One of the things I am consistently amazed by as I work with clients is their overwhelming and pervasive negative interpretation of Mercury retrograde periods. This reveals a biased and unfortunate misinterpretation of the true purpose and meaning of Mercury retrograde.
Let me begin to try to change your mind about this common astrological event by saying that Mercury retrograde occurs three to four times each year. Mercury retrograde periods last for an average of 21 to 24 days each. Add 10 days before and after to account for the pre- and post-shadow periods (a technical part of any planetary retro event) and, well, you get the idea. Mercury retrograde is a pretty commonplace event in our lives! We are about to experience our next Mercury retrograde period beginning this evening at 7:15 pm MST and continuing until 10:40 pm MST August 7th!
So what does Mercury retrograde really mean?
First and foremost: Retrograde is a NATURAL phenomenon! All things natural have a natural purpose and naturally fit into and contribute to a healthy balance within the whole of existence. All things natural are also archetypal. So let’s understand the primary archetype associated with the phenomena of retrograde in and of itself. Yes, retrograde movement has its own archetypal meaning. The primary archetype of retrograde movement is, ‘individuation.’ Think Jungian theory. Individuation is the ‘process by which individuals in society become differentiated from one another.’ You become your unique individual self.
And by the way, the proper, technical phrase is ‘apparent retrograde motion.’ This is because the planets do not actually move backward. It just looks that way from our point of view from Earth. From our Earth-bound perspective, it’s actually an optical illusion. Nevertheless, retrograde energy IS different than the energy associated with direct or forward movement of planets.
Retrograde movement is naturally associated with YIN energy or energy moving inward towards the center. It’s introverted energy so to speak. So if you have to look inward to find and work with retrograde energy, whose energy are you seeing when you look ‘in there?’ Your own! Yours. Not anybody else’s. Retrograde energy is an inside job. It facilitates the natural individuation process.
Retrograde movement re-focuses energy and attention inward so that whatever is being experienced (depends on the planet that is retrograde) is being interpreted uniquely and individually according to your own personal values, beliefs, needs, thoughts, opinions, expectations, etc. Yours. Not anybody else’s. Especially NOT according to the values, beliefs, needs, thoughts, opinions, expectations, etc. of the mainstream of society, ‘conventional wisdom’ or what’s otherwise known as consensus ‘reality.’
At its core, the purpose of retrograde energy is to teach us to balance our individual experience with that of the collective. Part/whole. Individual/community. Person/team. At certain points in our life we must decide for ourselves what is right and true for us regarding this, that and the other thing(s). If we don’t do this, then we are hopeless sheep always following someone else’s example, lead, values, beliefs, needs, thoughts, opinions, etc. We become cogs in a wheel. We do not think for ourselves! We stop evolving personally, and evolving in any way that contributes to the evolution of the collective.
Mercury rules the left-brain and has to do with logical thinking habits including linear thought processes, deductive reasoning, language and the learning process that labels, classifies and therefore KNOWS the real physical world — that which can be experienced through the five physical senses.
Jupiter rules the right-brain and is associated with intuitive thinking habits and wholistic, conceptual, image-based inner mental processing. It is associated with ‘meta’-physical knowledge, insight, guidance and understanding that occurs in ways that are difficult to prove or measure through the five physical senses of our outer world.
An imbalance of the mind occurs due to extreme habits of utilizing logical thought processes exclusively and by only taking into account evidence from the real physical world in order to interpret and integrate information and make decisions. Mental imbalance occurs when our intuitive faculties are neglected and ignored.
This left-brain imbalance is remedied by developing the right-brain. We have to move our attention from the OUTER world of facts, figures and physical data, to the INNER world (YIN energy moves inward toward the center) of intuition, insights, hunches and metaphysical understanding. We must learn to develop our right-brain capacity by asking for, listening to and honoring INNER guidance or intuitive information to achieve and maintain mind balance. Most folks call this sort of thing ‘listening to your gut’ or ‘knowing what you know without knowing how you know it!’ Consulting our intuition, in addition to utilizing logical, linear thought patterns, consensus thinking or mainstream opinions, helps us maintain intellectual balance and frankly, our sanity.
So Mercury retrograde, in a nutshell, gives us plenty of opportunities every year to throw off all of the excess data, facts, messages and news commonly associated with the overall daily bombardment of data we call ‘info overload.’ It gives us the opportunity to think for ourselves and to achieve greater mental balance by developing our intuition. By using our intuition, we know WHICH facts are important, WHICH messages to return and exactly WHAT information is true and worth our time and energy to take in or act upon. The rest is just junk and likely to ‘clutter up’ our grey matter and render it less than effective. Using intuition helps to restore balance to our total information processing capacity. We think and decide best when we use both logic and intuition to arrive at what ‘feels’ right, in addition to what seems to ‘make sense’ to us as individuals. In short, we learn to think and feel for ourselves and become intellectually whole and mentally balanced.
IT’S WHEN WE IGNORE OUR INTUITION, ESPECIALLY DURING MERCURY RETROGRADE PERIODS, THAT WE TYPICALLY EXPERIENCE HAVOC!
Have you ever experienced a totally unexpected computer crash (with no data backup of course) during Mercury retrograde? Really? Was it really completely and totally unexpected? Or did the thought of the possibility of your computer crashing pop into your head a time or two or five during the weeks or days leading up to the retrograde period? Or maybe you’ve experienced your car breaking down just like you imagined it would the night before it actually happened?!
OR, have you ever realized that you knew exactly who was calling (and therefore knew it was the person you absolutely did not want to talk to) so you decided NOT to pick up the phone? Or did you just know, KNOW, the instant you saw that particular ‘help wanted’ ad for employment that it was ‘the one’ so you decided to apply right away?
These are just simple examples of how our intuition works – constantly – to guide us and help steer us in the right direction to grow and accomplish what we intend to accomplish. Notice that the outcome was much better in the examples where intuition was heeded and followed. Notice the outcome was much worse in the examples where intuition was NOT heeded and followed. BOTH were a result of individual choices. One choice was to trust, listen to and follow intuition; the other choice was to ignore it!
We are so darned conditioned here in the West to be totally logical and completely ignore any and all things intuitive, or ‘hunchy.’ In fact, we are often dismissed and ridiculed and judged as weak if we trust our gut over our head — especially in business situations. In fact, most social, business and political leaders and experts consistently go out of their way to avoid any association with intuition whatsoever as they fear it will discredit and undermine their professional reputation and standing. And yet, intuitive, right-brained, image-based thinking is HALF of our intellectual capacity for goodness sake!
The more we develop the capacity to regularly use and honor our intuition, the more helpful it will be, contributing to better choices and decisions. The more ‘in tune’ we are with our own inner guidance that points us to the relevant info we really do need, the more we’ll be able to turn away from what we don’t need – all the extra input, superfluous data, junk mail, ‘rabbit hole website chasing,’ and endless conversations with people we really don’t want to talk with anyway! Get it!? Mercury retrograde periods are actually the perfect antidote to the info overload that’s become an all too common and regular experience in our modern lives.
So stop trashing Mercury retrograde! It’s good for us! We just have to overcome our pervasive and ingrained cultural bias that has taught us, to our great misfortune, to ignore half of our intellectual/mental capacity. Brain science is continuously telling us that human beings vastly underutilize our total brain capacity. Maybe part of that unused portion has to do with intuitive faculties, and image-based mental processes that stir the imagination and catapult the manifestation process into action in the first place!
Now every Mercury retrograde period is different. This is because ALL of the planets are constantly moving and so Mercury is always in a unique pattern of connection to all of the other planets each time it begins a retro period. This next Mercury retrograde period that begins later today occurs in the sign of Leo and should turn our attention to the question, “What about me?!” Our thoughts will likely focus on issues related to personal recognition, praise, affection given and received, love affairs, pride and our children and creative pursuits. Leo makes challenging square (90 degrees) and opposition (180 degrees) aspects to the other fixed signs during this retro period, so folks with a lot of emphasis in the fixed signs of Scorpio, Aquarius and Taurus will probably find it more difficult than those who don’t to listen to and heed their intuition over the coming three weeks.
Each Mercury retrograde is experienced individually and totally depends upon what sign it’s happening in and what house that sign occupies in your own natal birth chart. It also depends heavily on whatever aspects to your natal planets Mercury will make during its retro. Some retro periods are indeed more intense than others. But in my opinion, this is not because Mercury retrogrades are inherently bad or evil, but more so because certain logical thought patterns and behavioral habits are so dominant and fixed in our experience that they represent a sort of security of familiarity. So considering a change to those patterns, even when our intuition is screaming at us to do so, can be more difficult for some of us at certain times and with some situations than for others.
However, the primary purpose of Mercury retro remains. In order to grow and evolve beyond the limitations of old thought patterns of behavior, requires new input and new choices. And our intuitive faculties will ALWAYS show us the way forward. Mercury retro periods will always prompt us to pursue and consider input that’s different than what we’ve routinely tried and relied upon. It will also always provide opportunities for us to achieve a greater balance in our thought processes using intuition alongside logic and honoring intuition as a source of information and guidance that’s equally valid and just as valuable as logic, facts and physical evidence.
So Happy Mercury Retrograde Everybody! Let intuition reign!!
© Copyright 2012. Donna Lee Steele and Threshold Consulting. All Rights reserved.