Mercury retrograde 101: How to work with, not against it

It’s that time again. Time to double check your work, anticipate travel delays, and expect some resurfacing of conversations you thought you’d put to rest. Mercury retrograde is certainly inconvenient, but there are many ways the messenger planet’s tri-annual backspin can actually help us out. In case you missed it, we’re currently in a Mercury retrograde cycle and this one is particularly impactful. We can harness it for our benefit, if we’re mindful.

Firstly, what are we actually talking about when we talk about Mercury retrograde? Technically, the phenomenon refers to an optical illusion created when Mercury passes the earth in its orbit, making it appear for a moment to be moving backward in the sky. In terms of astrology, these periods have been known to coincide with miscommunication and travel plans turning awry. Think of Mercury retrograde as a time when this planet, which rules all things information exchange, goes on vacation and isn’t available to support us in all the ways it usually does. It’s not business as usual.

Now, the invitation of all planetary retrogrades is to take a step back, turn inward and consider more intimately our relationship to the planet’s themes. Mercury’s is a chance to consider, are we speaking our truth? Are we moving around the world in the ways that feel good and right for us? The answers to these questions will be easy to discern when / if it feels like all signs are pointing to ‘no’ (ie - when your commute to a job you hate becomes extra taxing, when the ex texts after you just declared yourself moved on). They may feel like tests, but they’re ultimately an opportunity to get more aligned with our inner truth. To improve our situation.

This summer’s Mercury retrograde (May 29 to June 22), brings big transformation potential, and so, if you’ve been feeling a little lost or overwhelmed as we come up on the mid-point of 2021, this transit can help you catch up with yourself. Coinciding with the year's first eclipse season plus five (!) other planets retrograde, it adds to an already quite intensely reflective and possibly emotional, period. By the end of June, Saturn, Pluto, Mercury, Neptune and Jupiter will be retrograde. So: Slow down, reflect, be intentional, and you can make a lot more progress this month.

Since this summer’s Mercury retrograde is taking place in Gemini, the sign of its rulership, it highlights themes of communication and connection. Gemini is mutable air, the most chatty, curious and open minded of the signs, but it can also be unfocused. When Mercury is direct in this sign it speeds through quickly and we can feel more energy to connect with others and multitask. When retrograde, we can overload ourselves or feel scattered.

Overthinkers: Stay grounded. With Mercury retrograde in a cerebral sign like Gemini our connection to our intuition - rather than our logic, so much, is our best guide.

The midpoint of June is where we might experience the height of the drama around this retrograde period. We have a Gemini new moon eclipse coming to us on June 10th, conjunct Mercury. Eclipses themselves tend to bring big shifts - new moon eclipses in particular are associated with fated new beginnings - and the fact that it is conjunct Mercury highlights the importance of wrapping up the old before heading into the new. Any throwbacks that come through right now are helping you to assert your confidence in moving forward, whatever that might look like for you!

We had a lunar eclipse in Sagittarius (the sign directly opposite Gemini) on May 26th, and you could very well still be feeling it’s impact when the second eclipse rolls in. Consider: what started to be released, around May 26th? Lunar eclipses are associated with fated endings, and so, the two-week period leading up to the June 10th new moon eclipse was a time of clearing out of the old so the new can come in. Come June 10th, a new path emerges. What are you declaring yourself ready for, with your words and actions?

Since the retrograde is happening in mutable Gemini, those with placements in mutable signs Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces are likely to feel the impact of Mercury retrograde the most. Those with Gemini placements may find this Mercury retrograde especially intense (in part due to the June 10 eclipse), but typically Geminis and Virgo are the signs which feel all Mercury retrogrades more intensely than others, as both signs are under Mercury's rule.

For all of us: Remember that retrograde periods throw us off in the places we’re being asked to take a closer look at. For the month of June, it’ll be extra important to stay grounded, mindful and strive to see the big picture. It may not be the time to crush all your ‘outward’ goals, but it is a fantastic time to do the inner work of researching, brainstorming and ideation that can lead to your absolute best next step, in time. Take advantage of it.

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