From September 27 to October 18, Mercury turns retrograde — for the third time this year. This time, the planet of thoughts and communication goes through his backward dance in the astrological sign of Libra, a sign associated with balance, harmony, and important interpersonal relationships. Sounds a bit scary, right?
It isn’t. Mercury Retrograde gets what we colloquially call a “bad rep,” especially from people who don’t really understand how astrology, or magick for that matter, works. Mercury Retrograde tends to be blamed for everything from communication and technological breakdowns (possible) to breakups, accidents, and all kinds of disasters or bad luck (not very possible, unless you believe it is so, and thus, bring this upon yourself).
As we’re preparing to enter yet another Mercury Retrograde season, let’s get to know this planetary movement a bit better so that we can plan for it accordingly.
What is Mercury Retrograde?
As you may recall from our ‘Intro to Astrology’ article in our previous issue, the version of astrology we follow today is based on Ptolemy’s texts — texts that were written during a time when people believed the Sun and the planets revolve around the Earth. Now, of course, we know it’s the Earth that orbits the Sun and that all the planets do the same, each of them in a unique way. Because of that, and because the Earth also moves, at certain times during the year, some planets appear to go backward in the skies. Due to its position closest to the Sun, Mercury appears to “go backward” three or four times within a year.
This movement is what we call Mercury Retrograde, or Mercury Rx for short.
How does Mercury Rx affect us?
Mercury is the ruler of rational thought, communications, close friendships/sibling bonds, and technology. So traditionally, the times of Mercury Rx have been viewed by astrologers as times of chaos and bad luck. It makes sense when you think of the Greco-Roman God the planet was named after: the messenger of the Olympian gods, Hermes (Mercury), who is mischievous and a trickster. He often pulled pranks on other gods, and he could confuse people and mess with the outcome of battles and other historical events.
When Mercury (the planet) is in retrograde, this chaotic energy of the trickster god runs rampant — especially because so many people believe in it and fear it!
The truth is, the movement of this planet (as that of all planets) is cyclical — not in the sense that its orbit is a perfect circle, but in the same way the Wheel of the Year is cyclical. It goes through phases: highs and lows and highs again. So when Mercury goes into retrograde, its energies and influences become more internal, more nuanced. From our thought and speech patterns to our written communications to software and apps, cars and transportation, contracts, and legal matters, Mercury Retrograde requires us to stop and think clearly and carefully. To spot any potential problems and adjust our methods. To be proactive.
If we don’t pay attention to the smallest of details and carry on with life as usual, then we can make mistakes and feel like we have “bad luck” following us around during those times. But it’s just a matter of our own energies not being in tune with the celestial energies!
What to do (and what not to do) to use Mercury Rx to your advantage
As mentioned above, Mercury Rx times are great for introspection, taking a step back, and keeping a critical eye on things. Of course, when we’re caught up in our daily lives, this is not always possible. This practical checklist below will help you during Mercury Rx times to not experience the famous “bad luck” this planetary movement brings!
- During Mercury Rx, devices can often go haywire, or we may find ourselves running out of battery precisely when we’re out and need to make an important call or Google something. So make a point of charging all your electronic devices fully every night. And ensure that you have one power bank stuffed in your bag at all times.
- Make sure your car is topped up with gas. If you can, take it for a check to ensure there are no hidden issues that could come up while you’re on the road.
- Before responding or sending any written communications to other people (like emails, texts, or DMs), take a few deep breaths. Focus on what you want to say/communicate/clarify. Try to leave any feelings or ego aside. And when the response comes, try to look at it thoughtfully and not jump to conclusions about what it means.
- Keep your passwords at hand. You may need them or forget them.
- During Mercury Rx, astrologers famously advise not to sign anything; don’t make any commitments. But that’s not always possible. Still, before embarking on a new business deal or signing any contracts, make sure to read the fine print carefully. Don’t be afraid to clarify and ask questions.
- Avoid making impulsive buys and booking travel. If you need to do so during Mercury Rx, make sure to read their refund/cancellation policy details first.
- Plan to be 15 minutes early for all your appointments during this period.
- Be proactive about your health. Try to sleep enough hours, drink enough water, and take a multivitamin every day.
- Meditate. During Mercury Rx, our brains tend to become more foggy or anxious than usual. Spending at least 10–20 minutes every day to clear our minds and let go of our thoughts will go a long way.
- Drink a cup of sage or rosemary tea every day (or whenever you feel you need it the most). Both these herbs promote clarity of mind.
- Carry a crystal-like blue quartz, smokey quartz, or hematite with you, always. These crystals promote focus, concentration, and clarity, so even if you’re surrounded by other people’s frantic energies, you can still stay grounded.
Making Retrograde Work for You
This ritual will help you work with Mercury Retrograde in the area of your life that is most affected by the planetary movement.
What you’ll need:
– a white candle
– a pen and a piece of paper
– a crystal (choose one that helps with the particular issue that affects you the most, for instance, rose quartz for love and relationships, amethyst for spirituality, etc.)
– essential oils (choose the one that helps with the particular issue that affects you the most, for instance, rose for love and relationships, basil for financial success, etc.)
What you’ll do:
First, you need to identify exactly where this Mercury Rx affects you in your personal chart. To do that, you need to start with your ascendant or rising sign, which is also your 1st House. We know, for instance, that the Mercury Rx from September 27 to October 18 will be in Libra — so it’s a matter of counting down from your 1st House until you reach Libra.
If your ascendant/1st House is Aries, then this Mercury Rx affects your 7th House.
If your ascendant/1st House is Scorpio, then this Mercury Rx affects your 12th House.
Here’s a reminder of what area of your life each House governs:
1st House: Self; how you express yourself.
2nd House: Body & money; what you eat, buy, or value.
3rd House: Siblings & close friends; how you communicate with them.
4rth House: Family & children; how you communicate with them.
5th House: Inspiration & romance; how you flirt and work on creative projects.
6th House: Health; how you treat your physical body, your routine.
7th House: Relationships; how you behave in important relationships/marriage.
8th House: Karma & sexuality; how you approach change and handle debts.
9th House: Spirituality; how you treat learning and traveling.
10th House: Career; how you behave at work and in society at large.
11th House: Community; how you connect with friends and acquaintances.
12th House: Subconscious; how you interpret your dreams, your intuition.
Now that you’ve identified the House this Mercury Rx affects, you can adapt your spell accordingly.
- Gather your ingredients and go to your altar.
- Ground yourself and draw a circle. Invoke Mercury to help you with your work.
- Take your candle and “dress” it with the essential oil that applies to your situation.
- Place your candle in the middle of your altar and light it.
- Meditate on the issue at hand; on that particular area of your life you want to protect from the Mercury Rx energy.
- Write one to three words that describe this situation on the piece of paper. Place your selected gemstone on top of it, close enough to the candle that the candlelight is reflected on its surface.
- Repeat the mantra: “Mercury, carry my message through; that’s what I ask of you.” Or sit in silence for a few minutes.
- When you’re ready, give thanks to Mercury. Blow out the candle but don’t move the gemstone and the paper.
- Repeat this every morning until Mercury returns direct.
This article is from our Mabon issue of Wicca Magazine. Click Here To View What’s Inside our current issue.