People often get unnecessarily anxious when they hear that Mercury is turning retrograde. This common event is certainly nothing to fear, and learning more about it may actually help you look forward to it!
Astrologically, Mercury rules communication, mechanical items and transportation. It represents telephones, computers, cars, travel and machinery. Mercury is your own individual thinking process, getting errands accomplished, leaving messages. Generally, Mercury helps your day run smoothly and allows you to be “in the flow”. These are basic “third dimensional” descriptions of Mercury, but it also has more spiritual “fourth dimensional “ meanings.
In mythology, Mercury is the god of communication. He is the divine messenger. One of his jobs was to bring spiritual information from Mount Olympus, the home of the gods, to people on Earth. He also brought prayers from humans up to the gods.
Esoterically, this role of Mercury symbolizes your ability to connect with your soul or your Higher Self. Mount Olympus represents your super conscious mind (i.e. your Higher Self). Mercury is your “internet connection” to your super conscious mind. Mercury is that quicksilver ability to link with your divine knowledge and to instantly “downloaded” mystical understandings. These pieces of information might be profound, or they might be simple bits of guidance that make life easier for you. Either way, the wisdom of your soul is always available by means of your connection with your super conscious mind.
When Mercury is direct you often have a clear link with your super conscious, especially if you have a regular meditation practice. You even might take your internal guidance for granted. Now, planets of course do not actually go backwards. From our point of view on the Earth, it frequently appears that Mercury stops and turns backwards, and then stops and goes forward again. This is an illusion created by our perspective in the solar system. But since we live on Earth, for us, this apparent “retrograde” path of Mercury brings many opportunities.
Mercury turns retrograde about three times a year for approximately three weeks. You might have come to dread these times. Things get lost in the mail. The car breaks down. Important voice mails or emails never reach their destination. Misunderstandings and frustrations arise. It takes forever to get across town in traffic. All the areas that Mercury rules go haywire.
Why does this have to happen? Mythology holds some answers. Mercury was a young god and loved to play tricks on his siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins. He was the trickster and a pain-in-the-butt kid who drove the gods crazy with his silly pranks. One way to handle Mercury retrograde is to have a sense of humor. If you get riled up about things, Mercury seems plays more tricks on you. But when the prankster realizes he can’t get to you, the teasing lightens up.
On a deeper level, Mercury retrograde is asking you to slow down your normal pace. In making regular stuff complicated, Mercury causes you to be more conscious of your day-to-day existence. It’s easy to be somewhat robotic when everything goes along smoothly. With Mercury retrograde, you have to think more clearly about what you’re doing, why you’re doing it and where you’re headed.
Esoterically, Mercury retrograde reveals another layer of spiritual awareness. Before Rome conquered the Greeks and took over their gods, Mercury was called Hermes. For the Greeks, Hermes had another task beyond being a messenger and an occasionally trouble maker. Hermes (Mercury) also had a task called Psychopomp. (It is from the Greek word “psychopompos”, which means “conductor of the soul”.) He was the one who led dead souls to the underworld. He was their companion as they left their body and when they were ferried across the river Styx and into Hades. Hades wasn’t necessary hell as we think of it in modern days. To the ancient Greeks, the underworld was more of a place of contemplation of the life just lived. After your contemplative time, for instance, you might end up in the Elysian Fields, the Greek image of heaven.
Mercury as Psychopomp is the true meaning of Mercury retrograde when you’re on a spiritual path. Quick answers to problems don’t pop into your mind. You might even feel hopeless or discouraged about your circumstances. During retrograde times, allow Mercury to lead you into the depths of your unconscious mind. This is your own personal Hades. What’s going on in your underworld? Are you being run by negative thoughts? Maybe you need to forgive yourself or others so you can break out of limiting patterns.
Deeper meditations are possible during Mercury retrograde. Tell your soul that you’re willing to see the spiritual root of your difficulties. Surrender to the unknown and don’t be afraid to explore the dark recesses of your mind. You might see past karma that illuminates your issues in a different way. You might have dreams that reveal profound answers to longstanding problems.
Remember too that Mercury always carries his caduceus. It is a staff wrapped by two snakes. This is an ancient symbol of medicine, which is still seen today. Mercury was the god of healing. He wants to teach you how to heal your consciousness by resolving your subconscious problems. In this way, your subconscious, conscious and super conscious minds are brought into perfect alignment. Mercury desires that all levels of your consciousness work in harmony, so don’t fear the inner journey on which the Psychopomp wants to take you.
Parts of the body ruled by Mercury are the nerves and the lungs. If you find yourself coming down with a cold, sore throat or panic attacks, this is the Psychopomp’s way of forcing you to go within. You are getting a message that it is urgent to heal some aspect of your soul. Pay attention to these signs. Surrender and take the inner voyage. Deep breathing exercises, restorative yoga, tai chi or chi gung are especially beneficial during Mercury retrograde.
Once Mercury goes direct, you will emerge into the light with added insights, greater healing and increased vigor to accomplish your next spiritual steps. You’ll feel the playful enthusiasm and reassuring smoothness of life once again.
In both astrology and mythology, Mercury represents the spiritual ability to adapt to new circumstances and flow gracefully between various modes of life. By all means, enjoy the easy times and effortless connection with your soul. With these new perspectives, hopefully you will also look forward to the sacred healing opportunities that Mercury retrograde offers.