Phrases like “mercury retrograde” are part of an astrologer’s shorthand, but this is not always of service to our clients, unless we explain what it means. First: “retrograde” = from our perspective here on Earth, it appears as though a planet changes direction and goes backwards. This phenomena occurs because Earth orbits around the Sun with all the other planets, but at a different revolution. When Mercury (or any planet) is retrograde, Earth’s movement makes it appear this way, in the same way a car on a road may look as though it moves backwards to the passengers on a speeding train.
Symbolically, when a planet is retrograde, the energy it represents goes inward. This always has a positive impact as well as a negative. In order to analyze Mercury’s influence, let’s learn a little about his story. All the planets were named after gods in ancient Greece and Mercury is the Roman name for Hermes, the messenger god.
Many of the stories of the birth of a god (or goddess) is fraught with strife, but Hermes story is not. His father Zeus (Jupiter) manages to mate with Maia but escapes his wife’s Hera’s detection. Maia is a reclusive Titan, and has no intention of making a show of her infant. Even for a god, Hermes grows with amazing alacrity.
His first day alive he slips out of the swaddle his mother had wrapped him in before she slept. He finds a tortoise and to amuse himself he creates a lyre with its shell and the entails of an animal. Delighted with the sound of his creation, he dances out to a field where he spies a herd of magnificent cattle. The cattle happen to belong to his half-brother Apollo. He captivates them with the music of his lyre and leads them away. While doing so he covers the path and fashions shoes for his feet that track like he’s walking in the opposite direction.
Apollo is furious to discover his herd is missing but all clues point to his baby brother. He demands justice from Zeus who has the job of declaring judgment while at the same time busting with pride because of the ingenuity of the little scamp.
Apollo learns that Hermes sacrificed two cattle to the 12 gods, including to himself. SoHermes is considered the god who created sacrifice rituals. Hermes mollified Apollo by offering him the lute.
Enchanted, his big brother allowed him to keep the cattle. Because of his cunning and ability to travel so quickly and decisively, his father made Hermes the messenger of the gods. Because of his skill in trading, he is the god of commerce. We also attribute slight of hand, dexterity, thievery and pranks to Hermes.
When you hear the root of the myth, you can understand why Mercury Retrograde may indicate more obvious upsets than some of the other planets. When the trickster planet is dancing backwards, you need to double-check appointments, your email and transit. It’s best to avoid signing contracts, not because of potential theft but because you may be missing some information. Avoid hiring or starting a job at this time if you want it to stick.
Electrical devices and technology can get wacked at this time and although it’s not advisable to buy a replacement, sometimes you have no choice. Ideally get something you can return if need be. Mercury retrograde is an ideal time to strengthen your meditation practice, edit, go over contracts, research, review and reflect.
If you must travel, give yourself plenty of time for connections. Keep your sense of humor! Keep in mind that when Hermes made his sacrifice to the 12 gods, he included himself. Be sure that whatever you do, you reward your efforts. ©Cucinell 2014- all rights reserved