Thursday, 28 April 2016

In Praise of Mercury Retrograde

I get so sick of hearing people blame Mercury Retrograde for late buses, delayed flights, mail strikes, broken glasses, computers crashing, lost mail, broken fingers, popped eardrums, natural disasters and great goddess knows what else. When something bad happens, far too many people start exclaiming: "I KNEW it!! Mercury is retrograde!" Even though they know damn well any of those things could happen when Mercury is in forward motion.

I once even had an astrologer friend (who shall remain anonymous) blame Mercury retrograde for a traffic jam.  I countered that traffic jams happen all the time along that particular stretch of road. This astrologer wasn't having it: Mercury retrograde had caused the travel delays. The next day, the same astrologer refused to get into a lift because Mercury was retrograde. We all got to the floor we wanted without the cable snapping. 

People, get a grip.

Mercury retrograde is an optical illusion. Like the tilt of the earth's axis, which gives us seasons and reasons to argue over house systems, Mercury retrograde is proof of the First Mover's sense of humour. That's right. I said it. Mercury doesn't really move backwards: it just looks that way from our perspective.

"Oh I knew that," says the collective bunch of astrologers who are busy updating their statuses with little Mercury Retrograde moans and groans.

"Someone put my astrology book between Anouilh and Brecht. Mercury must be retrograde!"

"Oh don't post letters because Mercury is retrograde!"

"My car broke down. Oh what a pisser to have Mercury retrograde!"

"Oh it's snowing today! I should have known it would happen: Mercury is retrograde!"

Mercury retrograde happens 2, 3 or 4 times per year with a duration of about 3 1/2 weeks a time. Not all bad things that happen to you over the course of a year are concentrated into those 12 weeks. Let me give you a couple of examples: Chernobyl, 9/11, Fukushima and the tsunami in Indonesia (2004) all happened when Mercury was in happy forward motion. I had a bike accident last summer--Mercury was not retrograde. Sure a few disasters such as the Hindenburg and the Titanic happened during Mercury retrograde but Buddy Holly's plane crash did NOT happen when Mercury was retrograde. Neither did a meteor strike in Brazil in 1930 occur during Mercury retrograde. Do you see where I'm headed with this? You can't cherry pick an event and then proclaim it happened because Mercury was in retrograde motion.

OK now let's talk about really cool things that have happened when Mercury was retrograde. Janis Joplin. Do you need more cool things? Michael Jackson. More? Hillary Clinton. Oh she's not cool enough--but it kind of shoots a hole into that theory about Mercury retrograde people being quiet and introspective, doesn't it? And I can tell you want one more cool person. How about me? Yes that's right, I was born when Mercury was retrograde and you would be hard pressed to find a more mercurial person than yours truly: my ascendant is Gemini and Mr Trickster is in my natal 3rd house and he's unaspected too. And I'm OK. I walk and talk and travel just fine.

Now I'm not doubting that awkward things happen when Mercury is retrograde but for the love of astrology, let's put some data behind it when we start Mercury retrograde bashing. Be a little selective. And for goddess' sake, stop scaring the muggles. Let's see some examples, let's do some statistical analysis or some other form of research because guys, I'm in the choir. You get me? I'm in the converted audience and I can see we're feeding the sceptics with our sloppy practices! We got to tighten the screws.

So let me give whoever is reading this a few ideas:

1) The shadow phase of Mercury. At first I was eye rolling a bit because I thought it was just Retrograde Mercury bashers trying to extend the time of Mercury retrograde. But there might be something in it. Let's see it.

2) Mercury retrograde is part of a cycle and there may be common themes or threads within those cycles. Let's see those too. That's a lot more interesting than hearing about your cat barfing on your magazine collection.

3) The astronomy of planets in retrograde motion is fascinating. Let's weave a little more of the science instead of randomly tossing crap into the pot of communal reinforcement.

4) Almost every culture has a "wise fool": someone who appears silly but actually has an important message. Instead of blaming Mercury retrograde  when things go wrong, look at the message behind the situation. After all, Mercury is a god and is worthy of our respect whether in forward, stationary or retrograde motion.

5) Before you start blaming Mercury Retrograde for your bad day, remember this:

No comments: