Just a few days ago, on June 17th, Mercury went retrograde in Cancer. Mercury retrogrades have become infamous for communication snafus, computer glitches, and missing keys. But that is only skimming the surface of this planetary cycle.
What is a retrograde?
A retrograde is a planet’s apparent backward movement in the sky. Apparent, only because it isn’t actually moving backwards; it is only slowing down in relation to Earth’s movement. It’s like clipping along on the freeway and passing a bicycle or a slower moving vehicle on the road. They are still moving forward, but because you are moving faster, they appear to be moving backward. So, astrologically speaking, retrogrades are periods of looking back.
What is a Mercury retrograde?
Any planet can go retrograde, but Mercury is the one we hear about most because it does this 3 times a year. Mercury is the Roman god of communication, patron of messengers, and a notorious trickster. Thus, Mercury retrogrades are regarded as periods best used for rethinking, reconsidering, re-evaluating, reconceptualizing whatever had been occurring in the 2-3 weeks leading up to the retrograde.
How can you use this retrograde to your advantage?
The current Mercury retrograde is occurring in the sign of Cancer. Some of the key archetypes at play here are home, family, nurturing, emotional security, family history/legacy. Look back to the beginning of June and see if any issues have arisen around any of these themes. How are your relationships with your family? Has your emotional security been upset? Has anything from your childhood upbringing been coming back to haunt you, or less dramatically, brought up deep, serious questions for you?
And don’t forget, Venus is also retrograde…
Coinciding with the start of the setup phase for this Mercury retrograde, mass protests against racism and police brutality sprang up in the U.S. and spread worldwide after George Floyd died at the hands of the police. All this occurred within the context of the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis as well as the other retrograde cycle involving Venus in Gemini that started mid-May and finally ends on June 25th. I wrote about that in a previous blogpost. Briefly, some of the active themes in that retrograde focus in on our relationships, values, information, communication, and duality.
Mercury the trickster?
As humans, we have a tendency to do all we can to avoid pain and discomfort. The true source of any conflict will have been forced into the shadow of your consciousness if willfully ignored, dismissed, or unacknowledged. Whether the conflict presents itself in external circumstances or internal emotional or psychological turmoil, the unacknowledged shadow will find another way to get your attention. Mercury is happy to communicate what needs to be acknowledged!
Maybe your old computer goes down causing serious disruption to your business. Maybe an underperforming employee loses an important contract. Or maybe things finally come to a head and you end up falling out with a family member in a heated argument.
How does shadow work help?
There is a reason you kept an underperforming employee on the payroll. There is a reason you didn’t replace your old computer. There is a reason the situation had become so strained with that family member. Underlying the justifications and excuses that might roll off your tongue are shadows that held you back from taking care of those situations before they had a chance to blow up in your face and cause you unwanted stress, loss, and inconvenience.
The transformative purpose of Mercury retrograde is to bring something that has been unconscious into conscious awareness. This is where shadow work comes in to help us acknowledge that new awareness and integrate it back into our toolbox of conscious awareness, adding more power and fuel to our life force energy so that we can become the most fully expressed version of ourselves.
This is a pivotal moment in history. Two retrograde cycles have come together to show us that all of us could benefit from taking a step back and re-examine how our families helped us feel emotionally secure, how any unmet emotional security needs are showing up in our lives today, how our family histories and cultural legacies live within us, form the basis from which our values are derived, and inform how we view and feel about the world and our place in it. This is the perfect time for all of us to look at our values, our family histories, and who we choose to be in relationship with in these tumultuous times as we seek to process our way through masses of often conflicting information, reconcile duality such as social distancing and mass gatherings at protests, and communicate our truth in a way that honors and respects everyone no matter where they came from or the color of their skin.
Using our emotions to understand our own unconscious motivations is a key element of shadow work. I doubt anyone would argue that the issues of racism, justice, and social responsibility we are facing today are highly charged. Are our emotions informing us as to the next right action, or are they blindly driving us to actions we’ll later regret? If you want to help make the world a better place, and I am sure most of us truly do, then the best place to start is with yourself. We cannot create a world based on integrity if we are not in integrity with ourselves first. This is the importance and value of shadow work.