By Kate Downes, LAc TCM Practitioner
Mercury retrograde has gotten a bad rap over the years. During the often chaotic retrograde periods, misfortunate mishaps and miscommunications seem to multiply, making it feel like Mercury is playing a cheeky cosmic trick on us.
But here’s the thing – Mercury retrograde doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, we can use the unique energy of this time to slow down, reflect, and make wiser choices. And Traditional Chinese Medicine is here to show us how…
What is Mercury Retrograde, Really?
During certain times of the year, Mercury appears to be moving backward in its orbit. From a scientific perspective, this is just an optical illusion – the planet isn’t actually reversing, it just looks that way from Earth.
But astrologers see it differently. When Mercury is in retrograde, the various things that Mercury “rules” can seem to fall out of balance:
Communication → Miscommunication
When the ruler of communication is retrograde, it can make misunderstandings, scheduling problems, and disagreements more likely.
Forward motion → Slowing or Reversing
Mercury is usually the fastest-moving planet. But in retrograde, it appears to slow or reverse. This can lead to delays, unforeseen obstacles, or even cancellations.
Ease → Tension
Miscommunication and a lack of forward motion can give rise to a feeling of tension during Mercury retrograde. It’s common to feel angsty because things aren’t going as planned or misunderstandings stifle progress.
Mercury retrograde happens three or four times per year for a three-week period. We’ll enter the first Mercury retrograde of 2023 on April 21st, and stay in this orbit until May 14th. Like to plan ahead? We’ll also enter Mercury retrograde from August 23rd to September 15th and December 13th to January 1st, 2024.
How to Use TCM Wisdom to Inspire Your Mercury in Retrograde Rituals
While poor Mercury often takes the blame, how we interact with our world during Mercury retrograde can make all the difference in our experience. The good news is that retrograde doesn’t have to mean trouble. Simply being aware of this cosmic shift and taking time to join Mercury in slowing down can turn chaos into recalibration.
1. Embrace the yin energy of Mercury retrograde.
Mercury brings a go-getting, high-velocity, yang-like energy to most situations. But as Chinese medicine teaches us, everything in life has both yin and yang qualities. During Mercury retrograde, this planet slows down and falls into more yin-like patterns. Rather than fight against it, working with this yin energy can help you make the most of Mercury retrograde.
When we rush through our daily to-dos, we’re bound to make mistakes and feel stressed. That’s only more likely during Mercury retrograde. So, let this be your permission to take it easy and slow down.
Let’s start with your skincare ritual. If you have been fast-forwarding through this precious act of self-love, let’s put it in slow motion. Make a cup of tea, put on some relaxing music, and spend extra time cleansing and nourishing your skin.
The Once in a Pink Moon collection makes it easy to savor every moment of your skin care in a simple 3-step ritual. Start with your favorite element cleanser, working the product into your skin with slow, gentle circular motions. Rinse and apply the hydrating essence followed by your moisturizer. Spend a few extra minutes massaging the moisturizing serum into your skin, and let the moment sink in.
Taking time during your self-care ritual can help you bring this intentional, slowed-down energy into other aspects of your daily life (and may help prevent some of those retrograde misjudgments or mistakes).
2. Embrace the element of Mercury retrograde.
Not every Mercury retrograde is the same; each period will be influenced by the star sign (and its corresponding element) that Mercury falls in during its reversed orbit. So, a Mercury retrograde in watery Pisces will be different from one in fiery Leo.
April’s Mercury retrograde will happen in the sign of Taurus, which is ruled by the earth element. By tapping into the power of the earth element during this time, we can live more in tune with the universe and the season.
In both astrology and Traditional Chinese Medicine the earth element offers stability, centeredness, and security. During this Mercury retrograde in Taurus, you may feel like you’re standing on uneven ground. But by practicing earthy rituals, you can bring more groundedness into your life.
If the weather permits where you live, why not try earthing? A barefoot walk with your feet directly connected to the earth can help you feel rooted, no matter what is happening around you.
If you prefer to enjoy your self-care indoors, tap into the earth element through a restorative clay facial mask or the Once in a Pink Moon Earth Element Collection.
Despite its bad press, Mercury retrograde can be a powerful time for reflection and introspection. So, take this opportunity to slow down, breathe, and reassess where your priorities lie and how you really want to move forward when the time comes. And if something does go wrong during this time, try to see the lesson in it (and go ahead, blame it on Mercury!).