Mercury Retrograde Fall 2021
September 27th-October 17th, in Libra
Alright, you know what we’re talking about. “Mercury Retrograde is coming, my life is going to fall apart!” Sound familiar? This astrological period, which occurs between 3 and 4 times every year, has so captured popular astrology that it’s inspired everything from makeup palettes to this website. So what is all the fuss about? What is Mercury Retrograde, and how does it affect us? And – importantly – should we really panic? [Spoiler alert: no!]
What is Mercury Retrograde?
Mercury is the planet closest to our sun and it rules the way we communicate with others, our technology, travel, and so on. When Mercury “goes retrograde,” this means that it appears to be moving backwards in the sky. It isn’t actually moving this way – the speed that the planet moves and its position relative to Earth makes it look like Merc is orbiting backwards. Because of the apparent direction-shift, the things that Mercury ordinarily rules can get out of whack. Every planet goes through retrograde periods, but Mercury seems to be the one that affects us most noticeably.
What Does Mercury Rule?
Mercury rules communication. The planet is named after the Roman god Mercury, the counterpart to Greek Hermes. Hermes/Mercury was the messenger of the gods, flying with his winged helmet and sandals and delivering messages between the divine and human realms. The planet likewise is in charge of how we communicate with each other and it governs all ways that messages are transmitted.
During Mercury Retrograde, everything from emails to in-person conversations can feel disrupted. You may have a hard time getting your point across, or you may misinterpret something that someone says to you. Don’t get discouraged, though! With communication questionable during this time, shift your focus inward. What have I been distracting myself from working through?
How to prepare: double-check that email before clicking “send,” and ask clarifying questions before reacting to what someone said to you.
Mercury also rules technology. During retrograde periods, computers and phones have been known to break down, run slowly, or not save that important document. This can be especially daunting because we live in such a tech-driven world. Many of us work in media and connect with others through texting, FaceTiming, and social media. A disruption in our tech has the potential to affect our work and our play.
Rather than letting it get you down, consider that the universe is inviting us to reconnect in other ways. This is a great time to step away from our phones, TVs, and tablets and step back into nature. Take a walk outside, water those houseplants, read that book that’s been sitting on your bedside table for a year now. Retrograde periods are perfect for unplugging and stepping back into our bodies.
How to prepare: back up important files on an external drive, and reschedule that Zoom happy hour until after Merc Retrograde ends.
Hermes/Mercury had to travel across all realms to deliver his messages (even the Underworld). When planet Merc goes retrograde, the bus might never show, flights may get delayed, and you’re probably going to run into traffic on the day you really can’t be late to work. If you’ve already booked that trip, don’t cancel it just because of Mercury, though. Like with the other things the planet rules, being aware and taking precautions can help you get through.
How to prepare: you’ve got your boarding pass, right? Make sure you have everything you need well in advance of travel – spare tire, jumper cables, sunglasses, toothbrush. Get gas today after work instead of tomorrow before work, in case there’s a traffic jam.
Shifting the Narrative
How you respond to Mercury Retrograde is entirely your decision. You can let it ruin your Libra season, or you can embrace what this astrological event is inviting us to examine. Unplug and turn your attention inward. It’s a great time for being out in nature (hello, fall veggie garden!), reconnecting with the body, and working on inner healing. Some things to do during this time:
- Practicing grounding meditation can help with the confused and restless feelings we may experience during this time.
- If you feel overwhelmed by jumbled-up thinking, take some time to organize your physical space. Clean out your closet or junk drawers for a fresh start.
- If you’re in a place to do so, you may want to practice shadow work or start a journal for working through emotional blockages.
Our take: Mercury isn’t out to get you! Everything in life ebbs and flows, and we can either resist it or flow with it. The panic around Mercury Retrograde can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Don’t become your own worst enemy during this event – take reasonable precautions where you can, and embrace the change that Mercury brings. This is a time to celebrate the chance to reevaluate, reexamine, and reinvent.
If you’re still concerned, check out our Mercury Retrograde Survival Kits.
Merc Rx Self-Care Ritual Bath
*Scroll down for a shower-only adaptation!*
- Palo santo or your favorite incense
- Epsom salt (about a half cup)
- Himalayan pink salt (about a half cup)
- Rose petals
- Chamomile flowers
- Pink candle
- Blue candle
- Rose quartz
- Optional: eucalyptus essential oil
- Water or tea for drinking
1. Create a sacred space:
Begin by clearing any clutter from your bath area. You may choose to deep clean the bath before you begin, if it’ll help you relax. If you have any houseplant friends who enjoy humidity, invite them into the space. Pothos, air plants, and philodendrons are great for this.
Light your palo santo or incense to cleanse your space. Palo santo is a warm and gentle cleanser that removes negative energies while leaving positive energies in the space – as opposed to sage which cleanses all energies for a fresh start. Next, place your candles in a safe place and light them. Arrange the crystals near the candles. The color pink represents self-love and can help with emotional healing, and the color blue promotes relaxation and calm. Rose quartz, amethyst, and amazonite are all powerful allies for self-care: rose quartz helps with self-love, while amethyst and amazonite are great for stress-relief. Make sure the crystals won’t fall into the bath. Rose quartz and amethyst will be fine, but amazonite can be damaged by water.
2. Prepare your bath mixture:
Run the bath at a comfortable temperature, and add in the epsom and himalayan salts. Epsom salt (aka magnesium sulfate) relaxes sore muscles and helps eliminate toxins from the body. Himalayan pink salt also relaxes the body and can provide a state of mental calm. It has been shown to help with skin conditions such as eczema by soothing the skin. It’s also great for water signs, as the salt water can transport you energetically to the beach.
Add in your herbs. You can add as much or as little of each herb as you like, but a handful of each is usually good. Rose petals, lavender, and chamomile all invite self-love into the space and have relaxing and calming properties. Optional: add a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil. Eucalyptus works in conjunction with the blue candle to bring in healing.
Brew your tea or fill up your water bottle.
You don’t have to do anything else! This bath is for you, friend. Put on some relaxing music and take this time for yourself. If you want, this could be a good time to do a guided meditation or read a fun book. Take a deep breath and enjoy!
Tip: If you’re concerned about your drain, you can steep the herbs in some water and strain them before adding them to your bath. The epsom and Himalayan salts will dissolve and won’t hurt your drain. Alternatively, if you’re planning to take ritual baths on the regular, you may want to invest in a drain cover – they’re pretty cheap online.
If you don’t have a bathtub or if baths aren’t your thing, here’s an alternative that can be done in the shower! If you don’t have neighbors close by, you could also do this outside.
Use the same materials as above, but grab a bucket or large bowl as well, and something to stir with.
1. Create a sacred space:
Light the palo santo or incense to cleanse your shower area and the bucket or bowl you’ll be using. Fill the bowl with really hot water (carefully!) and place it at the center of your altar or sacred space. If you don’t have one, place it at the center of your kitchen table.
Next, place your pink and blue candles on either side of the bowl and light them. Place the amazonite in front of the bowl. Note: amazonite shouldn’t be put in water, which can damage the crystal.
2. Prepare your mixture:
Add the salts into the water. Stir clockwise as they dissolve and invite the intention of self-love and relaxation in. Once the salts dissolve, add your herbs and repeat.
Place the rose quartz and amethyst into the water next. Again, don’t add the amazonite. Optional: add a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil.
Allow your mixture to steep for several minutes. When the water is a comfortable temperature for your skin, it’s ready.
Bring the bowl to your shower area. You can cleanse yourself with the mixture however you like – you may choose to dip a washcloth into it or go full Ice Bucket Challenge and dump it over your head. Either way, you’ll absorb the healing properties of the ingredients. When you’ve finished, you can take a shower as normal.
Tip: If you’re concerned about your drain, you can strain the herbs out and remove the crystals after steeping. Alternatively, if you’re planning to take ritual showers on the regular, you may want to invest in a drain cover – they’re pretty cheap online.