Clearing the Air w/ Merc-Retro in Libra


Yes, Mercury is retrograde again.

Began very early this morning (Wed Sep 24) in the sign of Libra. Will last for three weeks; returns to direct motion on Oct 15. Enough said?

Probably not… especially considering the artificial hysteria we often put ourselves through, in overreaction to this common astro-phenomenon that, by the way, we survive three times a year just fine. Newsflash: As far as astrological effects go, it gets a lot messier than Mercury retrograde.

In fact, with a bit of extra patience and a hearty sense of humor, it's easy to make it through a Merc-retro with everything intact—except maybe the illusion that we hold tight control over precisely how we transmit or transport ourselves. Remember that Mercury's backwards retrograde motion (or that of any other planet) is an optical effect, rather than an actual reversal of the planet's orbital travels.

Ultimately, then, its manifestations are born from the eye—and the hand—of the beholder. We may consciously use our flexibility in perspective to shift with Mercury's change, adopting its metaphors of reviewing and revising as containers for what might otherwise seem like annoying delays or time-wasting inefficiencies. (For more on this, check out my 2006 piece 'An Alternate Take on Mercury Retrograde'.)

But simply knowing that Merc-retro's worst problems often stem from our refusal to respect its retractive rhythms doesn't automatically save us, any more than discovering the roots of an illness are psychosomatic would magically cure it. If anything, Mercury retrograde phases provide a periodic reminder that—no matter how on top of our correspondence or our important paperwork we may be, how slickly we've sorted out our daily schedule or travel itinerary, how clearly we imagine we've thought through the details or communicated our point—there's still an outside element we cannot confidently bend solely to our will.

If the bridge is out that day, it's out. If our computer freezes up before we've had a chance to save, a few sharp bangs on the keyboard probably won't help. If the prospective clients haven't yet received the proposal in the mail, we might as well send another copy (or two). Why yell and scream and pound on the wall? Won't the frenetic energy of our reaction only scramble the signals even worse? Won't we become likelier to press the wrong button, make the wrong turn, or say the one thing it's probably better not to say?

Considering this Merc-retro retraces the steps of its recent conjunctions to both Venus and Mars, I expect we still have quite a lot of unfinished business to sort through from the last couple of weeks. (On the macro level, for instance, we're continuing to digest the teetering state of the world financial markets… an early indication of what Pluto-in-Capricorn has in store.) When all three personal planets conjoined each other during the week of Sep 8, we observed developments so major that we haven't yet finished making intelligent sense of 'em. This is a job that generally falls to Mercury, and now he has his chance to play a little catch-up.

As far as the Libran influence goes, this particular Merc-retro is due to revisit those instances where our descriptions of reality have now been shown to diverge from the reality itself… perhaps because we were trying to manage how others might respond to a fuller unfiltered version of the truth, spinning to them our cherry-picked rendition in an attempt to keep 'em satisfactorily unperturbed. (Example: Telling folks 'the fundamentals of the economy are strong' while we face the worst potential financial crisis since the Great Depression.) While Libra cannot help but concern itself with continuing the pleasant interpersonal flow, there is a breaking point at which 'putting a positive spin' devolves into outright dishonesty. Hopefully, over the coming few weeks, such breaches will be repaired.

And where the facts are already standing in the glare of their unflinching accuracy, that's when we might adopt Mercury's retrograde through Libra as an invocation to check in on the people in our lives… to see how they are handling the increasingly dramatic peaks and valleys we're all enduring.

Mercury's trine to Neptune throughout its retrograde phase emphasizes this value in prioritizing interpersonal understanding, even as we ourselves may vacillate between mindsets of acceptance and terror. While we mustn't disavow the harsh glimpses of reality we share, we can certainly reach out to one another in mutual support with the message that, while the world's goin' crazy all around us, at least we've got each other. We are far from alone.