ELFIE KALFAKIS ILLUSTRATION

Cosmic Relief: What the $%&# Is Mercury Retrograde?

It’s a Friday night. You’re winding down — you’ve ordered in from your favourite local take out, set up a new season of that show you have been binge-watching. You’ve poured yourself a nice glass of your weekly indulgence and sat down for the night. 

Then, for no logical reason, your streaming service becomes ‘currently unavailable’. You restart your computer a few times and reset the router, maybe three, even four times. The signal starts to work again, and you’re set for the night. 

Just then, the doorbell rings. Your food is here! You sit down to eat, and just as you go to grab your drink, you bump your knee on the table and it spills all over your computer. You rush to clean up the mess, sit back down again, and open up your take-out. 

Just as you turn on your screen, you notice a message on your phone: “What are you up to?” from a number you deleted three months ago, but know all too well — it’s your ex. 

Welcome to Mercury retrograde. Mercury is one of the classical five planets visible in our night sky, named after the Roman messenger god. For centuries it has held a place in our collective unconscious as a ruler of communication and mental activity. 

When a planet moves into retrograde, from Earth it appears to be moving backwards. And when a planet like Mercury, which reigns over our communication systems seemingly moves in an opposite direction, those systems feel disorienting. It’s like trying to tune into a channel that’s constantly buffering. While our outer world is filled with static electricity, like anything in the astrological realm, this occurrence offers us an opportunity to communicate with our inner world. 

Astrology looks at the natural ebbs and flows of cosmic cycles and sees how they can be applied to the individual, and the collective. Observing these cycles as a guide, there is an obvious flow between light and dark, comfort and discomfort and active and passive. 

With Mercury seemingly ‘moving backwards’ three times a year, it suggests the necessity between communicating outwardly and communicating inwardly. 

And in this last year, we’ve come to understand that our world is not as reliable and consistent as we believed. We were forced to look at ourselves and see how we can participate in this world in a way that is more impactful. 

But how do we do this? 

It’s common in spiritual circles to see a focus on love, light and positivity. And while that is obviously important, astrology suggests the importance of understanding the darker realms. It asks us not to avoid moving into the places in ourselves that barely see the light of day. 

The term ‘toxic positivity’ has been popping up a lot over the past year, along with the term ‘spiritual bypassing.’ In astrology, what these terms suggest is a bypassing, or glazing, over the necessary inner work required in order to evolve. Instead of working through our ‘inner demons’ we blame or ignore the work required to psychologically and spiritually evolve, and distract with ‘positive thinking.’ 

Now don’t get me wrong, astrology does expect us to temper inner frustrations and not get lost in the hopelessness of situations. However, it is equally important to observe the less opportune aspects of ourselves to make sure that everything is in check.

This month we see Mercury moving through the sign of Aquarius with Venus and the Sun. As I’ve mentioned before, Aquarius energy embodies our humanitarian ideals, our inner oddball and the collective. With Mercury, Venus, and the Sun visiting, we’ll be communicating, loving and radiating this energy — of course, under the veil of Mercury retrograde offering a possible telecommunication malfunction. So prepare yourselves for some electric and communicative vibes and a time to embrace your inner misfit.

ELFIE KALFAKIS ILLUSTRATION

With that being said, here is another cosmic playlist to ease those woes of this year’s first Mercury retrograde period, along with some words of wisdom for the month ahead for your individual Sun sign.

February Horoscopes

Aquarius

JANUARY 20 — FEBRUARY 18

Oh boy Aquarius, you are on fire this month. You feel like you’ve got some extra gasoline in your tank and you’re plummeting forward like it’s nobody’s business. It may feel like all eyes are on you. Just make sure to slow down so you don’t get so overstimulated you want to disengage. We’re counting on you!

Pisces

FEBRUARY 19 — MARCH 20

Everyone has a lot to say this month, Pisces, and you just want to escape into your happy place. There seems to be a lot of fanfare, and while you appreciate the excitement, you’re not quite ready to jump forward into the future. Take some time this month to tie up your loose ends and make some sort of plan for your next step. This might give you the grounding you need.

Aries

MARCH 21 — APRIL 19

You’re a little annoyed this month, Aries. There are a lot of irritations tickling your soul. A part of you wants to just run away into the woods and start everything over again. The best thing you can do during this discomfort is to find your allies. Who are the people you can trust? Finding a way to navigate your annoyances with some company around will help you enjoy this month. 

Taurus

APRIL 20 — MAY 20

Well Taurus, you have been very productive as of late! You’ve impressed yourself with the amount of energy you’ve put into the things that get you inspired. Find a way to use this energy to pinpoint some of the other projects you can work on in the months ahead, while you have the momentum. 

Gemini

MAY 21 — JUNE 20

You’re in a good flow, Gemini. You’ve been finding your groove so far in 2021, and you’ve got a lot of ideas flowing in a successful direction. And while the ideas and inspiration are there, you’re still feeling a little bit stuck. This will pass, don’t worry. Just keep on with your brainstorming and soon you’ll have the perfect chance to take more concrete action.

Cancer

JUNE 21 — JULY 22

It was a very tiring holiday season for you Cancer, but you’re feeling like coming out of your comfortable shell, or blanket. It’s been a while since you reconnected to others socially, but this month you’ll have more capacity for it. Spend some time in some lighthearted Zoom calls with friends — it’ll give you the pick-me-up you’ve been craving. 

Leo 

JULY 23 — AUGUST 22

You’re feeling a bit run down these days, Leo. It’s the dead of winter, amidst a pandemic, and you just want to hang out in the sunshine with good friends. There’s a lot of opportunities available to you right now even if they appear to be marching to a different beat than you. Take some time this month to scope out your options, you’ll likely find some good people to help you dance your way out of that rut. 

Virgo

AUGUST 23 — SEPTEMBER 22

There’s a lot going on, Virgo. And while a lot of it seems interesting it may be moving a little too quickly for you, and your first impulse is to retreat. Your best course of action this month is to participate in the excitement in the smallest or greatest way you feel comfortable. So, take a minute to centre yourself and figure out if it’s fear or excitement that you’re feeling. Once you’ve settled that, you’ll be able to jump in, in the way you feel comfortable, and enjoy the ride.

Libra

SEPTEMBER 23 — OCTOBER 22

Collaboration is your middle name, Libra, and this month, for better or for worse, that’s what you’ll be working on. There are a lot of projects happening around you at the moment, with a lot of interesting and innovative ideas being thrown around, (and maybe some strong opinions too). Take a deep breath, there is a lot to be done, but you can handle it. Just make sure you’re not compromising those parts that are important to you this month. Sometimes appeasing the norm isn’t always the best option.

Scorpio

OCTOBER 23 — NOVEMBER 21

You’ve been in hibernation mode for a long time now, Scorpio and this month is no exception. There seems to be some inspiration lurking around the corner for you. You’re not quite sure what it is just yet, but your gut instincts are telling you that something exciting is on the horizon. You’ll probably spend this month indulging in your chambers in your silk pyjamas. Just know it’ll be your turn up to bat soon, so enjoy it while it lasts.

Sagittarius

NOVEMBER 22 — DECEMBER 21

Slowing down over the last few weeks has been a nice new pace for you, Sagittarius, but you’re starting to go a little stir crazy. There are some interesting opportunities opening up for you in the next little while, and your enthusiasm has your head spinning a bit. Find a way to focus that excitement into a new physical routine. You’ll likely need to exhaust all that mental energy somehow to keep yourself in check. 

Capricorn

DECEMBER 22 — JANUARY 19

You’ve set a lot of things in motion last year, Capricorn and now, it’s time to wait and watch them grow — something you find very challenging. Your ambition and drive are remarkable, but over the next while, try and focus that go-getting attitude into some humanitarian pursuits: self-care or your home life. Don’t forget to take care of those pieces, Capricorn – you know they’re important to you. 

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Elfie Kalfakis, who also goes by her artist moniker, White Owl Mystic, is an artist, author, teacher and mystic. Her work is inspired by social issues and a keen interest in the metaphysical, esoteric and chance. She aspires to break down barriers within popular culture towards esoteric concepts and she’s passionate about female empowerment, mental health advocacy and understanding the collective unconscious.