I was recently interviewed by ABC7 News to explain the meaning of Mercury Retrograde, from both an astronomical and astrological point of view. As the presenter (community journalist Jalyn Henderson) explains, people tend to get a bit excited or even freaked out when Mercury goes retrograde. But as I tend to explain to those who ask me — you can relax, this is not a bad thing.
Astronomically speaking, what is Mercury Retrograde? Imagine you're the Earth and you're standing still watching Mercury, in front of you, as it orbits the Sun. As it goes behind the Sun it appears to go in one direction, then as it comes around in front of the Sun it appears to go in the opposite direction. Now imagine you're orbiting the Sun too, but just a tad slower than Mercury and with a wider orbit. The same effect will take place, but the retrograde will happen more often and for a shorter duration.
Still hard to picture? Well, Jalyn's analogy of being in a car moving faster than another car might help, although in reality Earth moves slower than Mercury, and we're talking circular patterns (orbits) instead of straight lines, but you get the gist.
Astrologically speaking, what is Mercury Retrograde (Rx)? You can read all about it across thousands of articles on the Web. At its essence, it's a time of review, where we get to see how much we tend to get "in our heads" and thus get "ahead" of ourselves. Famous Mercury Rx experiences, like communication breakdowns, technology snafus, and travel jam-ups all reflect the end result of a mind that is unbalanced. If you're ever in doubt about what Mercury Rx is asking of you, just ask yourself how well you're truly listening.
Have you not only heard everyone else's point of view but really taken it in? Can you spend a little more time listening and less time trying to ram your point of view forward? Before you rush forward, take a breath, connect to your body and being, and ask yourself (your inner spirit, your higher power) — what do I need to know right now? Not too much, not too little, but enough for now. Whatever gets in your way, allow it. Use obstacles as opportunities to ask more questions, rather than think you have the answers.
This particular Mercury Rx ends on July 31st and crosses the threshold between Cancer and Leo (or, in retrograde motion, Leo to Cancer). We're looking at how well we are recognized by others, whether we feel we are truly seen and appreciated for who we are or only seen on the surface (or not seen at all). To the degree that we are recognized, we feel secure in our sense of meaning in the world. To the degree we are not, we feel insecure and out of place. If you're feeling the latter, the Mercury Rx in Leo advice is to find ways to honestly recognize other people, to let them know how special they are and what they mean to you. Give credit where it's due, and be sure to tip generously. Eventually the spirit of appreciation will bless you in return.
Be open to Mercury's lessons, which are meant to help you strengthen your intuition. If we only think intellectually and rationally we get out of step with life. We need an intuitive compass, operating outside of pure rational reason, to keep us in a flow that feels right for us. When Mercury is retrograde he is our ferryman to the intuitive realms. When our minds are truly open, there is much to marvel at along the way.