The Poetry of Mercury Retrograde

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”- Soren Kierkegaard

Once again, Mercury, the messenger, is moving backward through the sky. Although the term Mercury Retrograde is becoming ever more common, it is often misunderstood. So, before I take you too far down the rabbit hole, here is a little context as to what is happening. Firstly, when a planet is retrograde, yes, all planets go retrograde; it is not, in fact, moving backward; it merely appears to be from our perspective on Earth. I often explain it to clients by likening it to the sensation of driving by an 18-wheeler and experiencing the feeling of drifting backward.  

The closer a planet is to the Sun, the more frequent and shorter the retrograde cycle. Consequentially, Mercury, the planet closest to the Sun, is retrograde 3 to 4 times a year for about 3-Weeks. By contrast, Pluto will only be retrograde once this year, from April 25th – Oct.4th 2020. Because when a planet is retrograde, it appears to be tracking backward through the sky, it looks like it passes by the same section three times. 

On February 2nd Mercury was moving through the Zodiac in a forward, or direct (D) motion, in the part of the sky known as 28˚13’ of Aquarius (all signs have 30˚ totaling the 360˚ of a circle). On February 16th, from our perspective on Earth, it appeared this forward motion stopped, at 12˚53’ of Pisces, and Mercury started to retrograde (Rx) through the part of the sky he had just traveled across. He continues this, apparent, backward motion until March 9th, at which time he will again be at 28˚13’ of Aquarius. Although he will, from our view, be moving forward again, he will not be back at 12˚53’ Pisces, and thus not navigating a new part of the sky this year, until after March 29th. To help understand this, take a look at the graphic below.


OK, so what does this all mean?

In astrology and mythology, Mercury is associated with communication. In one’s personal astrology, the location of Mercury characterizes how we think and communicate. Consequently, when Mercury is retrograde communication, in all its many manifestations are affected. Unfortunately, those who know just a little bit about Mercury retrograde can go into fear about this time, as it is often a time associated with communication breakdowns. As illustrated above, during a Mercury retrograde, the planet is revisiting the part of the sky it was just in, and thus things we have said, thought or written often have to be done so again; especially, those things communicated since February 2nd. Therefore, we may believe we or others are or have been, unclear. And while not untrue going back over things can be advantageous. 

There are often issues with communication and a breakdown in technology when Mercury is retrograde. The added variable of most of this retrograde taking place in Pisces, a sign known for foggy, dreamy, non-linear thinking, can exasperate this vulnerability. However, there are some beautiful gifts in Mercury’s retrograde sojourn. It is a great time to edit, to review, to look back at things you have said, written, or communicated before that could benefit you looking at it a second, if not a third time. So, while it is a challenging time to get anything started, it can be a fantastic time to work toward completion. 

When hoping to work with the energy the Mercury retrograde ushers in, it is also essential to look at the sign(s) in which the retrograde is taking place. I often think of signs as theater gels superimposing themselves upon a given planet. Consequently, although Mercury is always about communication, the sign, the theater gel, is symbolic of the topics being discussed. 

In the case of this particular Mercury retrograde, with the majority of it occurring in Pisces, there is a dreamy, non-linear quality to what we are called to think and speak about. Pisces is also known for its hopeless romantic worldview. While the Pisces archetype and its romantic tendency can be quite lovely, after all, it was just Valentine’s Day; this retrograde may bring into our awareness parts of life we have romanticized. This could be true with regards to relationships, but also projects and ideas. Although the realization that things are not how we believed them to be can be challenging, discouraging, or even, heartbreaking gaining such clarity is, at the end of the day, a good thing. 

One of the things that can be quite beautiful about a Mercury retrograde in Pisces is being granted the opportunity to apply a dreamy, spiritual, intuitive perspective to things that were perhaps too staccato in their previous observation and presentation. With this retrograde, we are called upon to turn inward and apply tacit knowing to our communication style.

Tacit knowing is understanding, which cannot be adequately articulated. For example, when a loved one walks in the room, you instantly know that it’s them; you recognize them. But if I asked you to identify what specific physical characteristic tells you that it is your loved one and not one of the other 7-billion people on the planet, could you tell me? 

It is applying deep inner knowing to a variety of areas of life that this Mercury retrograde is beckoning us toward. So, while there may be breakdowns in communication, it is also a fantastic time to reflect on those things with which you have perhaps been too linear in your observation. Try writing some poetry, play some music, meditate, or whatever you find to be the most effective way to access your inner knowing. Chances are the more you use this time as reflective and introspective, the less likely it is to manifest as a breakdown in communication. Trying to be linear and direct during a time where you were asked to be circuitous will likely only amplify communication mishaps.

Remember to breathe, this too shall pass.