Filling in the Blanks with Retrograde Mercury in Virgo


When Mercury goes retrograde later this week (Fri Aug 20), for the first time since May, he'll be returning to recently-tread territory in his home sign of Virgo.

Because Mercury in Virgo is a master of the practical details, the methodological fine-points and the analytic data, we should expect his retrograde through this zone (lasting until Sep 12) to yield ample revisions and refinements on this subtler level of precision.

And it's a good thing, don't you think, we're being presented a chance to redo our due diligence, considering how very quickly the developments of these past several weeks have come on. Who, after all, has had sufficient time to organize the processes, review the facts and crunch the numbers, when so many opportunities and/or obstacles have shown up in the 'act now or miss out' express lane?

Those of us who've most successfully played to the spastastic astrological weather have done the best we could to respond to whatever's been in front of us at a given moment—without letting the worries about what isn't being handled at that moment (because we can only do so much at any one time) become an undue drag on our faculties. And those of us struggling the most? We've been simply stunned by the spectacle, whether dazzling or depressing (or some dastardly blend of the two), and find ourselves stuck on a mental hamster-wheel of attempting to rationalize one response over another, with no reliable objective indication of which is the 'right' answer. (Hint: That's because there isn't one. At least not 'objectively' speaking.)

These upcoming three-plus weeks of Mercury retrograde promise something useful for both ends of this spectrum of recent experiences (and for everybody in between, too). But of course that 'usefulness' is only available to folks who (1) refuse to fall prey to Mercury-retrograde panic, wherein the hysterical attributing of every less-than-perfect occurrence to Mercury's retrograde ends up compounding the problem, yet (2) acknowledge a temporary shift in rhythms, to allow for catch-ups and fix-its, is an essential part of progress (and not merely a planet's rascally attempt to screw us over).

All the standard Mercury-retrograde warnings apply, and I would be remiss in my duties as your astrologer not to mention them (though, in the same breath, I again urge you not to overreact): Communications can get wonky, so be sure to choose your words carefully when conveying important specifics and read all documents multiple times, asking clarifying questions if necessary, before agreeing to anything. Be soft and patient with all technological devices, expecting them to operate less efficiently and more unpredictably. Often, the worst malfunctions and crashes are a result of our reckless reactions to relatively minor glitches. That said, diligently back up your valuable gigabytes. And as for all modes of transportation, stay aware of the increased likelihood of delays and detours. Rather than getting all hot and bothered and reactively hunting for supposed 'shortcuts' that may end up costing you even more time and patience, just relax into the wait and think about something else.

Kudos to you if you've lately been able to gallantly grab the ball and run with it… though I'm sure you've got some fill-in-the-blank clean-up work to do, in order to keep these latest gains sustainable beyond the next month. You've evidently heeded the pull of instinct in deciding to go for the gold without a map or many provisions. Now, Mercury's retrograde through Virgo urges you to retrace your steps, to retroactively draw the detailed diagrammatic that'll pave this road into your head for smoother future returns, to restock your resources and/or adjust your cost/benefit ratios. Instinct only gets you so far toward your goals, after all, before you have to slow down and check that all the calculations are correct and contracts secure. Otherwise, you suffer the disappointment of a heartfelt vision that never fully manifests in tangible reality, due to your unwillingness to attend to the mundane logistics. These few weeks, while not exactly a full-on 'slowdown', are a prime occasion for such attendings-to.

If you've been struggling to take any proactive step at all, because you can barely withstand being bombarded by craze-making external circumstances and/or are trapped in a fruitless analytic inner-hell of your own making, this Merc-retro period could help you rescue yourself from the paralysis. Hopefully, the retrograde influence will flip this profusion of 'too many so-called facts leading to no worthy conclusion' on its head. The real fact in this case? In making personal judgment calls, logic can usually be engineered to yield any result you want. Clear away the false belief that you can think your way to victory. Phrased another way… It's a fact: You can't. Once you accept that, you'll have a much better chance of getting your brain working for you. Its work? To provide functional guidelines and support for how you ought to proceed in 'going for it'. What the 'it' is, alas, is knowledge that must come from your heart.

Unique to this retrograde, Mercury will be forming no sharp harmonic angles to any other planets during this entire phase. In fact, Mercury doesn't make a single aspect (except quick-moving ones to the Moon and, of course, the conjunction to the Sun that is always accompanies retrogrades) throughout all of August and September. That means he's essentially functioning independently, which means he can be deployed to great effect in processing raw information into categories, budgets, timelines, action-plans, to-do lists and most practically-pressing prioritizations. (Yes, even when he's retrograde.) Of course, it may make sense to handle all these organizations, calculations, comparisons and reconfigurations during Mercury retrograde, but to wait until after Mercury's direct again before releasing any final results.

The flipside message of this unaspected Mercury retrograde, however, is a warning about the limits of what cool rational logic can—and can't—offer us. Because so many of the other planets are presently involved in an intricate dance of interaspects, Mercury's solo machinations bear the possibility of yielding perfectly 'sound' conclusions that don't accurately describe our understanding of what we experientially know to be true for us. While the analyst holds a crucial archetypal role in our lives, he is not the end-all-be-all. We may charge him with tasks, which he completes with precision and panache. Yet, if he is left to his devices to singlehandedly set the agenda for us, he can easily lead us down the wrong path… for reasons that all seemed 'right', at least on paper.