Recently I received a couple of questions about what to do and not do during Mercury retrograde; concerns seem to center on buying big-ticket, Mercury ruled items, and on what effect shopping in the middle of the process would have on the outcome. Questions here are tailored to the issues presented in the questions I received. This is from ECLIPSE (no longer open for new sign-ups).
Is it okay to make a major purchase during Merc retro?
The traditional wisdom says ‘No’, that we’re just buying trouble, and to a certain extent that is absolutely true. We need to understand, though, exactly why purchasing during Merc retro is considered bad. Thought processes are not operating under their usual parameters; it’s as if at crucial times our synapses are suffering too wide a gap to transmit signals—at least, that’s true psychically speaking. We don’t compile and comprehend information in quite the same way as we usually do, with thoughts fritzing out in mid-realization and concentration interfered with by a kind of mental static. This is why I always recommend ‘switching’ to a Venusian, feeling-centered state during the Merc retro period, when dealing with what would otherwise be handled mentally. Utilizing both Venus’ sensitivity, especially in relationship, and the Moon’s intuitive abilities, we can feel the unspoken, the undercurrents and attitudes, the potential ‘hidden’ factors behind any interaction—and this may, in many instances, be as effective or even more effective than using the mental faculties as we usually would. However, it doesn’t address perceptual matters involving procedure, details, written material, and conditions, as well as our ability to accurately observe, and something like a purchase involves knowing what’s happening completely enough that one will have no surprises after the fact. This is the concept behind not making agreements, signing contracts, making deals, or agreeing to anything that will obligate us in the future, during Merc retro—there will inevitably be something we’ve missed, something we don’t yet know, but will find out later.
Are there any times when it is okay to buy during the retro?
Yes! When you have literally done all the research, vetting, investigating, comparison shopping, looked over the specs, and have established everything in writing (if it involves a contract or written agreement) before the start of the retro period—then if you need to delay for some reason (because of payment issues or a sale, for instance, or finalizing something big like the sale of a house as you wait through the escrow period), you safely can—just don’t change anything after the retro begins—and I can safely say, you will probably be tempted to, as Merc retro plays tricks on the mind that can make you think your reasoning is much better at that point, rather than the opposite. All conditions must be decided upon before the retro begins, and no changes made, for this to work out satisfactorily.
The Shadow period: Does it Matter?
IMO no. Some people make a big deal out of shadow periods, and it’s true that we may see ripples of a coming or past retrograde before the stone is thrown into the Cosmic waters, but once I saw a timeline of a full year that shaded shadow periods surrounding Merc retro plus the retro period itself, and it was clear that to behave as if Merc is somehow ‘not itself’ for that much time didn’t make much sense. Maybe looking for explanations for every quirk and anomaly comes from a too-strong belief that our minds are operating in near-objective mode as the norm; that, of course, is purely ridiculous, with moments of true lucidity and objective perception the exception rather than the rule. If we understand that there are countless influences on the mentality at any one time, both internal and external, we get a broader, more accurate concept of the fluidity of the mental perceptions, and have less need to corral patterns of thought and processing into neat compartments for which we must find astrological exceptions for every variation. Shadow periods can be considered when analyzing timing, but the actual conditions must be determined by examining the aspects in play, especially those that involve bodies that naturally carry meaning within the issue; for instance, Uranus for electronics, Mercury for things that use electricity or that are for communication, Mars for something metal and/ or mechanical—and there are lots of crossover meanings when looking at the energies, so keep an open mind. Buying something for its beauty (Venus), if purchased during Merc retro, may not communicate that at all; others could look and see a purchase meant to show off resources or intimidate others, and once the retro ends, we could feel that the ‘message’ of that beauty is entirely different than the one we interpreted during Merc’s backward motion.
Does the element in which Merc is retrograding affect matters?
Yes, it can. The element in which the retro occurs signifies what, in a broad sense, we are re-considering about our lives during the turnaround period. In Air we are examining our own viewpoints, thinking, ways of gathering and processing information—and this may lead us into some convoluted reasoning if we are also trying to make buying decisions; we need the entire retro period during which to consider things, and it’s almost required that we don’t come to any conclusions about our own mental capacity or methods before Merc goes direct. During a Fire retro we examine our action nature, with the obvious down side being a propensity to rashness, impulsive purchases, and maybe ones based purely on passion, which might be very good, except that we would probably also neglect to examine the real-world practicality of our choices (with typical Merc retro trickster-ism, we might think we had it covered!) With a Water retrograde we are looking at how we feel about our lives, so that decisions might be emotional, with all the ups, downs, and potential regrets (or trying to make up for past regrets) that might imply, and with Mercury’s retrograde in Earth we look at our material circumstances, and so could be too plodding in our reasoning out of a desire for safety or profit (aside from the usual retro hiccups) and so choose something entirely too plain, dull, or bland for our usual tastes—and of course, each retro period carries the potential for hidden material to emerge later, significantly changing the landscape that was present when we made our decision. Just remember that the element in which Merc is retro points us to what part of our nature is under examination, even if that exam is happening in the unconscious—and that means that part of the psyche, along with the reasoning and other mental faculties, is in the midst of reassessment, and so in flux and unstable because of this.
The upcoming retro in January-February 2015 occurs entirely in Aquarius, an Air sign. This tells us that our reasoning power may be especially debilitated, particularly the Higher Mind—and even more disconcerting is the way the January New Moon falls just before the retro period begins, suggesting that we may feel an unseen push to move forward and implement plans just at a time when we would do best to lay them aside for a while.