This is my Mercury Retrograde song, and quite apt for the time being:
Mercury retrograde isn‘t that bad; at least I don‘t think so. Actually, I like it. It is a really good time for me in many ways, because I have Mercury retrograde in my natal chart. This is a time in which I find the world a bit easier to navigate, since things aren‘t as linear as we would like them to be, since this is a time when direct, honest communication without all the filter and the frills is needed and appreciated.
Now, Mercury retrograde can especially bring difficulty in our world, which relies heavily on so many chains of communication to keep afloat. Our world is built upon a series of dominoes of communication, such that one knock means that the next falls over. However, this isn‘t three weeks of fearing the future ala Y2K. Planes will not simply fall out of the sky. Yes, emails will get lost and plans suddenly changed, and even though this retrograde is a seemingly inopportune time to apply to summer internships (because you know that applications and emails will simply be lost on some accounts, appointments will be cancelled and rescheduled, etc), I will anyway, and I will expect that I will have to follow up.
One of the opportunities Mercury retrograde presents is an opportunity to cut through the bullshit, and if you have a natural inclination toward that type of communication style, this transit is a time to seize it.
Okay, but what if you don‘t have Mercury retrograde in your natal chart? You can still navigate this transit and thrive. For instance, we are heading into a new moon in Capricorn and Mercury is retrograde, and the new moon will be in Capricorn…and the Sun in Capricorn is conjunct Pluto in Capricorn. Mars is squaring Mercury, which is now stationary. Fuck you sideways? As astrologers, we don‘t have to be simply observers; to understand the cycles of life on Earth as interpreted through the movement of the heavenly bodies is a skill we can apply to our daily lives. If we know how to tailor our communication styles to working with our clients, we know how to do this elsewhere in the world.
We know not to start new projects, but to plan during a waning moon. We know that a new moon in Capricorn is a time of getting out in the world, producing things, go out into the harsh world and make it happen, to harden the heart enough to gain focus on what needs to be done. To gather the clans. This is a time in which you gather your cabinet and the people who can help you get ahead.
What is Mercury retrograde is good for?
Reconnaissance is the military term for a preliminary survey of the enemy and enemy territory in order to plan an attack. When Mercury goes direct, it is time to put forth thoughts and plans into the world. Whereas we may normally go out into the world and put our thoughts into words without fear that they will not come through correctly, during a retrograde, it is entirely possible to be misunderstood. Humans do not actually think in words; we interpret the pictures, feelings, intuitions, and sensations perceived into words so as to better express ideas to others who then decode our language and create thought-forms from them. During a retrograde, it can be more difficult to code these forms. Temple Grandin, who has helped shed insight into how the mind works through her own experiences with autism, gives us a clue into how minds work apart from our use of language. She is not so strange or different; her mind works very efficiently, but it seems inefficient when she has to use language to share those thoughts and images. She is, like Tesla and Einstein before her, naturally capable of seeing whether or not a plan will work in real life based on what she sees on paper.
The problem is that language, no matter how nuanced or elaborate, is always inefficient to some degree. To say that one is happy is a shallow expression of the feeling; in English, there are something like 100 words for happiness, each slightly different, each one with a slightly different emphasis on the nuanced feeling of happiness. When one is observing the world, doing reconnaissance, there are times when there is much to take into account. The adversary isn‘t simple; the adversary shows love to their fellows. They laugh, they eat, and they sing. They are very much convinced that they are the ones who are right. If watching the enemy and observing that they celebrate a holiday with genuine merriment, one might assume based on that alone that they aren‘t dangerous to you or others. In order to decide whether or not they are a genuine threat, all things must be taken into account. Would they celebrate that holiday with you? Do they have guns? Would they shoot those guns at you? Even though we prefer our communication to be simple and our decisions to be quicker and more certain, this isn‘t always possible.
Mercury retrograde thinking is like that. There is a nuanced world, and it is customary to focus on bits of it at a time and make momentary decisions based on what is observed right now. There is more at the heart of the matter than what appears on the surface, and for those who are not used to dealing with more than one thing at a time, or not being able to line things up, this can be problematic.
But it can also be a blessing. For example, I have to lose weight and am joining a weight loss study. Even if I don‘t qualify, I will still do it. However, I have noticed that the times in my life when I got fat are times when I had to share food choices with people I‘ve lived with. When it is completely up to me, I am a rather adventurous eater, trying all manners of food. I love exotic fruits and vegetables, fish, offal, spices and herbs. I am not naturally inclined to snack, and I prefer to walk everywhere on my errands or go to the small grocery store with the local produce a few times a week rather than load up a car with everything for the next week or two. I loathe giant grocery stores, or faux health stores like Whole Foods that mostly sell an image of well-being. When I live by myself or only have to feed myself, I lose weight easily. But, for whatever reason, I keep repeating the life patterns I grew up with, and live with people who make poor food choices, and I give in and eat and live like they do. So, while I can do a very mercurial thing like follow an exercise schedule or count calories, this won‘t work, because the heart of the matter is something different.
And often, the heart of the matter requires more from us when we change things. If I want to lose weight, I cannot simply feed only myself when I share a home and a budget with another person who would just as soon run out to Burger King than eat his eggs without toast. It is harder to make the other person, who is less flexible, conform to a new way of eating. Usually, they need to see results.
It is not enough to recycle your mineral water bottle; one should stop thinking that bottled water is anymore clean or healthy than what you get from the tap. I have been saying this for years, and finally, we are realizing that often, bottled water is just tap water from somewhere else. Organic fruits and vegetables will not detoxify your body; that is what your kidneys and liver are for. It is not enough to get on the treadmill and run for an hour a day; this is stressful on the body, and the cortisol released from that will make you hold onto visceral fat. Lifting weights five times a week is not enough if you spend the rest of the time sitting in front of the television.
This is Mercury retrograde thinking. It is uncomfortable, and when expressed, tends to offend or bother people. During the transit, people are more prone to existential thinking, and seeing threads connecting. Whether or not they want to admit it, or see it, is an entirely different story. For example, during this transit, a man finds that he cannot get a hold of his new girlfriend: phone calls are missed, text messages unanswered, and because of this, he is stood up. She apologies; she genuinely forgot them. However, the real story is that she wants to break up with him. The thread connecting these things is that she allowed other things to take priority over the relationship, or that she is afraid of intimacy. These are the things she should talk about but isn‘t talking about, because they would be offensive to the man. She would also rather not admit to herself that she hasn‘t been a terribly nice person, especially if she generally thinks of herself as a nice person.
Or, for example, an appointment needs to be rescheduled over and over again. Both parties seem to miss each other. The truth isn‘t that something came up, or that there is a sudden meeting, but rather, one party isn‘t ready for the meeting, and the other is tired of working because they have been advising others for weeks now and need to contemplate. Neither person is going to admit this. Imagine making an appointment with your doctor and saying that you had to reschedule because you are afraid of what he will tell you, or imagine that a counselor you are seeing reschedules simply because they are burned out and looking forward to taking a rest that weekend. These things are the truth, but they will not be said.
Someone expresses an idea in thought or writing, and it is just an idea, perhaps a rhetorical one. Someone else takes great offense and lashes out. I see this sometimes in law school — it takes a while to learn that not everything is about you, and at 22, you usually don‘t realize this yet — where the instructor says something rhetorical meant to elicit a response to disprove or negate the idea, but instead, someone gets offended.
These things are more likely to happen during Mercury retrograde because there are problems manifesting that we would rather not directly address.
So, there are few ways to take advantage of a retrograde. One is to be a straight shooter and go straight to the truth. This can have mixed results, as it often has mixed results for those who have natal Mercury retrograde. Another is to go with the flow and accept the problems and work with them. Get out of your own head. I need something from x person, but how is x person feeling?
Look across enemy lines again. They are real people. What are they fighting for? During the Vietnam Conflict, the American soldiers were not informed that much of the real reason why the Vietnamese were fighting them was not because they wanted communism as much as they wanted an end to colonialism, and American presence sought to maintain vestiges of colonialism. A subsistence farmer is still a poor farmer under any economic system. What do terrorists want now? What does ISIS want? ISIS doesn‘t want a godly world. Far from it. They want personal power through the belief that they are superior to the rest of the world. They have become a psychopathic version of their imaginary friend, whom they call Allah. What do Christians in America want when they claim to be persecuted because they have to allow others religious freedom? They don‘t want religious freedom. They want power. They want a world that is the same so they can think they are right and good. If they really wanted religious freedom, no one would care about prayer in schools or being wished a Merry Christmas. Those who would say that our constitution says we have freedom of religion, not freedom from religion, would not be happier in a world in which those of us who are not Christian are openly practicing paganism and demanding that winter solstice is a national holiday. Also, they don‘t understand what the preposition of actually means, but I digress.
Mercury retrograde makes things go awry and makes people uncomfortable because it makes us deal with truths that are not being openly expressed. Those born with natal Mercury retrograde are forced, in this lifetime, to not mince words. This makes communication hard for us normally because getting along in the world means tailoring communication to what would please others, or the group, not necessarily what is observed or expected. A few times a year, there are three-week periods in which truth becomes unavoidable. But nothing comes from nothing. There are no freak accidents. Even when a plane suddenly crashes, there is a reason why. It was not properly maintained. The pilot let fear take over, or chose to ignore the truth and carry on as usual. Someone decided that it was socially easier to fudge the weight limit than to ask people to not take so much luggage or for heavier passengers to buy an extra ticket.
Natal Mercury retrograde in action: I once had to sit on a tarmac for an hour on a commuter flight because the plane was too heavy. I had just come from a flight from Beijing, and had been on planes for about 18 hours by then. I still had another four hours until my destination, which was ever increasing due to the unknown delay. But I knew what it was from observing the other passengers checking in. The other people wondering why we weren‘t told why we were not moving. I told them that the plane was too heavy. This is often the reason why we sit on tarmacs without being told why we‘re waiting. They‘re too busy trying to remedy a known situation and don‘t want to admit the reason why unless they have to do it. The other passengers told me I must be wrong; something mechanical is wrong with the plane. Of course, these passengers were morbidly obese and brought on way too much luggage, or were traveling with those people. They also called me honey, which pissed me off, so I turned to those people and said exactly why the plane was too heavy. No, I must be wrong, and more over, that wasn‘t a nice thing to say!
They thought I was being rude. I was rude. Very rude. But physics takes no regard for the feelings of others, and a plane cannot be safely flown when it is over the weight limit, and is it not rude to knowingly bring too much weight on a plane and inconvenience or endanger other passengers? But, I was right, and finally, when someone else agreed to spend a night in that city and take another plane the following day (my final destination was to a tiny regional airport. It only had three gates), we left. But the people behind me were still grumbling about me. Sure, we all know the reason why we couldn‘t leave, but they were angry at me for telling the truth. Even though the truth was staring them in the face, I put words to the truth, and this was a sin.
It is not true that people value the plain truth. When people want the truth, they are actually asking for an interpretation of events that will be most pleasing to them. But the truth exists regardless of how we frame it, and during a Mercury retrograde, what we see as inconveniences, setbacks, and miscommunications, are actually cracks in a facade where the truth shines through. So, if you cannot tell the plain and absolute truth all the time, and no one can truly fault you for that, at least for now, realize that what you see as problematic is actual a revelation of a truth. What you do with it is up to you.