If you’re on social media that has any hint of astrological insight content streaming into your brain, you’ve probably already had someone fear-screaming about Mercury Retrograde and how bad this next one is gonna be (woe, woe, fear, dismay, poor communication skills and emotional regulation skills run amuck amuck amuck).
Big deep breaths, Mercury isn’t retrograde yet.
Mercury will station to retrograde on September 8th, and Retrograde from September 9th through October 2nd. The third retrograde of the year, with number four in December, a Mercury Retrograde is honestly not a big deal. This is what happens when you try to draw a flat 2D image from a single vantage point of a heliocentric system.
So why are people freaking out? Mercury Retrograde starts out in Libra and regresses back towards and into Virgo this time, and people are upset because Mercury rules Virgo, and the less flattering characteristics of a Virgo can become the sorts of things you’ll get to embody during a Mercury Retrograde in Virgo.
The sign of the water-bearer, in all their best foot forwardness, is practical, sturdy, clean, humane, discriminating, studious, methodical, and interested in being ethically and morally right. Flip that upside down and examine the potential less-nice aspects, and you get a pedantic, critical, petty, anxious, picky, sloppy, skeptical, stick-up-the-butt Type A dickhole.
I love a good Virgo
Mutable Earth, natural ruler of the 6th house, excellent for Northern Hemisphere working on getting a fall garden set nicely, and seeing to perennials for the coming winter, and Southern Hemisphere setting up that spring garden and digging up those beds for planting.
Mercury tends to be a little less mouthy in this sign, and more intellectual and thoughtful. Retrograde, take advantage of all this by turning your deliberate attention towards inner self work. In the garden of your own mind and heart, what do you need to turn over? Where can you till in some mulch, or dig out a crowded plant? What needs re-potted, what is due a good pruning, and did you want to consider adding an espalier?
If you’re afraid of a Retrograde, just remember that a Retrograde tends to focus the energies inward rather than an outward expression. You can control what Mercury Retrograde is going to bring to your life by being aware of it, and monitoring your inner self talk, your words to yourself and to others, and the actions you take based on how you’re thinking and feeling in the moment.
Mercury Retrograde Shadow Period
The 10 degrees (or two weeks) before and after Mercury enters and then leaves Retrograde motion has been getting a lot of social media hype, too. Because why build up fear over just a couple weeks when you can expand that a bunch?
If you have a particularly Mercury heavy chart, with either Virgo placements or Gemini (the other sign Mercury rules) placements prominent, you might feel the effects of an oncoming Retrograde, and might feel woozy as it moves Direct again. Most people aren’t effected by the Shadow Period, any more than most people aren’t consciously effected by the Retrograde.
I figure it’s like a scary movie: some people love the thrill of being afraid, in a safe way. And being scared of planetary movements can be thrilling, finding community in people who also love to have an outside thingy they can point to to blame for their misfortunes, and just, the sheer fascination of the stars and planets up there. But to be so afraid that you orouborous yourself right around and bite your own tail over it?
If you’re worried, take a breath, and harness the energies to your own benefit. If you’re not afraid, great, isn’t this nifty? Mercury is gonna look like it’s moving backwards in the sky! It’s objectively cool to think about how that motion was a huge hint to astrophysicists even in antiquity that the Earth was not in fact at the middle of the solar system, and told us a whole lot about how the planets move around us.