Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid Of Mercury Retrograde
“Mercury Retrograde” has attained worldwide fame, so much so that at this point, it seems like everyone is aware of its effects, and is in nervous anticipation of the next retrograde cycle. A topic that used to be reserved for astrologers, new-agers, and alternative medicine fanatics, became a normal part of everyday conversation among, well, regular people. As someone who practices Vedic astrology (known as Jyotish in Sanskrit), I do count myself among those people that casually throw astrology terms in normal conversation. I also find it very interesting to tie astrological transits to current events and study human psychology through the reading of personal charts.
When it comes to individual reading sessions, people frequently ask about their life path and purpose, and (of course) relationships. However, when it comes to keeping track of global changes and current events, the most common question I always get is – “What is Mercury retrograde and how will it affect me?” My clients often contact me at the beginning of retrograde periods with questions or concerns, often seeking lifestyle tips for that time period. Many are cautious about making decisions or changes during those times. They seem more uncertain or even stressed out due to the planetary influences. They ask “Should I do something/avoid doing something during Mercury Retrograde?” It seems that even astrology novices have been well informed of the effects Mercury Retrograde has on people, and want to keep track of its effects on their life. Although Mercury Retrograde does indeed have particular effects on one’s life and current events, it isn’t necessarily always negative, nor should a retrograde period be feared. So let’s dive deeper into understanding what does retrograde means and shed some light on how it might affect us.
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First things first, how do planetary transitions and movements affect me?
According to both eastern and western astrology, planets are always moving in the cosmic sky, causing certain influences on life here on Earth. Without going too deep into the influence and credibility of astrology at this time, the important thing to remember is that the aspects planets are casting on our daily lives are not arbitrary nor out of our control. The Vedas (ancient Indian texts from which practices like Yoga, Ayurveda, and Jyotish Vedic astrology originate), explain those cosmic influences as one way to read our life’s journey, and our karma, or effects of past actions. Our individual birth chart is considered to be a map, and astrology a language to read that map. At different points in our lives, various aspects of our being, mindset, and karma are activated, and the planets are a medium by which the action is being delivered.
Now, what exactly is a planet in retrograde?
Planets are always moving in their assigned orbit around the sun. During the periods of retrograde state, as the name suggests, the planet is ‘moving backward’ in space. If you watched the recently released sci-fi movie Tenet (highly recommended), think of the backward motion all the people traveling through time were exhibiting. The planets in the sky similarly appear to be moving backward in its orbit, from our perspective here on Earth. They are not indeed moving in a different direction than their cosmic path in real life; the retrograde motion is simply an optical illusion from our point of perspective. However, according to astrology, being that we on Earth are being influenced by those cosmic movements in the sky, the apparent backward motion has a particular effect on us observing it. When a planet is not in a retrograde state, we call that ‘direct’ motion.
Retrograde state and its effects
From all the astronomical objects we call planets in astrology, the Sun and Moon never go retrograde, they are always direct. All other planets go retrograde once or more times per year. The shadow planets of Rahu and Ketu in Vedic astrology (Jyotish), also known as the north and south nodes of the Moon, are always in a retrograde state, and never travel direct: i.e. retrograde is their natural motion. That makes them even more interesting and their influence very peculiar.
Each planet represents certain aspects of our life, psyche, areas of activity, relationships, and persons. During their ‘direct motion’, planets deliver certain influences in the particular areas of life they rule. For example, Venus is in charge of relationships, love, sexuality, beauty, feminine energy, marriage, travel, luxury, vehicles, and so on. During a period of Venus, or having Venus influence our life, we will have certain activities and developments in the aforementioned fields.
Now, during the retrograde motion of a planet, the areas of life they influence become afflicted. The affliction may vary depending on various factors including the qualities and areas of life the said planet influences. However, in summary, a retrograde planet is delivering a particular message or lesson in its area of rule. We might imagine what would happen if a certain aspect of our life starts going backward. As the term suggests, we might begin ‘feeling backward’. We might receive a message from the past, have to deal with reactions to our past actions, are forced to re-evaluate our path and decisions, and have various complications in the area of life in question. For most people, that retrograde state due to its influences feels more intense than the direct state. In Jyotish, we call retrograde periods, periods of karmic lessons. Whether it’s people we meet and interact with or situations we encounter ourselves in, karma is being delivered and processed.
What is Mercury retrograde?
Mercury is the planet in charge of communication first and foremost; as well as intelligence, learning power, growth, games and play, reasoning, adaptability, business. It is the youngest of all planets by its cosmic personality and therefore represents a child ready to learn, grow, absorb the world like a sponge. People who have excellent communication skills, are professional speakers, coaches, writers, or teachers, work in marketing, or are life-long students with analytical skills, probably have a positive and strong influence of Mercury in their native chart. For all of us, Mercury means those aspects of our life and personality. Depending on how Mercury is positioned in our native chart, those qualities will be manifested in a particular way in our life.
When Mercury famously enters its retrograde state, communication and other aspects of its rule become affected. That might mean we have issues in communication, feel misunderstood, our technology and other means of communicating with the world are affected or break down, we suffer from quarrels and fights, our reasoning and analytical power is inflicted… You get the picture. I believe the most important aspect that made Mercury Retrograde infamous is the miscommunication. No one likes that! From being misunderstood to making ‘wrong’ decisions under the influence of misinterpretation, so many areas of our lives and relationships can suffer during this period due to those effects.
Due to its fast nature, Mercury goes retrograde quite often, three or four times per year. But that period of retrograde motion is luckily shorter, due to its speed, than, for example, the period of Saturn retrograde, who moves at a slower pace. So Mercury will enter retrograde more often, but not for as long as Saturn.
So, why shouldn’t I be afraid of Mercury retrograde?
Well, when we begin studying astrology in greater depth, we discover that astrological movements (also known as transits) have individual effects based on our personal chart and our karma. The transits will have a particular effect on your life depending on factors such as what planet rules your sign, how planets are positioned in your chart, how they interact with each other, and which overall planetary period you are in at any moment.
So for example, if Mercury is already afflicted in one’s natal chart, one might feel the retrograde period stronger than someone with a well-positioned and strong Mercury. If one has the signs ruled by Mercury, namely Gemini and Virgo, as their Sun sign, Moon sign, or ascendant, they are more in tune with Mercury’s rule in general. When one is born during the period of Mercury retrograde, the planet ‘stays’ retrograde in their natal chart for life; which means they will continue learning lessons related to miscommunication and similar during various points of their life and might feel more misunderstood than others. If Mercury is so positioned that it is influencing our romantic partnership in the natal chart, that means that during its period of retrograde motion, communication with our partner will be specifically affected. All in all, although Mercury retrograde has particular specific effects and qualities, every person will experience the effects of it differently depending on their chart – meaning, their life’s journey.
In the same way, if we remember that most planets move retrograde at some point in time, we might find that certain other periods of retrograde motion affect us even more than Mercury retrograde. Saturn retrograde is a time for learning patience and wisdom; Venus retrograde will touch upon our romantic life (everyone’s sensitive point); Mars retrograde will put us in touch with our anger issues. It’s not recommended to focus only on Mercury Retrograde when other retrograde motions and transits of planets might be even more influential and important in our life. If you do begin to follow the natural motion of planets and realize that Mercury retrograde is affecting you in a specific way, it is a sign that its placement in your chart does enhance the retrograde period’s effects. However, there is no reason for fear or concern. Each retrograde motion is a time for learning, for overcoming obstacles, for lessons, for karmic cleansing, for personal growth. It is a great reminder to be more mindful during that time, particularly in the area of life influenced by the planet. There is nothing wrong with being reminded to be mindful of our words and communication and take time to understand each other, every once in a while.
What can we do to pass the Mercury Retrograde period as smoothly as possible?
First and foremost, be mindful of your words and how they might affect others. That being said, it is always advisable to be mindful of our communication, which in turn can make our lives so much easier overall. Therefore, the karmic lessons Mercury brings are a welcome reminder!
We can also learn patience in communication, by listening attentively and with empathy, trying to consciously hear and understand those speaking to us. If we know that Mercury is Retrograde, maybe we don’t take certain miscommunications or quarrels to heart, but rather have understanding for those who might be afflicted and suffering during these times. And finally, we become aware of just how powerfully impactful communication is, being open to whatever lessons regarding our communication, learning, growth, and connection Mercury is teaching us. Astrology is simply a tool, a language to understand Universal messages and life lessons.
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