We may not think about it every day, but in the grand scheme of things we are spinning on a big ball hanging out in infinite space. When the planets and stars behave in certain ways, we tend to feel “something in the air,” and later learn there's a Harvest Moon or a wild planetary transit in the skies.
Some people believe more strongly in the power of stars and planets than others. While I'm not big on the superstition part of horoscope reading and the like (I mean, is everyone else who is a Virgo living the same life as me?), it's hard to ignore the fact that the Earth is affected by other objects in the galaxies within which we spin. Just look at the moon’s effect on the tides; the physical effect of the cosmos upon us is a real thing.
A few times a year, most people I know who typically don’t believe in astrology suddenly do when Mercury retrograde arrives.
Mercury retrograde is a time when the planet Mercury "slows down" in the sky to the extent that it appears to be moving backward. People tend to switch on the fear when they hear about Mercury being in retrograde, with visions of chaos and drama looming large.
Why the panic? It seems that Mercury is the planet thought to control communication and transportation. So, if Mercury goes “backward,” so does all of your ability to communicate and deal with technology and commuting.
But that may not be the case. In 2006, the New York Times ran a piece about Mercury being in retrograde and “things going wrong,” and after some digging found that traffic and train schedules actually improved during Mercury retrograde periods. It was a little harder to statistically measure communication issues, so suffice it to say, this article shines only half a light on the fact that things need not turn upside down when retrograde happens.
Mercury's going slowly can actually — or symbolically — slow things down in a good way. There are some interesting phenomena other than chaos that are associated with Mercury's retrograde period. People tend to be sleepier, more introspective, and more emotionally aware. Also, people who you haven’t seen in a while tend to come back around this time. I notice a lot of old ideas also coming back for a fresh look in my mind.
Mercury retrograde is actually a great time to feng shui your home and office, and I do most of my own “feng shui’ing” during these times of the year. Here are some feng shui ideas to capitalize on this planetary energy, making the most of your environment and your life while Mercury is in retrograde:
1. Think more before you speak, and try to communicate more directly with the people that matter most to you.
If it's true that communication issues are exacerbated during this time, it's smart to be more mindful of the ways you interact with others. Trade in text messages for phone calls or in-person meetings where your intentions cannot be easily misinterpreted. Pay more attention, listen more patiently, use more clear speech. If communication goes awry, you won’t be the cause — you'll be the solution!
2. Consider a good closet clean-out.
Purge your closets of things you don’t need or want, and organize what you have in a way that's user friendly.
Now is a great time to complete projects that are lingering unfinished around you. The almost-knit hat, the nearly-done first draft of a screenplay, your just-about-finished DIY project… those things can get done. In addition to a feeling of accomplishment, finishing even small projects that have been half-done in your space will help focus your attention in the present moment, and that's powerful stuff.
3. Pay more attention to your self-care routine.
I mean, isn’t it always the best thing ever to take care great care of yourself? During this slower time of Mercury, a “cleaner,” more plant-based diet can be rejuvenating. Baths, massages, going to bed early… all things to look forward to doing!
4. Make your favorite version of a vision board.
Even if it’s a private Pinterest board to start, use the introspective energy of the retrograde period to your advantage and sink into your dreams.
5. Have a party or set a date with an old friend.
Use the “reconnecting” retrograde tendency to have a great time. Often I don’t even plan to reconnect with people — they just show up!
6. Practice “going with the flow” more.
If there's chaos around you, can you be the calm in the storm?
7. Tackle any little unfinished home repairs and get them sorted.
From squeaky doors to blown-out light bulbs — all are waiting for you to restore them to their greatness.
8. And, just in case the technology crash retrograde rumors are right, back up and update your computers.
I usually get all my devices upgraded right before or at the beginning of a retrograde period, and back up all files that are important. It’s a good practice to do regularly, and retrograde reminds me.
Do you notice changes when Mercury is in retrograde? Does it affect you? Can you take all of its power and use it for your own good?
You definitely can!
Quite ironically, my pretty new computer froze and crashed two times in the writing of this short article, but I still refuse to freak out! There’s too much good in the symbolic, if not actual, power of Mercury retrograde to look forward to, so I'm going to roll with it… and I hope you do the same!