Mercury is a small planet and closest to the sun in our solar system. Mercury has the fastest journey revolving around the sun, and the shortest. In myth, Mercury is the messenger, and therefore in astrology it is the ruler of communication and thought.
Wherever Mercury is in your natal chart will show what you do with your thought process. Mercury shows how you think, how you communicate, and how you learn, understand, and process information. Mercury is also the ruler of travel over short distances, and can give an indication on how you view siblings, neighbors, and other people whom you are close to.
Mercury currently has rulership over two signs, Gemini and Virgo. Though many astrologers tend to think that Virgo is ruled by a planet yet to be found, it is still currently under the Mercury domain. These two signs have similarities that correspond to Mercury in several ways. Both signs can be described as intellectual, both have a mutable or changeable quality, and both can concentrate on several different areas at once. The differences are also striking. While Virgo tends to color whatever it touches with sensibility and discriminating taste, Gemini tends to color whatever it touches with the ability to soak up the information available on the surface and move on. We all, of course, have both of these signs present somewhere in our life and personality serving as checks and balances.
Every few months, Mercury goes into what is called a retrograde motion. From our perspective here on earth, it would seem during these times that Mercury is moving backward through the sky, even though astronomically it is still moving forward. This is basically an optical illusion that occurs when we are on the opposite side of the sun from Mercury. Though different astrologers are still at odds over the importance of these events, some taking it very seriously, some quite lightly, there is still a common translation on how this coincides with personal activity during the Mercury retrograde.
During a Mercury retrograde cycle, there is usually a breakdown in communications. Things become misunderstood or completely missed all together. This is not a time to begin new projects or to start a new endeavor, but rather a time to tie up loose ends, finish projects, and reflect on the last several months. Some people are seemingly very affected by these sort of mishaps during this cycle, while others come through mostly unscathed. This usually depends on where Mercury is in your natal chart. Some people who are born during a retrograde cycle feel all the more comfortable when Mercury is retrograde, as if it is a natural state for them. Also, Mercury's placement in your chart during the cycle will show something as well. You would need to look at the sign the Mercury is currently in, and where that sits in your chart. This can be done easily with either a transit chart being made for you for the date, or by having just your natal chart and finding out Mercury's current position. This can give you a closer look at what needs to be reflected upon during the individual cycle so that you may get the most out of it!
It is best to remember the importance of Mercury when thinking in astrological terms. Because this is how we communicate, if your Mercury is a sign ahead or behind the sun, this will be a huge factor when looking at the Sun's role in your chart. Mercury is not looked at in Sun sign horoscopes, but it has far more of an impact on how your communication and daily conversation with others than the Sun does.
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