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Unplug: An Invitation from Mercury Retrograde

It’s Mercury Retrograde time again and, despite all you hear about it, there’s no sense hiding under blankets to avoid what might go wrong. A better approach is to familiarize yourself with the power of this time and learn to harness that power to create shifts and improvements in your own life.

So what is this strange occurrence and why do we concern ourselves with it? In a nutshell, Mercury Retrograde is a period that occurs three or four times per year during which the planet Mercury appears to be moving backwards (as compared to its normal orbit). This period generally lasts for around three weeks and is said, in astrological terms, to wreak havoc on systems of communication, including technology, which are ruled by Mercury.

If you want to know more, there are plenty of articles that will explain the science of this optical illusion and plenty of other articles that will explain its astrological implications. Many will be accompanied by warnings, shouts for help, or just general exasperation. Advice-givers will warn of the dangers of sending important messages, signing contracts, and making big purchases during this time due to the apparent tendency for lines of communication to become crossed or jumbled.

But fear-mongering is unnecessary. To our Western minds, the ideas of slowing down, consuming less, and taking time to reflect all invoke a sort of fearful reaction of their own. And that’s precisely what begs to be explored during this planetary occurrence.

Let’s start at the root. We are beings– animals even, if you can let your imagination roam that far. We are connected to the natural world through many points, and yet our societal upbringing moves our attention further away from that fact as quickly and consistently as possible. Yet strangely, this connection persists- often unnoticed by us.

Our bodies show this connection in some interesting ways: Many women still experience their menstrual cycles in time with the moon cycles. As soon as we move away from electricity and artificial light (when we go camping, for example), our bodies tend to naturally rise and set more closely with the sun. And within our environment, there are some natural connections that we are comfortable with and tend not to question: Sit on a beach long enough and you’ll be unable to ignore the strange happening of the tideline shifting with the hour. A sailor whose man-made instruments have failed him, can still guide himself by the sun and stars.

So now imagine the animals and birds that are not a part of our society and who are still guided by the sun, moon, and yes even the stars. Even the dung beetle’s innate sense of direction was recently linked to its following of the stars– or more likely, of the actual Milky Way. Pretty amazing. So, it’s not that difficult to imagine that the optical illusion of one of our closest neighboring planets suddenly moving backwards, might throw a few things off.

But animals don’t hide under the covers during this time and we shouldn’t have to either. Instead of thinking of all the things you can’t do or shouldn’t do during Mercury Retrograde, try to think about the things that you are invited to do.

1) Take a break and unplug. This is a great time to unplug from social media and technology. Just noticing your tendencies to reach for these things when bored or unsatisfied can be very enlightening. You don’t have to swear off of Facebook, but maybe you can take this time to notice how often your are blindly “liking” or commenting on posts, and try to do less that feels meaningless and more that feels meaningful. Tune in and listen more, and don’t feel you have to respond to everything.

2) Check your communication. Before sending important messages or making big decisions, give yourself some time. Let the words be chosen carefully, let the details of agreements be checked thoroughly, and give everything a little more time for reflection before pressing send. Go and take a walk or eat lunch before sending that important email- or better yet, sleep on it. Slowing down can prevent mistakes, reactions, or even the giving away of too much information.

3) Appreciate what you have before you add to it. This is an important time to notice the craving to purchase things, have more, or have better than what we have. Allow your mantra to be “enough is as good as a feast” and reflect on the truth in that statement as you eat or enjoy your home. Add things to your online shopping cart or shopping list, but allow yourself time and space before making the purchase. Ask yourself why you are craving that thing and whether you can do without it. Recognizing what we can do without is a powerful realization in a culture so obsessed with ownership, status symbols, and staving off boredom.

Mercury Retrograde periods invite us to purge habits and mindsets that are harmful or not useful. We’re invited to cleanse (less technology, less consumption, less impulsiveness) and reset (more stillness, more reflection, more contentment), thus empowering ourselves before we return to a time of action. We’re invited to take a look at our relationships to abundance, expression, and hastiness. We’re invited to give ourselves a break from all of the expectation and craving that constantly contribute in some way to our own suffering and perhaps even the suffering of others.

So, no, I don’t recommend that you shut yourself into your bedroom during these few weeks. You can connect in ways that you’ve forgotten how to. Do more art and projects, listen to music, listen to the birds, say less, be content with less, see yourself as all that you need, and practice gratitude. These are just a few ways that you can empower yourself during Mercury Retrograde.


Thanks for reading! Share your thoughts and replies in the comments below. – xo


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