People in the know can attest that Mercury Retrograde is really no big deal. A transit that happens up to four times a year is practically a routine, after all, so perhaps the best approach is treating it like one. What we know generally about Mercury Retrogrades stays the same. Since Mercury is a planet associated with communication, deals, technology, the exchange of information, and travel, our relationship to these aspects of our daily lives shifts gears. Instead of pressing forward, we are encouraged to reflect and re-position.
Retrogrades are made up of three stages. The first is the shadow period, then the retrograde transit, then the direct transit. Our current Mercury Rx shadow period began on June 2 in the sign of Cancer, and those of us most sensitive to Mercury Rx probably felt its influence as early as that — communication issues bubbling to the surface, a lack of clarity especially around plans and commitments, anxiety in relationships to others. Now that Mercury has stationed retrograde on June 18, these issues will require our time and attention.
We can, of course, sit with how a planet like Mercury behaves in a sign like Cancer. Cancer is ruled by our moon, and when Mercury reports to the moon, emotions run high. Cancer is a sign that initiates change, but they move from side to side rather than straight ahead. In some ways, this is useful for a retrograde transit. It encourages us all to feel for loose ends, to create rituals for closure, and to acknowledge what is lost before moving on. On the other hand, like the crab, Cancer is a sign that can use the memory of past harm to justify defensive or even offensive positions.
So, during this retrograde transit, it's a good idea to take note of the feelings that come up and investigate their roots. Before reacting, ask yourself if your response is commensurate with the situation at hand. If you find yourself pulling up old hurts and betrayals to justify your response to the current moment, that is information. It's almost always true, in intimate matters, that one person’s inventory of another’s past mistakes rarely compels that person to change their behavior. It is, for better or worse, our sacred task to focus our inventory taking on ourselves. All relationships are dynamic, all parties have a role, and until Mercury stations direct on July 12, we will be given numerous opportunities to remember just that.
This brings us, as it should, to the collective and global implication. How can we, as emotionally evolving beings, hold ourselves and our systems accountable without falling into old patterns of bitterness and apathy? How can we use the task of personal inventory as a tool for systemic change? If we look to our leaders and simply say, “You have not done enough, you have not protected those of us who are most vulnerable, you have collaborated with a fascist regime, you do not value the lives of Black and Brown people in this country,” we are not wrong. But, we are limited. We hold the mirror up and away from ourselves — we believe our role is simply to hold the mirror for others.
To turn the mirror toward ourselves, to recognize our complicity within a dynamic, to take our own inventory in relation to a system is also the work of Mercury retrograde. For each of us, depending on our position, our race, our class, our gender and sexuality, this inventory is necessarily different. Those who have lived at the intersections of various privileges face the work of decentering their experiences so that they might integrate the underside of their abundance — which is their acceptance of violence. This is also the task of Mercury Retrograde in Cancer, the integration of multiple knowledges as kin-work, the organizing of a critical resistance through personalized emails, phone calls, book clubs, and affinity groups.
The uprisings across this country and the world are far from over, despite the dwindling of media coverage. The same can be said of the COVID-19 pandemic. New cities see spikes of infection (where marginalized people are the most vulnerable) and every week there’s news of another Black person killed by police. Response, in this case, is not stalled but, rather repositioned. There are, apparently, two kinds of pandemics that are raging over the world and they are not mutually exclusive. What is learned now seeks to be integrated and honored well past this Mercury retrograde cycle. To care for one another, to protect each other’s right to live, is at the heart of both the uprisings and the quarantines. While many of our government leaders attempt to ignore the core concerns of both issues, it is our charge to pay attention and respond accordingly.