Mercury in Retrograde :: The Original Beautiful Mess

Two things I wanna start off with in this post:

1. I am not an astronomer or an astrologer. I did take Astronomy 101 (and got a B+) in college, though. I remember some of it.

2. The planet Mercury does not actually turn in a different direction during retrograde. I have seen some people describe retrograde in ways that make this confusing. The planet does not stop rotating and then begin rotating in the opposite direction. (Think about how tough the physics of that would be!)

When Mercury is in retrograde, it appears to be traveling backwards through the sky.

A good metaphor: imagine you’re in your car (model: Earth), and you’re quickly passing another car (model: Mercury), both going the same direction.  If you follow the Mercury car with your eyes, as you pass, it will appear to go backwards in relation to the distant background. That’s retrograde.

Because of the different rotation lengths of planets, many look like they are going backwards, from the perspective of Earth. For instance, Mars and Jupiter have much longer rotations around the sun (compared to Earth) so they look like they are going backwards for rather long periods.

(You can imagine what a shock it would have been to see that in your telescope 400 years ago and wonder WTF was going on.)

Now that we’ve got that out of the way…


The Varieties of Mercury in Retrograde

I have been seeing conversations on FB lately about how Mercury in retrograde has really been messing with people. (We will now refer to it as ‘Mercury in Rx.’)

One woman described feeling awful for the last two weeks, and then suddenly felt as though the funk had lifted – on the day that Mercury began moving into ‘direct’ again.

Another gal described feeling fine during retrograde, but then all her shit hit the fan as Mercury began turning direct (going back to it’s ‘normal’ rotation). She wondered if it was because she had been born on a time of seasonal turning, and so this ‘moving to direct’ – another time of turning – was a weak spot for her.

Some people love Mercury in Rx. They feel great, enjoy positive changes during this phase. It may be the only time of the year they feel like life is ‘right.’


Backwards Energy

Many people will tell you their electronic devices go haywire during Mercury in Rx. But that’s not the only thing that can go haywire during retrograde.

How has your last two weeks been?
Old junk coming up?
People you thought you were done with showing up?
Making you spin emotionally?

The idea behind all this is that the planetary energies have an effect on human energies. Just like all humans are a giant web of humanness -connecting and influencing each other- astrology purports that all planets are in a giant web of energy that is ‘planetary.’ This planetary energy influences each planet, and also whatever is on that planet.

Mercury in Rx is a time when the planetary energy is out of whack- because somebody looks like they’re going backwards. [Side-eye to Mercury.] And humans are influenced as well.


Mercury in Rx tends to bring up the difficult for people- not just their devices.

It is a time of ‘bringing up the old’ for re-visiting. It is often a time of ‘crap cleaning’ emotionally and physically. Mercury in Rx is also a time of letting go.

As a planet, Mercury is both masculine and feminine. It is a planet that is both divisive and integrative. This is her beauty and her danger.

Mercury is the original harbinger of the ‘beautiful mess’ idea. She brings up our old messes so we can heal them- so we can find beauty in them, and in ourselves.



She’s actually quite pretty, I think.


I Love Mercury in Retrograde…Mostly

With the exception of this past retrograde (which lasted from Jan 21/22 – Feb 11/12, depending on your location) my life runs better than normal during Mercury in Rx. I get more clients, I feel more myself, I feel like all is right with the world.

A friend suggested that I am one of the cosmic ‘crap cleaners’ – I help people heal their pain, hurt, fear, etc. – and so the ‘cosmic crap cleaning’ time would be a time of alignment for me. It makes sense.

But this last one, ugh – it was a doozy.

You can see that it brought up old shit for me, too. This whole post on ‘desire’ was more cleaning out I had to do.


Like a centrifuge, Mercury in Rx spun me. Hard.

And all my emotional crap got pushed to the sides of my container so I could see it clearly.

It was painful and itchy and made me want to scream a bit.

That is the beauty of Mercury in Rx: it shows us what’s on the dark side of our spirit.

What old junk we might wanna think about cleaning up.
What we need one last go-round with to finally give up on and let go.
What needs to be removed from our mind, soul, heart, or house/office/space.


This is what seeing clearly is: our beauty and our mess.
It may feel painful, itchy, or scream-worthy, but it can also feel frighteningly expansive- like a scream on a roller coaster. Or like opening a door, knowing (just knowing!) there is bright magic on the other side.

Mercury is still in retro (turning direct, not yet fully direct) for another two weeks:
what is showing up for you?
what needs to be let go?
what will you stop dancing with?


Getting Support

I am a huge believer in getting support. We all need helpand we are here to help each other!

And cosmic support is just the same.

Here are some folks I turn to for wise and funny advice on astrological matters.

Rob Brezsny. He is irreverent, rebellious, and smart. (We love that!) He’s also into rowdy, noise-making soul development via astrology.

Mystic Medusa. She is a little intense for me, but she’s very smart and sassy. Her style is also irreverent, but with a retro touch.

Elizabeth Peru. This gal is my personal ‘go-to.’ When I’m having a tough day (or days), or feeling wired, or whatever- I can always find the explanation in her emails. (Solar flares are a bitch.) She’s very scientific and supportive.

Mystic Mamma. Definitely mystical, serious about her craft, less irreverent than some others. Very feminine and welcoming (that “momma” energy!).

My advice is to find someone who’s style and content work for you. I love Rob Brezsny, but I need the clear information and advice I get from Elizabeth Peru. She just works for me.


Whatever comes for you in these next 10 days or so, may it remind you to clear out whatever is shown to you- and to let your mess (and knowing we all have messes) soften you into greater love and awareness.




  1. To endings: Retrogrades + blue moon. - The Naked Mystic - July 31, 2015

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