The California Woman
May - June 2008
A Retrograde Cycle
By Amber Flynn
Things are not always as they seem, the first appearance deceives many.
-Phaedrus (Roman poet)
One of the most popular (or well known) cycles in Astrology is the Mercury Retrograde cycle. Why is that? Well, probably because it occurs about 3-4 times every year. Also, because Mercury is associated with all forms of communication, information, speaking, writing and travel. These are all important daily activities we participate in.
So what is Mercury Retrograde?
The word retrograde simply means, “moving backward” or “retreating.” The effect is similar to driving down a road watching a moving car beside you – if it slows down or your car speeds up, the other car appears to be moving backward. This is retrograde. But, a change in speed has nothing to do with a planet going retrograde. The illusion of backward motion occurs because the angle of a planets orbit relative to the Earth’s orbit changes at certain points in its retrospective cycle and appears to be going backward!
What can I do during this cycle?
Because the main impetus in my work is to empower my clients with astrological understanding I always try to explain that Mercury’s retrograde cycles are a time to “internalize” all types of communication matters. It is not a time to worry too much about the “outward” communication or its effect but rather how we internalize what is happening. I also add that it is important during this cycle to pay more attention to what is actually happening and not what we might want to happen, so that we can receive the wisdom of this cycle. This is because Mercury has to do with communication. Because we all have different lenses of perception, we must filter and communicate clearly to understand someone else’s message. Also, Mercury is neutral energy, which means it is neither positive or negative. It’s communications are not intended to be taken personally.
How does this work?
Mercury is information that is communicated or transmitted to someone. It is neutral information. For example, I might say to someone, “The Sun is high in the sky today.” That is a statement of information that I have communicated to you. It is a fact. There are no feelings or personal ideas in that sentence.
Personal perception is not connected to Mercury; it is actually connected to another planetary body the Moon. Unlike Mercury, the Moon represents the subjective, emotional or subconscious mind. A deeper sense of our personality, or a more personal part of us is expressed through the Moon. How we “feel” about something and our personal experience is connected to the Moon. If I say, ”The Sun is high in the sky today” you might have a feeling about that. For example you might reply, “It feels like it will be hot, I don’t like the Sun” etc. etc. But those feelings are not Mercury, that is the Moon.
What is interesting is that Mercury and the Moon often oppose each other. They may not always be friends. What we think (mercury) and how we feel about it (moon) are not always working with one another. So during a Mercury Retrograde we might be thinking one thing, and feeling another. That is where that great saying comes from, “Things aren’t always as they seem.” This is especially true during a Mercury Retrograde cycle.
Mercury will retrograde 3 times this year,
- Jan 28 – Feb 18 (Aquarius)
- May 26 - June 19 (Gemini)
- Sep 24 – Oct 15 (Libra)
If you have planets in Gemini this May 26th retrograde will be sure to impact you, check your chart to see where and how.
My Best Advice
If things aren’t always what they seem or appear to be, then what is really happening? A Mercury retrograde cycle is asking us to communicate more, not less. Find out what is really happening. Don’t go with what you feel about what is happening (moon), ask questions and get information (mercury). Mercury is the messenger of the gods. Just the facts please, get the facts!