I need to say right up front that I’m not an astrologer. Excellent, in-depth information on Mercury retrograde can be found elsewhere from folks who specialize in astrology and know the terrain better than I do. I recommend looking into some dedicated astrology books and blogs if you’re not familiar with Mercury retrogrades. Here are the bare-bones basics you need to know for this spread:
When a planet goes retrograde, it appears to be moving backwards in the sky. Its orbit does not actually change direction, but it seems to shift from our vantage point on Earth. Mercury goes retrograde three times a year, for a few weeks at a time. As Mercury governs communications and mechanisms, things can go a little fuzzy in the areas of travel, transportation, technology, and interpersonal interactions during Mercury retrogrades. This is why it’s so fun and easy to blame Mercury for everything. (Gets old fast, though.)
Mercury retrograde tends to pull our thoughts and communications back into the past. It can be a challenging time to move forward on complex projects and a wonderful time to reflect, reevaluate patterns, and sort through old business. We can’t make infinite progress forward without looking back to learn from past successes and failures, and integrate and make peace with past emotions, actions, and situations. I like to think of it like this: we can choose to reflect and introspect at any time, but we don’t always want to. Kind of like cleaning and decorating the house around holidays and seasonal changes, it can be helpful to sync into a broader, external rhythm that periodically reminds us to slow down and look back. Mercury retrograde helps serve our longterm progress forward by dredging up old stuff that needs reviewing and dropping it back in our laps, whether we feel like dealing with it or not. This isn’t always a bad thing. For example, it can be a great time to rekindle an old friendship or pick a dropped hobby or talent back up.
Any time is fair game to be introspective and reflective, and you don’t have to be in a Mercury retrograde to use this spread. More on that in the notes at the end. I’m a double Cancer, so I’m constantly digging back into the past for reference material. However, I’ve noticed in my own experience that Mercury retrograde periods tend to bring up clusters of old material based around themes, which often relate to the themes of the sign it’s passing through at the time. I wrote this spread to dig into those patterns and make better sense of whatever Mercury dredges up for me. I prefer to use it anywhere from the middle to end of a Mercury retrograde period, so I can connect it to some of the things that have already happened in that time, and better put it all together.
Mercury Retrograde Tarot Spread
2. Artifact - What is Mercury dredging up for me in this retrograde period?
3. Affect - How is it (the “what” represented by card #2) affecting me?
4. Signifier: Action - What would I like to do with this pattern/energy/baggage/what-have-you?
Cross the reversed Magician with:
The Hierophant to learn from or teach something,
Justice to set something right,
Death to lay something to rest and move on,
Temperance to integrate and balance past and present, or
The Sun to rekindle something.
5. Lesson - What do I have to learn from it now?
6. Resolution - How can I best resolve it? What strategies can I draw on to learn from it, set it right, lay it to rest, integrate it, or rekindle it?
You do, however, need to consciously decide what you want to do with the pattern you’re examining here in order to know what question card #6 addresses. It takes different strategies to rekindle a forgotten talent than it does to lay an old blockage to rest. For this reason, I recommend that you draw cards 4-6 only after you’ve drawn and analyzed cards 1-3.
You can use this spread anytime you’re feeling haunted by your own past. It doesn’t need to be a Mercury Retrograde to ask the same basic questions. Just use a personal significator, upright, for card #1, and ask, “what old pattern is haunting me?” or “what past baggage is on my case now?” for card #2.
I got a really great reading from this spread the other day. I hope you guys find it entertaining too! Cheers!
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