Herbalist perspective on Mercury Retrograde in Aquarius
January 14th - February 3rd 2022
Here we go again! At the time of this writing we find ourselves at the start of one of the most notorious astrological phenomenons: mercury retrograde. This transit likely gained its notoriety largely because it happens so often and tends to slow things down, which can be greatly challenging for folks who have been conditioned into the go-go-go, more is more, way of living so common to many people in the developed world. As astrologer Tyler Penor says- mercury retrograde is an opportunity to “re” everything: “re-think, re-organize, re-analyze, re-structure and re-plan.” In a world that prioritizes forward motion, this can be a challenge but as a frequent transit it can also be an amazing and vital opportunity for re-calibration.
Mercury from the Medical Astrology and Astrological Herbalism Perspectives
Generally we see the planets in medical astrology acting as the “what” - so the energetic quality that influences a certain organ system. The organ systems and parts of the body are indicated by the zodiac sign. Like any system of correspondence there are many layers of association and so the organ systems and body parts do also have a relationship to the planets. This may seem confusing at first but once you start to witness and understand the underlying patterns in all things it tends to make more sense.
As always we want to acknowledge that as students of Sajah Popham / The School of Evolutionary Herbalism this journal entry is strongly informed by his work.
The energetic qualities of mercury are cold and dry- like the Vata dosha of Ayurveda. An excess of cold and dry qualities can lead to dry/atrophy & wind/tension tissue states. These present in the body as stress, anxiety, dry skin, as well as organs that are lacking nutrition and therefore cannot function properly. This can also look like dry coughs or dry mucosa in any area of the body. If someone is experiencing a deficient or blocked mercury in the chart, we would expect to see slower nervous system processes like slower speech and ability to process things on a mental level, brain fog, poor memory, or even a larger problem like the nervous system degeneration we see with multiple sclerosis.
Mercury in Plants
In plants, we see hollowness as a signature of mercury and well as high volatile oil content (ie. your smelly aromatic plants!). Another mercurial quality can be small hairs as these reflect those of the cilia found in the respiratory tract. Cilia are the little hair-like structures that “sweep” mucus up and out of the lungs. Mercury plants tend to also express the vata dosha in that they are tall, slender, wispy, delicate maybe even feathery.
Other Mercury Associations
Mercury is the messenger, the ruler of communication and information exchange. As such mercury is generally associated with the nervous system; it is the primary system in the body responsible for the exchange of information both inside and out of the body.
Due to its rulership over the exchange of information, we can see how this planet can also be related to the sensory organs and areas of the body that are connected to the outside world, like the skin. Think about how incredibly sensitive the skin is and how it is densely innervated. It is also the largest organ of the body, and is the organ responsible for relaying sensory information about our environment. The skin is porous, letting things in; but also serving as a secondary organ of elimination, there is a lot of exchange happening in this organ!
Aquarius from the Medical Astrology and Astrological Herbalism Perspectives
Aquarius is a fixed air sign (earth of air) and it is ruled by both Saturn (traditional) and Uranus (modern). As such it also holds the qualities of vata in that it is cold and dry. In medical astrology Aquarius rules the nervous system, ankles, oxygenation of the blood, and aspects of the subtle body including the meridians (energy currents).
This Retrograde Is Asking Us To..
This is a time where we may experience the crossing of wires, literally with our technology and physically in the body. Our organs and nervous signaling between the organ systems may be challenged during this retrograde period.
The key to navigating retrograde periods with grace and ease is working with the energy, not against it. SLOW DOWN, our bodies are taking more time to process and integrate information, nutrition and healing. Our psyche wants to dream and vision; allow yourself to do this and release any guilt associated with taking time to rest and be slow. This mercury retrograde in particular your nervous system may be asking for a recharge. So take it. Rest when you need to, and don’t worry if you don’t have the regular mental bandwidth.
With Aquarius being the sign of innovation and liberation you may feel creatively inspired however this will likely be more of a time of internal innovation and creativity. You may find yourself being filled with a fresh perspective however it might not be the best time to go out and share your new ideas. Rather this energy is perfect incubation energy.
As an amazing time to reflect and re-vision, this transit is perfect for journaling!
Herbal Medicine for Mercury Retrograde in Aquarius
On the one hand, we may feel some overwhelm in our nervous system… like we need a sacred pause as our body asks loudly for some rest and rejuvenation. You may be a little more fragile at this time and while you may want to counteract the heavier energy with some extra caffeine, this is a great time to surrender to nervines and relaxants and take care of that nervous system of yours!
Milky Oat (Avena sativa) is an amazing nerve specific trophorestorative but it does require you working with it for an extended period of time- committing to working with it three times a day for this entire transit would be a great way to show your nervous system some love! While Milky Oat does come from the same plant as oat tops & oat straw… you will not get the trophorestorative qualities through preparations that use dried herb. The “milky”-ness comes from the latex in the fresh tops and its compounds are alcohol soluble. So you want to find a fresh tincture!
Of course our Unwind formula is perfect for the type of rest being invited during this transit. It is one of our most popular formulas for a reason. Like a hug and a deep breath to the entire nervous system. If you are the type of person who burns the candle at both ends, who has anxiety or insomnia; this is the formula for you. Use this tincture throughout the retrograde period to deeply nourish the nerves and bring in a sense of grounding & relaxation. It is phenomenal for easing stress related tension in the body.
A full dose (1 - 3 droppers) of this calming blend of lavender, skullcap, vervain and passion flower is used for sedation and sleep. It is especially useful for those who have issues falling asleep and staying asleep. In drop doses (1 drop - 1 dropper) it can really help anxiety and panic disorders. We have found this formula to be extremely useful in moments of overwhelm, panic attacks and in quitting smoking. The herbs in Unwind are:
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia): Lavender is relaxing to the nervous system and gently sedative. She is antispasmodic to nerves and muscles. Great for the overachievers, those with high standards of themselves and overthinking.
Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora): A bitter mint with cooling and sedative properties. This is a go to remedy for mild and chronic nerve issues from insomnia to fear and anxiety. Skullcap calms overactive senses that cause insomnia and anxiety.
Vervain (Verbena hastata): One of the most important plants to the Druidic magical practices. Its specific indications are anxiety; type A personality; making lists; neck and shoulder tension; a feeling of carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders; and digestive troubles caused by stress from the gut-brain axis.
Passion flower (Passiflora incarnata): This gorgeous plant is calming to the nerves and sedative. Passion flower is excellent at adjusting thought patterns and indicated for those who have a hard time sleeping due to a busy mind or circling thoughts. Passionflower brings tranquility into our body and mind, creating an internal environment to get high quality rest.
If you are feeling increased sluggishness to the nervous system is just too much for you and like you just can’t hang, need some stimulation but still want to take care of your nervous system in a healthy way we suggest Nootropics! Go figure.
If you are familiar with our work you may think really? Again? And we laughed when we were brainstorming what herbs would be helpful for this transit because they were the most beautifully obvious answer!
Nootropics are substances that enhance learning, cognition and memory, and like microdosing, have recently become quite popular. The word Nootropic comes from the Greek “nous” or mind, and “trepin” to bend. While there are many laboratory made nootropics available on the market that have become popular, especially in the biohacking community, we prefer to stick to the more organic world of plants.
These substances support brain energy, brain signaling, brain cell health and longevity, brain blood supply, brain waves, brain fatigue, and brain repair (aka supports the central nervous system). Consequently they can help us retain complex information, increase the speed of learning, improve emotional experience, and decrease anxiety. Our nootropic microdose blend contains:
Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica)
This low lying creeping plant is simultaneously unassuming and yet incredible. It Combats oxidative stress; stimulates neurogenesis; helps prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine, which improves mood and; improves cerebral circulation.
On a more esoteric level, in Ayurveda, Gotu Kola is revered as one of the most spiritual and rejuvenating herbs. It is said to improve meditation by developing the crown chakra, as well as balancing right and left hemispheres of the brain. Like in the west, in this system it is looked at as one of the main herbs used to nourish and revitalize both the nerves, brain and adrenals. In doing so it can be used to treat both physical and mental fatigue. ⠀
Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus)
Lion’s mane is a mushroom that actually grows in the forests of BC! However the majority of it used in formulation is cultivated in the US and China. We love lion’s mane for its ability to stimulate brain cell regeneration as well as enzyme production that promotes Nerve Growth Factor, which leads to nerve regeneration and has been shown to be effective in treating alzeihmers! Like gotu kola, lion’s mane also promotes neurogenesis
(Not a herb but super helpful here!)
Finally, we really love the use of B-Vitamins in conjunction with these herbs. While they aren’t herbs themselves, they are incredibly useful as nootropics. Of course there are many different B Vitamins all with slightly different actions, but in general they help with production of neurotransmitters. They can also be stimulating as they work on cellular energy production, which is helpful when it comes to productivity and a general sense of thriving. We like these because this isn’t the kind of false energy, like that which comes from caffeine, which can be depleting. Rather, increased energy from B Vitamins comes from deep within the cell and is a result of genuine increase in vital force.
Retrogrades are a time to Re-vise, Re-flect, Re-vision, Re-volutionize your life! Especially when they are in Aquarius. Email us if you’d like to work our Nootropic Formula (contains all above ingredients & then some). Available by request only.
This formula is only available via email. Email us at email@example.com to get your microdosing journey started!
*if you are new to microdosing, make sure you check out our free guide to make sure it is a good fit for you* Download HERE
Other nootropic herbs:
Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri), Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba), and Tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum)
Other herbs to support the nervous system:
Lemonbalm (Melissa officianalis), Maca (Lepidium meyeni), and Ashwaganda (Withania somnifera)
Lastly, because this transit has the potential to be very drying we wanted to mention some of our favourite moistening herbs:
Marshmallow Root (Althaea officianalis): A highly mucilaginous herb that infuses the mucus membranes of the body, including those of the digestive system, urinary tract, and respiratory system with moisture. Most effective via cold infusion: soak the pieces of the root in cold water overnight and drink in the morning (heat destroys the beneficial mucilage).
Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra): This incredibly sweet herb is another gem for providing moisture to dried out mucosa, like those present with a dry and scratchy throat. It is also an adaptogen, helping us reprogram our stress response and achieve adrenal balance (and is also found in the Nootropic Formula!).
Plantain (Plantago major): It's likely that you have some plantain growing in your yard or neighborhood; this plant loves to grow in poor soil and the cracks of sidewalks. Another plant that is rich in mucilage with demulcent qualities. Demulcent herbs are healing and restorative to tissue, perfect for the vata types and those with dry conditions.
Laura & Maz