Maybe it’s the food coloring in the M&M’s I’m scarfing, or the alteration of my brain waves by the cold milky fluorescent light over the nightstand in our hotel room, but I’m feeling…astrological tonight. I know that not everybody shares this belief, but, well, tough. Hey, you surfed on over here, remember? Thank you, by the way. You do have an open invite into my little corner of the world, and I appreciate that you accepted it.
Among us head-in-the-clouds astrologers, there is a widely-known concept known as “retrograde”. Used in a sentence? “Mercury is retrograde for the rest of this month.” (Which, incidentally, is true.)
Retrograde is when a planet appears (from our little corner of the universe on earth) to go backwards in its path. Keep in mind that in the grand heliocentric scheme of things, all planets are always moving forward. But there was a time when people were crisped at the stake for daring to utter such a thought, and so a geocentric (earth-centered) model of the universe prevailed until common sense set in. From our particular point of view, standing on the earth’s surface, planets go forward until they–oops!–decide to retreat, for a limited time only.
Practically every planet (besides the Sun and Moon–yes, they’re considered planets, as is Pluto–don’t argue) spends at least a portion of its journey in retrograde motion, and these retro periods vary from planet to planet, but not from time to time when considering a particular planet. Make sense? No? OK, well, the length of time Mercury spends moving backwards is shorter than that of Venus. But Mercury consistently spends about 3.5 weeks retrograde at a time. Better? Cool.
I’m giving the spotlight to Mercury in my examples because that’s what’s going on in real life (yes, astrological principles are actually considered by many, including myself, to be part of real life–again, don’t argue). Mercury is known as the planet of communication. As such, it also exerts its influence over certain jeopardy categories as technology, the media, electronics, verbal communication, reading and verbal comprehension, and conscious thought.
So when Mercury decides to go backwards, all of the outward energies it normally displays reverse and turn inward. People become more shy. Communication gets disrupted. Technology goes on the fritz. People misspeak or misunderstand each other. Comedies like “Who’s On First” or “My Cousin Vinny” illustrate a renegade–I mean retrograde–Mercury *perfectly*.
In fact, Mercury in one of these retrograde funks when I was born. (Does that answer any questions? Figured so.) Astrologers also carry this not-so-strange (IMO) notion that whatever was happening with the stars at the time of a person’s birth basically stamps said person proverbially on the forehead, effectively marking them for life with the corresponding personality traits and tendencies. Cool, huh?
What does that mean? Well, in short, it means I’m weird. But so are a great deal of you. People born under this interesting little phenomenon can be awkward verbally (often due to shyness), but great musicians or even writers. It doesn’t mean you can’t work a computer. It does mean that what you say might get misinterpreted, or that you might misinterpret others. It also means you probably have a thin skin. I know I do. I just hide it well…usually.
The interesting thing is, when Mercury itself goes retrograde (i.e. from its current position, not where it was when I was born), my own brain lights up. It’s like I’m finally in my element. Kind of.
What throws a wet blanket on the whole thing is that most people do NOT have Mercury retrograde and so they don’t know how to handle it like I do, and so communication and other things go awry anyway. So I’m (finally) fully functional; it’s everybody else that I have to worry about.
In fact, I have small strokes of genius and rare moments of actual mental clarity during these times. During the first memorable incidence of this, I decided to become a massage therapist. Yep, I’d just been fired from what was to be (thankfully) my last waitressing job (I was burning out anyway, so really they did me a favor) and I was already on the brink of deciding to go to chiropractic school alongside my partner, but I also needed something to do in the meantime, because it’s not like I could just bumble through the next couple of years in school only and not work.
I was skittish of Mercury retrogrades back then, because I knew that decisions made or activities begun under a retrograde Mercury would probably be passing, a fad, and not pan out. My scars were just about finished healing, after having bought a house several years prior, under a backwards Mercury. Usually a bad idea. We overlooked all kinds of things and just went for it, and that wasn’t wise at all. Turns out the house was haunted. But I’ll leave that for another post. So, I treaded cautiously. I constantly critically re-evaluated my idea to make sure it was still viable before plunking down several grand (and 6 months of time, especially without working) to go to massage therapy school.
In the end, I won. Massage therapy has proven to be good for me (in fact, I did a massage today that basically paid for our–albeit 2-star, but still–hotel room for both nights), and I’ll do another one on Sunday that should cover this weekend’s gas and hopefully food. It’s not my favorite work in the world, but it’s the quickest honest and ethical way I know to make a hundred bucks in an hour or two without requiring a degree.
The next lightbulb-gifted retrograde Mercury I remember involved my conversion to Hinduism and my choice and adoption of a Hindu name (life is simply not complete without a religious conversion, especially if it includes a name-change). It was interesting because I was scrolling through the names and I saw it on the page and click! I instantly knew. That was my name. Jyoti. It encompassed everything I believed I was turning into and everything I knew I was trying to be. It is Sanskrit for “light” and at that time I was well on my way through a journey to become a natural healer and a disseminator of knowledge and information, i.e. “shedding light” on things or getting people to “see the light”.
I’m sure there are more but I can’t readily think of them, so I’ll quit while I’m ahead.