What on earth is Mercury Retrograde?

WTF is Mercury Retrograde anyway?!

So I ain’t no astronomer nor am I a qualified astrologer but I am a one-time scientist and a bit of a woo-woo too so the perceived impacts of inter-planetary actions on us mere humans here on Earth fascinates me!

Today Mercury turns what’s referred to as ‘retrograde’. If you know anyone in the even mildly woo-woo realms you might have heard them blaming ‘Mercury Retro’ for everything from their recent forgetfulness to their epic computer hard drive fail. You’re daily horoscope probably mentions it too.

So what is Mercury Retrograde all about? Well astronomically it’s kind of like a heavenly optical illusion! The planet Mercury, which lives a little closer to the Sun than us, and travels around the Sun in a slightly less than perfect circle a little faster than us, appears to we mere earthlings to stop and then travel backwards in the sky for short periods of time. This happens around 3-ish times a year as Mercury takes 88 days to spin around the Sun, and lasts about 3-ish weeks at a time. A good example to visualise what this is like is to imagine you’re sitting in a train that begins to pass another train on a parallel track. If the train you’re sitting on moves faster than the other train, that one appears as if it’s actually going backwards. Check out the image and see if it helps this make any more sense!

Astrology, which is one of the most ancient ‘sciences’ or systems that study the interactions of different phenomena (in this case the interaction of planetary actions on things that happen here on Earth), attributes the planet Mercury to the qualities of communication, travel/transportation and trade (in Western astrology – there are lots of different systems that look at things in different ways e.g. Vedic (Indian), Mayan, Chinese).

These themes come from Roman mythology where Mercury was the god of messages and eloquent communication, of travel and of commerce. He’s the god with winged heels who travels fast, spreading the messages of the gods. The word Mercury comes from the Latin word ‘mercator’ meaning merchant.

So what does this mean to modern day, well educated and open-minded wild sages like you and me?

Well…astrologists believe that when Mercury is ‘retrograde’ actions associated with the themes it rules become stalled or blocked for the period of time it appears to be stopped or moving backwards in the sky. You might experience this as plans that were set in stone suddenly going awry, modern day communications equipment playing up or breaking down, travel being disrupted or delayed and transactions taking longer than expected or failing completely. All of these things can be challenging and snap you rudely back into awareness of the impermanence of all things.

While all of these things sound less than ideal, there are good things that come from Mercury Retrogrades too. The next three weeks are excellent time to reflect. Intuition is high during Mercury Retro, the backward motion of the planet of intellect and communication indicating an opportunity to revise old plans, turn inward and reconnect to your soulful world. It’s a great time to ask, ‘Is this really what I want?’ and be fully present to receiving guidance and answers, sometimes from unexpected places – notice synchronicity. Ideas put down in the past might pop back into your head with a new perspective or people from your past might reach out to you, offering you the opportunity to integrate or resolve past issues.

Mercury Retrograde doesn’t have to be something you’re afraid of! Great tips for being prepared in Mercury Retro are to remain flexible, allow time for extra travel, and avoid signing contracts or sealing deals if you can. If you do, you might find that things need to be revised again in the future. Take time out to chill and process what’s really going on inside. Be open, you never know who or what might pop up to confront, heal or inspire you this next three weeks!

Wishing you a Wild, Wise, Well Mercury Retrograde!


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