking, juggling devices and schedules that we forget to notice the details. We miss things.

For me, Mercury retrograde has always been that time when we’re reminded that a little back-tracking, a little revision, a few deliberate pauses in the day can be a way in which we can reconnect – to our own creativity, to what’s important, to the moment.

It can be as simple as the reminder when you’re in disgusting traffic that as late as it’s making you, someone up the road may, as the result of a mechanical failure or an accident, be even more inconvenienced than you are.

Or the next time you’re delayed at the doctors being grateful that you’re not the one whose made her run late with something that could be more life threatening than what you’re presenting with.

Some years ago (back in 2010), I read this piece by Sarah Wilson:

“In my case, my computer short-circuited before I did. Yes, it’s only a computer. Computers don’t have free will. But there is NO TECHNOLOGICAL REASON for it doing what it did… So I’m taking the metaphorical route.

In the lead-up to all this, I was going too fast, loading up too much, taking on more than I could handle. My circuitry was overloaded. I was about to explode. But my computer blew up instead of me. It’s happened twice before. My computer implodes when I need to slow down. It stops me in my tracks, holds up a mirror to myself and I face what I’m doing.”

The fall out from Mercury retrogrades hits us because we need to slow down. It really is sometimes that simple.

These days our lives are ruled by Mercury things. There’s no avoiding it, and it’s great. I’d be lost without my smart phone and social media and google maps etc, but Mercury retrogrades are like a push in the e-tox direction. It’s back to basics time – almost as though the Universe is telling us that every so often we need to slow it down – listen to our own thoughts, revisit those things, issues, ideas, people, plans that need revisiting, and then move on again.

Much of what goes wrong during Mercury retrograde periods goes wrong because we haven’t done what we know that we should be doing. We should be backing up important documents/ photos/ music/whatever. We should be confirming appointments and travel plans. We should be carrying a spare pair of knickers in our carry-on. We should be leaving in plenty of time to get to where we need to get to.

We shouldn’t need a Mercury retrograde period to force ourselves into being just a tad vulnerable, but sometimes that reminder is necessary. Meltdowns as messy as they are, can also be therapeutic.

What is the Mercury retrograde?

  • The planet isn’t really going backwards, it just appears that way from where we stand here on Earth
  • During any retrograde cycle of any planet we bring our attentions within. The energy of the planet is intensified, and that energy is brought within. In that case of Mercury that means how we think, how we transmit messages and how messages are communicated and understood around us
  • this is your signal to slow down, go within, review, revise, rewind. We review and revise in our head the nature of the area of life this retrograde is happening in for us. With our brains occupied in a different way we lose focus on what is happening around us- and that is when things, generally shitty things, happen.

What is Mercury retrograde good for?

It can be a time of heightened inspiration – and as a writer, that’s a good thing. Besides, I have Mercury natally retrograde in Pisces – and that’s a little like permanently living with Mercury retrograde while the rest of the world is fast forward.

Ideas that have been lost in the whirl of busyness, pop back into my head, the words flow freely onto the manuscript, unrelated and random concepts can somehow make sense.

Mercury retrograde periods aren’t good for starting new projects, but it could be about assessing the value, scope or outcome of an existing one. It’s not about pushing forward, but rather holding back and planning. It’s when blasts from the past return to the present; and when lessons from yesterday can help you with today and tomorrow. It’s about considering your words before you say them; rethinking your message before you send it; going within and evaluating the consequences before making an irrevocable decision.

  • Take the time to recharge your batteries
  • Revise your goals
  • Review your bright ideas
  • Regain your faith in the future
  • Recommit to habits, goals, the things you need to recommit to
  • Reconnect with colleagues & friends you haven’t seen or spoken to for some time
  • Renew and refresh whatever is jaded and old
  • Revisit places, books, movies that mean something to you
  • Rest and relax

What can Mercury Retrograde affect or impact?

Anything Mercury ruled. This could include – but is not limited to:

  • Appointment times
  • Travel times and arrangements
  • Computers, phones and other electronic devices
  • Getting to and from places
  • Contracts and other documents

How to survive and thrive during Mercury retrograde

Dealing with it requires common sense, flexibility, clarity and patience. I often tell people to act as if they don’t have a smart phone, or are overseas with the data roaming turned off.

What do I mean by that?

Remember back to when you made appointments with people and you called them up and agreed a time and a place. You never knew if there’d be a pay phone handy, so you mapped out your route before you left, and made sure that you caught the train before the last train you could catch in order to ensure you got there on time. Remember then?

You didn’t squeeze in an extra coffee meeting knowing you could punch out a text to the person you were going to be keeping waiting. You didn’t turn up for meetings late knowing that you could dial in on the way.

If you needed a map, you’d print out the directions, or at least make a note of the details in the notebook you always carried.

Despite what some will tell you, life doesn’t stop just because Mercury has decided to pass between the Sun and the Earth and look like he’s going backwards. I might suggest that you delay signing contracts and making major purchases – if at all possible – but the reality is, there’ll be times where it can’t be delayed and how would you feel if you missed out on a fabulous opportunity just because Mercury was retrograde?

How to mitigate the possible damage?

  • Re-confirm appointments
  • Check and re-check your travel arrangements
  • Insure your luggage and tickets and make sure you have copies of all travel documents – preferably not in your bag
  • If travelling carry a spare toothbrush and change of clothes as carry on – just in case
  • Avoid mechanical problems, by making sure your car services are up to date
  • Back up computers
  • Avoid purchasing any major technology over this period
  • Avoid signing contracts, but if you have to, make sure you have read & re-read all the fine print
  • If you must commence a new project, do the scoping work carefully – and seriously people, we should be doing this anyway!
  • If you have any changes going “live” or being implemented, test, re-test, regression test, test the back out, test the install & test again. Test. Oh, and schedule enough time for testing and re-testing.
  • Don’t overbook
  • Leave plenty of contingency between appointments
  • Make sure that meeting minutes are thorough and accurate. The same goes for emails and change communication

Hmmmm sounds awfully like common sense, doesn’t it? Like the sort of things we should be doing anyway?

If it’s a major purchase ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I need it?
  • Do I really need it?
  • Do I really need it now?
  • Have I shopped around?
  • What’s my back up plan?
  • Can I afford it?
  • What happens if I don’t buy it?
  • Do I really need it?
  • Does it fit?
  • Am I buying it with a view to changing or renovating it?

If it’s a contract, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I need to sign?
  • Do I need to sign now?
  • What happens if I don’t sign now?
  • Have I read the contract?
  • Have I read the contract properly?
  • Have I read the fine print? Twice?

Get the idea?

Doing the above doesn’t mean things are perfect – heaven forbid. But if you keep your plans flexible and don’t get too hung up on frustrations, it’s all quite ok.

I dare you to give it a try.

Who is most affected by Mercury Retrograde?

  • People with strong Mercury charts eg people with the Sun, Moon, Ascendant or Mercury in Mercury ruled signs ie Gemini or Virgo.
  • People with these planets in the 3rd house
  • People who have the Sun, Moon, Mercury or Ascendant in the sign which is receiving the retrograde
  • People who have planets or chart points at the position where Mercury stations – either to go retrograde or direct.

What about the shadow?

Lots of astrologers will talk about the “shadow” period of any retrograde phase. Some will go as far as saying the rules above apply through the shadow period. I’m not convinced- but don’t take my word for it…you might be one of those that is sensitised to all things Mercury.

What I have found is that whilst things tend to have the potential to go more haywire during the actual retrograde period, things that stall early in the shadow period tend not to be resolved or green lighted until the end of the shadow…if that makes sense.

The shadow period lasts from when Mercury first passes the point at which it will later turn direct and lasts until it passes for the second time the point at which it turned retrograde.

For example,

Mercury turns retrograde at 11 Virgo 38′ on 13 August, 2017 (or thereabouts- depending on what part of the world you are in) and turns direct at 28 Leo 25′ on 5 September 2017 (or thereabouts- depending on what part of the world you are in). This means that the so-called shadow period will last from July 25 (when Mercury reaches 28 Leo 25′ ) until September 20 (when Mercury reaches 11 Virgo 38′ for the second time). Although the period when Mercury is retrograde will be from 13/8/17 – 5/9/17, the period in which it will be in shadow is from 25/7/17 – 20/9/17. That’s nearly 2 whole months…and therein lies my problem with the shadow theory. With 3 Mercury retrogrades per year, if we also pulled up stumps during the shadow we’d be looking at nearly 6 months each year when we can’t be as productive as we’d normally like to be.

But, as I said, that’s just me.

Mercury is next retrograde from 13 August, 2017

For Mercury retrograde dates, see this page.

For more on planetary retrogrades, see this edition of the Toolbox

For information on the Mercury shadow, see this edition of the Toolbox