3 Things I Learned from Mercury Retrograde

Mercury is in retrograde again, along with what seems like half the planets in the sky. Here's an older post about what I learned from the last Mercury retrograde in April of this year.

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If you've been around here for a little while, then you know that I love astrology. Like tarot, I enjoy astrology more as a tool for reflection and interpretation than "believe" in it as a predictive force. I've written about Mercury retrograde before, but I'll give you a quick and dirty explanation of the celestial phenomenon here. Basically, the rotation of the planets creates an optical illusion such that from our perspective here on Earth, Mercury appears to be spinning backwards. Mercury, named after the Greek messenger god, rules communication and travel. Traditional wisdom thus suggests that when Mercury stations retrograde, these aspects of our lives will go haywire. Travel will be delayed, technology will malfunction, and we'll have unusual difficulties expressing ourselves and communicating with others. 

The degree of intensity with which Mercury retrograde affects us probably varies depending on how much you believe in it. Yoko Ono, for example, supposedly planned her travel around the three or four annual periods of Mercury retrograde. I, on the other hand, don't exactly rely on the stars to tell me when to purchase a plane ticket. That said, I still tend to notice at least a handful of subtle differences every time Mercury retrograde rolls around. Is that because I'm paying special attention to its impact? Maybe. But it's still a useful reminder for me to pull back, slow down, and tie up loose ends in my life. Mercury retrograde is a time to finish things, not start them.

I felt this particular Mercury retrograde, which lasted from March 23 to April 15, especially strongly. And I'm not alone - several other people told me they really noticed the changes. This period took place in fiery and headstrong Aries, which probably explains its intensity. Anyways, now that Mercury has stationed direct again, I thought I'd reflect on what I learned from the last few weeks. 

1. Protect your energy.

I'm a sensitive person. I also tend to believe in the purity of others' intentions, and to try to satisfy their needs accordingly. Both of these are great qualities that I genuinely love about myself, and I would never want to get rid of them. 

But. But!

My sensitivity and propensity to put other people before myself mean that I can be taken advantage of or manipulated sometimes. Factor in my anxiety, and it's altogether too easy for another person to invade my psyche. I had a particular bureaucratic issue involving another person last week that generated a massive amount of anxiety in my daily life. Realistically, I was taking care of business and had nothing to worry about, but this person was needlessly pressuring me. My instinct was to obsess over the issue until it was resolved, but a friend here reminded me that I have the power to release my anxiety. He told me that though it's difficult to do, it is my responsibility to protect myself from people like that. He was completely right.

I was complaining about how this person was treating me, but in reality it was me who was giving her all the power. Obviously there are some situations in which we can't control the outcome, so I don't want to suggest that we can magically "overcome" all abusive or toxic circumstances. But this case was truly just a minor bureaucratic headache, and yet I allowed myself to enter a downward spiral of stress because someone else wanted me to do so. 

So, whenever and wherever you can, protect your energy. Protect yourself. I still give everyone the benefit of the doubt, but when they prove they don't deserve it, don't let them step all over you.

2. If you don't rest, your body will force you to do so.

Yesterday, I spent nearly the entire day in bed. I worked my morning shift in the hostel where I'm currently doing a work-housing exchange, making up beds and hauling sheets among the four stories in the building, and then collapsed into bed. I slept for three hours, woke up, ate lunch, and then went back to bed. Unless I'm deathly ill, I never spend all day in bed like that. But I was so utterly tired that I felt it in my bones. I went out onto my tiny balcony and had to go back inside because my exhaustion made me woozy and I feared I would pitch over the edge.

I had slept twelve hours over the last three days, and spent most of my waking hours working or socializing in various measures. I'd spent the last several weeks adjusting to life at the hostel and running around Córdoba, saying yes to every new experience. I'd wound myself so tight about the aforementioned bureaucracy and my freelance work that I lived with a constant low-grade anxiety in the back of my mind, accompanying me like background noise throughout my daily life. I took a one-night whirlwind trip to Barcelona to pick up my residency card. And, as I will explain momentarily, I revisited my past in many ways. 

As my friends, family, and acquaintances remarked, I did not stop. 

And then yesterday, my body forced me to stop. I was several weeks late for my period due to the stress and when it finally arrived yesterday, my entire being came undone with fatigue. I had no choice but to rest. I took a bath and filed my taxes from bed and ate food because I had to do these things, and that is all I could bring myself to do. 

Mercury retrograde will show us what in our lives is not working, what is not serving us, and it will bring us to our knees when we don't listen. 

3. Let go of what is not meant for you.

As I wrote, Mercury retrograde is the time to tie up loose ends. In particular, this period tends to find our past returning to us in mysterious ways. If it does, it's best to meet the past head-on and address it - Mercury is trying to show you something. As uncomfortable or painful as it may be to face our ghosts, this process is necessary. 

These several weeks have found me focusing on the past quite often; when I'm not worrying about the future, I'm often reminiscing over or analyzing old memories. I even went so far as to write a postcard to someone from my past and then tore it up without sending it. I revisited multiple past relationships in more ways than one. Sometimes this revisiting is part of the process of letting go, but it's important to move beyond it. We can't get stuck in the revisiting. Mercury retrograde encourages us to go back and dig deep, but for the purpose of learning something and carrying that lesson forward.

As a highly emotional, die-hard romantic, I never want to let go of any people, places, or experiences. But the truth is that not everyone and everything can stay in our lives forever. I've learned that if I find myself holding on to something for dear life - if I feel like I have to hang on to it that tightly - then that means that it is not meant for me, at least right now. And so I have to let go.

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I hope that this Mercury retrograde was a fruitful period of rest and growth for all of you. And don't forget who is responsible for the sweet relief of Mercury stationing direct again:

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