Here are some astrological highlights for the next few days…
* The first ten days of the month are busy. Between May 1st and May 3rd, Mercury in Aries is moving through squares to Saturn, the South Node, and Pluto in Capricorn, while Mercury is also making a trine to Jupiter in Sagittarius and a sextile (with mutual reception) to Mars. That’s just the first three days!
* So it’s a busy period for Mercury. Mercury and Mars, really, since Mercury is in a very cooperative relationship with Mars right now.
* Watch for an analytical, cutting, and incisive energy in these first few days. It’s a good time for problem-solving, handling multiple different situations with tact and intelligence, moving through obstacles by using street smarts, verbal intelligence, or getting something done through powerful language, negotiating, etc.
* Given the squares from Mercury to Saturn, the South Node, and Pluto, it’s also possible that we become quite rigid, strict, harsh, or severe in our thinking right now.
* On the other hand, this transit is productive, focused, executive, strong-minded, and strategically sound.
* As Mercury gets involved with Pluto, it’s also possible that we will see mental/verbal outbursts, revealing or dark information coming to the surface, verbal assaults or bullying, etc.
* It’s also a great time for a shift in awareness or perception, for coming to see the truth, as it is.
* Watch for paranoia, obsessive thinking, overly rigid or severe proclamations, and grandiosity. Remember that Jupiter is in the mix of all of this, making everything just a little bit bigger!
* It would be normal to feel frustrated, inflamed, or agitated right now, and for the next few days, but beware of trying to use reason to convince someone out of a position they didn’t use reason to get into in the first place.
* The positive of these transits is likely coming to final/hard decisions, bottom lines, etc., or in coming up with innovative solutions to complex problems, simplifying things in the process, or to finding the mental rigor to finish or complete something under pressure.
* And these are just the first few days of May!
Prayer: Give us the intelligence by means of which we may come to you, naturally relinquishing those things that are unnecessary or that prohibit our devotion.
Here’s what to watch for:
* Mercury entering Gemini means that Mercury will be in its own home sign, and despite moving under the beams of the Sun will be in its own chariot (sign) protecting it from the worst effects of combustion.
* Meanwhile, Venus entering Taurus is also now in her own sign, which means the very long back and forth through her exile in Aries is finally over.
* Look to the Gemini and Taurus ruled houses of your birth chart. These areas of your life might be empowered in the next weeks as both Mercury and Taurus grow in power and effectiveness when in their home signs.
As the Sun pulls into a long and slow opposition with Saturn, which will be in effect much of the rest of this month, you may notice the following archetypal tensions:
* The tension between sunshine and duty
* The archetypal enmeshment of wisdom and ignorance
* Of illumination and darkness
* Of growth and decay
* Of heroism and action vs inaction or isolation
* Of unity vs division
* Of inclusion vs exclusion
* The death, decay, or downfall of men, leaders, father figures, mentors, executives
* The controlling, dark, side of power
* Authoritarian attitudes
* Discipline and wisdom
* Enlightenment with or without action, principles, and consistent disciplines
* Eliminating or restricting life force energy from someone or something
* Solar expression blocked, thwarted or challenged
* The slow progress of revelation
* The cross the hero bears
* Confined by circumstances, desiring to shine but being hemmed in by recurring troubles
* The mental and analytical/rational powers pitted against spiritual, moral, or philosophical “principles”
We will keep our eye on this transit over the upcoming weeks as we head toward the Summer Solstice!
Prayer: Teach us to recognize the light by means of which we see any darkness.
So instead of trying to decode its meaning, for the first day of its tapping I simply spent time with the bird. I noticed that I was thinking of dead people, and my first sense was that a person, not a bird, was trying to say something to me. However, each time these thoughts came up I dismissed them and tried to recall Hillman’s wisdom: don’t rush to decode or make this bird into something self-serving. Don’t kill the messenger with conceptualization. What this bird “means” is something happening right this very moment, not some idea or words to be extracted FROM the bird.
But still…I kept feeling as though the bird was an emissary or messenger tapping on the behalf of a dead person…someone trying to communicate with me.
Then yesterday the bird was there all day again, and my wife took the photo below. At one point, whether I dreamed it up or my subconscious has a good sense of humor, I heard James Hillman’s voice in my head saying, “It’s actually ME. I sent the bird just to give you permission to not take my words so literally. Sometimes decoding riddles in nature is exactly what’s needed in order to understand something that can’t be spoken in human language. However, there can be more than one meaning to these messengers. Trust me on this. Oh, and for the record, I’m not the dead person who sent this particular bird. I’m also not “IN” the bird or anything like that.”
Then last night I had a dream that an old friend of mine wanted to come into my house. He was homeless and out on the street, and suffering from what appeared to be schizophrenia. He said, “I’m stuck in a loop that won’t stop repeating.” His eyes were filled with tears. He told me that smoking too much pot had led him from one bad thing to the next and that for as good as marijuana legalization might be for the crime rate it’s going to create other problems that many people aren’t aware of yet. He suggested that for many people the plant is actually more like a band-aid than a true medicine. I suggested he lay down and rest on my couch, and he started crying and said “thank you.” He looked afraid.
This morning I woke to the sounds of the same Cardinal tapping at the window. In fact I can hear his song and intermittent tapping outside as I write this. We put out bird food in all the feeders the first day he came, but today I plan to spend some time in prayer and make a small peace offering to the Cardinal and invite him to keep speaking to me…both in terms of his simple song and his beautiful red, and in terms of the dreams, visions, and images that he has inspired.
So how does all of this relate to today’s astrology? Well one of the archetypal titles we astrologers give Mercury is that of the “messenger.” One of Mercury’s traditional topical designations was also related to divination, and most of us know that the associated Greek god Hermes was also a psychopomp and guide of souls. Furthermore, many of the earliest astrologers attributed the original secret doctrines and teachings of astrology to Hermes Trismegistus, or Hermes thrice great. We have to remember, in other words, that astrology is a language that lives, and conceals itself, in nature. It’s a language that teaches us how to read AS we learn how to read it. It’s a language that teaches us to speak, AS it speaks its multiple meanings. It’s a language that retains its ambiguities deliberately so that we might learn the difference between the living and the dead. It’s a language that encourages us to seek for the correct answers to its riddles and rewards us when we find the right answer by teaching us ever more complicated and subtle exceptions held within the language.
The more we learn this secret language the less the language stands in for something “other” and the more it embodies the most obvious appearances…the plain truth of what is tapping on our windows or chirping all around us, all of the time.
Prayer: Teach us the heavenly language. Put our minds at rest with the words of life.
Again Mercury is highlighted by both the Moon in Gemini and her approaching aspects to several planets in Virgo. With Mercury in the sign of the scales (Libra), and separating from an opposition to Uranus in Aries, the following themes might be showing up right now:
* Receiving a difficult message, being confronted, an intervention
* Learning that politeness isn’t necessarily authentic or actually supportive
* A shocking message or series of experiences that jolt or awaken
* The call to reform, reorganize, or adjust our thinking or perceptions
* Challenging negotiations, tact, strategy, and mediation
* Translating something, explaining, or arbitrating
* What is support and what is enabling?
* Lifestyle reform or technical improvement
* Being offended as a necessary part of some important change in thinking or living
* Understanding principles, abstract concepts, rules, laws, or governing systems of logic or information
* Learning a language or translating some element of a language to someone else
* Programming and being programmed…the benefits and shadows of how our thoughts and ideas influence each other
* Exciting new ideas, pristine, balanced, beautiful new thoughts
* Invention, progress, technical revolution or groundbreaking insights
* Simple, earthy, facts…learning how to communicate them with tact, subtlety, and grace
As it turns out, today I am translating a large body of research into curriculum plans for the next astrology program I’m teaching this fall.
Prayer: Bring us back to the spirit of learning and curiosity…expand our minds and teach us things we have no idea about.
Meanwhile, Mars is about to conjoin Uranus in the sign of Aries, as both simultaneously square Pluto. Quietly in the mix of this very intense dynamic is a trine to Mars/Uranus from Jupiter in Leo. A list of things to watch for and then a brief meditation on “mummies,” “oaths” and “oath keeping.”
What to watch for:
* Injuries from the past, wounds from the past, patterns from the past resurfacing
* Preservation or protection of the past
* Flag waiving
* Surges of energy, plans of action, swift changes or reactions
* Breaking new ground
* Confrontation with authority figures
* Competitive or athletic bursts
* The subject of loyalty as a major theme
* Racial/ethnic/gender/historic/ancestral pride and conflicts pronounced
* Independence and freedom versus negotiation and relationship
* Spring cleaning
* Impulse leads to accidents
* Unexpected discoveries, breakthroughs, windfalls, injuries
* Eruptions of unconscious material, possibly “past life” or “ancestral/family” patterns erupting
* Strong erotic/sexual desires or experimentation
* Life and death situations
* A history of violence, a pattern or cycle of hostility, a chance for peaceful resolution
* Inheritance and legacy versus pride and prejudice
Currently the planet Jupiter in the sign of Leo is acting like a bridge between the past (south node in Aries) and the future (north node in Libra), though getting Jupiter to help us toward the north node will take some work.
As Jupiter in Leo is something like a very large cat, and the north node in Libra represents the scales, there is an obvious but also enigmatic Egyptian mood in the stars right now. The Sphinx were large cat guardians of royal tombs, and the god Anubis (a dog headed deity), who also protected graves was said to be born of Bastet, a cat headed deity. Anubis was also a protector of sacred oaths, the god of mummification, as well as the deity that ushered souls into the Halls of Maat, where the soul (depicted by the organ of the heart) would be weighed against a feather to determine its fate in the afterlife.
Contained within these images there is an important set of clues that can help us navigate the current celestial weather toward the north node in Libra. First a few media mummification images:
* Ancient Chilean mummies at risk of turning to black ooze
* 1,000 year old Buddhist monk found mummified inside a golden statue of the Buddha
* 3600 year old mummy discovered in Egypt, but the identity of the body, thought to be a government official, is still unknown
Because we tend to get stuck in the past (south node), we have to see some of these images ironically in light of their astrological timing. How does the desire to preserve the past actually keep us trapped in a rigid mode of imagining? While the desire to mummify, memorialize, honor, and keep the past is common to most religions and cultures on the planet, throughout the entire history of the planet, some of these images also ask us to consider the futility of preservation. Eventually even mummies turn to black ooze. Eventually secrets are discovered or hidden truths revealed. Eventually the monk meditating inside the golden statue might want out, and eventually the Egyptian mummies’ names and ranks are forgotten.
We are religiously obsessed with the ideas of lineage, destiny, and dynasty. But what do these things amount to if the soul has always been, and will always be, eternal? What good are these careful preservations of the past once liberated from the Pharaohs notion that lineage and dynasty are what grant the soul its immortality?
As the planet Jupiter trines the south node and the Arian planets square Pluto in Capricorn, the drive to establish something immortal is very strong right now, and yet with the north node in Libra we are also coming up against the judgement of our work and worthiness, the weighing of the heart on the scales of truth. For those whose work has been for the sake of the soul’s freedom and evolution, rather than a stubborn clinging to the egoic past, there is an amazing opportunity for success and forward movement right now. The judgement moment of our coming eclipses around the Libra/Aries axis will grant some of us exciting new opportunities for growth and rapid evolution. At the same time, some of us will have to accept some deep disappointments, failures, and hard learning curves. Old dynasties are preparing to crumble…old mummies are turning black, and secret treasures once held inside the stones of the past are now glowing through to offer us their boons.
It’s a time when new oaths are being sworn and old oaths are expiring; the scale of truth as our witness. Hard as it is to swallow, dynasties unravel specifically because the process of mummification is not ever about the literal preservation of the soul but rather the imaginal preservation of the imaginal. The imagination wraps around itself whenever we recognize the calling of our soul and we swear that sacred oath to remain true to the calling until its time is up and it returns to black ooze again, back to the dark sea of the unconscious, the soul’s eternal memories of itself shining like white strips of bandaged light, floating on the waves.
Prayer: Help us to hear the words of our new oaths, and help us stop trying to preserve or fight for an old pattern whose time is up…help us to be guardians of the dead, but not thieves or hoarders of the soul.
Image by courtesy of Mary Harrsch, at creative commons image licensing
Mercury in Aquarius before going void of course later this afternoon.
Here’s a very particular story playing out in the planets right now:
What happens when a relationship has been shaped and maintained by one person’s hard work, sacrifices, or leadership? What happens when that person dies, or an unexpected shock, heart attack, injury, or accident occurs? What happens when the strategic ruthlessness of our relationships is revealed because the plan no longer works and we’re left with the deeper reality of the relationship: it’s not much to us when it’s not getting us what we want…
When relationships are strategies rather than soul bonds..
When the “provider” role or image suddenly leaves us and we have to think about who we are without it…
When the King suddenly falls ill….is his sudden cardiac arrest a reflection of the fact that he is loved for his utility, not his heart? Can his sickness awaken within us the need for a bigger heart?
Does our fear of being on our own, alone, responsible for our own survival, create relationships whose destinies involve hardened arteries and breakdowns of circulation…cash flow problems and late life ER horrors…shock paddles to an initial coldness that’s now turned to clear ice?
Don’t let Libran kindness fool you…the scales are also the instrument of death and fate in our relationships…
Over the next few months it’s very possible that we’ll see more shock and awe in our closest relationships or families…these wake ups come just as spring wakes new life from the soil and just like plates move below the earth and rumble the surface. The deeper question within each of these shocks: how have fears and selfish strategies hardened the hearts of our relationships?
Media image: millions of people watch the new season of House of Cards…fascinated by the dark face of a political marriage…a dimly lit mirror is held up to our faces.
Prayer: Help us breathe new life and truth into our relationships..may our heartless strategies crumble so that the spring fires of life might return stronger than ever.
Image by courtesy of John, at creative commons image licensing
Things to watch for today, and then a deeper explanation of the south node of the Moon.
What to watch for:
* Controversial new ideas challenging the status quo
* Ego stand offs
* Something is coming to a close, something is finishing or finalizing
* Strong progressive ideas about sexuality/gender
* Breaking new ground
* Going it alone
* Standing up to someone..or letting it go?
* Reconciling with anger/frustration/rage/irritation..understanding its past/exploring its roots
* The return of something challenging from the past
* The need to confront someone from the past or confront a pattern that won’t go away
* Backward is the new forward
* Dramatic new discoveries or creative breakthroughs
* Heightened and sustained periods of creative insight
* Sexual experimentation
* The pull between conservative or traditional focus on achievement and progress, versus the need to break free from norms and forge a new path
* Heart versus the head
* Detached big picture perspectives versus in the moment impulses
* Seeing the forest from the trees and vice versa
As Mercury opposes Jupiter today, from Aquarius to Leo, we are seeing the theme of outsiders voicing their opinions to those in power or those whose ideas or thought structures are outdated or in need of a fresh perspective. The Leo/Aquarius axis almost always invokes the dichotomy between the group and the individual, or the status-quo and the need for individuation. Sometimes Leo carries the burden of being our most unashamed self, courageous in the heart, and other times it’s Aquarius who asks us to set aside what others think of us and step into the role of the outsider or rebel. The overall question for this transit might be: how do I communicate the uniqueness of who I am, authentically, without either too much or too little concern for what others think of me?
Looking more closely today at the south node of the Moon we can gain a little deeper insight into today’s transits. The south node was traditionally thought of as the “tail of the dragon,” compared to the north node which was called “the head of the dragon.” Though there are many different interpretations of the meaning of the nodal axis throughout the history of astrology, one simple idea that persists is that the nodes present something like the story of the soul, where the south nodes gives us the soul’s “history,” and the north node its future. Whether or not we believe in literal past lives or some larger evolutionary metaphysic is perhaps unimportant. I prefer to focus on the nodal axis as a kind of mythic narrative running through our lives. In addition to the nodes telling a story in our birth chart, they are also telling a story in the day to day sky. Right now with a congregation of planets in the sign of Aries near the south node of the Moon, we are each being called to look at these subjects, as well as their history in our lives: independence, youth and youthfulness, anger, autonomy, aggression, rage, freedom, selfishness, individuality, competition, strife, violence, courage, and pioneering and obsession with accomplishment.
How do these subjects have a place in your life right now? Through childhood and adolescence, through family and ancestry, through former jobs or relationships, to strong mentors or famous dead people…how are these themes showing up for us and what kind of history do they have?
By contrast to the feeling that we’re “going it alone,” or that “my individuality matters first,” or whatever other fiery Arian themes are most pressing right now, there is also the call of the north node in Libra, inviting us to images of cooperation and peace, harmony and team work, balance and consideration, wiser judgment and equality, rational balance and careful planning, sophisticated compromises and scale balancing truths. Why is it so hard for some of us to find these qualities right now? Why does it feel like everything is on fire? Why so much pride and so much investment in the ego? Why are we perceiving everything as a challenge? Why the fighting and foot stamping?
The tension will continue to rise as we reach the Arian season’s lunar eclipse in these signs, at the same time the Uranus/Pluto square is intensifying.
To be clear, it’s not that there is anything wrong with these Arian qualities, but sufficed to say right now they have a history, and we’re here to work more deeply into the resolution or understanding of their history more thoroughly so that we can also learn to embrace more peaceful and diplomatic ways of being.
At the same time, the south node is also about “mining” the past for gold. So we’re also here to dig very deeply into these Arian themes, and in concert with Jupiter in Leo discover bolder and more fiercely independent or creatively authentic aspects of ourselves. And then the question of the moment, again, becomes how to best communicate, distribute, share, or openly express these qualities when they are subversive or different from the status-quo?
Prayer: June bug skipping like a stone, with the headlights pointed at the dawn…we were sure we’d never see an end to it all…(Smashing Pumpkins)
Image by courtesy of Gioia, at creative commons image licensing
In the meantime, Mercury is stationing this week in sextile to Saturn, who is also reaching his station point. Is there something we’ve reached our limits with? Are we fed up thinking about something, or do we need to make some changes to our routines or habits? Are we looking for a more coherent system or structure for our lives? Are we finding ourselves wanting to focus or concentrate on problems or tasks but then quickly finding them to be too depressive? Mercury stationing in relationship with Saturn is sometimes a bit like a rebel getting dragged in by the ear to listen to the wisdom or instructions of a wise old man. Either this or maybe t’s like a student focused very intently on a problem that he doesn’t really care about. A problem he has to solve or work through before he can get to what he really wants to be doing, which is more care-free and creative.
The Mercury/Saturn sextile has the power to make things clear, focused, slow, and concentrated, but also heavy, restrictive, stuck, and dogmatic. It has the power to revolutionize the way we think, speak, perceive and communicate, but it also has the power to make our thoughts rigid, consumptive, and oppressive. We also might find that something we’ve been thinking about or dwelling upon is reaching its natural expiration date. We’ve reached our limits with something and soon our focus will be changing…we can almost see it but first we need to live through the decay.
Mental or communicative fatigue might be high right now as well. For example–you might prefer the silent company of friends, family or lovers right now rather than rousing conversations, debates, or lots of planning and sharing.
Sometimes its better to see the current transits in images:
* An old man asleep at the wheel, manages to make it home anyway
* Quiet under cold wind
* Serious thoughts passing like dreams
* A check list floating in a puddle
* A revised blue print sitting on a sunny desk in an empty office
Prayer: quicken our slowness
First it’s important to look at the aspect itself along with the reception between the two planets. Though the sextile is a harmonious aspect (in the same family as the trine), sextiles still involve a bit more tension or stress than a trine and are generally thought to represent various opportunities for cohesion, heightened awareness, and positive change, though not without some doing. As the sextile is related to the number 6 there is generally thought to be a numerological connection with both hard work and productivity. So that gives us our first clue…over the next couple of weeks while Mercury stations in sextile to Saturn we will have plenty of opportunities to work and find productivity around whatever Mercury and Saturn are up to in their respective signs (we might look at our birth charts to get even more specific).
Next we need to look at the signs and the planetary dignities or relationships of the dignities to one another (this is often called looking at the planetary receptions..how the planets in their signs receive each other). In this case Mercury is in the sign of Saturn’s rulership (Aquarius), but Saturn is in the sign of Mercury’s detriment (Sagittarius). This could mean a variety of different things, but here are a few ideas that stand out:
* No matter how open, inventive, progressive, or revisionary our thoughts or ideas might feel right now, it’s possible that they are still being covertly ruled by a more polarizing or rigid view of truth…
* We may come to realize that there is no way out or around something…even our most inventive thoughts may only be leading us in circles…somehow this bleak and break down realization leads us to stop caring so much about certain problems or the need for their solutions, which creates an immediate gateway to something different
* Even though we are free or open thinkers something might be trying to establish a stronger sense of definition or importance in our lives…like someone whose usually fairly ambivalent about something (some issue or some idea) coming to realize they are actually quite convicted about it
As Saturn was traditionally the God of duality and opposites, his tendency is to frame things in terms of either “the problem of the opposites” as a whole, which is really a problem he has with himself (hence the brooding, isolating, melancholic, dark moods of Saturn as well as his polar opposite exalted Libran desire for balance or the perfect harmony between the opposites), or as the problem between one particular thing and its opposite (either the war for one thing over the other, or again the perfect balance or golden mean between them). Where can we go where Saturn is not? This is why Saturn rules that existential dread, that heavy sense of limitation and constriction, that feeling that there is no way out, Sartre’s “No Exit.”
Whenever we see a problem and it weighs on our imagination, calling us into careful measurements, revisions and precise decisions or commitments, negation and focus, and taking it all very “seriously,” very “concretely,” we’re in the land of Saturn. Though it’s tempting to see the problem as Saturn himself and our commitment to finding a creative solution or breakthrough something else, really the entire process is Saturnine. With more critical awareness of this a few things might happen…
* We might recognize the imaginal nature of both our problems and our solutions…this gives limits to our understanding of problems and solutions alike and hence changes our relationship to both.
* We might recognize the virtue of a problem as well as the limits of a solution, which can lead us into what the soul really wants…which is a deeper focusing on a problem itself…the isolating depths of the problem itself…until its reached its own limit
* We might give up for a while and then suddenly find something else is more interesting to us anyway
Whichever way we slice it, the idea of impenetrable problems as well as solutions that are actually still reflections of the same problem will likely be part of our lives for the next few weeks.
Prayer: take us into the blackening focus, the isolation that limits our limitations
Image by courtesy of Jeremy Keith, at creative commons image licensing
A few fun facts about Mercury retrograde to start…
1. Did you know that the Mercury retrograde cycle, in its entirety, lasts up to 8 weeks? The actual retrograde period of the cycle is roughly 20 days, every 4 months.
2. Did you know that Mercury retrogrades 3x per year, sometimes 4?
3. Did you know that roughly 24 out of our 52 weeks in a year are spent with Mercury in some aspect of its retrograde cycle?
4. Did you know that Mercury only takes roughly 88 days to orbit the Sun?
Sometimes its called the “moon of the sun” because of this fact.
5. Did you know that Mercury is never more than 28 degrees apart from the Sun’s sign and position in the zodiac? This is why you’ll always see Mercury either in the same sign as the Sun or generally one sign behind or in front of the Sun in the zodiac.
6. Did you know that Mercury retrogrades happen in successive signs of the same element, rotating backward through the zodiacs elemental trigons (signs of the same element) over the course of approximately 6 years? So for example, with this Mercury retrograde we are now entering fully into the retrogrades of the air signs (we got a mix of Libra/Scorpio last retrograde as Mercury was making its shift from water into Air, but now we’ve fully entered the air signs with Aquarius).
7. Finally, did you know that the observations of ALL of these qualities of Mercury, over time have contributed to our mythic understanding of Mercury’s archetypal domain?
In other words, Mercury retrogrades aren’t really that special. Their rhythm, regularity, and peculiarity is as old as Mercury himself. In fact, most of what we know about Mercury is taken from the fact that Mercury is constantly moving backward and forward, around rather than straight through, indirect, backward, and round about. Mercury is the messenger, whose comings and goings and fast circles of coded thought are reflected by his helmet of invisibility and his winged feet.
Mercury retrogrades are less about Mercury doing something different than usual, in other words, and more about people getting a glimpse of what Mercury is always up to in our lives. He is always carrying backward messages, strange synchronicities, double meanings, and encrypted symbols from the unconscious. He is always reversing our plans, foiling our certainties, and re-routing our comings and goings. During retrograde periods, in some ways, it’s as if we simply become more aware of the sneakery and deception, more aware of the double talk and the multiplicity. Mercury retrogrades increase our inhibitions…we become more cautious, more aware of Mercury’s movement…like we can almost see his invisible coat tails flying around the corner in front of us, now behind us. On the other hand, sometimes the sudden shifting and turnabout creates within us the need or desire to do the same thing. We shift, review, or revise thoughts and ideas, reconsider plans, contracts, or commitments. We might change or start something suddenly or impulsively, without seeing the trickery. We’re being set up for a prank, a loop-de-loop, but we rush past the warning signs and before we know it we’ve found our head up our ass and our shoes on the wrong feet. We drop the coffee, accidentally delete the file, and run out of gas on our way to the office. At some point we stop and say, “What is going on? Nothing is going right.” And if we persist, generally the knot gets more tangled, but if we sit with things we might just find a creative way through the mess. A sudden light bulb, a burst of laughter, and the knot wasn’t even a knot..it just looked like one. A simple solution gives way to foot loose and fancy free all over again.
You see the point of Mercury retrogrades isn’t about going inward, or being cautious. It’s not about not starting new things or holding back from signing contracts or buying electronics. It’s not about revising or revisiting things. These are all just the residues of something deeper. Really what it’s about is learning how to live, see, think, and act Mercurially. This means becoming better listeners. Becoming creative thinkers. Allowing for more space in between thoughts. Hearing the voice of inhibition and simply not moving anywhere until we get a clearer sense of what’s being said or why we’re being asked to pause. Living Mercurially means learning to discriminate between empty information and radical or charged information..information that is actually saying or speaking something to us. Living Mercurially means we remain alert and humorous with an eye for the ironies and absurdities. We learn how to see through the literalness of ideas, choices, and actions happening around us and into the variety of meanings and the diversity of perceptions. When we do this, revision becomes a way of life. When we do all of this, then the re-routings and messups of Mercury, which are actually happening all of the time (remember that nearly half of the year Mercury is in some phase of its retrograde cycle), become constant acts of negotiation and creative interpretation (lest we forget that Hermes is also the god of hermeneutics and translation).
Mercury is the psychopompos, the guide of souls. During these retrograde cycles, what’s really being asked of us is that we recognize or develop our relationship with Mercury in general. It’s a time to remember that our thoughts are not always our own, and our decisions and perceptions are in part MERCURY’s thoughts and MERCURY’s guidance. When we get too literally identified with our thoughts and perceptions, we start believing that it’s our minds and our intelligence that are making all the choices or that have all the information. We feel responsible for everything. We forget that thoughts and perceptions, information and decisions, communication and language, are the presence of Mercury before they are that thing we love to call “me.”
Mercury retrogrades help us to engage with Mercury more consciously by recognizing Mercury as Mercury. But even then, respect for Mercury, an actual respectful relationship with Mercury, will not attempt to overpower or make Mercury TOO conscious in our lives. Doing so would be to forget or deny Mercury’s helmet of invisibility and his winged feet. Trying to make anything too conscious about Mercury would take away Mercury’s ability to guide us through the constant re-routing, teach us through the undoing of certainties, and deceive us through misdirection. Mercury will get the better of us over and over again, no matter what our relationship with Mercury is like, in other words. So no amount of advice or talk about Mercury retrogrades will change that. In fact it will only play into Mercury’s hands. It’s like playing a game with someone and announcing what your plan will be to avoid their maneuvers. Not only is it a little dumb, but it’s also not Mercurial in spirit.
Last but not least, if and when we are tricked by Mercury it’s generally a good idea to have a sense of humor about it rather than bowing down in some reverent prayer position. Like all other deities, Mercury is often an ambiguous figure. Not everything Mercury has to say or offer us is necessarily better than some other piece of wisdom or advice or guidance from another god or planet. Furthermore, if we only see Mercury as helpful, his guidance always benevolent, then we’re not allowing for Mercury to be who he is…wily trickster, thief, sly guy in the night, deceiver, smooth talker, bullshitter, liar, etc.
Oh, and one last thing, watch for the stations. When Mercury slows down to stop, turning either retrograde OR direct, that’s usually the time when the crackles and feedback start coming through the speakers. Almost more important to be cautious and alert during those times, in my experience, than the actual retrograde periods, or the times when Mercury is moving swiftly in either direction.
Prayer: Now we see him, now we don’t, help us to stop fussing about Mercury retrogrades and starting developing a relationship with Mercury instead.
Image by courtesy of Ignacio, at creative commons image licensing