27 September–18 October 2021
Here we are again, staring down another Mercury Retrograde.
The words ‘Mercury Retrograde’ strikes fear in the hearts of many. It is collectively known as the time when travel plans go awry, technology breaks down, exes float back into your life and communication lines get crossed. Often people just want to climb into bed with the covers over their heads until it is all over.
But, Mercury Retrograde is actually a really awesome time to reflect on what’s working in your life and what isn’t. In this hectic world we live in, consider the retrograde period as a chance to take a mini-retreat, slow down and tidy up those loose ends in your life that are just flapping about in the wind.
What is a retrograde anyway?
Every planet goes through retrograde periods. Essentially it is when the planet appears to be going backwards in the sky. It isn’t—this is just an optical illusion due to the position of the planet in relation to Earth, and how it is moving around the Sun. It’s a bit like being on a train with another train on the track next to you. As the train next to you picks up speed it can feel like your train is going backwards.
The optical illusion of the planet going backwards gives us an opportunity to have a think about what’s going on in our lives. A retrograde is a chance for us to rest, reflect, rethink, reevaluate, retreat, reset, renew … basically any word beginning with ‘re’.
Mercury rules how we think, learn and communicate. It oversees short distance travel (like day trips), our immediate environment (like our neighbourhood), siblings (or any kids you grew up with that feel like siblings) and formal education up until the end of high school. Mercury’s association with communication means it is also connected to technology.
Mercury is the ruler of Gemini, a sign which is known for its love of information, being social, constant movement and mental dexterity.
In Roman mythology Mercury was the God of Commerce, messages, travelers, boundaries, trickery and thieves. He had winged feet which helped him travel swiftly and carried a caduceus, which is a winged staff with two snakes. In Greek mythology Mercury was known as Hermes and it has also been associated with Loki in the Norse mythology.
The God Mercury was quite the trickster and it is this side of the planet that we see when it is in retrograde.
General things that might happen when Mercury is retrograde
Because Mercury rules communication, you can find that you experience misunderstandings and miscommunications. Check plans with people ahead of time and don't make assumptions (as the saying goes, 'when you assume you make an ass out of u and me').
Technology might go on the fritz (I have often had computer or phone issues coincide with a Mercury Retrograde, so make sure everything is backed up just in case) and if you have travel plans be aware that there may be delays—give yourself plenty of time to get to where you need to be, have duplicates of your travel documents etc.
Patterns in your life can spring up again, giving you a chance to act differently or make a different choice.
It is often advised to not to sign contracts during a Mercury Retrograde, but the other party might not accept 'I cannot sign this until Mercury is direct' as a reason to delay things. If you must sign something, just make sure you triple-check everything so there are no surprises later. Also be aware that the agreement can change later on, which isn't necessarily a bad thing and can work out in your favour—Yoko Ono famously only signed contracts during Mercury Retrogrades so she could more easily renegotiate the terms later.
Really, your experience of Mercury retrograde depends on your own attitude. If you allow yourself some breathing space and compassion and are accepting that things can go a little awry you will have a much easier time than if you get super stressed out about every detail not going to plan. It's a lesson in surrendering and going with the flow.
The pre and post retrograde periods
The retrograde period is bookended by what is known as the pre-retrograde and post-retrograde shadow periods.
Pre-retrograde shadow: This is like when you are setting up for a party. You are getting things ready. You might start noticing some themes popping up—pay attention to these as they could very well be your particular focus/lesson during this retrograde period.
The retrograde: This is like the party itself when all the action happens (good, bad or otherwise). It begins when Mercury stations retrograde and ends when Mercury stations direct.
Post-retrograde shadow: This is like cleaning up after a party. The event is over, but there may be a few guests hanging around that you need to get rid of, or you may think you’ve cleaned everything up but then find an empty beer bottle hidden somewhere a few days later. Basically this is our chance to revisit the events of the retrograde and properly tidy up any loose ends.
Mercury Cazimi: About halfway through the retrograde period Mercury will be at the same degree as the Sun. This is known as Cazimi and represents the Sun burning off and cleansing Mercury (and by extension the issues we are working through). After this point in the cycle we can start to feel a bit clearer about things and feel like we can start to create some solutions or come to decisions.
Dates for Mercury Retrograde in Libra 2021
Pre-retrograde shadow starts: 7 September
Mercury Station Retrograde: 27 September
Mercury Station Direct: 18 October
Post-retrograde shadow ends: 3 November