There is much ado about the astrological event known as the Mercury Retrograde, which is said to cause mishaps with both our thought processes and our ability to communicate with one another effectively.  The Mercury Retrograde happens approximately three times a year, and lasts for about three and a half weeks.

So the question is:  Why does this little wee planet, one of the smallest in the solar system, so greatly affect us when it is in its retrograde motion?

When Mercury goes retrograde it appears to be going backwards across the sky.  This is due to the fact that its orbit has taken it around the Sun, and though it’s still of course on its forward motion, to us it looks like it has turned around and headed back the direction it came from.

Astrologists will tell us that the planet Mercury rules communication (and the methods with which we communicate), along with our ability to think.  So, when Mercury is in retrograde (or “going backward”), its energetic influence goes backwards too.

The planet Mercury is of course named for the Roman god of trade and commerce.   Mercury, the messenger, in his winged cap and sandals, is a familiar image to most of us.  In Greece he was known as Hermes, and along with being the messenger between the gods and mortals, his duties also included maintaining boundaries and escorting the newly dead to the underworld.  He has been associated with magic, possibly because of his connection with the Norse god, Odin and the Egyptian god Thoth (whom the Greeks believed to be Hermes himself).  What is very interesting is that the Tarot originated from Thoth, and the Runes originated from Odin (both of these are major divinatory systems still in use today).

Mercury is also considered a trickster spirit, and has even been compared to the Norse god and trickster Loki.  A trickster spirit takes great pleasure in teaching us mortals lessons in the most difficult manner possible!  So, when the planet Mercury goes retrograde, what is really happening is that Mercury has switched into trickster mode, and is getting ready to get a laugh at our expense!

So during a Mercury retrograde you can expect to be a bit confused about things you’d normally have clarity about.  You may find that you have difficulty communicating with others, and ideas that seem great during the retrograde cycle may make no sense to you at all once it’s over.

But take heart and remember that though the trickster seems to enjoy causing chaos, his motive is actually to teach us to take ourselves lightly and see the humor in the way we over complicate our lives.  During a Mercury retrograde step out of your busy outer world and take some quiet time for yourself to get familiar with your inner world.  Remember, even when he’s enjoying his trickster aspect, Mercury is still the messenger between gods and mortals, and will always work to strengthen that connection in our own spirits.


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