Not Another Mercury Retrograde: Going through the (Apparent Retrograde) Motions

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Written by: Jasmin Lila

It seems like everyone and their aunt knows when Mercury is retrograde these days. I dare say it’s nearly as popular as knowing your Sun sign. Which is pretty cool; I’d never lament a more widespread acceptance of Astrology.

However, with this surge in mainstream popularity, and a (mostly justifiable) need to simplify complex concepts for broader accessibility, the conversation around Mercury retrogrades does seem to have gotten a little repetitive. Cliched. Reductive. 

The finer details of Mercury retrograde have been somewhat lost in translation – the absolute on the nose perfection of which is not lost on me. 

It’s a problem I realized I was contributing to, as I wrote yet another interpretation about how this is a time to reassess and rethink, to triple check the data, and avoid making big decisions. It’s not terrible advice, but it certainly lacks a greater nuance that any given Astrology transit deserves. Because even though they might have a similar foundation, no two retrogrades are created equal. 

Mercury retrograde in expansive Sagittarius has a much different flavor than that of one in grounded Capricorn. A retrograde that features squares with Neptune is bound to melt the mind and confuse communication, a little more than one that features sextiles with clear-cut Saturn. Combine those and you get two very distinct periods of retrograde time. Once you factor in how it’s influencing your natal chart, there’s no telling how many variations are possible from one single retrograde. 

All of that had gotten away from me somehow, though. Another Mercury retrograde was upon us and I was on autopilot, just going through the motions. Honestly, I think Mercury noticed. 

This past retrograde (Dec. 2023 to Jan. 2024) manifested in some of the most obvious, palm-to-forehead ways for me. While Mercury was retrograde in my third house of communication, I recorded an entire podcast episode before realizing my microphone hadn’t been working. When Mercury backtracked to my second house of money, I had a bank account get shut down without my knowledge or any warning.

The majority of those classic retrograde bloopers and snafus – glitchy tech, misunderstandings, retracing your steps – happened while Mercury was in Sagittarius, reminding me and emphasizing the importance of planetary condition. Mercury’s detriment in Sagittarius surely contributed to making that part of the retrograde all the more haywire.

My experience was radically different while Mercury was retrograde in Capricorn. Though it’s neutral territory for Mercury, the steady environment of a Saturn-ruled earth sign likely offered extra stability, to stay ever so slightly more on track.

The second take on that podcast episode was infinitely better than the first, and this recording delay wound up playing a role in the renaming and rebranding of that podcast. A change I had been trying to make for months, and which the retrograde revising opened the door for. 

This third house retrograde also brought the opportunity to recreate my website, to pivot the type of regular content I create, and on the day of the retrograde station, a reversal in mindset. It was this initial stage of the retrograde that awakened me from autopilot. 

It’s not uncommon for the day of a station, whether retrograde or direct, to be the trickiest part of the cycle. With the planet completely inert, delays and inactivity make sense. However, this particular station day was one of the most productive I’d had in weeks. A writing project I’d been working on, and hitting one roadblock after another, was suddenly finding its stride. And then it was done. 

As Mercury found a place of stillness in the cosmos, my mind found a calm clarity here on Earth. I doubt every retrograde station will provide such a blessing, but this possibility for mental peace and focus will get factored into my future interpretations. 

More than just reminding me that ubiquity doesn’t negate uniqueness, this retrograde prompted me to rethink my approach to Astrological translation. To give the planets a little more agency in the stories they’re weaving. We might know how the last retrograde played out, but that doesn’t mean we know all the twists and turns of the retrogrades yet to come. 

We can be prepared to reassess, triple check data, and delay big decisions, but we can also go deeper than that. Each retrograde holds the gift of a second chance. The pen to rewrite our stories. An opportunity to awaken from autopilot and do more than just go through the motions. 

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