Some Thoughts on Retrograde Mercury

Dancing Angels found at the reclamation yard ~ photography by Robin Dalton

I think that any retrograde planet tends to interiorise the expression of the planet. It operates on a more subjective and covert level. The meaning of a planet doesn’t change, but the capacity for extroverted expression is altered. ~ Liz Greene, The Outer Planets and Their Cycles (1983)

Yes, it’s true. It’s another Retrograde Mercury. I know. I can hear you groaning all the way from my rather chilly kitchen.

I am looking out the French doors in my kitchen to a rather gloomy cold garden. The wind is cold and blowing the few leaves on branches to the ground. The light is gradually fading to black, and so the seasons turn… You may or may not know that Mercury goes retrograde roughly 3 times a year or that it stays retrograde for roughly 3 weeks.

You would think we would be used to it by now. You would think that by now we would remember it as the gift it truly is. However, what we remember is the washing machine that required repairs, the car that wouldn’t start, the hard drive that suddenly just up and died before we had time to back it up. What about the communication issues, I hear you ask. It’s true. There are moments when we know we are speaking complete truth and logic and yet the receivers of this truth and logic are looking at us as if we were aliens from another planet, a planet that forgot to research the language presently in use. Indeed, we are very lucky if we don’t manage to piss off at least one person during those 3 weeks.

Mercury Retrograde: there will be delays, there will be misunderstandings, projects will fail to materialise, but we will have been given the opportunity to learn and we will have been taught so much…

The Planet Mercury represents the communication centre, the nervous system, the human mind and it’s ability to understand reality through the use of symbols and indeed to translate symbols into reality. It is the gifts of Mercury that we use when we attempt to understand and formulate abstract ideas. Mercury is direct 80% of the time and much is required of it during that time. The human mind takes in so much information on a daily basis. If we did not sleep or dream the unconscious and conscious mind would have no separation. It is during our dreamtime that the unconscious mind assimilates the information received by the conscious mind and keeps us from going… well, quietly, or not so quietly, insane.

Mercury Retrograde is another form of that dreamtime. It is the mind’s down time. It is associated with all things beginning with re: re-doing, re-thinking, re-organising, re-associating. It is, in fact, a much needed rest for the mind.

It is a gift that allows us to stop pedalling quite so fast, get off our bikes and watch the colours in the sky change as the sun sets. It is a time to contemplate the existence of that Sun and it’s movement and how we fit in the grand scheme of things without judging or taking any action whatsoever…. yet.

Natural states of rest are a powerful aid to higher consciousness. With astrology we are able to predict these states of rest and, indeed, plan for them and learn how to utilise them. Rx mercury is not some annoying cold that we must wait out, all the while looking forward to its end and expecting everything to be as it was before. It is a time to re-assess the present in order to create a future that will better serve us.

The element Mercury is in during it’s retrograde motion tells us of the over all theme and energy the unconscious mind is working with at this time. In this case it is in a fire sign: Sagittarius.

Erin Sullivan in her book, Retrograde Planets (1992) suggests four questions to ask ourselves based on the four elements. For fire it is: How can my inspiration create my future?

So this retrograde mercury is about our art. It is about our life as our art. You may find yourself lacking direction. You may find creative endeavours falling flat. You may find that your intuition is not working as well as it had been or perhaps it is just working differently. Those fiery sparks may feel a bit damp. Projects that you do start just don’t seem to take off so you start another and another… Frustration turns into anxiety about the future. It is at that point, out of sheer panic, that we begin to envision an possible future. We are finally able to grasp the concept that our expectations must be put aside because they just no longer work. Out of this dark moment, this dark night of the soul, the phoenix rises out of the ashes and suddenly we see.

Prior to that moment of seeing, however, is the letting go. When I meditate on a fiery retrograde mercury, I see a small child with her paints and brushes out trying desperately to paint something she has seen in her mind but frustrated by her inability to paint it properly. It is only when she clears her mind of what she thinks she should be painting and how she thinks it should look and throws her entire soul into the dance and plays with the paint that her true spirit comes out to play.  It is then that she truly paints, that she truly creates. The letting go opens the gates of the mind to something that is truly representative of her spirit.

So, during these three weeks dance your heart out! You can expect to stumble and even possibly fall. You may at some point feel creatively stuck, unable to move. I suggest you pick yourself up, dust yourself off and let the laughter trying so desperately to escape bubble up to the surface … and try a new dance… and keep dancing until you discover that one step that is yours alone…

I’ll be there with you. I’ll be the one that can’t stop giggling, or dancing.

Robin Dalton

for Stardreamer Tarot and Astrology

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