Who’s afraid of retrograde? The myth of Mercury retro

The planet Mercury is zinging backwards through the sky right now.  I’ve noticed more and more people are aware of Mercury’s retrograde periods and are warning not to engage in contracts or agreements in this time.  It’s becoming cool to fuss about it.  But what does retrograde really mean?  Is it a serious threat?

Most of the time, as the planets circle the sun, they go “forward” in the sky.  But because Earth, too, is circling the sun, we get weird times when they appear to move backwards.  This is like when you are in a bus or a car and the car next to you moves forward but you see and feel like you’re going backwards.  From our angle, Mercury just looks like it’s traveling backwards right now.

1. Check its zodiacal sign for context

First of all, give this Mercury retrograde some context.  Whatever zodiac sign the planet is in gives its effects a definite flavor.  Mercury itself is the messenger god and the trickster healer.  His energies resonate with the exchange of information.  They govern communications, education, computers, internet, travel, etc.  That could be anything.

This retro, Mercury is in Virgo, which is about discrimination, analysis, and correcting.  It’s also about the energies of purity, humility, practicality and organization.  Virgo is the nurturing mother who knows best, healers, and all that is holy, pious or religious.  These are some areas where Mercury may turn over the dirt in your life.  If you want to track retrogrades, always check the sign they’re in.  In fact, you may also want to check what else is going on in the sky and in your charts, which may be much more significant.

2. Look for the inauthentic to surface

Imagine running your hand down a fabric like velvet with a “nap” or a directional fiber.  A cat or dog’s coat is similar.  It’s smooth one way, but when you go the opposite way, the fibers stand up and poke into your hand.  You can see all the way to the animal’s skin or the woven base of the fabric.  Some fabrics and furs will actually push your hand in another direction.

A planet’s retrograde is like running your hand the wrong way over its orbit and energy.  Retrograde lifts up what is usually smooth and surfacey and has a look underneath.  It digs up and releases, often seemingly against our conscious will, what shouldn’t be there.  The inauthentic and out-of-place works itself out.

This is not a BAD thing!  Back in the day, we used to reverse the flow of vacuum cleaners to blow air out the hose to unclog it.  Retrogrades “unclog” the planet’s energy.  They are like a natural periodic cleanse that keeps Mercury energy running smoothly for you.  How convenient!

Because so much crud will be surfacing, you will likely have to deal with it to help clear it away.  This inauthentic junk is also why some recommended you avoid nailing down permanent agreements or contracts during this time — some of the debris may be included.

For me this time, writing my book this week I realized I’d drawn an old conclusion in one section, a conclusion I hadn’t updated with new insights yet.  I had to change the whole mnemonic of that chapter!  This is the kind of wonderful thing that comes from a retrograde period.  I was delighted!

3. Stay in integrity and hold a steady course

There’s never anything to “worry” about in the spiritual journey.  It’s all good in the end, and you always have all you need in every moment.  That means you have all you need to deal with Mercury retros, too.  If you are living and working in true authenticity and integrity, you’re good.  Embrace the period of change, and use it to naturally cleanse out what’s not working for you.  Maintain your balance with flexibility, and you’ll be fine through any planet’s retrograde period.

(Oh, did I forget to mention they ALL do this?  And see, you’ve been OK all along!)

You can do it.  Take this opportunity to heal your worries about Mercury retrograde.  Embrace the change that life naturally and periodically moves us through.

Dates This Time
Mercury retrograde begins: August 20, 2010, 3:59 pm EDT in Virgo
Ends: September 12, 2010, 7:09 pm EDT in Virgo
Note:  On either side of retrograde is a period where the planet is stopped or moving very, very slowly, which also affects the energy of that planet.  So retrogrades are now longer than you thought they were, who knew?  Best to do your best all the time and stop worrying!