Anytime a planet appears to be moving backward in orbit from our Earth perspective, we say it is in retrograde. Mercury never literally moves in reverse; it merely slows down, creating an illusion. While all planets occasionally enter retrograde cycles, Mercury goes retrograde the most often. Mercury's retrograde periods also seem to affect our daily lives significantly.
The internet abounds with warnings and premonitions about the woes of Mercury retrograde each time it happens, which is usually several times per year. We interpret this seemingly backward motion as an omen of delays, misunderstandings, technological glitches, and an inauspicious time for doing business or making significant decisions.
Our fears and experiences surrounding the retrograde reflect the nature of the planet Mercury in the scope of astrology. Ruling the intellectual signs of Gemini and Virgo, Mercury rules communication, opportunism, and thought processes.
Many astrologers believe, however, that the retrogrades offer us distinct periods of reflection and transformation where astrologer Cameron White says we have the opportunity to "revisit, rethink, review."
February 2020 Retrograde Brought Potent Challenges
The first retrograde of 2020 commenced on February 16, though the first shadow phase (the energetic period leading up to actual retrograde) began on February 2.
While in full retrograde, Mercury was primarily in the sign of Pisces, its detriment sign. The native influences which arise from Pisces work against the nature of Mercury. Mercury finds its impact expressed in detail-orientation, organization, and clarity, whereas the influence of watery Pisces can dilute or confuse things.
Due to this, many of you experienced the February retrograde period with heavy and excessive emotions, confusion, chaos, and spacey energy interfering in your ability to say what you intended to say the way you meant to say it.
During this time, the moon was also square to Mercury. This challenging aspect translated to increased tension between what we were thinking versus what our heart was saying. Long-held standpoints and opinions may have come into question, and making up your mind on anything substantial was likely to be complicated.
But every cloud has it's a silver lining, so they say. A light at the end of the tunnel is undoubtedly the case as we are now entering the second shadow phase of the February-March retrograde. With Mercury going direct starting March 9, the energy is already beginning to lighten up.
What Happens When Mercury Goes Direct?
From March 9 through 29, Mercury goes direct though stays in the second shadow phase of the retrograde. The second shadow phase of a retrograde indicates that the acute energy has lifted, but the cosmic residue of the cycle is hanging on a bit longer.
Generally, we think of the 3rd and final phase of the retrograde cycle as being a time to continue practicing caution and starting the work of unwinding. Now is the time to carve out some quality alone time to reflect on the challenges, benefits, and lessons experienced while the planet was in stationary retrograde.
During this second shadow phase, we experience yet another challenging aspect to the moon, continuing the theme of disconnect between heart and mind. Yet the energy is more forgiving as you can now expect a feeling of expansion and plenty of moment of balance. Seize these balanced moments to make decisions you've been holding off on and to clear your mind of confusion.
Though this retrograde cycle challenged our relationships and thought processes, it also bestowed valuable lessons on empathy, compassion, live-and-let-live, and stepping into your power.
Riding the Energy of Renewal into Spring
While journeying through those last cold, wet months of winter, the first Mercury retrograde of the year took astrological center stage. Many visions from the past may have come back for review while we struggled to maintain balance in our communication and relationships. In a most auspicious flow of events, the full transition out of retrograde overlaps with the 2020 Spring Equinox.
Retrogrades are famous for breeding chaos and throwing off our balance. But the cosmos deliver a thoughtful gift this year as the Spring Equinox falls on March 19, only a handful of days before the second shadow period ends.
An equinox occurs only twice per year. One occurs in the spring and the other in fall. On these rare days, the length of night and day are exactly equal. If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, March 19 is the Spring Equinox, and if you live in the Southern Hemisphere, it is the Autumn Equinox.
People groups the world over have celebrated these sacred events since time immemorial. While the sky above us and the earth below us are both in constant flux, equinoxes embody rare moments of unification, balance, and wholeness. Just as the retrograde period was quite destabilizing, nature gifts us with the equinox to bring us back into balance.
It would be wise to utilize the March equinox as a time to enact rituals and set aside time to observe the patterns in your life and the gains and losses you've experienced. To fully reap the benefits, we recommend time spent in nature meditating, stargazing, bonfires, specific rituals you may use, and journaling to reflect and set an intention.
Whether this Mercury Retrograde was a wild ride or a walk in the park, the skies above remind us once again that change is the only constant. With a little awareness and intention, we can move through the always shifting spiral with ease and grace.
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