Mercury's In Retrograde: What That Means & Why You Care

by Dani Katz
You know the drill. You get a flat tire. Your mother-in-law picks a fight. Your smart phone craps out just as you’re boarding a flight to Portland that gets rerouted to Houston, thus rendering you several hours late for the conference you signed up for six months ago, only to be told by the facilitator (once you actually arrive) that there is no one by your name registered for the event. Is there an explanation for this bad luck?

“Mercury’s retrograde until Sept 22nd,” shrugs a nearby dude with a greying ponytail and those weird toe separating shoes. It's true: Mercury retrogrades from August 30 to September 22, then from December 19 to 31 this year.
But you're an intelligent person who prides yourself on reason and logic, as well as  your highly developed critical thinking skills; and you don’t go in for all that astrology nonsense. “Whatever, dude,” you shrug, rolling your eyes.

But Can Mercury in Retrograde Affect You?

We live in an interdependent solar system comprised of stars and moons and planets whose energies and trajectories all affect one another. The Earth is not exempt from this planetary interplay, as much as the idea offends our egos’ notions of isolated autonomy.
“I’m not affected by something as silly as a planet,” scoffs the ego. “I’m running this show.”
Except our egos aren’t running this show, and neither are we. We are all part of a much larger organizing structure (i.e. the cosmos) comprised of spinning rocks we call planets. These spinning rocks radiate archetypal energies that animate these meat suits we temporarily wear for the short time we’re here – and yes, when I say “meat suit,” I mean human body. As much as we identify ourselves by our names and our jobs and our talents and our preferences, we are first and foremost Earthlings. The Earth is our home, and what affects her, affects all of us.

Also by Dani Katz on Z Living: Get Really (Really) Mad. For Fourteen Seconds.

What Exactly is a 'Retrograde'? 

The planets are in constant motion – circling themselves while also circling the sun. Retrogrades occur when a planet slows its roll, and thus appears to be moving backwards. It isn’t, but it is definitely downshifting from its usual pace. When this happens, the usual dynamic tension that orients us to these planetary energies is altered – loosened, if you will, and so it is that the activities and energies the retrograding planet rules get kind of wonky.

BTW, Mercury Retrogrades More Than Usual This Year

Mercury retrogrades three times a year. Usually. This year it’s retrograding four times, because clearly the universe thinks we’re not already enduring enough planetary intensity as it is. Mercury is the planet that rules communication, machinery and travel. I don’t know exactly how a planetary pace-change translates to a dead car battery, but there is a lot humans don’t (yet) know about how the cosmos works.

Also by Dani Katz on Z Living: PSA: Where Are You Putting Your Sacred Attention?

What I do know from years and years of tracking the planets, is that when Mercury goes retrograde, we are wise to take the following precautions:

Our Checklist For Preparing for Mercury in Retrograde:

  1. Back-up your tech – your computer, your phone, your whatever. Mercury retrograde lends itself to computer glitches. Plan, scan and charge accordingly.
  2. Avoid signing contracts, and making big purchases/life changes. Mercury retrograde affects our communication, and can make our thinking a bit murky. It is not the best time to bind ourselves to agreements flushed out during this dodgy time, let alone to break the ones we put into place beforehand.
  3. Prepare for travel delays.  
  4. Amp up your patience. And your sense of humor. Because – well, #3.
  5. Avoid launching projects. Mercury retrograde is not the most auspicious time to start things. The momentum is not in our favor.
  6. Do reflect and tie-up loose ends. Mercury retrograde tends to bring our past to the forefront. Use this time to reevaluate the bits of your past that organically enter your awareness/reality. Finish projects inviting completion.
  7. Rest. Recharge. Lie low.
Pay attention to how its energies are affecting your reality. Are conversations more strained than usual? Are your gadgets and machinery a little less reliable? Wait times longer? Do you want to strangle your boyfriend every time he opens his mouth?

Personally, I love a good Mercury Retrograde if for no other reason than it bonds me to my fellow man by way of frustration, thus reminding me that I am not in charge, and that despite my will and my best efforts, I can’t control everything, which – I’ve gotta say – is a welcome relief.

Also by Dani Katz on Z LIving: Are Your Opinions Really Your Opinions?

PS, Mercury Isn't the Only Planet Retrograding

Now, to further complicate things, Saturn, Mars and Pluto are also currently retrograding, thus destabilizing our established relationships to structure, action and transformation, respectively. You see Saturn is the planet that rules structure, which means you might notice a lot of people transitioning between homes or jobs. Political and economic structures are also a little more vulnerable to upheaval right now. Mars determines how we take action in the world, and this guy’s retrograding through June, which has us reevaluating how we normally take action, and – hopefully – shifting accordingly. For a lot of us, it feels like we’re moving through molasses, like the energy we normally have to drive ourselves forward just isn’t there. Know what I mean? And then we’ve got Pluto, which rules the underworld, and inspires us to transform. Pluto’s current retrograde is inviting us to go deeper, and to examine how we grow, how we process shadows, and how we engage our relationship to darkness and death and sex and change. Toss a little retrograding Mercury into the mix, and we’ve got ourselves a nice, ripe set-up for chaos, intensity, discomfort and discombobulation.

Some Final Advice

Why don’t we add one more bit of advice to our de facto Surviving Retrograde Season checklist:
Be gentle.
It’s impossible to say how all these retrogrades are going to express through you or me or anyone, because it’s different for all of us. But, it will very likely be uncomfortable, and throw us for a loop or two or twelve, and so it is that I invite you to be super very gentle with yourself. To be patient. And flexible. And to surrender to what life throws your way with as much ease and grace as you can muster. Because, whether you believe in star stuff or the benefits of toe-spreading shoes, or not, the times, they are intensifying.
Godspeed, kiddos.

WATCH on Z Living: Namaste Yoga, a calming workout for body and soul. Join hosts Kate Potter, Erica Blitz and a cast of experienced yogis as they guide you through a morning yoga flow sure to start your day off right. Get a sneak peek here.

Tell us in the comments: Do you believe that Mercury in retrograde affects you? How so?


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