Mercury - the smallest planet in our solar system, just slightly bigger than our Moon, has the closest position to the Sun (at approximately 49.5 million kilometers away between the two bodies). It takes two minutes for a beam of light to travel from the Sun to Mercury.
Mercury has an egg shape orbit. It takes 88 days to go around the Sun, with one planetary rotation equalling 59 earth days. To the human eye, Mercury looks greyish brown. Its atmosphere is composed of oxygen, sodium, hydrogen, helium, and potassium.
Thus Mercury cannot sustain carbon-based life, so we look to it in our skies and see its astrological symbolism.
Mercury is named after the god Hermes. He was a winged messenger of Zeus who would guide souls into the underworld. He is the patron of writing, mathematics, astronomy, travel, commerce, and luck. As such, the planet Mercury also represents these disciplines and aspects of life. He also represents young children, siblings, thought, and communication and can be quite the trickster.
Mercury rules the signs of Gemini and Virgo, the 3rd and 6th houses of an astrological chart too. So when Mercury is in these signs or houses, he is very happy and brings more positive energy to these placements. Of course, this depends on the aspects he makes to other planets which I will talk about in a future post.
Approximately three to four times a year, as we observe Mercury from Earth, we see it orbit around the Sun, and sometimes it appears to go backward. Astronomically this is not the case. It appears to go backward in our eyes as it has gone around the other side of the Sun compared to where we are on Earth. In reality, it is still doing its thing.
This backward motion is called retrograde, and its astrological symbolism is quite pronounced. When Mercury goes retrograde, it is a time when all aspects of life this planet represents come to a halt. Things don’t progress as well as they should. Contracts and plans require revision. Technology plays up and there is a need to save files more often during a Mercury retrograde period. Things that started during previous retrograde cycles are revisited. Ex-partners can come back on the scene. Things that need completion are further revised before completion. It is a time to slow down and gather information rather than take action.
However, we don't just feel the effects during the retrograde period but up to two weeks before and after. These weeks straddling either side of the Mercury retrograde period are called a shadow period. During these shadow periods, the energy starts to be felt, is more pronounced when it’s retrograde, and then dissipates as it goes direct. You will find that gathering information during this time, instead of taking action, equips you for a better outcome when the time is right and Mercury is direct. Sometimes you have to take action during that period. What then? Take action but be armed for revisits and renegotiations, which could be optimal depending on your circumstances.
So that is what Mercury is all about. He is a small but powerful planet that plays a significant role in our lives. I find it fascinating how the symbolism from ancient times follows us to this day, just as we still follow this planet from our earthly home.