The Uses of Adversity: Mercury Retrograde, Part I


Known as "Mercury Retrograde" From our perspective here on Earth, the
orbit of Mercury around the Sun
appears to reverse direction approximately
three to four times a year, for approximately three weeks at a time. Here is a video
showing the geometric reason for the illusion of Mercury's backward motion (around the Sun). It took astronomers a long time to understand this phenomenon — which actually
affects all the planets in our solar system (but not the Sun or Moon), with Mercury simply being the most talked about:




Dates of Apparent Mercury Retrograde Motion 2022-2024:
January 14 to February 3, 2022 [starting in Aquarius and backing into Capricorn]
May 10 to June 3, 2022 [starting in Gemini, backing into Taurus]
September 9 to October 2, 2022 [starting in Libra, backing into Virgo]
December 29 to January 18, 2023 [in Capricorn]
April 21 to May 14, 2023 [in Taurus]
August 23 to September 14, 2023 [in Virgo]
December 13 to January 1, 2024 [in Sagittarius - Capricorn]
April 1 to April 24, 2024 [in Aries - Taurus]
August 4 to August 27, 2024 [in Leo - Virgo]
November 25 to December 15, 2024 [in Sagittarius]


"Mercury Retrograde" tends to have a very bad rep, as these times are notorious for wreaking havoc with our best laid schedules and plans; contracts and travel; communications and deliveries — for a more complete list of challenges, see the list below to the left.

However, these cycles are most frustrating if you merely try to insist on straight-ahead "Forward Motion" no matter what.  Then you will likely feel that you are banging your nose into a wall at every turn and getting nowhere fast.

If we can learn to shift gears into a more "Zen" state of mind — letting go and working with What Is, rather than fighting it, these three-to-four-week periods can be like a pleasant "staycation" and even become productive (if you must) in their own way.  But you might also benefit from learning to simply BE.  Try to welcome these cycles as an opportunity for, or an invitation to, a different mode of being.  Then we can learn to enjoy the potential benefits listed below to the right.

These periods are always a good time to slow down and reflect, and be less focused on doing, doing, doing — going, going, going — producing, producing, producing.  We all need time to mend our sails and nets, and to just STOP AND THINK.  To go inward, and reconnect with not only our closest intimates but with ourselves, should not be such a luxury or rarity that we need a special reason to do it, such as having the flu.

Said to be good periods for all kinds of things that begin with "RE" — think Review, Reflect, Repair, Rethink, and you'll have the right idea — these periods can become welcome changes of pace if we can learn to Let Go a bit.  Try not to just keep plowing ahead, as this usually backfires.

Consider these cycles as invitations to pause and examine your past.  What does this introspection tell you about your present trajectory into the future?  As you reflect on your habits, routines, relationships, practices, what might you Reconsider and Refine? Such Re-evaluation can be much more valuable than stubbornly resisting the resistance you are likely to encounter.

I'd like to thank one of our regular Aleph Talks participants, a long-time fellow Unitarian congregant by the name of K. Steven Kunstler, for pointing out that it might be appropriate to view these three-week intervals as a sort of "sabbath"  in our otherwise full-steam-ahead schedules — exactly!   That is a very wise insight.  These periods are  great times to "Let Go and Let G_d," or "Let the Universe Take a Turn."  We can take a little time off from all the heavy lifting that we feel compelled to keep up with, lest the whole show come tumbling down.  It's a time to remember that there are also other, larger forces at work — and to explore what the Great Mystery may have in mind, beyond our limited conscious understanding and doing.

Mercury, Gemini, and the Third House

If you are in Sales, Commerce is considered to be a Mercury-ruled area, and so cold calls are difficult at this time.  It's a hard time to begin anything new.  However, it is a great time for culling your old files; and reconnecting with old clients and customers is to be encouraged.  You may benefit from renewing old partnerships and strategic alliances, even if you have been out of touch for a while.  You may even develop new insights that lead to finding new ways of looking at old dynamics and relationships.

If you are offered a new job, the conventional wisdom is to wait until after these periods end to formally accept or begin the job.  If you feel you absolutely cannot put it off, be prepared to learn that the job may not be what you think it is at the outset, or for it to change drastically once you do begin.  Do as much research as you possibly can, and try not to burn any bridges behind you.

However, if you are offered an old job back, or a new job with an old boss, or are invited to resume an old partnership, those all get green lights.

If you feel that you absolutely cannot wait to move house — to sign a lease or a deed of sale (buying or selling) — the same rule of thumb applies:  Buyer / Seller Beware — all may not be what it seems, and you may well end up regretting your decision as what is currently hidden becomes clear in the future.

I have a friend who just moved during the May-June Mercury Retrograde ("M Rx") — an astrologer himself, no less — and he found that as he unpacked boxes in his new place that had been stored for several years, everything had to be Re-washed and Re-packed to deal with the musty odor that he didn't want to bring into his new home with him — making his move a seemingly endless Rerun of going back to the old place to Re-Wash, Re-Rinse, Repeat ...  Now, this would have still been the case even if he had waited for three more weeks — the smell would not have gone away by itself — but he was able to laugh good-naturedly as he lived out the Universe's sense of humor, which can be incredibly literal.  So far it still seems like it was a good move — but only time will tell for sure.  Legal complications are still unfolding in his situation, as we head into the September retrograde period — sometimes a subsequent retrograde period helps to straighten out a previous one.

Similarly, sometimes lost objects or papers or money are actually found, returned, or Re-Funded during a retrograde period.

What if you are born with M Rx in your natal chart?  I have heard of it going both ways —  favorably and unfavorably.  My second astrology teacher was born when M was Rx in her chart, and she said these three-week periods were her best times of year, as everything goes more smoothly for her.  She feels "out of sync" most of the rest of the time.  She is very fond of history, and for many years did most of her astrology work by hand, not liking or trusting computers.  She was very used to double- and triple-checking everything she did to make sure it was accurate — a good habit any time, but especially during these periods and with this natal pattern.

If you absolutely must travel during these cycles, make extra copies of your documents and directions and maps, have a way to retrieve them, bring extra batteries and snacks, and leave extra time for mishaps and have backup plans to your backup plans.

It is said to be easier to travel for leisure than for business in these cycles, and returning to old, familiar destinations is easier than new places you have never been to before, in keeping with the lists below.

As with anything, be your own source, and see what is true for you — experiment with these ideas and see for yourself — do these periods of the year make any difference at all?  Are they just more difficult?  Or is there any silver lining?  Do certain things become easier if you can shift your focus?

In 2022, both Christmas and Hannukah came before the December retrograde period — not usually the case — a chance see how that reflected in holiday travel and gifts to be returned. In 2023, the Retrograde will be over before the holidays — it may still be nice to see how rewarding a more introverted holiday season can be as we begin to hopefully emerge from the forced retreat of the Pandemic in the past few years.  Try it, you just may like it anyway.

Challenging During M Rx —
Any "Forward Motion" With

Telephones, Fax, Email, etc.
Leases, Sales, Deeds, etc.
Mail, Deliveries
Discussions, Meetings
Zoom, Internet
Travel (Train, Plane, Car, Bus, Boat)
Means of Travel  (Roads, Tracks, Rivers)
Health Setbacks
Old Health Issues Resurfacing

Leading to:
Wrong Directions
Missed Connections
Forgotten Appointments
Losing Things, Papers, and Money


But Easier During M Rx —
Looking Backward / Inward / Redoing

Journaling, Memoir
Scrap-Booking, Memorabilia
Reviewing, Remembering, Recalling
BUT Preparation, Planning OK
Teaching, Learning, Studying
Repairs, Mending
Cleaning, Maintenance
Editing, Revising, Refining
Rethinking, Reconsidering
Rebuilding, Renovations
Cleaning, Sorting
Finding Lost Objects, Papers, Money, etc.
Healing, Therapy
Practice (Spiritual, Creative, etc.)
Changing, Forming New Habits


As labyrinth facilitators are fond of pointing out, when a young man asked Carl Jung what the fastest route to his destiny was, Jung replied:  "A detour."

It has been proposed that Mercury's orbit — above, left — describes the shape of a seven-circuit "classical labyrinth" — middle above, right — and that this may be its ancient origin.   What do you think?

The image above the labyrinth to the right is a Toltec hair style that represents their cultural version of Mercury's caduceus, suggesting the archetypal nature of the association of these universal concepts.

The better known Hindu version, showing the seven chakras, and the two intertwined serpents representing Kundalini, is below the labyrinth, to the right.

The Kabbalistic caduceus at the bottom left shows the Tree of Life in simple form, with the three Hebrew "mother letters" (Shin, Aleph, Mem) to the right.

Intertwined Twin Kundalini Serpents


Marjorie Partch is a counseling, teaching, and writing Jungian astrologer and Tarot interpreter with more than 35 years' experience. In addition to her training in transformational astrology, she has studied Integrative Therapy with an emphasis on the work of C.G. Jung, and is a longtime student of yoga, meditation, and Kabbalah, as well as a practicing artist and poet. Marjorie was a contributor to Your Birthday Sign Through Time, Simon & Schuster, 2002. Transplanted from her native New York City in early 2001 (by way of Vermont), she is now happily available in Fairfield County. Ordained in 2006, Marjorie received her labyrinth facilitator training from Lauren Atress in the same year, and shares her Blue Lotus canvas labyrinth as a tool for spiritual transformation and Sacred Activism.  Marjorie also offers Reiki sessions in conjunction with or apart from spiritual counseling, with or without the tools of astrology or Tarot; in person or by Zoom or by phone:
(203) 286-7525 /