That’s right, the next Mercury retrograde (or Rx for short) kicks in right on Halloween this year.
You’ve heard the dire predictions for Mercury Rx: Don’t sign any contracts or make reservations! Count on travel troubles! Watch your language! Back up your computer! Be prepared to feel depressed/confused/pessimistic!
How did Mercury retrograde get such a bad rap in pop culture?
Let’s backtrack a bit for the un-initiated and look at what’s actually happening in the heavens during a Mercury Rx. In astrology, Mercury is the planetary archetype that governs how we think, and how we communicate what we’re thinking, whether it’s through writing, speaking, teaching. It also governs transportation (Mercury was the Roman god of travelers and the messenger of the gods) and when it goes retrograde, which it will from October 31 to November 20, all of those areas can be affected.
Mercury retrograde occurs 3-4 times a year… picture a planetary cha-cha happening in the heavens. We Earthlings are riding along on our planet, circling the Sun, while our neighbors on Mercury are zooming around with us, though a wee bit slower. Periodically, we pass them in our orbiting race, and like passing a car on the highway, they seem to be moving backward… voilà, the retrograde.
It’s true that sometimes you can just sail through a Mercury Rx period without a blip. My theory is that if Mercury is not triggering (or “transiting” as we say in astrology) something significant in your natal chart, you might not feel its effects at all.
For instance, this upcoming Mercury retrograde is in the zodiac sign of Scorpio, so if your Sun sign is Scorpio or you have any other planets in that sign, you might want to take note. Obviously, you need to have your birth chart in hand to know that, and you can get that calculated in a number of places, including at Café Astrology. Then you just need to find someone to interpret the astro-language in it to see if/when you’ll be affected.
So, what’s so special about Mercury Rx starting on Halloween?
If you’re a lover of symbolism like I am, there’s lots to play with here! You’ve got a general idea of the energy of Mercury retrograde, so now let’s look at the rich universal meanings attached to our modern holiday of Halloween.
Since ancient times, cultures all over the world have marked the seasonal “wheel of the year” with celebrations reflecting the cycles of nature. For a wonderful review of those multi-cultural celebrations, definitely read Donna Henes’ “Celestially Auspicious Occasions”.
At this time of year, as the daylight hours continue to diminish ever so slowly in the Northern Hemisphere, it seems that nature herself is dying as well — the leaves decay, the birds head south, the first frosts appear. The harvest is brought in and the fields have been prepared to lay dormant for the long winter. Animals disappear into hibernation, slowing their heartbeats down to simulate death.
In the weeks that follow, and well past the Winter Solstice, it does indeed seem that the Earth is poised in that same “in-between” time. Her flora and fauna appear to have died, but we know that they really only lie sleeping, ready to be re-born in the Spring.
In human communities as well, it was considered to be a magical, liminal time.
All Hallow’s Eve, the Celtic holy-day, Samhain, and All Soul’s Day, all celebrate that pivotal point on the Wheel of the Year when the veil is thought to be the thinnest between the living and the dead. Food was left out on banquet tables in the villages to appease spirits who might be wandering around, and in the Middle Ages, “mummers” would dress up as ghosts or demons from the “other side”, performing tricks in exchange for food or drink. Sound familiar?
In Mexico, El Dia de Los Muertos (the Day of the Dead) is still celebrated with sugary skeletons and picnics on the gravesites of loved ones. The Dahomeys of West Africa invite the spirits of their ancestors to join them at a harvest festival called Setting the Table.
Asian cultures honor their ancestors at this time as well – in Vietnam, it’s called “Wandering Soul’s Day”; in China, it’s the Receiving Ancestors Festival; in Japan, it is Obon.
I’ll bet you didn’t know there was such a broad, worldwide backstory to the trick-or-treating, scary-costume-wearing traditions of our modern-day Halloween!
So how can you couple the powerful cosmic energy of Mercury retrograde with this ancient seasonal symbolism to enhance your relationships?
The fact that this particular Mercury Rx falls in Scorpio really is a perfect pairing with Halloween. In astrology, Scorpio is ruled by the planet Pluto, the Roman god of the underworld… as in where the dead live.
Pluto’s “underworld” is also a powerful metaphor for our personal subconscious, as it pulls us to examine our innermost feelings, urges, and psychological make-up. And the fact that Scorpio is a water sign only deepens that exploration. This also explains Scorpio’s urge for transformation, self-mastery and empowerment, as well as meaningful, intimate connection with others, which of course, includes sex.
Another good “trick” for capturing the positive side of Mercury Rx amidst all the scary DON’Ts is to play with your favorite “re” words – reflect, retreat, re-organize, reconnect are just a few.
Keeping all that in mind, here are some ways you and your sweetie can capitalize on this powerful combo:
Snuggle up (i.e. REtreat in Mercury Rx style) and take a trip to the Land of the Dead!
If you didn’t see “Coco”, the beautiful Disney/Pixar movie, when it came out, do it now. Put aside any judgements you have about watching an animated kids’ movie – it’s really is a poignant story of family, culture and love, with vibrant colors and terrific music. Then in honor of passionate Scorpio, have a fabulous love-making session!
Research your ancestral histories together.
Exploring your family tree is all the rage now, and it has an even more meaningful impact in terms of Scorpio’s urge to go deep. The better you know your partner and where they come from, the better your understanding of what makes them tick which can only enhance your love life.
Create a family photo wall.
After all of the research into your ancestry, you may come across photos of past generations in each of your families that can enrich your life today. If you’ve got kids, bring them into the project so they have a sense of their heritage. Talk about how they might have their grandmother’s sense of humor, or their great-grandfather’s eyes.
Construct an ancestors altar with special mementos.
In the spirit of the Day of the Dead, you can create a joint altar for both of your loved ones who have died… parents, grandparents, favorite aunts and uncles. It can just be a cloth on the corner of your dresser with their pictures and some of their favorite flowers or maybe a ring or necklace they left you. Add some of their favorite food or drink as an offering… my dad loved peanut brittle so that’s always on my altar.
Re-connect (another great Mercury Rx word) with extended family or old friends.
Planning a reunion is a powerful way to renew family ties, especially with those you don’t’ see regularly. I’m not talking about the usual Thanksgiving/holiday crew here, but rather cousins you haven’t seen in a while or even dear friends you’ve lost touch with. Make sure you carve out time for story-telling and memory-sharing.
Given Mercury retrograde’s reputation and the fact that we’re descending into the deepest, darkest weeks of the year right now leading up to the Winter Solstice, it’s tempting to just go hibernate somewhere and wait till it’s all over. But if you approach this “in-between” time with intention and a commitment to embrace the powerful energies flowing around us now, you could be in for some moments of classic Scorpio transformation!
Hi, I’m Deborah Roth, a Life and Relationship Coach, and also a Counseling Astrologer and Interfaith Minister. I lead women’s New Moon Circles and Full Moon TeleMeditations every month and love supporting individuals and couples to re-energize mind, body and spirit, and enhance their relationships. You can learn more about my work HERE or email me at Deborah@SpiritedLiving.com to schedule an introductory coaching session.