How to Master Mercury Retrograde
stepping away from retrograde fear and into retrograde clarity
It seems like everyone on the planet heeds warning when Mercury goes retrograde those few times per year. But I’m here to tell you that Mercury Retrograde is a hugely beneficial time of year and one to look forward to; NOT dread or fear.
What exactly IS Mercury retrograde and why do we get so afraid of it? If you’re ready to disengage your fear around Mercury Retrograde and embrace it’s powers of clarity, read below to dissect what this astrological change is and how we can properly navigate it to use it to our advantage.
The most important thing to recognize about Mercury Retrograde is that when we properly understand it and how to work with it — it isn’t frustrating or intimidating at all. in fact, it’s a necessary time of restoration, asking us to pull our focus inward and self-reflect.
Analyzing how mercury actually works
Mercury has a slow rotation on its axis, rotating only ONCE while Earth has rotated 59 times on its own axis. That means one DAY on Mercury is equal to 59 DAYS over here on Earth. Technically.
Mercury is also only slightly tilted at two degrees, meaning it does not experience seasons the way Earth does.
Despite the slow spin on its own axis, Mercury’s elliptical orbit around the Sun is quick. There’s a dichotomy of slow and quick here, and this is important to keep in mind when we consider the philosophical meaning of Mercury in astrology.
Mercury completes its orbit around the Sun in 88 Earth Days, compared to Earth’s 365 days. But Mercury’s orbit — the invisible track it runs along — is egg-shaped; not a circle. This means Mercury’s proximity to the Sun is always changing, ranging from 29 million miles away from the Sun all the way to 43 million miles away. Sometimes it’s tucked in reeeeal close to the Sun, and sometimes it’s far out on the oblong shape of its orbit. It basically shows itself, and then retreats.
Shows itself, and then retreats.
When Mercury is waaaay off in the distance and orbiting at a different angle than we are in our orbit, it appears as if we pass Mercury, and Mercury moves backward in our sky for three weeks.
But imagine two cars driving side by side: suddenly, Car 1 lets off the gas. To the eye, it looks like Car 1 is moving backward, even though both cars are still traveling in the same direction. Car 2 seems to speed ahead, and Car 1 looks like it changes gears and moves in reverse. But both are still moving forward.
This is kinda of what Mercury looks like when we experience Mercury Retrograde. Only Mercury doesn’t really slow down — it just travels along an invisible track that is a different shape than ours.
So Mercury doesn’t actually move backward in the sky. This is an optical illusion from the egg-shape orbit! Mercury orbits around the Sun four times throughout our one year, so technically, it’s passing us all the time!
IN YOUR CHART
what does your mercury placement mean?
Mercury governs thinking and communication. Depending what Sign Mercury was in during the time of your birth, it will tell us a lot about how you think. For example, during the moment you were born, if Mercury was traveling through the sign of Libra, your thinking and communication style — your Mercury — would possess Libra traits. You would be fair-minded and justice-oriented, and you would always try to ensure that you truly connect with the person you’re engaging with. These are all traits of a person with Mercury in Libra.
During the phases in Mercury’s orbit where it is traveling along the oblong shape of its invisible track, it appears as if it is slowing down. It is during these times that we are energetically supposed to slow down our thinking and communication.
That dichotomy of slow and quick returns. If we want our minds to be quick - intelligent and evolved - it’s imperative to nourish our minds correctly, giving them rest and periods of restoration. Practicing mindfulness and being present rather than — zooming ahead or zooming through — is a necessary part of our intellectual development. It’s a necessary nourishment for our personal awareness.
YOU BETTER WORK
how do we work with mercury retrograde?
Mercury Retrograde is a time to sloooooow down. Many of us rush through our days almost absentmindedly, operating out of habit. We are disconnected from the present, often rushing to the next task on our daily duties. We are not even truly conscious of this. We are caught up in the habit of it. But when Mercury retrogrades for three weeks, it becomes harder to operate on autopilot… because we aren’t supposed to be robots operating on autopilot during Mercury Retrograde. If we do, things short out. Mercury doesn’t want us to rush through the day mindlessly; it wants us to engage with our minds and to participate in elevated awareness.
If we zoom through our days the way we usually do, we’re going to come up against hiccups or issues. If we move slowly and with intention — wouldn’t you know it — Mercury Retrograde is not only a blessing; it’s a bit of a breeze!
Mercury governs all "re" words. Works like, redo, revisit, rework, retry, reclaim, and so on. Under the influence of Mercury Retrograde, it is a perfect time to go back and look over things you have done, scanning for mistakes or errors and potentially catching things you had missed.
It’s not that you necessarily have to go looking for problems. It’s about recalibrating your awareness with intention. Paying attention allows us to notice things we would usually miss.
The thing is, most of the time we are rushing. The mistakes have already happened. Mercury Retrograde is our opportunity to catch them and to fix them if we see them. Of course, if we create something during Mercury Retrograde and we rush through the process, there is a good chance we could miss something. But if we’re going slow and indulging in the slow gooey energy, the mistakes just don’t find us.
And if communication between pals or loved ones seems to be tense or short-fused, take an extra second to realize you're probably misinterpreting what's being conveyed (or they are misinterpreting what you're trying to say). Pause. Crank up your awareness. Explain and connect slowly. Try again.
can i sign important contracts during mercury retrograde?
To be completely honest, I am reluctant to sign contracts during Mercury Retrograde, and yet I sold my house during Mercury Retrograde and have booked a trip before — and my head didn’t spin. That knee-jerk fear around Mercury Retrograde has seeped into us and it’s very real.
But being aware of it helps to disengage with it.
If we are taking our time to make decisions and not reacting quickly or on instinct, we can maintain our heightened awareness and make decisions from a place of calm and authority. We can sell our houses. We can book a trip.
Resist the urge to book a trip in the moment, and engage with thinking about it for a few days. When I sold my home, I didn’t accept the offer immediately. I considered it all the way til the end of the cut off time allotted. I took all the time I was given. I paced around my yard. Talked with my partner. Talked with my kid. Felt all kinds of feelings. If a new opportunity presents itself to us, we are to consider it for longer than we normally would, rather than responding immediately. The intention we’re encouraged to participate in during Mercury is not to rush; to slow down and consider things more thoughtfully. Feel them, rather than rely on your mind.
When we think of Mercury Retrograde this way, it actually feels like a bit of a mental reprieve. We can plan for slow times and periods of rest. Maybe when you see Mercury Retrograde coming up in your calendar, you can schedule in conscious slow moments - brunch with GFs, a solo massage, a quiet night at home instead of hitting the town. Instead of blasting through text messages, pick up the phone to call your pal — or even better — get together IRL.
Mercury Retrograde is actually a time of heightened awareness. So do we want to consciously engage with that, or continue to mindlessly operate on autopilot?
Pssst I’ve got a great podcast-style voice note that gives you an inpsiring alternative when it comes to understanding Retrogrades and how they help us push upward rather than forward on our paths. I’d love if you gave it a listen here.