As we enter July we are well into Cancer season, the cardinal water sign of the crab which, simultaneous with the solstice, marks our transition into summer. Cancer is ruled by the emotional and watery moon. The Cancer crab has a soft and tender inside and is protected by a hard shell—representative of how the sign of Cancer expresses itself in the world. Cancer is soft, nurturing, womb-like, and has strong boundaries. On July 23, the sun will enter the fixed fire sign of Leo. Leo is ruled by the Sun, associated with Lion, and tends to be known for its creative and performative presence. Mercury, a planet of information, knowledge, communication, perception, listening, and learning will begin a pre-shadow retrograde period on July 7, while the sun is still in Cancer. Later in the month, on July 26, Mercury will station Retrograde. Mercury will be Retrograde for nearly the entire duration of Leo season, stationing Direct on August 18th. What is a retrograde? Most planets have a retrograde cycle. In fact Mars, Saturn, Jupiter, and Pluto are all currently retrograde. A Retrograde happens when a planet slows its rate of travel and therefore appears to us here on Earth to be moving backwards (there is no actual reversal of movement). During a retrograde cycle the vitality of the planet is focused inward, allowing for a different expression of its attributes. Mercury retrograde can be a wonderful time for deeper listening, examining, and gathering of information from our unconscious; the planet Mercury helps us to clarify our thoughts and our voice, and to discern what is truly important. In 2018 all three of our Mercury retrogrades will happen in Fire signs. The first one happened while Mercury was traveling through cardinal fire sign Aries earlier this year. This upcoming Mercury Retrograde will occur in fixed fire sign Leo, and the third will happen in mutable fire sign Sagittarius in November. A look at how the fixed (note: stubborn) fire element of Leo expresses itself can help us understand how Mercury might act during it’s retrograde in that sign. Mercury will be influenced by playful, proud, determined, loyal, confident, creative and generous Leo. These attributes we could easily ascribe to a pride of cubs: imagine a playful confidence encouraging an inner exploration of your unique voice. And while a fire sign is more inclined toward outward expression, fire is also about renewal and redemption. This is a time to meet with the fiery material of our desires, and apply new visionary solutions to problems. As is needed in the world, it is a time to be brave and pioneering. To ally with you in this potent astro weather The Herb Shoppe is releasing a ----Mercury Retrograde Survival Kit---this month, just in time for Mercury Retrograde in Leo! The kit will contain allies of support for communication, creativity, introspection, and nervous system. Included is a lapis lazuli stone, customized flower essence, tea bags of our Here and Now tea blend, Tension Relief salve, and a small zine all about this upcoming mercury retrograde!