Mercury retrograde refers to the three weeks when Mercury the planet of communication appears to move backwards in the sky because Mercury is rotating faster than the Earth

By Tess Giberson

Mercury retrograde is known for all sorts of miscommunications, technological glitches, and relationship fiascos. From December 3 – 22 Mercury will retrograde in blunt and outspoken Sagittarius

Here’s what I’ll be doing to not lose my shit.


Until this year I refused to drink anything other than coffee but I’m currently sorting out a chronic health diagnosis with strict instruc- tions from my doctor to not drink coffee. I’ve cut back to two cups of coffee a day and in the process discovered my favourite tea—ex- cept the name fetishizes south east Asian cul- ture and it’s grossly expensive. Instead of pay- ing $24 for a tin that bastardizes Buddhism I decided it would make more sense to make it myself.

Mix white and green tea leaves, jasmine pearls, white hibiscus blossoms, and some chunks of dried or fresh peaches and pears. Steep in hot (not boiling) water for two to three minutes.
And when I manage to disrupt my digestive system with too much caffeine, simmering a hunk of fresh ginger on the stove for 30 min- utes creates a “decoction” (a fancy herbalist word for tea) that soothes tummy aches, colds, and sore throats.


I use facial steams to unclog a stuffy nose or soothe myself through a panic attack (and sometimes both). Fill a bowl with boiling water, add some herbs, and lean over the bowl with a towel covering your head. My go-to blend is calen- dula flowers, rose petals, rosehip, jasmine flowers, chamomile, dandelion root, witch hazel leaf, comfrey leaf, yarrow leaf, or elder flowers.

Alternatively, you can add 5 to 10 drops of essential oils to the bowl. I tend to use eu- calyptus or peppermint to clear my sinuses, and lavender, chamomile, or frankincense to provide some relief when my anxiety flares up.


Everyone and their mom are currently ob- sessed with essential oils. Pseudo-science? Perhaps. But it smells amazing!

Mercury retrograde can easily sweep us up into worrying about the future or shaming our- selves for past mistakes. I personally find aromatherapy helpful in grounding myself in the present when the past and the future become too overwhelming. To make an essential oil blend for grounding and stability, look to earthy aromas like the essen- tial oils of woods. My current blend is spruce, palo santo, and juniper. Mix five drops of each with grapeseed oil in an essential oil roller. I carry mine in my purse and use it whenever I start obsessing about things that aren’t pres- ently happening.

Some of my go-to application areas include massaging the oils across my eyebrows, behind my ears, and on my wrists.


Tarot has experienced a sort of rebirth in the past few years from a potentially spiritu- ally manipulative fortune telling to a tool for evaluating whether our current actions are in alignment with our soul’s purpose.

I practice tarot as a method of communication with my spiritual guides, who I usual- ly refer to as the universe. Some folks speak to their ancestors through tarot for soul guidance.
Others consider their spiritual guides to be their higher, more evolved self.

These are some questions I’ll be asking the universe during Mercury retrograde:

  • I) What requires my attention this retro- grade; what is Mercury calling me to re/exam- ine?
  • II) What is my greatest challenge this retro- grade; what lesson am I learning?
  • III) What is my greatest tool in moving through this retrograde?
  • IV) How can I prepare myself to do the best with this time?
  • V) In what areas am I resisting, where do I need to soften?
  • VI) What do I need to release?
  • VII) What do I need to receive?
  • VIII) What method of self care will assist
    me in moving through this retrograde?

I chose eight cards for this spread, in- spired by the numerology of eights in tarot.

In the minor arcana, eights are deep trans- formations where we enter the card one way and leave completely different. In the major arcana this is expanded upon in the eighth card, Strength.
Strength is an invitation to approach our biggest fears with gentleness, compassion, and kindness—to embrace our darkest shad- ows with open arms and tender hearts. True strength is radical vulnerability.

Strength reminds us that Mercury retrograde is not here to wreck us, but rather cre- ate the perfect container for healing.


Mercury retrogrades usually happen four times a year, which I don’t think is coinci- dence. They’re basically quarterly reviews.

Rather than fight against the grain of Mercu- ry retrograde I prefer to work with the energy. If the output I’m creating is likely to explode in my face, I’d rather spend Mercury retro- grade in self evaluation. With this retrograde happening at the end of the year (and ending literally on the winter solstice) these next three weeks are ideal for reflecting on the past year and bringing closure to all of our loose ends.

What nagging thoughts or unresolved is- sues do we want to shed in 2017? What energy is still bumping around in our subconscious that needs to be hashed out in our present selves? What information can we gain that we possibly overlooked? What thought pat- terns are blocking us from moving forward or getting where we want to go?

Perhaps you already use Mercury retro- grades as a quarterly review or perhaps you want to review the entire year. Either way, I’ve found journaling to be an effective tool to navigate my subconscious feelings and I hope these journaling prompts can be of ser- vice.


Composed by New Brunswick’s Mort Gar- son, Plantasia is an album designed for plants to help them grow. I can’t completely confirm this because my plants haven’t grown much . . . but I also used to accidentally kill succulents and I’ve got about 10 house plants that I haven’t killed this year so I consider that a significant success.

Regardless, the album is the sonic equiva- lent of the grounding essential oil roller recipe we talked about earlier. I listen to it almost dai- ly in the winter to combat the seasonal blues. When I have tarot clients over for readings in my apartment, this is the album I play.

Whenever Mercury retrograde becomes overwhelming you can put on Plantasia, make a cup of tea, and journal or tarot your way through the confusion.

For a more in-depth look at where you will experience the invitations and lessons of Mer- cury retrograde the most, you can complete your natal chart online to see what houses Mercury rules in your chart and compare it to what houses Mercury will be retrograding in this December.