By Himat Kaur Khalsa
The first of this year’s three Mercury retrograde periods begins February 23rd and ends March 17th. In this article, we will frame and reframe Mercury retrogrades, as well as explore some tips for navigating this Mercury retrograde in Pisces.
Common Associations for Mercury Retrograde
In our modern culture, people are increasingly aware of Mercury retrograde periods. Unfortunately, most people have a presumption that the cycle will likely bring “bad” things, and we often feel like we’re bracing ourselves for something unpleasant. We have heard (and experienced) that things initiated during Mercury retrograde don’t turn out quite right, are left incomplete, are begun prematurely without all the facts, are poorly chosen, or have to be fixed, redone or renegotiated later.
We even grimace when we hear of business contracts being signed during Mercury retrograde, because many times we learn in retrospect that not all the facts were in or well-considered before signing them, and later we discover that contracts need to be renegotiated or businesses need to revise their work to compensate for what they are now locked into.
And of course, we have associations about physical machinery breaking down and needing to be repaired or replaced. Those experiences are not uncommon, nor are the associations necessarily incorrect.
Reframing for Mercury Retrograde
However, we need to reframe our view of Mercury retrograde, because Mercury has a deep lesson for us in our modern culture. In our fast-paced world when we are more inclined to “push the river” than to flow with it, we resist any experience of things slowing down. We get angry when things that are important to us feel blocked. Often when we are frustrated that nothing is happening, we try to push even harder. Sometimes force works wonders. In Mercury retrograde times, it generally does not.
We usually go along in our daily lives juggling dozens of things and feeling busy and harried. Life seems to be about the keeping up with all our commitments, responsibilities, demands on our time, and all the stuff of life. We figure out how to handle things and accomplish what needs to get done. And we assume that every day of life should be the same if everything is flowing properly. When things suddenly don’t run smoothly, we tend to presume something external caused the problem.
Intellectually, we understand the concept that things run in cycles. Songs and movies in our pop culture reference the Biblical passage that “To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven,” including “a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
We understand daily cycles; they are second nature to us, because it is obvious that we must honor them. For example, we know that our physical bodies need a certain amount of rest every day to maintain relatively healthy functioning. We know from experience that without sufficient periods of “down time” when the body can withdraw from activity to regenerate and even to grow, the body will eventually take control and we have no choice in surrendering to unconsciousness. If we ignore that regular and cyclical process, the body will do what it needs to do to restore itself to balance.
In a similar way, we all go through a cycle when issues from the last couple of months that were left unaddressed grab our attention, and things that have been kicking around the unconscious mind naturally arise to be dealt with.
Important Functions of Mercury Retrograde
So, one purpose of the Mercury retrograde cycle is to bring us back into a better balance. We have no choice about this important process, but we fight it, because we do not recognize it as an obvious need—the way we know our bodies must have a certain amount of sleep each night. We have culturally become out of synch and un-attuned to natural cycles. We just keep pushing, pushing, pushing, and wonder why we have to slow things down sometimes. Sometimes we do feel the major need to retreat and recharge, but we insist we must keep up and keep going beyond a point that is wise. Mercury seeks to rebalance us.
From the evolutionary standpoint, Mercury retrograde cycles have another important role, as well. For each and every one of us, there are two worlds: 1) the factual reality of what is actually happening (if any of us could actually see it objectively), and 2) the internal paradigm we’ve created consciously and unconsciously, as a result of our karma, family patterns, things we’ve been taught by others, personal experiences, and so on.
Our internal paradigm—built around and tethered to the ego structure within us—does not reflect ultimate Truth (until we are fully enlightened beings who have mastered the ability to flow with what happens and maintain perfect oneness with God). Therefore, for almost all of us, Mercury retrograde periods are also a time of withdrawing on a subtle level, so that we can work through a slow and steady progress of growth over months and years. This can be a subtle and slow process of adjusting and modifying that internal paradigm to more clearly reflect Truth. The process may happen consciously or unconsciously, willingly or involuntarily.
Mercury invites us to integrate the understanding that whether we embrace it happily or not, this process of slowing down and recalibrating our minds every few months is really important to our sanity and to our evolution.
Mercury Retrograde in Pisces
Each Mercury retrograde has a different energy and territory, depending on the sign it’s passing through. This first Mercury retrograde cycle of 2013 is in Pisces. How might we be invited to renovate our internal paradigms? We are asked to step back for a few weeks and dream inspiring visions of something more and better. We are summoned to experience ourselves as more than these little bodies and minds. Mercury retrograde in Pisces calls us to reconnect with a larger perspective in some area(s) of our lives, which will depend upon where the Mercury retrograde falls in our birth chart.
If we have felt like a victim, disenfranchised, disempowered, or simply uninspired and weary, Mercury retrograde in Pisces asks us to slow down our mental gears for an infusion of inspiration and a short time of mind-melding with a slightly bigger and higher perspective on things. Pisces calls us to re-envision a better world, to experience a higher calling or experience for ourselves and our lives—a return to “soul” and a reconnection with the Divine, however we relate to It.
With Mercury retrograde in Pisces, we may literally want to escape, numb out, even “medicate” with pastimes that have nothing to do with “reality.” We need to “unplug” from life and from ourselves a bit.
If we dance this retrograde well, we also come through it with greater compassion, inviting every part of ourselves to have its place, restoring ourselves to wholeness, where every facet of ourselves is accepted and even invited to sit in meditation and experience divinity. We desegregate ourselves. And we invite every one of our brothers to the table as well, with the same compassion, acceptance and openness.
The highest possible mind-renovation with Mercury in Pisces, is when our mental filters begin to actually see God in all. We stop interpreting the words and actions of others as slights or affronts. If others are not living examples of God expressed in human form, then instead of hate, we see a call for love. This is a slow, gradual change and overhaul, a slow evolution for humanity.
So, as always, we exercise patience. We do not snap our fingers and become enlightened in an instant; we practice containment of the mind and emotions, and we keep upgrading the contours and content of our minds and psyches.
In this particular Mercury retrograde, we are invited to step back a bit and observe our thinking and our lives—to notice whether we have filters in our minds that block people out, keep people separate, judge people as wrong or unworthy, do not see God in all, including ourselves. If we can take a little twig out of our own eyes and have even just a bit more God-like mental filters, we have done good work with our Mercury retrograde in Pisces.
Flowing with Hukam
For yogis and Sikhs, I have one other thought to keep in mind if you feel blocked and frustrated in this period: At the very least, Mercury retrograde periods train us to flow with hukam (command; what is), to practice flexibility and patience and tolerance; to surf over what may feel like giant waves which flow from the depths of the unconscious—personally or collectively. And it is never a wasted opportunity to practice surrender. I think of that beautiful line translated from the second Pauri of JapJi Sahib (daily prayer of the Sikhs): “Nanak, if you understand the Will of the Divine, your ego will have nothing to say.” (from JapJi Sahib – The Song of the Soul; translation by Ek Ong Kaar Kaur Khalsa)
Suggestions for February 2013:
Any meditation that helps to maintain a neutral mind and flow with what is will be helpful. For example:
- Meditation for the Neutral Mind, from the book The Mind – To keep the mind steady.
- JapJi – 2nd Pauri – Chant the second pauri from JapJi 11 times per day, to increase patience and stability in the mind and psyche, and to help yourself surrender to hukam and the flow of what is.