We’ve got some good news and some bad news. The good news first: September 9 marks the start of our final full pesky Mercury retrograde of 2022. Great! Now-the bad news: it’s still a pesky Mercury retrograde (anxious face emoji).
This Mercury retrograde will span September 9 until October 2. Like all Mercury retros this year, it’s going to be a more complex affair than usual since the Messenger Planet passes through two signs rather than only one. From September 9-23, Mercury wobbles about in Libra. It then backtracks further into Virgo until early October.
A retrograde is a wonky transit where a planet seems to be moving backward in relation to us on earth. When this happens, the planet’s influence gets somewhat perverted. For instance, Venus governs love and beauty, but during its retrograde, romance can move into a strange place. You might break up or start seeing your partner in an unflattering light, or get a bad haircut (it’s advised, in general, to avoid cosmetic procedures during a Venus retrograde).
If Venus is the patron saint of beauty departments, Mercury lords over supermarkets. Indeed, its domain deals with things like commerce, but also communication. Whenever it backspins, these aspects in our life tend to go haywire: emails don’t get sent, contracts have errors that need to be corrected, orders are lost in the mail. Anything having to do with conveyances or messaging feels mixed-up.
Of all the retrogrades, Mercury’s feels the most immediate, palpable, and real. That may be because it happens the most, three times per year, as opposed to, say, the more aloof retrograde of Saturn, a once yearly affair.
It’s not enough, however, to merely look at a Mercury retrograde in isolation and make blanket claims about it: “watch out for bad communication”. A more nuanced approach will look at the sign or signs through which Mercury’s transiting. This helps to develop a more precise rendering of the retrograde.
In our current case, Mercury will first be reversing through the Scales. Usually, Mercury-in-Libra is like a diplomatic transit, known for judicious words, for smoothing out rough edges in social situations, for giving feedback and criticism with a light, sweet, non-disparaging tone. When Mercury goes retrograde in Libra, however, then we can become too diplomatic, as in avoiding confrontation at the expense of moving forward with a plan. We need to be on the lookout for delaying action via indecision or withholding words. This can be a transit where we might say nothing rather than “yes” or “no”. Bad move. Speak up.
We might also feel that words are being used unfairly by partners or lovers around this time (recall Libra deals with justice, fairness, and equality). While we can’t stop talking during a Mercury retrograde (even though that would behove us at times), we can recognise that we need more patience and understanding around communication, both for ourselves and others. Maybe these words from a helpmate aren’t unfair, after all. Reflecting on social situations rather than reacting is always good advice, but especially so during a Mercury retrograde.
On September 23, Mercury then backspins into Virgo. In the Maiden’s domain, Mercury wants to make, craft, sell, and trade things. Virgo enables this impetus because it's a practical sign that has to do with “hands-on” efficiency and productivity. Basically, Mercury-in-Virgo is the Etsy of the Zodiac. But when it goes retrograde, we should be aware of practical things coming undone: snags and rips in dresses, coffee-machines and cars going on the fritz.
All that said, let’s give a bit of a silver lining to these retrograde clouds. Even when back spinning, Mercury loves being in Virgo. Why? Well, it rules the Virgin and it has its exaltation there. In fact, it’s the only planet doubly dignified like this. We should think of Mercury-in-Virgo retrograde in part, therefore, as a time to reassess and rework things of a practical nature. Mercury-in-Virgo represents non-wasteful, sustainable, and recyclable energy. To feel aligned with it, think about engaging in “repurposing activities,” like going through old junk or clothes–either to recycle or refashion them. Turn jeans into jean-shorts for summer. Cut up some t-shirts for a night on the tiles. They say “a stitch in time saves nine” but with Mercury retrograde ditch that adage for something more appropriate like: “Let’s rip up this stitching to create something new entirely.” Be crafty.
What are the most important dates this Mercury Retrograde?
First, September 19. That’s when Mercury-in-Libra opposes Jupiter-in-Aries. The latter placement indicates “loud mouth” frequencies. Aries can be aggressive and Jupiter will amplify this tendency. This date could be a particularly rough one, wherein our overly diplomatic Mercury-in-Libra gets steam-rolled by the zealous opinions of a partner, lover, or friend.
Second, September 27. We have a lovely Venus/Mercury conjunction in Virgo. We spoke about “repurposing” energy. With beautifying Venus in proximity to the Messenger, this date indicates a great night to show off something you’ve crafted. Words will be sweeter and more forthcoming around this time, too, due to Venus’s sugar.
Come October, we complete our third air-to-earth-sign Mercury retrograde of the year. Whenever we experience cosmic repetitions like this, we should wonder whether there is a lesson at play. At the risk of moralising or pop-psychologising, maybe these retrogrades are suggesting that we might need to be less in our air/heads. Perhaps working more with our earth/hands will help us grow and mend?