To many people, Mercury Retrograde is a curiosity - a mysterious occurrence that fouls up computers, derails plans, causes delays, and generally confuses communications. And, this is partly true. But there need not be worry around the concept of this planet "turning retrograde." Once you understand what this implies, you can begin to use the energy in your favor.
Mercury, when moving forward in its orbit, helps us plan, begin anew, and communicate effectively. It's associated with the mind. The retrograde period, which lasts around 21 days and occurs 3-4 times every year, doesn't really mean that the planet turns backward in its orbit. It just appears to do so from our vantage point here on Earth. It appears to initially slow down, then stop, then go backwards. It's not actually happening. Nonetheless, we Earthlings are affected by this apparent retrograde motion.
The important thing to remember about these 3-week periods of time is they are meant to contrast being and doing. Most people's lives in our society are overscheduled, too busy, outwardly focused, mundane, and filled with distractions. Three times every year (sometimes four) Mercury turns retrograde and asks us this question: "Does your overscheduled, too busy, outwardly focused, mundane, and distracted life bring you happiness?" It asks us to shift our focus, just for a very brief period in time, to the sacred. To the inner world of reflection, meaning, wisdom, and natural rhythms.
Those of us who ignore Mercury's plea to slow down, turn inward, and reflect will find ourselves delayed, frustrated, misunderstood, and drifting in a world of confusion. This is partly why we are admonished not to buy new things during Mercury retrograde, or sign contracts, or make major decisions, or begin new projects. Because when we do, things often turn out confused, misunderstood, and just plain wrong. They frequently need to be redone, after Mercury has turned direct and is moving forward again.
Another thing to remember during Mercury retrograde which will benefit you greatly: it is a time of renewal. Rest, restore, reflect, or at least, if you must continue to press forward during this time then use it to review, revise, rewrite, and recollect your thoughts. If you don't, you are going against nature's own rhythm, going against the grain, you might as well swim upstream. If you know what part of your birth chart Mercury retrograde falls in, you will also gain some insight into what part of your life is being most affected.
Mercury retrograde is a blessed time for a course correction in life. The car breaks down, your computer stops working, your emails get mysteriously lost, communications of all sorts become foggy. What to do? Stop, rest, renew, reflect, and meditate. We must, for our own well-being, have a few moments in our lives when we stop and turn inward, when we allow the mundane to turn to the sacred, when we give our busy lives a rest.
How is this possible you might ask? How do I slow down my life when I've got bills to pay and babies to feed and so on and so forth? I do not think we can afford to continue the fast paced push forward without some quiet, introspective, reconnection to the core of our own being. To avoid turning within creates insanity, masked by our popular use of painkillers, anti-depressants, and anti-anxiety remedies and a general absentmindedness to the beauty and sanctity of life.
The time is coming. It will be officially "retro" December 26th through January 15th, 2010, but keep in mind that a few days prior to December 26th are tricky because Mercury is very slow or actually stationary.
So, we have three weeks coming up to give it a try. As for taking vacations? I think Mercury retrograde is a perfect time, as long as your vacation plans were made well in advance of the actual retrograde period. And once on the trip, take it slow, expect delays, relax, renew, reflect. Especially with the holiday celebrations, wherever you are, practice taking some nice deep breaths. Practice patience. And trust it. It is on your side.