Mercury Retrograde Reverse Psychopomp Ritual
Fear of Mercury Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde is without a doubt the most talked about and feared astrologoical event of our postmodern time. This is true even though all of the planets other than the Sun and Moon have their own periods of retrograde in which they appear, from the perspective of someone standing on the Earth, to move backward. The ubiquity of this fear probably stems from the fact that most people, even those with no interest in astrology, have heard of Mercury Retrograde and the havoc it wreaks on our information-driven society.
And yes, many people experience frustration in travel, commerce in communications during the period that Mercury appears to do the backward mambo across the night sky. That said, a number of very vocal individuals employ their social media to blame every single negative thing that happens during these periods on Mercury. The little planet gets a lot of blame, even though there is plenty to go around. There are often numerous planetary retrogrades that simultaneously cause astrological mayhem when Mercury goes retrograde. At the time of this blog post, July 8th, 2019, Jupiter, Neptune and Pluto are all currently retrograde Some of those planets have a much heavier (and slower moving) bat to swing than Mercury’s delicate caduceus.
Mercury as the Psychopomp
Consider the mythology of Hermes/Mercury for a moment, before bemoaning the next retrograde period. In addition to being the “fleet-footed” god of commerce, the messenger of the gods and a patron of poets, crafters and thieves, Hermes/Mercury is also a psychopomp who guides souls to the afterlife. This means that when Mercury traverses backwards through the stars at night, we can use that time to reverse course and retread the path our souls have taken thus far. We can achieve this through intentional dreaming or dream walking.
In my opinion, looking backward and taking inventory in such a manner plays a crucial role in living a creative, magickal life. The bounty of this process can also provide material for artistic and magickal projects. Consider the work of surrealist artists and writers who plunder their subconscious minds, their deep past and the collective unconscious for material. These realms are also good sources for magick. Most importantly, studying our deeper layers can help us understand where we have been and where we might be headed. Mercury retrograde slows things down enough to do just that, if you take the right approach.
Astrologically, the planet Mercury signifies the abilities we possess to connect with each other through communication, commerce and artistic endeavors. Mercury rules the third house of communications, siblings and early life. If you have a strong Mercury in your chart, you know the push and pull that the scampish planet has on these pursuits as it phases in and out of direct and retrograde with his signature deftness. People with prominent Virgo or Gemini in their charts, in general, probably know this game as well.
If you don’t know where Mercury is in your chart, you can create a free AstroDeinst profile that will walk you through the steps. They even have a feature called AstroClick Portrait (under free horoscopes) that allows you to click on any part of your chart to learn what it means. It might help to know where Mercury lives in your chart because it could provide useful context for this ritual.
If you are not interested in reaping the bounty that your natal chart has to offer, you can still use the Mercury Retrograde Reverse Psychopomp Ritual to help open you up to the positive aspects of Mercury Retrograde: the slowing down of the hustle and bustle as well as the ability to communicate with a part of your consciousness that your deep memory enfolds. Hidden in the depths of the unconscious are the deep connections between the memories that make up our past lives. These connections, or synchronicities, are the stuff of both magick and art. This is why dreams are a goldmine for inspiration and understanding the inner-workings of our psyches.
A good time to start this ritual is at the onset of Mercury Retrograde and/or any day that Mercury is in Retrograde.
Mercury Retrograde Reverse Psychopomp Ritual
What you will need:
- Pack of Tarot cards with the Magician pulled out
- Sketchbook and/or journal, computer or other art supplies
- Yellow beeswax candle (a votive is great) any yellow candle will do
- An amethyst or other gemstone for dream recall
- Lavender, Peppermint and/or Clary Sage essential oils. Plain olive oil rolled into some of the herb blend works too!
- Mugwort, Lavender and Anise dried or fresh herbs
- Tea cup (incense burner, charm bag or ritual pipe)
Perform this ritual every night as you fall asleep for as many nights as you like during which Mercury is in retrograde.
Prepare a few days worth of tea in a big batch. When you blend the herbs, call them by name. Ask them to lend the desired properties to your tea.
Lavender – Herb of Mercury grant me peace protect me as I drift to sleep! Soothe me, body, mind and heart as I take the journey of my soul.
Mugwort – Herb of the Moon grant me deep and psychic dreams that I remember! Help me see the truth and have the strength to accept it.
Anise – Herb of Jupiter open my connection to the stars. As I walk through my dreams, grant me your protection and help me see beyond the veil.
The proportions are 1 tsp each of mugwort* and lavender with a star anise per cup of water. (Star anise is fairly sturdy and can be reused.) You can also use a pinch of aniseed for similar effect. This tea will be strong in terms of mugwort, which may have side effects and can be an allergen. If you have never taken mugwort before, check with your doc, do an allergy test and taper up, starting with a quarter teaspoon per cup of water. For each night you do the ritual, pour a cup of tea into your tea cup and drink it, with intention, for about an hour before going to sleep.
You can also do this ritual without the tea, if you don’t have access to herbs. Merely your intention itself can be a powerful magickal tool. If you are uncomfortable ingesting the herbs but would like to use them, you can make a sachet to slip beneath your pillow or burn the blend as an incense. I like to smoke these herbs in a ritual pipe. Provided that you have no allergies or problems with smoking, this is also an option.
On the first night of the ritual, dress your beeswax candle with your oil. Carve the Mercury symbol and any other relevant symbols or sigils into the candle and then rub it with the oil. If you’d like, roll the candle in some of the herbs. While you are dressing the candle, imagine yourself lucid dreaming, walking through your memories and past lives and then pulling the information gathered out of your dreams into whatever form you prefer.
Incant this Petition to Mercury (or Write Your Own!)
Light your candle and offer a petition to Mercury. You can also address a Mercury-related deity such as Hermes, Odin, Loki or Ganesha. If you work with other non-Mercury related deities, make sure to invite Mercury’s planetary energy into the ritual.
Hail Mercury, Patron of Travellers, Guide of the Soul!
Listen to my request as you dance backward through the starry bowl.
I ask you to retrace with me the blurred and forgotten steps of life,
And remember each hidden connection as it passes my inner eye,
So that I can see the part each detail plays within the whole.
And bring to light the secrets of the story of my soul.
Intention: I will remember my dreams tonight and turn it into magick/art (repeat x 3)
Extinguish candle properly, so that you can use it to repeat the ritual. Snuff with wet fingers or a candle snuffer.
Retracing Your Soul's Path
From this liminal space and with intention, place your artistic materials next to your bed. These materials may include your journal, laptop, sketchbook, knitting supplies, collage materials or whatever media you feel comfortable with. Leave the Magician card up, on top of the journal or on your night table. When you lie down to go to sleep, repeat your intention again, this time in your mind. Doing this right before going to sleep sets your intention hold your consciousness during your dream as well as to remember the salient points.
The ritual may not produce any dreams or memories the first night, but this ritual will open the door. Achieving lucid dreaming and remembering may some time. **Also, be prepared in case anything upsetting comes up. As with any magick, it is good to have a buddy to talk to. Maybe find someone with whom to do this ritual.**
Regardless of whether you remember your dreams In the morning when you wake up, pick another Tarot card from the deck and place it next to you as an additional point of entry into your subconscious mind. Write any details you can remember from your dream, interweaving the meaning of your card and how you interpret it within the dream. If you can’t remember the dream at all, start writing an interpretation of the card. Free associate this meaning with the thoughts and memories still floating in your mind.
Let these thoughts and images flow, fast and loose without considering the usual things like grammar or technical perfection. Though, try to keep it legible, if you are writing by hand. Also, attempt this “download” immediately after you wake up. The least amount of time between the end your dream and the start of your creative integration, the better. Repeat this ritual as often as you need through the duration of Mercury Retrograde. It may start you down a different path of understanding planetary energy and how to put it to good use. Please feel free to share any experiences or artistic expression in the comments!
*Exercise caution with mugwort. Though it is generally considered safe and has been used in a culinary manner for hundreds of years, it does contain thujone and other potential toxins. Use small amounts when dosing and don’t use for more than 10 consecutive days. Do not use while pregnant or breastfeeding or if you have known liver problems. Overuse of the herb may cause liver toxicity.