7 Witch Tips for "Surthriving" Mercury Retrograde
by Paige Curtin
Over the past few years, Mercury Retrograde has gotten a lot of lip for technological mishaps, miscommunications, and general mass chaos... everyone from mystics to muggles nervously keeps one eye on the morning sky for the smallest planet's biggest trick.
The internet is full of guides for getting through retrograde relatively unscathed, and memes about the hilarity that ensues from classic Mercurial blunders- but is it all really that bad?
Mercury Retrograde (sometimes written as Mercury RX) refers to a period of time when the planet Mercury travels between Earth and the Sun. Since the celestial bodies are orbiting each other in big rings up there, from our flattened perspective down here they appear to move "backwards" once they reach the far side of the ring; instead of appearing to moving around and around like they really do, it looks like they're moving back and forth in a straight line. So Mercury isn’t *actually* switching up its orbit, it's just a funhouse mirror effect! This backwards energy is kind of like reading a reversed tarot card, or celebrating a cosmic opposites day; the things that Mercury’s in charge of get all shook up.
Mercury (the planet) is named for the Roman god of the same name, or the Greek counterpart Hermes, because it moves so quickly around the sky compared to other celestial bodies. Trickster Hermes was messenger to the gods, allowed to travel between the realms of the immortals, mortals, and even the ghostly Underworld as a psychopomp. Hermes liked pulling pranks on anyone who got in the way, but that swift-footed messenger also played a crucial role in the development of, well, society. Millennia of this mythology has built the ethos that the planet Mercury has cosmic rulership over the god Mercury’s earthly responsibilities: commerce, communication, and (during retrograde, at least) chaos.
That last bit sounds scary, right? And it’s probably what you hear about Mercury Retrograde most often. Since Mercury retrogrades about 3 times a year for a few weeks at a time, it tends to get blamed for basically anything that goes wrong, like, ever. Whoever owns the "is Mercury in retrograde" website domain really ascended the Mercurial altar with that money move!
While Bizarro Mercury is notorious for computer malfunctions, slips of the tongue, and ex-crushes sliding into your DMs, some folks warn about an increased risk when entering into contracts during Mercury retrograde, starting new jobs, or making other big life changes. But Mercury Retrograde is a frequent event that’s gonna keep happening, so it’s best to find ways to fly WITH the wind instead of AGAINST it. Take some Grounding essence and get your head in the game! And look on your birth chart for a small "R" next to your Mercury sign; that means you’re one of the lucky ones who was born during a Mercury Retrograde, so you were literally born to thrive through this vibe (like our HWIC Erica)!
I obviously can't blame anyone for fixating on their toe-stubbing as part of a larger galactic conspiracy, but coincidentally that’s exactly the kind of chaotic communication Mercury wants! Olympus's class clown gets a huge kick out of having so much power over our flights getting delayed, and we grow that power by freaking out about it. Staying tense for the weeks of Mercury’s RX could result in a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy; by putting so much energy into worrying about potential mishaps you could overcorrect, or hyper-fixate on the obvious and miss something else. It’s all a big cosmic joke to Mercury, but remember that the energy isn’t evil, it’s mischievous! Maybe you miss your flight and bond with a cute stranger at the airport bar. That would make Mercury pretty happy too.
So yeah, it couldn’t hurt to be *cautious* about contracts and communication during Mercury retrograde, but it’s also like… well if that’s the energy, that’s the energy! Give yourself a break. There are tons of ways we can not only survive but surTHRIVE through Mercury’s moonwalk.
7 Mercury Retrograde Surthrival Tips:
1. Make an altar to Mercury and faithfully tend to it.
You don’t have to be into deity work for this since there’s so much other symbolism to play with, but it’s polite to honor the energy of the event and set your intention to go with the flow. Mercury rules the astrological sign Gemini and corresponds with the air element. There are magical plants like lavender and pomegranate that correspond with Mercury, and crystals like tourmalinated quartz. Or look for your own symbols of communication: if there's an old cell phone in your junk drawer, you could activate it on your shrine as a psychic hotline to your spirit guides.
Tending your shrine also anchors you in a routine if you’re feeling disoriented or sluggish during the astronomical upheaval. If it’s not the best time to hold yourself accountable for big, serious life improvements, enjoy an easy win by holding yourself accountable for lighting a candle and pouring some wine instead!
2. Be the ex who shows up during rx.
Kidding! Well, kind of. Maybe it’s all that trickster energy, but I like the idea of spreading the Mercury Retrograde blame to GOOD things, like reaching out to that friend from high school whose posts you always like, but it’s been so long now that reaching out gets more awkward until eventually you stop even liking their posts because you feel guilty that it's been so long, but then hey, they haven't reached out either… let Mercury help! What’s a better conversation starter than “I heard people from your past re-emerge during retrograde… so here I am!” Plus if we normalize getting in touch during Mercury retrograde, we’ve gone and created an innovative but semi-chaotic network of communication that depends on retrograde rather than resisting it. Your move, Mercury!
3. Explore no-risk communication through automatic writing or chanting!
Let your thoughts flow free and see what messages come through from your spirit guides without worrying that your Zoom audio isn’t connecting or whether you pronounced “pasta e fagioli” a little too authentically at dinner. It’s also an exercise in exploring your subconscious: as a subletter of the Underworld, Mercury in retrograde reminds us to take a peek at what’s under the surface. If you meditate with crystals, we created the Retro-Great Tumbled Crystal Spell Pouch for exactly this purpose!
4. Plan your tough conversations, but maybe don’t have them just yet?
This could be an interesting time to get really honest with yourself about how you feel, but take some time to mull it over before having The Big Talk. Since Mercury appears to be retracing its steps around the sun, make a project of looking back on your own patterns and habits. If anything, Mercury retrograde can be a great time for planning because we’re so hyperaware of all the things that could go wrong!
5. Mercury is a nonbinary icon.
Take advantage of retrograde to explore the flipside of how you usually present yourself, and challenge yourself to change it up as many times as you can before Mercury stations direct!
6. Practice laughing off your own mistakes!
If you send that email before it was done or accidentally call your professor Mom, practice radical empathy on yourself by not making a huge, embarrassed deal about it. People are surprisingly understanding when you’re transparent about screwups, and as we move deeper into the Virtual Age mistakes are gonna happen. Pobody’s nerfect! Learn to live and laugh with it.
7. Take a religious exemption from the hustle.
You didn't think we were gonna write a whole article without bringing up capitalism, did you? If Mercury rules commerce, and Mercury is currently out-of-office, maybe it's a good time to examine your own relationship with work and money. Dip into the underworld of information and find out where your dollars are going, redistribute where you can. Give yourself a true day off (preferably a Wednesday, which is ruled by Mercury).
What other ways have you found to coast through Mercury Retrograde? Do you cast spells to keep your computer online or brew potions for clear communication? Let us know!
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