According to the Glossary of New Speak, the definition of Mercury in retrograde is,
An (sic) regularly occurring, astrological event that gives New Agers an excuse for getting fired, wrecking their car, breaking a leg, or having an overall %#@!%$ day.
While this isn’t, of course, the real definition of the term, it is, in fact, how many Pagans/Pagan-adjacent folks feel about this time – and I pretty much include myself in that group. Knowledge is power, though, so lets take a step-by-step look at what Mercury in retrograde really is and how to avoid it’s less than positive side-effects.
When do the upcoming retrogrades happen?
- February 23–March 17
- June 26–July 20
- October 21–November 10
What is Mercury in Retrograde?
Put simply, Mercury is closer to the Sun than the Earth is, so it’s rotation around the Sun moves faster than that of the Earth’s. Several times a year (generally 3 or 4 times), the planet seems to slow down, stop, and move backward. Mercury isn’t really moving backward when it’s in retrograde, it’s an optical illusion. Have you ever been in a parked car, looked over to another car and suddenly felt like your car was rolling? Only to realize that it was actually the other car that had started moving? That’s a bit similar to what’s happening with Mercury. We look up into the sky and see it, and it appears to be moving backward because it’s orbit and the Earth’s orbit are moving in tandem.
Why does this affect us?
When a planet goes retrograde, it sort of taking a rest. All of the areas that it influences no longer benefit from it’s supervision. In astrology, Mercury rules all forms of communication, agreements, contracts, wills, leases, selling, buying, travel, listening, and any type of partnerships. In the modern world, Mercury also affects computers, especially things having to do with code. Anything with moving parts are affected by Mercury. When Mercury goes into retrograde, all of these areas have a tendency to go a little wonky.
What to avoid during the retrograde period
Basically the trick to surviving Mercury in retrograde is to just avoid making any serious moves during that time period. (That should be easy, right?) Avoid signing contracts, starting new ventures, planning a wedding, buying a home or starting a new job. Doing any of these things during a retrograde can result in unanticipated problems cropping up – if not right away, later down the line. If you are have to plan a surgery, try to schedule it around the retrograde if possible (but don’t delay it if it’s something serious!).
During the retrograde, you might find appliances, cars or computers breaking down or going on the fritz. Things you are looking to purchase might be out of stock or you bring them home to find that they are damaged. Or you get just the right thing, only to spill a soda on it. Business trips go kablooey. And the worst part, communications between people can be super tricky.
How to combat the wonkiness
Thankfully, there are some quick tips to help you make it through the retrograde. Don’t make any major purchases if you can avoid doing so. If you can’t, splurge on the warranty! Make copies of any important documentation that you receive during this time, to help ensure you don’t loose track of it. Back up your computer files. Get your car tuned up before a retrograde goes into effect. If you’re set to close on a house, make sure that you’ve had it thoroughly inspected.
Most importantly, grab hold of your sense of humor and your best communication skills and hold on with both hands. If someone says something to you that makes your temper flare up, take a deep breath and ask them to clarify what they just said (truly, this advice is good for any time!). It might simply be a case of miscommunication. If you have something serious to discuss with someone, give some thought to how you want to bring it up and be as clear and patient as you can be in the discussion.
Magically speaking, having a bottle of Van Van oil is very helpful. It turns bad luck into good, and can help turn around ℞ issues with miscommunication. Rub it on your hands before going out for the day, use it to anoint mojo bags, dab it letters that you are sending out, or use it to dress candles before spell work.
It’s not all bad news
There are some positive things to be said about Mercury going into retrograde. This is a great time to look back, revisit and take a look around (including behind you). This is the perfect time to find closure with a past issue, or to find a way to redirect our energies toward a more productive path. Been out of touch with an old friend or distant family member? This is the time to get back into contact. If you work in sales of any kind, get in touch with customers you haven’t heard from in a while. Have you lost something recently? Take a look for it during the retrograde, it just might show up. It’s the perfect time for a pleasure trip with the intent to get away from it all.
For the household witch, the retrograde is the perfect time to clean out closets, muck out the underneath of beds and clean out the cobwebs in the corners. Create stacks of things to be given away, thrown out or repaired (though wait until the retrograde is over before tackling the repair pile).
To sum it up
While the retrograde can create situations that leave you feeling frustrated, with a little forward thinking and some patience, you can weather this time and even turn things around to work for you!
This article is © Kris Bradley. It may not be reproduced online in its entirety without written permission of the author. Copies may be printed for personal use. Sharing via a link to this original post is happily allowed and greatly appreciated.