Mercury in retrograde gets a bad rap: These stretches, lasting about a month and popping up three times a year, are blamed for everything from exes cropping up uninvited to subway train delays to dropped cell phone calls.
But in fact, this natural occurrence is a perfectly timed intermission, that when embraced, can be a time of refocus. With the next retrograde scheduled to happen around the holiday season (Dec. 19th - Jan. 8th), I sought out some advice from Brooklyn-based astrologer, Sandra Sitron of Strong Eye Astrology, on what this phenomenon really is and how to best turn Mercury-fueled fears into a time of realignment and reflection.
A little background...
Astrologically speaking, every planet symbolizes something. Mercury is the planet that represents thinking, communication, and technology, or “anything with moving parts,” Sitron explains. This is why you’ll often hear people attribute confusions in conversation, or delayed travel plans to Mercury in retrograde. The planets aren’t actually moving backwards (as the name suggests). It’s a planetary optical illusion and the result is that communication and technology can feel slowed down or “crunchy” as Sitron describes.
“It’s kind of like if you’ve ever been sitting in a fast-moving car and the car next to you makes it hard to tell who’s moving forward and who’s moving backwards,” she says. This backward idea might also manifest itself in more psychological ways. “You may find yourself running into someone from your past, having a conversation about something you never really finished talking about, or going through your old stuff to clean it out,” Sitron says. These cycles could actually happen for a reason, according to Sitron: “We are always busy and buzzing around, so it makes sense that we need a time for our minds to go inward and lighten our loads.” To help you achieve that, here are five ways that you can prepare to work with the retrograde, instead of against it.
1.Lighten your schedule. It may seem counter-intuitive, but try to pack less into your days. Make sure you’re leaving yourself extra time, so that if your train is late, it won’t ruin your day. Relying too heavily on the details of your agenda will only leave you stressed.
2.Reflect. Take a few extra minutes in the morning when you wake up and before you go to bed to reflect back on your day and the emotional experiences you had. This is an ideal time for inward focus, so if starting a journal is on your to-do list, now is the perfect time to start.
3.Get Christmas shopping done early. Sitron recommends getting all packages shipped to their destinations by the 10th to ensure full enjoyment of the holidays without the rush and anxiety of failed deliveries.
4.Unplug. Don’t rely too heavily on technology. Swap your tablet for a novel. Try an alarm clock instead of your phone. Rather than relying on Netflix for holiday entertainment, plan a board game night with friends or family.
5.Stay open minded. It may not all go according to plan--and that’s OK! Releasing partial control of your schedule can be difficult, especially around the holidays, but try to think of it as the universe telling you to let go. You may find yourself looking forward to Mercury in retrograde.