With Mercury remaining in Libra until November 2nd due its current retrograde motion, it’s certainly as good a time as any for a thorough discussion of the pros and cons of this particular astrological placement! Libra is a sign known for its social graces and when Mercury travels here this brings a sense of refinement to the mind and mouth, resulting in conversational poise and finesse. I think of this energy as very European in a way; two airy kisses on the cheek coupled with a “Dahling, we simply *must* do lunch!” It’s the Libran way to be charming, polite, and agreeable – if occasionally a bit flowery – and when Mercury travels through this sign these qualities come through in how we communicate. Yet there are two sides to every coin, as every astrological energy has its strengths and drawbacks, and this one is certainly no exception…
On one hand this placement blesses our words with a natural ease and elegance – Mercury is a smooth-as-silk, silver-tongued little imp when visiting Libra; one who may be fond of using honeyed words punctuated with terms of endearment like “sweetie”, “hon”, “sugar”, or “darlin’”. Mercury makes a good conversationalist when found in this sign because it seems to have a natural knack for being able to say things that put others at ease. Libra’s natural consideration for others allows this planet to find common ground quite easily in any discussion, while good manners, mindfulness of etiquette, and a preference for pleasantness help in gliding delicately away from verbal faux pas and tempestuous topics. When found here, Mercury can also make a skilled negotiator/mediator who knows how to reach agreements through compromise and thinking about the win/win scenario.
But for a balanced discussion (something Mercury in Libra *adores*, BTW) of this energy, we must also look to the other end of the spectrum. Lo-Fi Mercury in Libra is often guilty of saying things just to be liked or popular – it wants everyone to think of it as an ally and so generally isn’t the best to call in a dispute because it will sometimes play both sides of the fence to avoid taking a side. “Peace at any price” can be the Libra motto, and this sign’s penchant for Switzerland-like neutrality in word or mindset can be an asset or a liability depending upon how “hands-off” it is regarding the peace process. Libra is a Cardinal sign and ergo generally at its best when playing the role of an active participant rather than a passive one who “doesn’t want to get involved”. Additionally, it is important to note that true neutrality doesn’t entail flipping from one “side” to the other; rather it’s not playing any side at all and actively trying to facilitate harmony by convincing others to meet at a halfway point. And while excellent at seeing both sides of the coin, sometimes this placement would be put to better use in taking a solid stance about an issue rather than waffling to and fro trying to say all the right things to all the right people. We can’t please all of the people all of the time, and sometimes Mercury in Libra may be better served by voicing what it thinks to be fair and socially just, as this contributes to greater strength of character.
There is also the matter of how Mercury in Libra generally won’t give an unvarnished opinion, either – it does tend to dress it up with a spoonful of sugar, so if you’re looking for the straight dope about something you may want to avoid inquiring with this placement altogether! Moreover, Mercury can sometimes lack a capacity for conversational depth when found here – its focus on keeping dialog “easy, breezy, beautiful” means that instead of digging deeper into an issue, things may often be glossed over. No discussion of Mercury in Libra would be complete without mentioning how it has occasionally been known to say saccharine-sweet things with a fake smile as well – faux compliments (“Oh, that dress looks greeeaaat on you!”) are a distinct possibility with the Lo-Fi expression of this energy!
Since we have a basic description of this energy out of the way, some additional considerations are warranted with this planet also retrograding until October 9th. Mercury in Libra is very cognizant of interpersonal relationships and I think this period overall will have many of us re-thinking certain unions and alliances as well as our communication dynamics with others. What if we’re tactful and considerate about addressing an important issue and we’re just not being heard? Perhaps the verbal velouté Mercury in Libra possesses may lend itself to situations where we’ve been mistaken for soft, and now it may be time to switch up how we convey ourselves to others.
Furthermore, there is yet another angle to consider: Do you know that some people have absolutely no idea how to take it when somebody says something nice to them? It is entirely possible for ordinary and routine social graces – such as being polite, making easy conversation, offering up a sincere compliment, or chatting about what we have in common with someone rather than discussing our differences – to be taken the wrong way, too. Have you ever had your sweetness mistaken for phoniness, or had your recipient misinterpret amorous intent behind your kind words? Some can also be distrustful of those using elegant language, thinking them snooty/pretentious, or that their lack of plain-spokenness somehow equates to the harboring of some kind of hidden agenda.
As someone with a good pinch of Libra, I hate to suggest that it does behoove us to moderate just how much sugar we use when communicating ourselves to others at times, because I do believe the world is a better place whenever we opt to say something lovely rather than ugly. But that said, I have also encountered the troubles that can come of being complimentary, considerate, and pleasant. Unfortunately, more than a few times common courtesy has landed me on the receiving end of some serious side-eye (mostly from other women), or has been (mis)interpreted (mostly by men) as some kind of come-on, and neither response is particularly pleasant to field when your intentions are good. Is common courtesy really so uncommon a quality in this day and age that people have a hard time accepting that others want to be nice to them for no particular reason other than they simply enjoy being this way?
All things being equal, on a personal level I prefer demonstrating kindness whenever possible unless given a compelling reason not to, because you never know what somebody else might be facing in life. A sweet word or two paired with a genuine smile – while seemingly itself such a trivial thing – can mean so much when somebody is having a rough go of it. So if I have something nice to say, I tend to err on the side of coming out and saying it rather than immobilizing myself with worry over whether or not somebody can take what I’m saying at face value. I suppose this all goes back to the Golden Rule and doing my best to speak to others as I would wish to be spoken to, which is actually a pretty good motto for Mercury in Libra. This is the kind of energy I love to put out into the world at large even if it doesn’t always work out the way I might intend – I try to think about how it makes my day a little bit more pleasant to have a delightful chat with a stranger or the lovely frame of mind it puts me in whenever I’m fortunate to be gifted with a random compliment because it reminds me to do the same for others. But sometimes with Libra, these kinds of inclinations can (for whatever reason) give others the wrong idea…and if this seems to be repeatedly the case, in certain instances it may be worth re-thinking our approach to get closer to that mythological “Goldilocks spot” Libra is ever so fond of.
Along this vein, this 3 week long retrograde period carries a simultaneous caveat in the respect that it can also be a good reminder that sometimes no matter how well we might control our words, we absolutely cannot control how others may (mis)interpret them. I find myself asking this question a lot lately: which is more important, content or intent? Many misunderstandings arise simply because we don’t take the time to ask one another for clarification – we assume things based upon our own filters and sometimes we’re unaware of just how much this can differ from what somebody truly means to convey. These days I find myself acutely aware of just how much energy it sometimes requires to explain ourselves, so if someone doesn’t have the courtesy to at least ask me what I mean, I generally won’t go out of my way to clarify myself. If someone has the wrong impression about something I’ve said, I have learned to be more or less comfortable letting go and allowing them to think whatever they want without necessarily trying to change their mind, because sometimes the expenditure of time and effort it takes to clear things up just doesn’t balance out in the end for any number of reasons. Communication is a two way street after all, and it’s somewhat peculiar the implied onus is often put upon the speaker to phrase themselves perfectly rather than for the listener to also be mindful of the lens through which they view the interaction – whatever happened to the idea that “it takes two to tango”? Being a good listener is equally as important as being a good communicator, no?
All this said, it may still be worth taking an extra second here or there to occasionally clarify intent or context in consideration for how our words might be received; provided we find this easy enough to do. If our words fail to give the desired impression there is certainly nothing wrong with tweaking how we communicate ourselves to others as understandably it is the only variable we *can* control. But when it all boils down, ultimately we still can only do our half. No matter how much we may try to embody Mercury in Libra’s “smooth talker” essence by attempting to custom-tailor the perfect words for every occasion, through no fault of our own another person’s filters, mindsets, and/or perceptions hold equal capacity to jam our transmission nonetheless. And in the event this happens, it may be worth re-thinking the situation to carefully weigh the mental energy required to finesse the communication dynamic vs. just letting it be whatever it is. I think one valuable memorandum Mercury retrograde in Libra provides is there is only so much verbal bending and twisting we can or should do to accommodate or please others, because we are not Gumby. I can’t help but wonder if those who would ask or expect us to do so would be willing to reciprocate in kind…