On being magnetically open and Mercury Retrograde
My phrase for 2023 and why Mercury Retrograde periods are sacred
A soft, moss-covered welcome to 2023. I took the days between Christmas and New Year’s day off because I wanted to rest and reflect on what has gone and what I hope is to come and I did so but not in the way I had intended. Our entire family came down with a bad cold and I spent most of the week in bed. So in between cups of lemon and honey tea, chicken soup and toast I’ve been easing into the Gregorian new year.
There are activities that I complete like rituals every December from the Winter Solstice until January 1st. These include drawing seeds of possibilities in my art journal and working through Susannah Conway’s fabulous Find Your Word workbook. I’ve been choosing a word or a phrase since 2012 and this year’s phrase landed in the center of the mandala I was coloring in. Here it is: Magnetically open.
I’m still unpacking it. Still watching it spin like a compass needle in the periphery of consciousness.
When we are open to others,
We dare to be vulnerable and honest.
When we have goodwill toward others,
we intend to be happy and connected.
Haemin Sunim, The Things You Can See When You Slow Down
A need to move away - temporarily - from word-making to image creation has settled over me since Mercury stationed retrograde (29 Dec) in Capricorn. My dreams have been populated with Mercurial symbols like hieroglyphs and car chases. I take my dreams seriously as I think everyone should, but more so during holy days like these and when the messenger God moves backwards.
Mercury is the planet closest to the Sun. As a deity, Mercury/Hermes is also closest to humankind and plays a role in every human endeavor. We require Mercury’s guidance and blessing if we wish to meet with success so paying close attention to this planet is of paramount importance.
In ancient Greece, Mercury was known as the “companion of dreams” because Mercury carries messages from the three worlds - Upper, Middle (Earth) and Underworld. Ignoring a dream is like throwing away unopened mail or deleting unread messages in your inbox. But, if you don’t remember your dreams don’t stress. Mercury is a faithful messenger. Sometimes, messages arrive in the shower or during meditation. Sometimes, if you apply a narrative technique like stream-of-consciousness to capture your thoughts or ideas, the message is in your journal. Other times, Mercury speaks through a friend or shows up as an omen.
Retrograde periods are not an actual phenomenon. The retrograde planet isn’t actually moving backwards across the sky, it only seems that way. When a planet is retrograde they are at their closest approach to Earth which is why our experience of that planet (especially the personal planets) is subjective and often intense. The good news is that we have an opportunity to work with that planet in an intentional and internalized way.
Retrograde periods are for release, reflection, reclamation, revision and reorientation. All the “re” words.
We have two personal planets retrograde at the moment; Mars and Mercury. Mars retrograde cycle began in September 2022 and Mars stations direct on the 12th. Mercury stations direct on the 18th (Jan). While Mars is retrograde, stick to planning out the year or the first quarter. Now is not the time to push ahead. If you do so, you may run out of steam.
Mercury will go retrograde 4x this year, mostly in earth signs. This tells us that we may need to rethink and resolve problems around resources, health, work and money. We may need to dedicate time to working through issues around self-worth. Certainly if you are to commit to a set of affirmations this year, choose at least two that will assist in building self-acceptance.
For greater insight on how Mercury’s retrograde cycle will impact you this year, look at the Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn houses in your birth chart. For example, if Capricorn is your first house (the house in which you find your Ascendant/Rising sign) then Mercury invites you to work on your self-image and your relationship with your body. This may very well be the year in which, to quote Barbara Taylor Brown, you accept that you live here, your body is your soul’s address.
For a complete guide on how to download your birth chart for free and what the houses mean in astrology grab your cheat sheet here.
Mercury retrograde periods are sacred. Why? Because when Mercury passes between the Earth and Sun - especially during Mercury’s inferior conjunction (coming up January 7, 2023) - we are in alignment with the upper world and the underworld. As above, so below, as within, so without.
There are two kinds of conjunctions between the Sun and Mercury. Following a superior conjunction when Mercury is at maximum elongation, Mercury moves ahead and is in a degree further ahead than the Sun. However following an inferior conjunction, Mercury moves behind the Sun and is a degree behind. However when Mercury is behind the Sun in the zodiac, Mercury actually precedes the Sun across the sky in terms of diurnal rotation and rises and sets before the Sun.
To learn more about Mercury’s elemental year and their (on average)116 days orbit around the sun which results in an annual six pointed star, I highly recommend Gary P. Caton’s Hermetic Trypticha.
Pay close attention to your dreams during Mercury Rx periods.
I learned recently that the Nlaka’pamux people of British Columbia painted their dreams in red ochre on rocks near the Stein River. They believe that “God’s messenger” would come to them in their dreams and draw what he wanted those first people to create. The dreamer would then on waking paint the dream on a rock. The bow, string and arrow were drawings before they were things.
“If you dream, you gonna draw your own dream.”
Annie York, Nlaka’pamux Elder
The day of and the day before the Mercury-Sun conjunction is an excellent day for creating a vision board. Personally, I’m going to try something new this year. I’m going to draw images - pictographs.
Anyway as we turn another page on the calendar, I would love to know if you pick a word or phrase every year? And if you would like to share your astrology, let me know what is your Capricorn house and what do you plan to revise, revisit or reclaim this month?
Hermetic Trypticha, Gary P. Caton
They Write Their Dream On The Rock Forever, Annie York, Richard Daly & Chris Arnett