Here we go again! Mere months after 2022’s first Mercury retrograde, which treated us to an Omicron surge and Rock Goldenblatt’s “They Mitzvah,” we’re in for another crash. For the second of four retrogrades in 2022, Mercury will move backwards through Gemini, beginning May 10, continuing into Taurus on May 22, before finally ending the nightmare on June 3. What does a springtime shutdown in communications spell out for you, and how will the messenger god’s retreat through Gemini and Taurus affect the world at large? To make it to the sequel, stick to our Mercury Retrograde May 2022 survival guide below.
For the ancients, if you needed something done, you’d better call Mercury. As the messenger god and guide for souls crossing into the underworld, Mercury, known as Hermes to the Greeks, bridged the mortal and divine realms. Wing-footed and sharp-tongued, he could be everywhere at once, and code-switch to meet anyone’s needs. All manner of connection, communication, and currency, then, fall under Mercury’s rule.
Fittingly, the fleet-footed god’s planet blasts through the cosmos at a dazzling pace, tearing through most signs in less than a month. At such a fast clip, the planet closest to the sun has the most impact on the personal, quotidian and day-to-day: the emails we send out, the people we speak with, the bills that get paid. Mercury rules over action.
Of course, Mercury was more than just a runner for the gods. Because of his transient nature and ability to effortlessly cross through all worlds — Olympus, Hades, and human soil — Mercury was prized by alchemists as a metamorphic substance (like the liquid metal T1000 in Terminator 2: Judgment Day). He is considered, as astrologer Liz Greene writes in The Astrology of Fate, to be an “arch-wizard and patron of magicians.” Impossible to pin down, Mercury is a trickster, an element of playful chaos who scrambles the static. Like his fast-talking archetypal brethren, including Thor’s slippery kinsman Loki and Othello’s betrayer Iago, Mercury questions all that is assumed serious, definitive, or just. He exposes the flaws in the plan.
Greene quotes Carl Jung, who, in his Collected Works, writes that “the trickster motif…appears in the unsuspecting modern man — whenever, in fact, he feels himself at the mercy of annoying ‘accidents’ which thwart his will and his actions with apparently malicious intent.”
Enter Mercury retrograde, a phenomenon in which the earth seemingly “catches up” to Mercury’s orbit, producing an illusion of one planet out-pacing another, leaving it to fall backwards in the dust. When a planet retrogrades, its core elements are reversed, stalled, or put under review. And when Mercury retrogrades, all manner of daily correspondence and organization falls into disarray, and the shadow claims power over the proceedings. Chaos reigns.
Of course, the cosmos don’t care if your phone dies while you’re taping an audition, or if your credit card gets declined on a first date. Mercury is more interested in pulling out the floorboards and unleashing what’s been repressed, of f*cking with the routines and rigidities which define your moral universe, all for the sake of questioning everything. Pay attention to what goes wrong during a Mercury retrograde — and consider what was so “right” in the first place.
RETROGRADE IN TAURUS-GEMINI
Usually, Mercury retrogrades three times a year, in the signs of one element. 2021’s retrogrades went down exclusively in the air signs: Aquarius, Gemini, and Libra. But for some extra panache, Mercury has a hybrid plan of attack for 2022: All retrogrades will begin in air signs and continue into earth signs. Thematically, air carries sound, light, and transmission; its domain is discursive, dialogical, and based in ideas. The earth signs — Capricorn, Taurus and Virgo — bring it back to the body to make us feel like grounded, whole individual entities. What comes under review, over this retrograde, is how we engage with others, and how we feel secure in ourselves.
From May 10–22, Mercury will retrograde in Gemini, just as it did in early June 2021. Gemini is a sign of dialogue and duality, and ushers in the partying and playful mania at the dawn of summer. Last year’s retrograde came at the heels of vaccine rollouts and large-scale reopenings. In the face of so much sudden progress and social reintegration, we needed a retrograde to slow down and review. Where did we want to be, and with whom? Expect similar themes for this round, as mask mandates drop and new social realities are negotiated. How do you engage with the world around you, as opposed to the digital scene you’ve relied on all this time? What are you putting out into the world, and who is receiving it? What is getting communicated?
From May 22–June 3, Mercury will continue its backwards movement in Taurus. If Gemini is defined by duality, Taurus is all about the self: Gemini deals with them; Taurus only cares about you. Whatever anxieties or surprises are emerging in dialogue with others — professionally, romantically, or socially — you now have a chance to address at the core. Taurus is the sign of self-worth and ownership, and a retrograde in its domain commands a review of what you believe you’re entitled to, and how you’re presenting your power.
On June 3, Mercury will resume direct course in Taurus, and continue on into Gemini on June 13. Consider this a second debut, or a new chance to better communicate your needs and desires, and to curate your surrounding society.
HOW TO WORK WITH RETROGRADES
First, don’t take it personally. When crashes occur, observe how you react, and what triggers mania or martyrdom. Note which parts of your life — from your Dropbox to your savings account — were already teetering on the edge of oblivion, and where you can be more organized or secure. Mercury rules Gemini, so pay extra attention to correspondence, down to the most banal text, so that you don’t feel like the trick is on you. Mercury commands currency, and Taurus deals with money, making this a time to reflect on the horrors of the recent tax season and see where you can save or make productive changes. It’s no great joy to have your finances or social life terrorized by a trickster god! But on the bright side, what crashes likely wasn’t built to last. If you can laugh with the shadow master and ride with the pivots, you’ll tap into Gemini season’s true versatility, and Mercury’s liquid adaptability. Stay on your current course, and you’re asking to be punked.