First of all, what do Direct (D) and Retrograde (R) mean, in astrological terms? These are times when a planet moves forward (D) or backward (R) through the signs of the zodiac (an optical illusion, as when a moving train passes a slower train that appears to be going backward).
When a planet is in direct motion, planetary energies are more straightforward; in retrograde, planetary energies turn back in on themselves and are more involuted.
Mercury, planetary muse and mentor of our mental and communicative lives, appears to reverse its course three or four times a year.
We may experience less stress during these periods by taking the time to pause and go back over familiar territory and give second thoughts to dropped projects or miscommunications. Breakdowns can help us attend to the safety of mechanics and mobility. It’s time to “recall the now” of the past and deal with underlying issues. Leave matters that lock in future commitments until Mercury goes direct.
Those are wise words from Sandra Pastorius, seasoned astrologer. You can read more of her articles in our Galactic Musings blog. We publish a write-up about the upcoming Mercury Retrograde cycles in every We'Moon astrological planner.
Many people look to Mercury Retrograde with trepidation. “Don’t make any future plans!” “Don’t start a new job or sign any contracts!” “Don’t buy a car, it’ll turn out to be a lemon!” This may also be wise advice, but what CAN we do during these cycles? How can we make Mercury in Retrograde our ally?
In the words of Sandra Pastorius: “It’s time to “recall the now” of the past and deal with underlying issues.” This is an excellent time to repair what is broken, in physical mechanical terms. Are you the type of person who puts off minor repairs on your vehicles? Maybe that broken tailgate causes you only momentary annoyance every now and then, and you tried to fix it before….now is an excellent time to take the hour or two to repair it one more time. In my experience, long overdue repairs taken care of when Mercury is in retrograde are long lasting and permanent repairs.
Same with interpersonal relationships. Have you spoken words to your friend or partner that you regret, or is there a long standing miscommunication that keeps coming up? Take some time to think about it. What is the history of your miscommunication? Do you truly understand where the other person is coming from? Why are you holding to your side of the story so strongly?
There may be real moral or ethical reasons. Can you articulate those in a way that opens the other person up to curiosity and understanding? Can you open yourself up to curiosity and understanding about why they are holding so strongly to their side of the story. Is “being right” really that important?
This is a good time to do some inner soul searching about the pain-points in your relationships. What can be repaired? What role is ego playing, in your stubborn stance? What if you didn’t take yourself so seriously? How could laughing at yourself open the way for lighthearted resolution to long standing friction points in your relationships with your partner, your family, your friends.
Thunder Woman in the Far North © Sandy Eastoak 2010
This year, Mercury is in Retrograde from 21 to 25 days, in the Spring, Summer and Fall. That is generally how long the Mercury Retrograde cycles last, every year. That means you have about three weeks, three or four times a year, to pay attention to mechanics, communications, technicalities, and to tend to what needs repair in those areas.
The We’Moon astrological planner and We’Moon on the Wall wall calendar both let you know when Mercury is going retrograde, and when it goes direct a few weeks later, at the end of the retrograde cycle.
A good way to remind yourself that this is a time to pay special attention, maybe take a pause on any “serious” decisions, is to use a highlighter to mark the days in each of Mercury’s retrograde cycles. That gives you a visual reminder to step carefully, and put a pause on legal commitments, new projects, travel planning, and to be forgiving when communications break down, because indeed breakdown they will! Take it lightly. This, too, shall pass.
Cannabis Goddess Blessing © Katalin Pazmandi 2017 from We'Moon 2020
It’s especially important to pay attention to when Mercury is about to begin its Retrograde cycle, and to when Mercury is due to go direct. The days leading up to and directly after Mercury changes course can be especially volatile.
Imagine you are cruising at a speed of 60 miles and hour, and suddenly you put your car in reverse. That’s not going to be a smooth transition for you. Similarly, when Mercury stations Retrograde, this massive planet of communication, travel and thought, changes direction, lots of moving parts—our plans, hasty mechanical repairs, edgy communications from the past—these energies whose imprints are stores in the orbit of Mercury, they all have to be gathered in and carried into Mercury’s new trajectory, whether that trajectory be direct or retrograde. A bit like a huge snow globe, with Mercury in the center, when that planet suddenly changes direction, all those energies get shaken up, and the dust take several day to settle.
Hathor Pour Cosomology © Lindy Kehoe 2017 from We'Moon 2020
Given all of this, you can see how important it is to know when Mercury goes retrograde. The We’Moon Datebook and the We'Moon Wall Calendar track when these cycles begin and end throughout the year, and one of our in-house astrologers, Sandra Pastorius, writes an article about the year’s upcoming Retrograde cycles for every edition.
February 16 — March 9: Mercury’s retrograde in Pisces reminds us to revisit dreams and release our tears, regrets and best laid plans. When direct again, renew with what feeds your soul.
Mutable water-sign Pisces, is marked by characteristics of introspection, imagination, sensitivity and intuition. Pisces asks us to slow down and contemplate. It’s time to metabolize last year’s complexities and make it safe to be sensitive; nurture the subtle voices within before we spring forward. Dream, listen; feel the complex tapestry of life, and prepare.
Pisces inspires dreamy visions, and deep emotions. So it makes sense that this retrograde cycle is asking us to tend to the emotional, to pay close attention to our communications with loved ones. Maybe look into repairing communications that have cause you or them emotional pain. Share your dreams.
June 17 — July 12: When Mercury retraces steps in Cancer look for cracks in the hard shell of protective attachments that keep you stuck. When direct again emerge in greater awareness into your circle of kinship.
Cardinal Water-sign Cancer is about family, home, emotional awareness, nourishment. So when Mercury is in Retrograde in the sign of Cancer, it makes sense that our home life might seem to get out of balance. Take this time to do inner work. Be gentle with your beloveds and ask them to be gentle with you. You may be able to work out some differences in communication, but tread carefully during this time.
Are there some minor home repairs that you have been putting off completing, especially having to do with plumbing? This may be a good time to finish off that project. But remember, this is not a recommended time to START a project.
Moon Dancers © Leah Marie Dorion 2018 from We'Moon 2020
October 13 — November 3: Take time when Mercury retrogrades in Scorpio to investigate your underlying motivations. When direct again allow space to have the real conversations.
Smokey and primal, the mood is deep and mysterious. Scorpio lends sharpness to every situation—both sharp witted and sharp tongued—so watch out for shocking conversations, this Mercury Retrograde cycle! Use the Scorpionic influence to aim your laser focus on clear, compassionate communication. You may find that you have extra powers of perception at this time. Use them for the higher good! Be wary of undermining close relationships because of an overinflated ego. Let the mood pass. Take some quiet time to brood, if need be.
This is a great time to lay bare some harsh realities about what isn't working at top capacity in your life. This could be technology, mechanical (e-hem, how's your jalopy running?). House need repairs? Check for drippy faucets, with Mercury Retrograde in a water sign. You may be looking at your relationships with an extra critical eye. This could be a good time for an overhaul, for clearing out some relationships that aren't serving the highest good anymore, but be aware that the mood tends to be more prickly and critical, when Mercury retrogrades in Scorpio, so best to take note for re-evaluating well after Mercury has gone direct.
Don't rush your decisions. Take time to formulate your most compassionate words. Get curious and investigate the potent and magical happenings around you. Give yourself time to contemplate the deep mysteries in your life and in the world around you.
This Mercury Retrograde cycle may just be the excuse you have been looking for to take a nice long refreshing break—some alone-time.
Interested in exploring more? Visit our Journey into Astrology blog post collection to browse through our constantly updated collection of interesting and informative posts about astrology and celestial influences like:
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Sagittarius (Nov. 21-Dec.21) Wander. Under Mutable Fire Sagittarius, we want to expand our horizons, travel in the mind, body or spirit, to commune with strangers and with the natural world.
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