In our solar system the orbit of the planet Mercury lies between the Sun and the Earth’s orbit. Symbolically Mercury acts as an intermediary, or link, between the Sun, representing spirit, and the Earth, representing matter. In Greek and Roman mythology Mercury acts as an emissary between gods and mortals, traveling freely between the two worlds carrying messages, communications and information. In astrology archetypal Mercury is an envoy for our spiritual life force, a communication channel informing our human experience as we connect with our environment and interact with others.
In Greek mythology Hermes/Mercury also performs the role of a psychopomp, a guide whose primary function is to escort human souls to the underworld upon death. The psychopomp serves as a guide through other important transitions in life, or when venturing into liminal spaces, spiritual realms, or the inner world of the subconscious. Here, we cross boundaries into places where we undergo some sort of transformation or preparation for rebirth.
Mercury is the most frequently retrograde planet in our solar system. It moves retrograde 3 times a year for about 3 weeks each time. Just before Mercury’s retrograde period it is at its farthest point from earth in its orbit. As it reaches its retrograde phase, fast moving Mercury slows its pace, comes to a standstill, and appears to reverse direction. During its retrograde phase it is closer in orbit to earth, and appears to be moving more slowly.
In astrology our interpretation of this planetary phenomenon is that the processes and dynamics Mercury represents are too far out, and need to come back closer to earth. Our thinking may need to come back into alignment with reality. There may be too much information coming in and we need to step back, process and digest it. We may need to reorganize information or our thinking patterns or gain new perspectives so we can better understand what is going on, and find new meaning.
After Mercury stations retrograde it disappears from view in the sky. This is represented in myth as Mercury/Hermes in its role as the psychopomp guiding us into our internal, deeper, subconscious realm. Mercury takes us into liminal places where information is communicated to us intuitively, through symbolic messages during waking hours and during sleep. Our normally active, rational intellectual processes are set free for us to explore material in non-linear ways.
Mercury stationed retrograde in Gemini, the sign of its rulership, on May 10th. During this retrograde period Mercury will move from active Gemini back into the earth sign of Taurus, guiding us to retrieve overlooked information, gain new frames of reference, symbolic meaning and understanding through the information filter of our senses. In Taurus, we can slow down, ground our thinking, and listen to the wisdom communicated through our physical bodies and the natural world.
Mercury has led us to the threshold of our inner sanctum. As we cross over and traverse the landscape we encounter matters needing re-framing, revising and re-working. By uniting our thinking with earthly sensibility we transform our understanding and experience. Mercury stations direct on June 3rd, leading us back into the outer world reborn.
“Become a student of change. It is the only thing that will remain constant.”
― Anthony J. D’Angelo