We all know what Mercury retrograde is, right? It happens when the planet, Mercury, appears to be moving backward, relative to earth, but, in fact, is just slowing down, in a sort of “moonwalk.”
Communication snafus at this time of year are common and travel can be a nightmare. Your flight lands in New York City while your bag goes on to Chile.
There are usually three retrogrades every year, but in 2022, there are four. And this last one carries us into the new year – it starts on December 29 and ends on January 18.
In Vedic astrology, Mercury retrograde isn’t necessarily a bad thing. According to Vedic teachings, life is intended for spiritual growth and this growth is facilitated by karma, the idea that every thought, every action, has a corresponding reaction. Given this, Mercury retrograde is just another opportunity for spiritual growth. So it shouldn’t elicit an “Oh no, not again.”
As I mentioned earlier, communication and travel can be challenging. But there’s also an upside. Any place you travel to during a retrograde is a place to which you’ll return. So, if you’re planning to travel during the 3 weeks from Dec 29 to Jan 18, as I am, be sure your destination is a place you want to visit again.
As far as communication is concerned, say what you mean when you say it, especially during Mercury retrograde. One of my students really disliked her job but was afraid to quit. Then during a recent Mercury retrograde, she was told she had to take on the responsibilities of a colleague who was gone on vacation. It meant she would be working 10 hours a day six days a week and just thinking about it exhausted her. Without thinking she said no to her boss, telling her, “I’m underpaid as it is.”
She said her boss looked stunned and stared at her in disbelief as she picked up her purse. But before she reached the door, the boss offered her a promotion at over one and one-half of her current compensation. She had reacted viscerally, without censoring herself, and it had paid off. That’s classic Mercury retrograde: she said what she meant to say, it was the truth, and, in her case, it paid off.
Mercury also rules cars, computers, and anything with moving parts. So, the advice on that front is don’t purchase anything with moving parts during a retrograde. But suppose your computer crashes a week into the retro and can’t be fixed?
The computer is vital to your employment and you can’t wait.
Another one of my students faced this dilemma. She Googled around until she found a place that rented computers by the month. The price was reasonable. She rented her dream computer and at the end of the retrograde, she loved it so much she bought it. That part of the fiasco worked out to her benefit.
Mercury rules the conscious mind and any profession dealing with writing, teaching, speaking, books, or publication. Mercury is the messenger, the left brain is its vehicle, and it usually speaks to us in terms of logic and reasoning. In Vedic astrology, when Mercury is retrograde, our intuition deepens and the coincidences – the synchronicities – can be awesome.
As described in the Vedas, all of us, everything really, is under the control of time. Inexorably, we are pulled from one stage, or level, to the next, each step determined by our own karma. But, remember, our karma is totally under our own control, as we have free will.
In his book, The Astrology of the Seers, David Frawley says:
“What we call the planets are no more than points of light in a vast energy network, connected intricately by subtle lines of force, linking the entire solar system into a single organism. Though the planets appear like small points of light in the distance, their energy fields are present on Earth, and they are responsible for many of the formations of the Earth life and of our own bodies and minds.”
So, with any Mercury retrograde snafu, don’t panic. Nearly always, there’s a hidden nugget or treasure. One of my new students owned a two-year-old American bulldog, Abby, who had developed a bad limp. My student told me he took Abby to the vet who determined that she had a torn ligament. He got a date for the surgery – the day before Mercury turned retrograde, when it was in the “shadow” period. The vet’s assistant left a sponge inside during the procedure, and the surgery had to be redone! Wisely, my student waited until after the period of retrograde, and the second surgery went without a hitch, plus the vet reversed the charges so it was a win/win after-all! Mars rules surgery, something to think about before you schedule one.
The stars themselves have no conscious benevolence or animosity toward us – they are only sending out positive and negative energy that affects us in much the same way that the natural world we live on does. When I was a mountain climber, I knew that the mountains themselves had no attitude pro or con toward me; they just “were,” and if I incorrectly “read” them and journeyed into them in bad weather or on loose rock, to my peril, that was my mistake, not theirs. It’s the same with the stars and planets; they are inherently neutral to us; it’s up to us to use common sense about the effect of their movements on us each individually, and act accordingly.
They include such luminaries as Prince, Buckminster Fuller, Steve Jobs, Madonna, and Lady Gaga! Not a bad lineup, right? If these people were able to shine as they have, then the rest of us shouldn’t feel daunted or intimidated by just 3 weeks of a retrograde.
One of the standard pieces of advice you’ll hear about Mercury retrogrades is that you should stick to the three Rs: revise, review, reconsider.
In other words, don’t start anything new, don’t make submissions, and don’t sign contracts for anything – a sale, a purchase, a deal. What these bits of advice are really saying is give your dream home, creative projects and manuscript or screenplay, the best chance ever by waiting until after retrograde. Sign the contracts and deliver your project or manuscript when the energy whips through the universe without obstacles or challenges. But even when you don’t wait and sign during a Mercury retrograde, there can be unexpected nuggets. A writer student of mine got evicted during retrograde (not good), but while camping at her folks for a month, she serendipitously met a publisher guy through her parents, and, voila, got a good job copywriting for him right after the retrograde. That was the nugget she wouldn’t have received had she not had to move.
According to the Vedas, our futures are determined by both destiny and free will. Destiny, in fact, creates our free will. Her destiny to live at her folks’ house, briefly, created the situation where she had the free will to end up working in the publishing business.
Mercury retrograde is just another astrological cycle – like a lunar phase, like the return of a planet to where it was when you were born.
It has its own protocols, its own guidelines. But because it rules the all-important communication, its effects spill over into many areas of our lives. Yes, there can be negative consequences, but the long-term impact is often quite positive, as you’ve seen in the earlier examples.
These retros last about three weeks. You can keep track of them on any number of websites and it’s definitely to your advantage to do so. They enable you to plan things in advance: trips, engagements, weddings, moving, the sale and purchase of a home or car or computer, and when to publish your book.
Yes, friends and family may remark that your reliance on astrology is a waste of time. Until they have a personal melt-down during Mercury retrograde.
During retrogrades, people you haven’t seen in years may suddenly reappear in your life – your ex, a childhood friend, a former partner, people you haven’t been able to find anywhere online. It can be a great time to mend fences.
Vedic philosophers and astrologers understood the power of Mercury retrograde long before Western science. In the words of Bertram Malle, a renowned social cognitive scientist at Brown University, the serious study of astrology “provides a powerful vocabulary” to understand “life’s challenges and opportunities.” I now want to turn to the Vedic perspective, as it has so much to offer those of us on our learning and spiritual journeys.
The Sanskrit term for retrograde planets is Vakri, which translates in English as ambiguous, evasive, and indirect. It is not wise to meet a retrograde planet “head on” and try to power through the vibrations it releases. Far better to bend and be flexible in responding to this agitated energy. This wisdom is mirrored in the Vakra Asana beginner’s pose in yoga, which gently twists the spine to strengthen it and make it more flexible.
Vedas believe that we are driven by two forces – fate and individual will. If we are too passive during Mercury retrograde, all sorts of arguments, problems, and misery can occur. But if we insist on having our own way during this phase, and our energy is too forceful and arrogant, we are likely to bang our head against a wall, accomplish little, and might even find ourselves going backwards from our goals.
Better to keep in mind the wisdom of yoga and make a conscious effort to approach Mercury retrograde openly and flexibly. No one expects someone in Vakra Asana pose to twist so hard that they break their back. It is a gentle pose designed to open energy pathways and release negative tension. This same wisdom can apply to gracefully bending into a Mercury retrograde cycle. Go with the energy and surf it. Best not to try to master it or defeat it.
Vedic astrology emphasizes the analysis of individual karma. It seeks insight into all the forces—past, present, and future—that influence one’s life path, and which collide or merge with the paths of others. The concept of karma—often misunderstood in the West—means that every thought and every action create a reaction that reverberates through time and space.
The Vedic tradition also holds that the point of life is spiritual growth. We may enjoy our pleasures, relationships, and dreams here on Earth, but a well-lived life is devoted to reaching spiritual Enlightenment. The Vedas believe that the position of the planets and stars exert a direct influence on our karma and, hence, our journey to Enlightenment.
Mercury, known as Budh, is one of 9 planets in Vedic astrology. The Sanskrit root verb for Budh is buddhi, meaning logic, intellect, and reason. Mercury retrograde throws our rational mind into disarray, distorting communication and increasing the likelihood of bias and misperception.
Yet Mercury retrograde also offers opportunities to cleanse negative energy and clear the ground for new initiatives and adventures. Several crystals—particularly when used in conjunction with meditation and breathwork—can help you to unlock the positive energies of Mercury retrograde. Labradorite is renowned for its calming and grounding effects, for example. Hematite is another grounding crystal that helps to pull negative energy from the body. Black tourmaline, a root chakra stone, helps to release anxiety and fear. Lapis Lazuli can be used to reconnect with your intuition and inner wisdom.
There is an ancient mantra that, with practice, can help to focus the mind and connect with the power of Mercury: Om Shree Budhaya Namaha. Om represents the Divine and the earliest emergence of sound. The next three words can be roughly translated as “Salutations, auspicious guru, I bow to you.”
The Vedas developed a system whose insights and tools for personal and spiritual enlightenment endure. With effort, humility, and self-reflection, this ancient wisdom can help you to use the power of Mercury retrograde for good. The stars and the planets influence our fate, but we have the power and responsibility to study these forces and make choices in our lives.
Mercury retrogrades are our reminder to be present and to embrace epiphany. Don’t fear the retrograde. All Mercury’s “moonwalk” backwards is doing is, showing us our lives from a different perspective. That offers us clarity and a deeper level of consciousness, a better understanding of ourselves and our world.
Like everything else, Mercury is a part of an interconnected net of energy. That is why we are so affected by it. And there is great knowledge and wisdom that lies in the cosmos, but it’s only obtainable by those who have the skill to access it. If you’re interested in traveling beyond space and time, to gain access to this wisdom, and design the life of your dreams, consider joining our bestselling Astral Wisdom course by clicking here >>