Heart Meets Head: Mercury Retrograde in Virgo

This is a period of time where your heart meets your head. We spent a lot of time discussing the Venus retrograde in Leo this summer.  Venus is spending four months in the sign of Leo. You have had plenty of time to reflect and reevaluate the issues she has raised. Venus is the planet of desire.  When she is in Leo, she invites each of us to come home to our self. We have been through a summer of remembering, reflection, healing and reevaluating.  We are now in our heart space and clear about our hopes, dreams, aspirations, and desires. Now it is time to start moving forward in your life. However, it is difficult to go “full speed ahead” because Mercury is moving retrograde in Virgo. What does this mean for us?  Mercury is retrograde in its home sign of Virgo. The Mercury retrograde started on August 23 and lasts until September 15.  Mercury retrograde asks us to slow down and think before we leap.  Mercury’s intention is not to discourage us from pursuing the dream of our heart, but he does suggest we take a few days or weeks to think and plan.  He wants us to be strategic about how to achieve our dreams and desire.

Right now we are experiencing Mercury retrograde in Virgo.  Mercury is the planet closest to the sun. It takes about 88 days to complete a revolution around the sun. It is never more than 28° away from the sun. It typically spend about two weeks in a sign, but can spend up to two months in a sign when it is retrograde.  Retrograde‘s happen when Earth,  Sun and Mercury are aligned. As Mercury is getting close to conjoining the sun, it creates an optical illusion, from Earth’s perspective, that it is traveling backwards. All the planets except sun and moon have periods of retrograde.  Because mercury is so close to the sun and traveling so fast, it retrogrades much more frequently than all of the other planets, typically 3 to 4 times per year or about 20% of its time.

Mercury signifies our ability to think and communicate. He governs travel, commerce, communication, writing, and intellect. The ancients credited him with inventing the alphabet, musical instruments, alchemy, astrology, and astronomy. He was also known as a healer and teacher. It is the part of us that creates our world through our thoughts and words.   It is the ability to evoke, to conjure. Merriam-Webster definition of evoke is “to call forth”.  This reminds us that Mercury is not simply how we think or communicate, it is more.   Honoring Mercury, honors our ability to create and manifest.  It is the part of us that is a magician. Traditionally, Mercury is associated with the cross roads and door ways, with significant times in life when we use our words, ideas or intellect to make choices that manifest in life. Mercury is mysterious and elusive and it’s only visible at dawn or dusk, about 30%-40% of the time.  It is therefore associated with all periods of transition. It governs liminal spaces, which are the spaces between the worlds. Mercury was unique among the gods in the ancient pantheon, because he could travel between the worlds: the upper worlds of the heavens, the middle world of physical space, and the underworld were souls traveled after death. He served as psycho-pomp, which is someone who can escort souls to the underworld. 

Astrologically, retrograde motion is associated with the idea of delay, or turning inward of the planetary energy. Popular culture associates, mercury retrograde with periods of “wonkiness’: when are technology and devices are likely to malfunction, when we’re likely to enter into contracts, or commerce unwisely, or unproductively, when projects need to be redone. Astrologers generally feel that is a narrow view of the retrograde energy. During periods of retrograde, the planets are closest to earth, and their energies are accentuated. In addition, planets that typically spend only a few weeks in a particular sign, spend a much longer period of time in that sign during retrograde and further intensify the energy. During a retrograde, a planet will cross the same degrees three times, giving a rare chance for a “do over”. Rather than worrying about whether your  new computer will malfunction during mercury retrograde, astrologers suggest you concentrate on all the words that start with RE:  reflect, revise, reignite, reimagine, reconvene, reconcile, re-prioritize, etc.

The retrograde this summer is in Virgo. Mercury not only rules Virgo, but is exalted in Virgo, meaning Virgo is Mercury’s favorite place. Virgo is the only zodiac sign named for a female. Virgo is the sign of the Virgin. In ancient times the term virgin had a much different connotation than it has today. Modern society considers virgins to be sexually naïve, timid, repressed, and prudish. In ancient times the term “Virgin” was not applied to a woman who has not had sex, but rather to a woman who owns her own ability to choose her partner, a woman who had autonomy over her own body.In ancient patriarchal societies, a woman was owned by her father until she was married, and then she was owned by her husband. She never had agency over her own body. The term “virgin” was derived from the vestal virgins who were the keepers of the temple of Vesta. The vestal virgins were not women who did not have sex. Sexual acts were often part of their rituals and they chose their partners. Virgo, an earth sign, is exacting, critical, deeply introspective, humble, and service oriented. Virgo is a perfectionist, but seeks perfection as a form of service, rather than to annoy her friends and family. In medical astrology, parts of the body are associated with signs, and Virgo rules the small intestines. This makes sense if you think about it in terms of the small intestines being the organ that picks and chooses, which nutrients will be absorbed and utilized in which nutrients will be discarded. Mercury, the planet of intellect communication and healing has a natural affinity with Virgo. When Mercury is retrograde in Virgo, we have the opportunity to pick and choose what to keep and what to discard: to reflect, revise and reimagine our lives.

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