Bowing to Mercury Retrograde


One bad habit I'm trying to break you all of, dear readers, is the misconception that Mercury retrograde is some evil force of astrological destruction. It is no such thing.

From a more appreciative standpoint, Mercury's thrice-annual retrograde period—the next one of which begins on Sunday (Apr 18)—can also be known to rescue us from unwise hastiness.

But that only happens, of course, if we appropriately value his role… if, when we see him coming in advance (thanks to our own astrological awareness or a heads-up from our favorite online astrologer), we assent to practicing extra patience, taking the time to choose our words carefully and to read the fine print at least twice, and resisting the urge to skip steps or dart off down a too-good-to-be-true 'shortcut'.

Play according to Mercury-retrograde's rules, and you just might spare yourself some unwanted hassles… maybe even save your ass in the process.

One of my favorite astrobarry articles ever is this gem from '06, 'An Alternate Take on Mercury Retrograde', that flips the standard Merc-retro stereotype of communicative misery-and-misfortune on its head. What we often hear about Mercury retrograde isn't entirely off-base: When the messenger planet appears to move backwards, we're at greater risk of misreading or mistranslating information, suffering tech-related hiccups or hindrances, and losing time to unforeseen detours or delays. But what we hear less often, alas, is that these potential hassles are also opportunities to take a step back from the expected 'business as usual'… to review the rote routines with a critical eye, to revise formats and reconceive of processes, to check and recheck that we have in fact gotten it right or, in a likelier scenario, to fix what's not-quite-right. While we typically grumble (not unjustifiably) when caught up in a surprise Merc-retro rerouting, we're almost always better off for it in the end.

This particular Mercury retrograde happens entirely within Taurus, one of the slower and more conservative signs… an archetype reluctant to allow mind-opening illuminations to alter its beliefs without plenty of tangible explanation and consideration. While more impetuous folks might dash off into the wild aboard a rickety wagon on the promise of 'gold in them thar hills', for instance, Taurus would prefer to postpone the departure until the wagon's workings have been thoroughly checked out and the proper provisions secured.

As such, the potential for unpleasant fallout from this Merc-retro is highest whenever we resist, out of short-sighted impatience or overenthusiastic scrambling, taking ample time to complete all necessary preparations. What may feel like 'overkill' to fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants types, in this astro-climate, is really just ultra-practical forethought—and you'll be grateful for it later. After all, as I previously reported, this moment is a mere intermission within a far more dynamic, impulsivity-encouraging larger picture, only now beginning to show its fuller colors. How intelligently you use this comparatively slowed-down next month will help determine whether the coming-months' chaos really knocks you on your butt… or if your astute preparations set you up to advantageously roll with it.

The worst period of Mercury's upcoming retrograde occurs in the days leading up to his square with willful Mars (yes, still in friggin' Leo) on Sun Apr 25. Mercury-Mars squares are known for adding an agitated edge to our words, conjuring zero-to-sixty reactions and tantrum-like fits—and, in fixed signs (like Taurus and Leo), are usually attributable to someone's stubborn refusal to budge. As soon as this square perfects, then starts to wane, Venus will move from Taurus into Gemini (also on Apr 25), helping to ease Mercury's discontent through mutual reception (that is, two planets placed in each other's ruling signs, often an alleviating condition). Mercury returns to direct motion on May 11.