Mercury Retrograde

The essay below is excerpted from my book ASTROLOGY IS REAL

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I'm a rebel maverick dissident heretic. Contrary to orthodox doctrine, I reject the dogma that periods when Mercury is retrograde warrant outbreaks of fear and worry.

They do not portend massive snafus in communication and connection.

We are not far more liable to commit costly gaffes and veer off on wrong turns.

My rebel maverick dissident heretical instincts tell me that there are propitious possibilities to take advantage of during phases when Mercury is retrograde. Here are three:

• We can refine and deepen the ways we exchange information.

• We can heighten our commitment to saying precisely what we mean and meaning exactly what we say.

• We can be extra thoughtful and imaginative and ingenious about how we interweave ourselves with valuable people and resources.

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Here’s my anecdotal testimony, gleaned through extensive research into my personal experience these last few decades: The mistakes I make are as numerous and flagrant when Mercury isn't retrograde as when it is.

The evidence is unambiguous: There are zero correlations between eruptions of my foolishness and the extremely regular and lengthy phases when Mercury appears to be moving in reverse to its more common orbit.

But what about all the other billions of people in the world? Have they painstakingly gathered data that contradicts mine? Have they conducted exacting experiments to test the hypothesis of Mercury’s ill omens?

No, they have not. All the information we have to go on concerning the phenomena associated with Mercury retrograde is as subjective and anecdotal as mine. There are no objective, rigorous studies.

Now let’s consider a further accusation against the planet closest to the sun. Could the truth be true that when it’s retrograde, we shouldn’t begin anything new? That we risk spawning malignant fortune if we launch fresh projects and seek novel connections and make new agreements? I have personally known 23 astrologers who have assured me that’s true.

Here’s some evidence I have gathered: During a Mercury retrograde a few years ago, my acquaintance Marnie delayed accepting a dream job offer as editor of a magazine she loved. By the time Mercury safely returned to “normal,” the magazine had hired another applicant. She still regrets her action.

Ready for some actual factual data? Some of America’s biggest, most enduring Fortune 500 companies began when Mercury was retrograde. They include Disney, Goodyear, and Boeing.

Whatever we may think about the corruption of massive corporations, we can’t pretend that Mercury retrograde interfered with their ability to become what they wanted to be.

Over the years, I have gathered many stories like that of my acquaintance Marnie. I’ve watched people amp up their anxieties as they proceed on the assumption that the current Mercury retrograde is a time of bad luck. And then they suffer what seems to be bad luck.

Here's the other side of my research: I have observed many friends and acquaintances and relatives who don’t keep track of times when Mercury is retrograde. They therefore expect no misfortune and massive inconvenience to happen, and—what do you know?—misfortune and massive inconvenience don’t occur.

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According to traditional astrologers, each complete Mercury retrograde cycle lasts an average of 55 days. Since there is an average of three Mercury retrogrades per year, we are in some part of the Mercury retrograde phenomenon for at least 165 days per year—about 45 percent of the time!

That is a longgggg time to imagine ourselves as being under a bad spell!

But wait! There’s more! Also streaming our way—always, always—are other astrological configurations that traditional astrologers interpret as malefic, miserable, and menacing.

One major example is the moon void-of-course aspect. A comically absurd profusion of astrologers regard it with the same fear and loathing they do Mercury retrograde. And the moon void-of-course is also a regular, predictable, and frequent occurrence: about 160 times annually, or 44 percent of each year’s 365 days!

Many astrologers also view certain planetary configurations with trepidation. When Mars is square to Jupiter (at a 90-degree angle) or Saturn is opposed to the sun (a 180-degree angle) or Venus is square to Saturn, they might advise their clients to be extra cautious and express at least a modicum of fear and loathing. Squares and oppositions are scary, troublesome, stress-provoking!

There are not a million of all these problematic omens per year. But there are hundreds. I haven’t tallied the data (it would be a waste of my time), but if Mercury is retrograde 45 percent of each year and moon is void-of-course 44 percent annually, we might be in one or the other at least 60 percent of the time.

To that terrifying figure, we would be dutybound to add all the squares and oppositions, as well as other prickly aspects like the semi-squares (45 degrees), sesqui-quadrates (135 degrees), and inconjuncts (150 degrees). I’m ballpark estimating we would have to wake up quivering with apprehension at least 256 mornings every year.

I refuse that assignment. I reject that mandate. I will not default into chronic nervous vigilance in the face of all the supposedly foreboding signals.

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PS: Traditional astrologers regard each Mercury retrograde phenomenon to consist of eight phases:

Pre-Shadow Phase

Pre-Shadow Phase Intensified

Mercury Retrograde Station

Mercury Retrograde Phase Intensified

Mercury Retrograde Phase

Mercury Direct Station

Post-Shadow Phase Intensified

Post-Shadow Phase

So, for example, one of Mercury’s Pre-Shadow Phases started on April 25, 2022. Its Post-Shadow Phase finished on June 18, 2022. We were allegedly under a grim curse for 56 days.

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Here’s one of my favorite astrologers, Antero Alli, on Mercury retrograde.

When Mercury goes retrograde, I tend to notice new twists and turns in the way people think, talk, and otherwise attempt to communicate.

I have also noticed how many astrologers, both amateur and pro, overreact and warn others of the Dire Straits of Mercury Retrograde! Beware of Things Going Badly!

Rubbish, I say. Personally, I look forward to Mercury retro periods.

Though I don’t confess to understand why or how daily events can become askew during these brief periods, I don’t see Merc retro as necessarily bad or ill-fated.

In fact, I see it as a creative state where we can expect the unexpected and try new things—that is, if we’re open to novelty.

If we have become overly entrenched in our comfort zones and owned by the deep force of habit, then perhaps Merc retro can coincide with a time of frustration.

However, it doesn’t have to be that way if we’re open to doing things differently from “business as usual.”

During Merc retro, maybe there’s no such thing as “business as usual.”

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Another of my favorite astrologers, William Sebrans, gives 10 ways to appreciate times when Mercury is retrograde.

1. Misunderstandings are now attributable to impersonal forces or gods on vacation. That is, we are for the time being in the clear and temporarily off the hook.

2. We expect things to not work, so when they do, we are happier than before, when we expected them to work.

3. We can spend hours tossing out crap, purging email sludge, and organizing our micro-universes. We are entitled to call it productive work. No need to rush forward when it is salutary to shuffle backward for a spell.

4. We are forgiven in advance for impatience and frustration, but we are also given extra permission to blow off the pressure and be calmly accepting of what we are usually supposed to get upset with. Think: customer service.

5. For a few weeks, we get to hear less New Age murmurings about the Divine Flow, the power of creative visualization, and the power of surrender to Shakti. We are allowed to focus on getting the job done any damned way we can figure it out.

6. If we are believers, we can find proof of the retrograde effect. If we are non-believers, we can find proof of the non-retrograde effect. Either way, we are vindicated.

7. We can watch more Merchant Ivory period films and feel good about ourselves.

8. We can handwrite letters and craft arty postcards, while justifying the less efficient retrofit communication as mandated by Divine Decree.

9. We can slow down.

10. We can slow down and repeat ourselves.

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