This challenge requires a little effort, but it’ll be fun, and it’ll (probably) make your retrograde go more smoothly.
It’s that time again! Mercury goes retrograde (i.e. appears to go backwards in the sky) on January 14th, 2022.
During Mercury retrograde periods, we are asked (or ok, required) to restructure, revise, revisit, and rethink many of our procedures, stories, paradigms, relationships, choices, and habits.
And Mercury rules communication and commerce, so during Mercury retrograde periods, it’s not uncommon to run into issues with either or both.
A lot of people complain loudly about this astrological occurrence. Personally, I prefer to see Mercury retrograde periods as opportunities for intensely positive healing, renewal, and transformation.
When Mercury first goes retrograde on January 14th, it’s in the sign of Aquarius. On January 25th, it moves back into Capricorn. In the words of astrologer Joanna Martine Woolfolk, “Aquarius is the sign of hopes and dreams, friends and wishes.” It’s also a humanitarian sign and a sign of creative and unique solutions. So until January 25th, we’ll be revisiting and reexamining these topics. Then, when the moon is in Capricorn, our Mercurial revisions will be more about career, goals, self-cultivation, daily habits, and good old-fashioned hard work.
Here’s the idea behind the Mercury Retrograde Challenge: instead of sitting around dreading Mercury retrograde, we celebrate it, dance with it, and work magic with it. And it turns out Mercury responds well to such acts of co-creation. Participants in past challenges have agreed with my observation that they make Mercury retrograde easier and even, possibly, actually…pleasant?
But you don’t have to take my word for it. Instead, you can give this challenge a try. (And be sure to let me know what you think at any point during the challenge in the comment section below.)
So: are you in? If so, I suggest that you – right now – set an alert on your phone daily, starting on January 14th. Also be sure to bookmark this page.
Ok: alert, check. Bookmark, check. Yes? Good! On with the show.
Oh, and don’t worry if you miss a day or two. Just show up the next day and give it your best.
Day 1: Friday, January 14
Rekindle a Friendship or Flame
I know. Calling someone on the phone is hard. Many of you are too young to know this, but for some reason, it was completely easy in the 80s and 90s. But now? It feels like giving a toast at a wedding.
But actually, the hardest part is the dialing and waiting during the rings. The talking part (whether you’re leaving a message or talking to a live person) is usually easy and fun.
And this is a challenge after all, not a cakewalk. So start strong. Show Mercury you mean it. Call up that old friend you haven’t spoken to in a while. Or possibly that old flame (obviously, if and when appropriate). Then leave a message, say hi, plan a coffee date – whatever feels right.
Day 2: Saturday, January 15
Make Your Space into a Sanctuary
Today, take some time to make your home into a relaxing sanctuary. What simple changes will help you establish sacred space? Consider clearing clutter, adding houseplants or fresh flowers, playing music, and/or making the space smell good with incense, candles, or essential oils (but be mindful of small children and pets who can be sensitive to such things).
You don’t have to spend all day. Just choose one or two ways you can make your home into a place that supports, soothes, and inspires.
Day 3: Sunday, January 16
Make Cupcakes (Or Just Eat One)
Under a Cancer moon, comfort food is the ultimate self-care. If you’re the baking type and you have time, make some cupcakes (or cookies or muffins), and possibly share them. If you’re not the baking type or you don’t have time, buy yourself a delicious treat of your choice and eat it mindfully.
Let each bite be an expression of self-kindness and self-love. Revel in the sweetness (or savory-ness) of life. Feel that you are nourishing your soul.
(And if you need to rethink your relationship with diet culture, this would be an excellent time.)
Day 4: Monday, January 17
Take Action Then Take a Bath
This is from my 2022 Your Most Magical Year Yet! Planner:
It’s both Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and the Full Moon in Cancer. Today, take action on a civil rights cause you care about: sign a petition, write to a representative, or donate to an organization that fights for racial equality.
This evening, light a white candle in your bathroom and add a cup of Epsom salt and a quarter cup of sea salt to a hot bath. (If you don’t have a bathtub, you can skip the salt and turn on the shower.) Call on the Great Goddess to bless the water with vibrations of healing, purification, and love. Then get in. Feel your heart opening as you soak and be open to ideas for how you can be of even greater service to the world.
Day 5: Tuesday, January 18
Edit Your Wardrobe
Imagine this: you open your closet. You look inside. And you see absolutely nothing but clothes you love and clothes you love to wear. Oh, and shoes! Shoes you love and love to wear. And nothing else. Not clothes that don’t fit. Not clothes that make you feel blah. Not shoes that give you blisters or make you feel bored of being alive. Only clothes (and shoes) that amplify your sparkle and your joy.
Today, you’re going to make this dream a reality. 1. Take everything out. 2. Only put it back if it fits the vision described above. 3. Donate the rest.
Day 6: Wednesday, January 19
Delete Old Photos
Isn’t it amazing how many photos seem to pile up on your phone in like one day? But it’s been more than one day, hasn’t it? So deleting all the photos you don’t want or need might take a little bit of time, but it will be worth it.
Every time I clear digital clutter from my phone, it feels exactly like I’m clearing clutter from my mind: old beliefs, expectations, and mental loops. And clearing old photos, specifically, makes room for beautiful new experiences and perspectives to flow into your life with ease.
Day 7: Thursday, January 20
Clear Out Your Wallet And/Or Purse
Handbags and wallets obviously hold your money and credit cards. But they also, from a metaphysical perspective, symbolize and energetically affect your wealth. So clearing out your wallet and/or purse is a powerful act. It’s a way of tuning into greater affluence and opening up to a more positive financial flow.
Whether you’re cleaning out a wallet or a purse, empty everything out. Then, only put it back in if it’s something you want to carry around with you. (But clean it first if it’s dusty, oily, or sticky.) And if it’s not something you want to carry around with you, throw it out, recycle it, or (if you want to keep it) put it somewhere else.
Day 8: Friday, January 21
Get Rid of Old Relationship Energy
Are you still carrying around any old stuff related to an ex partner or friend, like gifts, photos, stuff you shared, and stuff that’s actually theirs? Whether or not these items seem to have an emotional charge, the fact remains that they hold the energy of that past relationship. Which is why getting rid of them helps you release old patterns and opens you up to positive new relationships.
If you have any such items, today’s the day: recycle, throw out, donate, or return them to their rightful owner.
Day 9: Saturday, January 22
Clean Out the Fridge and Kitchen Cupboards
It’s here! My favorite Mercury Retrograde challenge day: the kitchen clean out day. (Don’t ask me to explain! I don’t understand it either.)
So here’s what you do. Pull everything out of your fridge and freezer, one section at a time. Clean the section, then get rid of the stuff you don’t want, put the other stuff back and move on to the next. Repeat with the cupboards.
Obviously, some food you don’t want will be open, spoiled, or expired, in which case you can compost or dispose. Other stuff may be unopened and shelf stable, in which case you can donate to a food bank. (Here’s a site that will help you locate local food banks.)
Day 10: Sunday, January 23
Listen to Music and Clean
What kind of music are you most in the mood for? Play it (through headphones, earbuds, or speakers – whatever works) and clean your house. Take your time and get into a zone. Let it be more of a hobby or pastime than an item to cross off your to-do list. Enjoy creating harmony and beauty in your space.
Establishing a comfortable, clean, uplifting space is a powerful act of self care that will support you throughout the rest of the Mercury Retrograde cycle.
Speaking of which: we’re just about halfway through!
Day 11: Monday, January 24
Honestly Compliment Three People
Today is National Compliment Day, which is (and this is true) actually a thing.
Compliments – when they are honest and also not creepy – are beautiful gifts to give, to loved ones and strangers alike.
To make sure your compliments are indeed not creepy, steer clear of body talk. Nothing about someone’s body shape, size, age, or general appearance. (While we’re at it, let’s go ahead and never comment on someone else’s body for any reason.)
Items of clothing are often ok, but you can probably do better. Personality traits, sure! How happy someone looks? What a funny joke they just told? Excellent.
Be on the look out for things you genuinely appreciate: then speak them aloud in a loving way.
Or, you can also text, email, or call a loved one to say, “I’ve always loved the sound of your laugh,” or “I was just thinking about that song you wrote last year. You are so talented,” or “I just wanted to say that you are an incredibly amazing human and I am lucky to know you.”
Give at least three compliments today.
Also, if you receive a compliment, accept it graciously. Say “Thank you,” and smile. Let it absorb. Remember that you don’t have to respond with nervous conversation or immediately bounce another compliment right back to the sender.
Day 12: Tuesday, January 25
It’s a great day to unfriend some folks.
I’m not talking about being rude. I’m talking about unplugging from people you genuinely don’t want to be friends with on social media. Maybe you don’t really know someone, or can’t remember having met them. Maybe they were never nice to you in high school and they’re not nice to you now. Maybe you thought your friendship would evolve, but then you moved away. I don’t know all the maybes. Only you do.
Some people, you may just want to mute.
It’s also possible that you don’t want to be on certain platforms anymore, or any platforms at all. And if that’s the case, good for you! Say goodbye and close your account(s). Or just up and disappear.
The idea here is to get clear. Ask yourself: who do I want to follow, and where? And also: what is my relationship with social media? Do I even like it anymore? Or, is there another way I can interact with it that will be better for me?
Day 13: Wednesday, January 26
Channel Your Envy
This is a fun bit of shadow work that is good to do periodically.
Make a list of everyone you envy, including people you know and people you don’t know. Then, next to each name, write what exactly what it is of theirs you wish you had: their job, their relationship, their effortless style, or whatever.
Finally, look at each quality or condition you wrote and ask yourself: how can I embody that or call that in?
Envy (or jealousy) is an amazingly useful treasure map to the things we want but we haven’t yet allowed ourselves to admit that we could actually have.
Here’s another way to describe this paradigm shift: what if the people on your list were role models rather than rivals?
Day 14: Thursday, January 27
Do Something Differently
Today, take a different route to work.
Or, part your hair in the middle instead of on the side. Another option would be to eat an apple with lunch instead of an orange. Or to take a yoga class instead of going for a run.
Just one such simple change will support Mercury retrograde’s goals of shaking things up, opening your mind, and generally shifting your energy in positive ways. But feel free to do more than one thing differently if you feel so inclined.
Day 15: Friday, January 28
Eat Something Different
Today, try visiting or ordering takeout from a restaurant you’ve never been to. Alternatively, try a new recipe. The more adventurous, the better. Alone is fine, but if you can enlist a partner or friend to eat with you, that’s even better.
Day 16: Saturday, January 29
Cleanse Your Space
Venus goes direct today. Observe this energetic reset by cleansing the energy in your home. You can do this with sage smoke or with sound.
If you’d like to cleanse with sage smoke, open the windows. Light a bundle of dried sage so that it’s smoking like incense and hold it over a dish or plate to catch during embers. Then move around each room and area of your home in a roughly counterclockwise direction, cleansing each perimeter with the smoke. Then extinguish the sage by sealing it in a jar and close the windows.
If you’d like to cleanse with sound, ring a chime or bell in each room and area of your home. Another option would be to shake a rattle. You could even bang a wooden spoon on a pot or simply clap your hands. Whatever you choose, imagine the sound unsticking stagnant energy and lifting the vibe.
Day 17: Sunday, January 30
Clear Paper Clutter
While it seems like paper clutter should no longer be a thing in 2022, the fact remains: between junk mail, non-junk mail but mail you don’t need anymore, holiday cards, receipts, notebooks, magazines, planners, class notes, and last year’s calendar, paper piles up.
So today, wherever it may be, clear that paper clutter out. Shred it if it’s got sensitive info on it. Otherwise, recycle. And if you need to, get a filing box. Or organize your filing box. What I’m saying here is, do you need to do.
(Only 4 days left to go!)
Day 18: Monday, January 31
It’s the dark moon today, and you’ve been working hard. Today, whenever possible, don’t go the extra mile. Rest.
Day 19: Tuesday, February 1
Get Yourself A Red Rose
Celebrate and welcome this fresh new wave of energy by getting yourself a single red rose and placing it in your space.
Day 20: Wednesday, February 2
Today, write a poem, paint a picture, compose a song, sing, dance, sew, or engage in another creative outlet. Whatever most excites you.
To bypass your inner critic, tell yourself this: you don’t have to do it well. You don’t even have to finish. You just have to start. (But once you start, I mean…you may as well finish.)
Day 21: Thursday, February 3
Do a Card Reading
Mercury goes direct today! You made it.
Today, shuffle an oracle or tarot deck. When you feel intuitively guided to stop shuffling, deal the first three cards off the top, left to right.
Card 1 (on the left) will represent where you were before Mercury Retrograde.
Card 2 (in the middle) will represent how you changed and evolved during Mercury Retrograde.
Card 3 (on the right) will represent what to focus on moving forward.
Take your time and consider the meanings of the cards. Then free write in a journal or notebook for art least one full page about what the cards mean to you and how they might apply. Just let your pen move across the page. Don’t overthink it and don’t stop writing.
Look at what you’ve written as you continue to contemplate the cards. Now distill the messages you’ve received into a sentence or a bulleted list. Also be open to any new information that wants to come through. What important new perspectives have you gained? What have you learned about yourself? What will you focus on in the days and weeks ahead?
Thanks for taking on the challenge! I’d love for you to let me know how it went by chiming in below.