Mercury begins His retrograde cycle this week, beginning with the first act, the shadow period, coinciding with the New Moon. All planets, including Earth if you live on another planet, go retrograde, but there's a definite obsession with Mercury because He's central to our human experience.
Planets don't actually turn around and go backwards - that would be super bizarre! It's all about perspective as planets move at different speeds. Think about the hub caps on cars when you're on the motorway and a car overtakes you. There's a moment when the hub cap of the other car appears to be going backwards. It's an optical illusion - one that is way too complicated for me to understand and explain - but we've all seen it, I'm sure. The same thing happens with the planets. Each is transiting through the solar system at its own speed and a retrograde is an optical illusion that makes it seem that planets do a U-turn and go backwards.
The retrograde cycle is composed of three parts, and when we understand the three-act process that every retrograde moves through, we can navigate this process more comfortably.
The first act is the shadow period, and it began on the New Moon in September. This is a time when we gather all the information we need to work through the actual retrograde with a little less stumbling and be prepared for the issues and challenges that come along as they'll be hinted at during the shadow. It's like the brochure for the retreat that is retrograde!
Make a mental note when conversations or thoughts that involve communication of problems, as these are the issues that are going to pop back up during the second act, the actual retrograde period. It'll be more bumpy during that time, so the more you're prepped, the more efficiently you can work through it.
It's important now to be making these mental notes, look for those challenges and the themes in your communication issues.
The retrograde itself, something that everyone seems to know about. It gets a lot of attention, so you'll see memes popping up everywhere on social media. The dates for the September retrograde are from the 27th through to October 17th. Every 88 days for 21 days Mercury goes retrograde, it's like clockwork, giving us a good heads up to make the very best use of this period. Having done some preparations ahead of time, you may feel that actually, this middle period is no longer anything to fear. It's actually a great time to do some amazing work. Our relationship to Mercury is that He resides as our navigating mechanism at the centre of our human experience, speaking to us constantly through our inner thoughts.
This time around Mercury is in the air sign of Libra, and one way of working with the retrograde is to find out which House the sign of Libra was in at your time of birth. You can check out your natal chart online at various free websites or have an astrologer compile one for you. Knowing this information will give you an idea of the area of your life to keep your eyes on when we talk about making mental notes during the shadow period, and indeed during the retrograde itself. I know that Libra was in my ninth House, which means that I will be keeping an eye out for opportunities to learn, to experience new things, and ways that my interpersonal communication may need to be considered more.
In a more global way, it's important to know Mercury's story. He's making what's referred to as triple transits. He's going to move forward, turn around hit the same territory going backwards, and then turn around again and cover that whole territory again. These give a story line of what the archetype of communication wants us to be in consideration of. We'll find this retrograde a little less challenging than the last one, in Gemini, a Mercury ruled sign and we were in the midst of an eclipse!
None of that drama this time! But we may still find some passive aggression, territorialism and darker qualities of communication rise up during this cycle. We may feel confident about our communication experience thanks to the balance of Libra, but we may be confronted with a shadow side that bumps with others, because of the trine to Jupiter.