Maia Toll
Warning! Warning! Mercury’s gone Retrograde!

You’ve heard the Mercury Retrograde warnings: don’t get in a fight with your boss, don’t get in a fight with your spouse, don’t get in a fight with your mom (in fact, if you’re feeling fight-y, give yourself a time out in a cave high in the Himalayas), don’t sign contracts, and be sure to wear a hat, ’cause your computer’s bound to implode and get viscous electronic goo all over your just washed hair.

Mercury Retrograde is like Darth Vader: stalking us through the year, making our lives miserable for the amusement of the dark forces of the universe.


Before you drink the Kool-Aid (yup, I’m going full 80’s on you, probably because every house we’ve looked at this week was built in that era of questionable architectural taste), let’s get the low down on what Mercury Retrograde really is:

When you watch the night sky from our position on Earth, you’ll notice that the planets seem to move along the horizon. But WHOA!, every once in a while, Mercury (the planet of communication) moves backward, covering territory it’s already crossed. This reverse loop de loop is Mercury Retrograde. But note that neither our orbit nor Mercury’s has actually changed. Mercury’s retrograde action is an illusion caused by our earthly perspective. And this is actually important!

How does this back-walking energy affect life here on Earth?

Mercury Retrograde is the cosmic equivalent of a cow chewing its cud, more like Ground Hog Day than The Empire Strikes Back. It’s a time that everything gets regurgitated and needs to be re-chewed before it's digestible. Click To Tweet

So a really fun time to be house hunting, she writes, with her tongue firmly lodged in her cheek.

Let’s rewind for a bit of context:

Once upon five years ago, we moved to a small, hundred year old cottage in Asheville, NC. This charming spot had a wide-armed Oak towering over the back yard, a half acre for the dogs to romp, and a kitchen designed to cause chaos and grease fires. Add to that knob and tube wiring, asbestos shingles, popcorn ceilings, and ancient, painted-shut windows, and you’ll realize what we really signed up for was five years of living in a constant renovation project.

Of course, just like with every house I’ve moved into (there was a gorgeous Victorian in the Mount Airy neighborhood of Philadelphia which was the exception), I declared this my forever home. I knew every paint color because I’d chosen it and every plant in the garden because I’d planted it. So imagine my surprise when, as winter turned to spring, a new seedling popped up. It seemed like a weed at first, something to dig out or at least prune back. But it was persistent and wound its way into my soul whispering, it’s time to move on.

At first we denied it, then we put it off. “We’ll look for something new at the end of the year,” we said. But it was too late. This new seedling was strong and it weaseled its way into our hearts. We dreamed of having space to spread out so my next book manuscript wouldn’t be lost amongst the Herbiary invoices and breakfast plates. We imagined inviting friends to Asheville and being able to say, come stay with us.

So, as Mercury began its backward dance in the sky, we began our house hunt. Some were too small, some were too big. They were too far from town, too close to neighbors, needed too much work, or were so sterile I could never call them home. Finally, we walked into a house that felt like it was ours. We looked at each other and smiled. This was it…

… until Andrew took a turn around the grounds and found a utility company antenna. Still, we imagined putting in a bid, hoping the antenna was an out of use relic.

When the call came from our realtor that she’d tracked the antenna back to the water department and learned from the energy company that it pulled a hundred dollars worth of power a month, we knew we had to walk away. I’m ridiculously sensitive to electric and wi-fi frequencies. Our just-right house was now an impossibility.

We continued looking and found another place that made us smile. We began to prepare a bid and, in a moment of inspiration, I said to Andrew, “Mercury goes direct tomorrow at 10 am. Let’s wait til then to put in our offer.”

The next morning at quarter after nine my phone rang. It was our realtor:

“I know we’re about to put in a bid, and I don’t want to throw a wrench in the works, but I just got a call from the realtor for the Mountain Lane house. You’re not gonna believe this, but the water company came yesterday and took down the antenna. Seems they suddenly realized they were paying a hundred dollars a month on an antenna they weren’t using.”

This is house hunting in Mercury Retrograde. It’s a chance to revisit, rethink, and create space so serendipity can happen.

We revisited the Mountain Lane house before putting in the other offer. Standing in the foyer, I asked Andrew, “Well, which is it?”

He answered, “The other house makes me smile with my mouth, but this house makes me smile with my eyes.”

And the eyes have it! If all inspections go well, I’ll have a new “forever” house before you know it.

When I got home, I texted my friend Ash Sierra of Ritual Botanica. She’s an herbalist and astrologer, the perfect person to laugh with over the ups and downs of house hunting in Mercury Retrograde. She texted back:

Mercury retrograde is like that gut feeling you get ten minutes down the road that sends you back home to find you’ve left your altar candle burning too close to the curtains. If you ignore that feeling, your car just might break down, eventually getting you back home in a different way. Merc Retrograde gets a bad rap, doomed with technology malfunctions and communication misunderstandings. But if you listen, you’ll realize its gifts: it slows forward momentum, dimming the everyday rational mind so that we can pay attention to our intuitive self. It opens up space for tuning into Spirit, checking in to make sure our path forward is on the right track, that our relationships, projects, emotional needs are all being met in a way that resonates true and healthy with what our soul requires. Pay attention to the mishaps, they offer keys to leading our best life.

Yes, that.


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