Mercury Retrograde Wednesdays: The Aquarius Edition

We are 5 days into the first Mercury retrograde for 2021 and it’s taken me this long to finally get this post completed. That’s my life as an Aquarius Sun/Mercury, with Gemini rising, when Mercury goes retrograde: plans go sideways, surprises pop up, technology can get wonky. How about you? How have you been forced to pivot lately?

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While Mercury retrograde can be very challenging, it’s also our opportunity to slow things down and be open to changes. With Mercury retrograde in Aquarius, the sign of innovation and revolution, it might be more dramatic than usual. But we can channel this energy and make it work for us, not against us.

Mercury: The Basics

Because retrograde cycles ask us to review content, let’s review what we know about Mercury from mythology. Mercury (Hermes) is the messenger of the gods in Greek and Roman mythology. Zeus had a lot of affection for Mercury’s cleverness and entrusted him with several tasks. Mercury was the only god who could freely move into the underworld and was a psychopomp, guiding souls to the underworld. (To learn more about Mercury/Hermes, I highly recommend watching this episode of “Great Greek Myths.”)

Mercury is a trickster and shapeshifter. He loves a good joke or prank. While I’ve listed some of the things Mercury rules in a previous post, Mercury also rules:

      • Artisans & craftspeople
      • Bicycling
      • Butterflies
      • Carrots and celery
      • Clothing
      • Conversation
      • Dictionaries and encyclopedias
      • Dogs
      • Fingers, fingernails, hands and arms
      • Handwriting
      • Hygiene – personal and public
      • Imagination
      • Memory
      • Roller skates
      • Stories & storytelling

In astrology, the term retrograde refers to when a planet appears to move backward through the signs. Retrograde cycles for the planets vary – and Mercury’s retrograde cycles are among the shortest, logging in at approximately three weeks. If it feels longer, that’s due to the shadow period, an approximately two-week period when Mercury is moving along a path that it will revisit later. There’s a pre- and post-retrograde shadow period: typically the post-retrograde shadow is not as intense as the pre-retrograde shadow and is more of a final review of everything that occurred during Mercury retrograde.

The dates for Mercury retrograde in Aquarius are:

  • January 15, 2021 – Mercury enters shadow period
  • January 30, 2021 – Mercury stations retrograde at 26 degrees Aquarius
  • February 20, 2021 – Mercury stations direct at 11 degrees Aquarius
  • March 13, 2021 – Mercury leaves shadow period

As I’ve said before, Mercury has an excellent marketing/PR team because so many people are aware of Mercury retrograde cycles and how it affects travel, electronic devices, and communication. Those of us with Mercury predominant in our charts (Gemini and Virgo Sun/Rising, in particular) may struggle the most when Mercury is retrograde. The beauty of studying astrology, though, is learning how how planetary transits and retrograde cycles may affect our lives, and finding ways to work with those energies. Being aware of upcoming Mercury retrograde cycles can help you prepare for them. When Mercury is retrograde or about to go retrograde, regardless of your personal placements, it can help to:

      • Create contingency plans for events that will take place during Mercury retrograde
      • Work on communicating clearly with colleagues, clients, customers about projects and tasks
      • Focus on listening deeply to others
      • Accept that plans may go sideways and you will have to be flexible in your response

As you’ve read in my previous posts about Mercury retrograde, Venus retrograde, and Mars retrograde, you know that retrograde periods are a time to move inward. It’s an opportunity to slow down and be reflective on what that sign rules. And since Mercury rules Wednesday, I encourage you to celebrate Mercury Retrograde Wednesdays for the remainder of this current cycle – and perhaps during the shadow period as well. From now through February 17 (and, if you’re so inclined, through March 11) spend the next couple Wednesdays honoring this versatile, multitalented planet with some very mercurial activities.

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Activities for Mercury Retrograde Wednesdays: Aquarius Edition

Break your own rules. Aquarius loves a good dose of shock and awe, and with Mercury in retrograde in this sign now’s the time to look at the rules you live by and see if it’s time to break them – especially if those rules are keeping you stuck in unhealthy habits, beliefs or mindsets. I am NOT encouraging you to be unsafe or break the law! To borrow a phrase from reformer & activist John Lewis, consider where you can make good trouble in your own life.

Read about activists, revolutionaries, reformers, and innovators. Aquarius is the sign of revolution, reformation and innovation, and Mercury rules reading, so read books and essays written by or about folks such as Martin Luther King Jr., Malala Yousafzai, Mahatma Gandhi, Gloria Steinem, Harvey Milk, Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, Emma Tenayuca, Cesar Chavez, and Luisa Moreno. Online searches on activists will pull up even more names, so have fun with it!

Contact your local leaders. Advocate for your community by sending an email or postcard to your local, regional or national leaders about issues that matter to you.

Get outside. If it’s safe enough for you to do so, go for a bike ride or strap on some roller skates. Take a short trip by car to a place you’ve never been before. No matter your mode of transportation, make sure everything’s in good shape before you start: check tires & wheels, fill up the gas tank, have a paper map handy, bring a phone charger. And don’t forget your keys!

Write often, especially by hand. Get some paper and pen/pencil and write down what’s on your mind. Give it all to the page – it can handle what you have to rant or rave about. Read my post about daily writing rituals if you need some suggestions on how to start.

May this Mercury retrograde period bring you fresh insights into what is in need of change and upheaval in your life, and what changes you wish to bring about, whether it’s personally, professionally, regionally or globally.

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Mercury Retrograde Wednesdays

Mercury, Greek mythology, Roman mythology, Hermes, messenger, statue, artwork, GrecoRoman artwork

Here it is, folks: the final Mercury retrograde cycle for 2020. On October 13 at 9:05 pm Eastern time, Mercury goes retrograde at 11 degrees Scorpio, backs it up into Libra on October 27, then goes direct on November 3 at 25 degrees Libra– just in time for the U.S. election. If you think this energy will make for a wild, strange October, you’d be right. But it’s not unmanageable – and that is saying a lot coming from me. More on that in a minute.

Mercury: The Basics

Mercury, Greek mythology, Roman mythology, statue, messenger, Mercury retrograde
Mercury, the messenger of the gods. Image credit: Rwendland / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

Mercury (Hermes) is the messenger of the gods in Greek and Roman mythology. He did a lot of dirty work for Zeus, serial cheater who had a vengeful wife, Hera. He also saved the lives of several mortals and demi-gods who found themselves in difficult positions. Mercury is also a trickster and shapeshifter. He loves a good joke or prank. Some of the things Mercury rules includes:

  • Advertising
  • Bees and beekeepers
  • Books and literature
  • Communication – written, oral and electronic
  • Computers
  • Desks and offices
  • Keys
  • Licorice
  • Mirrors
  • Schools and teachers
  • Sewing
  • Stationery – pencils, pens, paper
  • Travel (particularly short trips)
  • Transportation – buses, trains, cars, bicycles
  • Writers and editors of all kinds – journalists, newspaper reporters, proofreaders, editors, novelists

In astrology, the term retrograde refers to when a planet appears to move backward through the signs. Retrograde cycles for the planets vary – and Mercury’s retrograde cycles are among the shortest, logging in at approximately three weeks. If it feels longer, that’s due to the shadow period, an approximately two-week period when Mercury is moving along a path that it will revisit later. There’s a pre- and post-retrograde shadow period: typically the post-retrograde shadow is not as intense as the pre-retrograde shadow and is more of a final review of everything that occurred during Mercury retrograde.

Mercury, planet, Mercury retrograde, astronomy, astrology
The planet Mercury. Image credit: Brocken Inaglory / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

Mercury managed to get the best PR team out of all the planets because so many people are aware of Mercury retrograde cycles and how it affects traffic, electronic devices, and communication. As a Gemini rising, I am all too aware of my love-hate relationship with Mercury, as he rules both Gemini and Virgo. I cannot tell you how many times I have cursed him out while dealing with a phone issue, downed wifi, car issues, or some other shenanigans. But I have also learned the necessity of planning ahead and being extremely organized before retrograde cycles, and going above and beyond my usual efforts to ensure my emails and social media posts are clearly written. I will review plans and task lists with clients and colleagues both verbally and in writing, so that we eliminate any possible confusion. I try harder to shut my mouth and listen to other people, too.

As you’ve read in my previous posts about Venus retrograde and Mars retrograde, you know that retrograde periods are a time to move inward. It’s an opportunity to slow down and be reflective on what that sign rules. And since Mercury rules Wednesday, I encourage you to celebrate Mercury Retrograde Wednesdays during his final retrograde for 2020. Starting on October 14 and ending October 28, spend the next 3 Wednesdays honoring this versatile, multitalented planet with some very mercurial activities.

Activities for Mercury Retrograde Wednesdays

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  • Write it down. Get a notebook or journal and write down what’s on your mind. Give it all to the page – it can handle what you have to rant or rave about. Read my post about daily writing rituals if you need some suggestions on how to start.
  • Take a little trip. Get in your car or on a train – whatever feels safest for you – and set off on a day trip. To really honor the free-spirited, impulsive nature of Mercury, don’t plan out where to go (but do make sure the car is full of gas, tires are properly inflated, etc.). Allow yourself to be surprised. Bonus points for bike rides!
  • Read. Mercury rules the written word, so grab a book or magazine or newspaper, your favorite beverage and maybe a snack, and settle down in a comfy chair to read. For this activity, I recommend going analog – Mercury may decide to zap your phone or tablet just when the action gets exciting, because he is a jerk like that sometimes. Do not ask me how I know this. Mercury also rules humor, so a collection of humorous essays or a satirical novel is an excellent choice.
  • Reorganize your office/work area. This includes your desk, files, shelves and bookcases. Definitely keep this activity to physical items – otherwise you may end up deleting computer files you needed. Again, do not ask me how I know this.
  • Watch something funny. Mercury loves to laugh, so scratch that itch by watching a movie or sitcom that makes you laugh. A standup comic special is also an excellent choice.
  • Clean the mirrors. Get some window cleaner or a spray bottle of white vinegar (my personal choice), a soft clean rag or paper towels, and clean all the mirrors in your home. You may even want to set up a new mirror somewhere, or perhaps buy a compact mirror for your go bag or purse.
  • Handwrite a letter or note to someone. Mercury rules handwriting, pens, pencils, and stationery, so this is an activity he can totally get behind. If you have no idea what to write, here’s a list of ideas.
  • Call a relative. Pick up the phone and call your mom, dad, sibling, your favorite uncle, the aunt who sends you care packages (shout out to my Aunt Gigi*) and check in with them. Doesn’t have to be a long conversation, nor does it have to be a heavy one. Just keep it light and loving, and you’ll both feel good by the time you hang up.
  • Sew. Mercury rules sewing machines AND needles, so if you enjoy sewing, set aside time on Wednesdays to sew a small project or work on a longer one. I love to sew, and I plan on doing this as much as possible – but you best believe I’ll be having a chat with Mercury ahead of time about not dicking with my machine, breaking needles, or jamming up the bobbin. Brand new to sewing? I highly recommend the Crafty Gemini’s tutorials for beginners.

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There’s a lot of planetary activity this year that poses some major challenges for all of us, and Mercury retrograde is just another part of it. But if we come at this cycle from a place of honoring the shift in perspective that’s required during Mercury retrograde, it can be a much easier transit to manage. Laugh along with Mercury as much as you can!

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Everyone’s favorite Mercury: the legendary Freddie Mercury. Image credit: Corvus / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

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Mercury Retrograde in Pisces: It’s the Most Frustrating Time of the Year

Connection speeds got you down?
Your bus or train running behind schedule?
Mobile phone, laptop, or other electronic device not working right?

Welcome to Mercury retrograde, my friends.

Long time readers of GWM have likely read previous posts I’ve written about Mercury retrograde, an astrological phenomenon that happens about 3 times a year. To understand this occurrence, and why some folks get so frustrated when Mercury is retrograde, I’ll provide some background.

Mercury, Greek, mythology, Hermes
Artistic rendering of Mercury (Hermes), the messenger of the gods in Greek & Roman mythology. Image courtesy elfinspell.com

Mercury (also known as Hermes) was the messenger of the gods in Greek & Roman mythology. He had a wicked sense of humor and loved to play tricks. In astrology, the planet Mercury rules all forms of communication. This includes e-mail, faxes, Internet, phones, text messages and snail mail. Mercury also rules transportation: planes, trains, automobiles, even bicycles and scooters. On a more abstract level, Mercury rules thoughts, concepts and ideas.

In astrology, the term retrograde means that a planet appears to be moving backwards through the signs of the zodiac. All planets except the Sun and Moon have retrograde cycles, and these retrograde cycles tend to trigger areas that need special attention. I found this explanation from Dwight Ennis to be particularly helpful:

Astrologically, a retrograde planet is symbolically retracing ground that has already been covered. Wherever one finds a retrograde planet, it seems to indicate a need to internalize that planet’s energies, come to terms with them, and “own” them.

When Mercury is retrograde, communication can get all screwed up. Websites go down for no apparent reason. Social media becomes unpredictable, with real-time updates & feeds not working the way they should. Electronic devices lose power or break down completely. Travel can be wonky as well: traffic might be much worse on the freeway, flights are delayed or cancelled, and you might have car problems.

The unpredictability of Mercury retrograde can manifest in other surprising ways. Whenever a major awards ceremony takes place during Mercury retrograde, such as this year’s Academy Awards, I’m always interested to see what happens, because the favorite in any category can end up not winning. This year’s results didn’t disappoint in that regard, with Argo taking Best Picture, Ang Lee winning Best Director for Life of Pi, and Christoph Waltz getting the Best Supporting Actor award for his work in Django Unchained – when none of them were seen as the favorites by many pundits.

On February 23, Mercury went retrograde in the sign of Pisces, which rules intuition, imagination, compassion, and understanding. Pisces also rules large bodies of water and water pipes. During the Oscars, I found this tweet which perfectly describes the wackiness of Mercury retrograde in Pisces.

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I like to think that Mercury finds all of the delays and communication breakdowns and surprises amusing. He’s a trickster, after all. But that doesn’t help when you’re waiting on a call about a job or your car won’t start. The good part is that Mercury retrograde cycles don’t last very long; the most intense portion of the cycle goes on for 20-24 days. It’s enough time to make you loopy, but not so long that you lose all hope of ever having a working Internet connection again.

It may help to think of Mercury retrograde cycles as a time to re-engage with areas of your life that have been neglected. Our world spins so fast these days (figuratively speaking) that it can be difficult to find the time to take on those tasks we’ve been putting off for a while. Personally, I’ve been using this Mercury retrograde period to take a look at old projects and determine if I am interested enough to revive them, and I’m re-organizing my stuff and weeding out items I no longer need. Notice all the “re” words? That’s because retrograde cycles are good for “re” activities: revise, reassess, review…you get the idea.

While searching online for current pieces on Mercury retrograde, I came across this piece from 2010 that resonated with me. As someone whose ruling planet is Mercury (I’m a Gemini rising), I often struggle to find the good during Mercury’s retrograde periods. The excerpt below gave me some food for thought:

Mercury Retrograde is a time to lay off the caffeine-powered Mercury engines of our lives and find something else–stillness, Athena, Jupiter, anybody but Hermes/Mercury. And this is what could be filling us with dread as we think of Mercury receding away from us. We’ve come to depend so much on him that we can’t picture him moving away from us…We don’t use it as a time to reflect on our attachment to our computers, our phones, our social networking accounts, our blogs, or even ways of communicating, whether electronically or not. It doesn’t mean that we have to cut off Mercury or Mercury related concerns entirely, even if that were possible.

It means that we can give space to other dimensions of Mercury through other “gods” or principles, like looking at the beauty of our handwriting, which is more of a Venus/Jupiter concern. (Yes, when was the last time you looked at your writing script? Have you ever pushed to develop or improve it, especially since writing in script is becoming a dying art?) Or does a recent argument with a friend highlight how you might not listen as well as you think you do? Or do you speak more forcefully, with too much Mars, than you might think or would like? Similarly, are you being as serious about your communication or your spoken commitments as you could, which is to evoke more Saturn? Or how are you evoking Athena (strategy) and wisdom on your job?

So while I referred to Mercury retrograde as being the most frustrating time of the year in the post title, it really doesn’t have to be. And if I keep telling myself this, eventually I will believe it. In the meantime, I’m counting down the days until March 17, when Mercury goes direct. Only 13 more to go…