Mercury Retrograde ~ Time for a New Look at the Guide of Souls
By Robert Wilkinson, 08/26/2016
Because Mercury is already slowing down, we’ve already begun to experience the retrograde effect. So what is "Mercury Retrograde?"
Many have heard of Mercury retrograde, but don’t know what it means, or how to use these misunderstood recurring events which happen three times a year. Today we’ll take a new look at this recurring phenomenon to understand more about how to make the most of the coming retrograde period.
As usual, I'll also be doing my usual series of articles over the next 3 weeks on what it means in general, what it means for each sign specifically, and how it relates to past Mercury retrograde themes. We’ll also explore Inferior and Superior conjunctions, and other facets of the mystery of Mercury retrograde.
I originally composed this article about 10 years ago, and reprint it each Mercury retrograde period since it contains core material for those who want to understand more about this event happening several times a year. (No, it’s NOT in the book!) The entire subject of Mercury retrograde is so full of suppositions and superstitions that I originally wrote this article as a reference point for a sane examination of this recurring phenomenon for the good it can bring rather than the dread so many feel.
Before we get into what Mercury Retrograde is and isn’t, if you haven’t already gotten your copy, you can find out a lot more about these very important 3 week periods by getting a copy of the new expanded award-winning 2nd edition of my pioneering book A New Look At Mercury Retrograde. The first major work on Mercury retrograde ever written, it offers in-depth information about Mercury retrograde people, Mercury retrograde in the various signs and houses, and what the entire Mercury Retrograde phenomenon is about.
By knowing more about 2014's Mercury retrograde periods in Pisces/Aquarius, Cancer/Gemini, and Scorpio/Libra, or 2015’s Mercury retrograde periods in Aquarius, Gemini, and Libra, you may see patterns in your life, what you were taking a new look at and why, and how this "looking back" influenced your choices as you moved through past events. And you can get a heads up by taking a look at the 2016 Mercury retrograde periods in Aquarius/Capricorn, Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn/Sagittarius. It’s all in the book!
Here's the Createspace link to the page where you can purchase a paperback edition of A New Look at Mercury Retrograde, and here’s the link to where you can order your copy of the ebook copy of A New Look at Mercury Retrograde. (Please note that if you go to Amazon, make sure you're ordering the 2015 edition, and not the earlier one. There are plenty of used copies of the first edition for sale, but they are far inferior to the newest edition. And if you leave a review, make sure it’s for the 2015 edition and not the other one, which I am attempting to have pulled from Amazon.)
What Is Mercury Retrograde?
There are a lot of myths, suppositions, and confusion about Mercury retrograde. I have found there are many things one can achieve during these periods occurring three (and sometimes four) times a year. Since Mercury is the Cosmic Magician, the Trickster, and was regarded for eons as “The Guide of Souls,” Mercury retrograde periods are great times to examine the Cosmic Magician and figure out some things that are not evident or may be obscured when Mercury is direct in motion.
Many want to act productively during these times but don’t know how, often due to indecision, ambivalence, or second-guessing. Also, many times things come up which interrupt what we’ve been doing, or things from the past that are undone come back into play. Actually, despite the superstition and fluff of most commercial astrological explanations about how to approach a Mercury retrograde, they're really not so bad
Briefly, it's a time to take a new look at information, insights, and perceptions, and rework interpretations to prepare for the four month period following a Mercury retrograde. While retrograde, Mercury goes back over ground it's just traversed, but during the retrograde there is an entirely new angle of view that presents itself so things previously unknown or unnoticed can be factored in for the future. There are curious returns allowing us to re-think some things, and find a new rhythm of coordinating our life affairs.
It may be helpful to explain the concept of retrogradation. All the planets go retrograde due to the way perception works from our angle of vision here on Earth. Planets obviously do not go backwards, but they do slow down and speed up in their orbits relative to the Sun, and this creates interesting perspectives here on Earth. A retrograde only appears to be going backwards, much like a slow train appears to be going backwards relative to an express train.
We won’t explore the physics of the process, since the fact that motion changes within a planet’s orbit around the Sun relative to other planets is not really important unless you’re an astrophysicist or a visual artist interested in the living dance of the cosmos. So here we’ll move in a different direction, and begin our exploration about how we can best use these periods for maximum effectiveness without being deflected or hindered by the superstition and mythology surrounding "Mercury retrograde."
As I noted in A New Look At Mercury Retrograde pp. 29-31,
... retrograde periods offer us a chance to slow down certain parts of our life for closer examination, preparing for a change that inevitably occurs.
This is part of a larger cyclic process of unfoldment when the planet speeds up again in forward motion. Life always speeds up again after a time of reflection, contemplation, and transitional change. One of the benefits of Mercury retrograde is that it provides the time for reflection, which can lead to revitalization after a symbolic fallow period.
Periods of reflection, meditation, and contemplation allow us to take a needed break from routines and inertia. Retrogrades are the natural time to do this. When we turn inward, the Soul’s connection with our Higher Self assists our growth by allowing us to focus on that which we would not address if we were preoccupied with mundane affairs...
When a planet goes retrograde, the areas of life that it symbolizes need to be re-examined from a new point of view. It is metaphorically an in-breathing or dreaming, a retracing and re-examining of steps already traversed, digesting and assimilating previous experience…. This is a time when we can examine the effect that our subconscious mind and/or the Collective Unconscious has upon us...
While it seems as though Mercury retrograde is associated with things that malfunction and miscommunications and delays, we must remember no planet or its influence is good or bad unto itself. We are the ones who determine our "destiny," based on our choices, which shape our character. In that sense, "character is destiny," and so we have the responsibility to determine whether we will be active or passive in responding to life’s challenges.
We have free will and no planet or star "makes" anything happen. They merely indicate the larger patterns we live within, and by understanding those patterns and what they symbolize, we are in a position to be in harmony or disharmony with inner and outer "reality." This is the power of our individuality to rise above inertia, superstition, and obsolete, inadequate, or fear-based belief systems.
Mercury retrograde has been with us, and will be with us, for a long, long, time, as long as the planets have their present orbits around the Sun. The more we learn about this recurring phenomenon, the more able we will be to take advantage of our ability not to get lost or bogged down during Mercury retrograde periods. We may experience delays or confusions or deflections, but we do not have to suffer while making our way through such things.
By learning how to use Mercury retrograde periods wisely and consciously, even if our affairs are momentarily diverted in strange directions, coordinated in some unusual ways, or take some peculiar twists and turns, they often turn out for the best over the long run, whether we knew that or not during the retrograde period. Often we get useful information and insights we overlooked before the retrograde, and these times help us factor in different pieces of our life's puzzles so we can operate more effectively after the retrograde period ends.
Sometimes it may seem like it's two steps forward, one to the side, one back, two to the side, and three forward. It's all okay, since it's showing you a different way to be guided to your truth and more effective way of being in the world. Often things don't turn out the way we suspect, but that can be as good as it can be difficult.
Still, due to the different rhythm of events and perspectives sending things off on strange or unexpected tangents, it is always useful to get your affairs in order before the retrograde. Then while in the three week period and things are slowed down or seemingly moving in a different direction or even backwards, turn to whatever has been neglected and needs attention, finishing them up so you can get on with new business when the retrograde ends.
I have found over the years many good things can be accomplished during these periods. Sometimes there are extremely fortuitous connections made, whether renewing something from this life or another one. Sometimes we get insights about past things and people that allow us a more well-rounded perspective about how they “guided us to our Soul.” And of course, reviewing the past and reflecting on recent developments is often necessary if we are to move into the future without getting hung up on the past.
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