In the Natal Chart

Mercury in the natal chart stands for our abilities to perceive, process, and disseminate information. Thus, learning new things, studying, speaking, writing, and going on trips all fall in the domain of Mercury.

People with Mercury rising before the Sun at the time of their birth tend to be quick to grasp new concepts but also quick to move on to topics, as their mind is restless when it doesn’t perceive, process, or communicate new information. People with Mercury rising after the Sun on their birthday like to be slow and methodical in their learning. They dig deep and like to be thorough in their intellectual investigations. Which one is you? Was Mercury rising before or the Sun at the time of your birth?

Transiting Mercury

Mercury is always close to the Sun in the sky. It follows the sun in its yearly cycle, and its effect is transitory throughout the chart. Its transits over sensitive spots of the natal chart last a couple of days. Unless you are an experienced astrologer with a penchant for high precision, I recommend that you do not concern yourself too much with the transiting Mercury except when it turns retrograde.

Mercury Retrograde

Three times a year, the astrology community gets all twisted and agitated on account of Mercury retrograde. To an extent, they have a reason for it. But it is not as bad as you might think. These retrograde periods are neither bad nor good, to borrow a phrase from Shakespeare. You merely need to understand what they are and then take full advantage of them.

Mercury stands for our perception and intellect. It is our antenna for all things curious and intellectual. When Mercury appears direct in the sky, the communication flow is outward. We go out, communicate with others, learn new skills, travel, etc. Our focus is on external relations and communications, on trips back and forth, on purchasing and selling, and many other outward activities. When the planet turns retrograde, our focus shifts inward. We are now listening to the inner worlds. It is time for insights, ideas, and imagination. 

The problems occur when people do not honor this distinction and try to force their hand. If your antenna is tuned in to your inner spiritual world, of course, you will be more likely to forget an outside appointment, miscommunicate with your neighbor, or overlook a defect in the car you are buying. So if possible, arrange your activities when Mercury retrogrades around reflection, meditation, brainstorming or revisiting and revising old ideas. Few of us can spend a month in a monastery or retreat, so accept that outward communication will be somewhat impeded. Our attention is simply focused elsewhere. 

So, how long does the period last? About three weeks, three times a year. When Mercury turns direct again, do not jump right away but ease yourself gradually into external activities. The period of adjustment after Mercury retrograde is called its Shadow. Things are back to “normal” only after the shadow period is over, and we have transitioned back into communications on the external level.

What can you do during Mercury Retrogradation?

To tune in to the insights pouring in from the inside and to mitigate the effects of miscommunication on the outside, I recommend, as a general practice, opening Safety Energy Lock 24. SEL 24 deals with chaos – material, mental, and spiritual. When it is open, it helps us stay grounded and centered. It allows us to stay calm in the external swirls of confusion. It is located on the top of the foot, to the outside, midway at the base between the little and the fourth toe.

To open it and benefit from its gift, I like to sit cross-legged on a bed, couch, or the floor, and hold SEL 24 together with the opposite side underarm (SEL 26). If that is difficult, you can hold the same side of SELs 15 and 26 together.

Don’t forget to take some quiet time for yourself. Write down all the wonderful insights and ideas that come to mind. After Mercury turns direct, you will have plenty of time to put those ideas into form.

Do you want to know when the next Mercury retrograde season is? Or what specific JSJ flows are best for the upcoming Mercury retrograde period? Subscribe to my Cycles Newsletter, in which I track the major astrological events unfolding in the sky and recommend JSJ self-help practices tailored to best navigate them.