Mercury Retrograde, Perfect as Always


When your computer turns on and off by itself… when your cell phone mysteriously dies, then recovers just as mysteriously… when the picture on your cable TV suddenly features flashing rainbow tracers (not the TV!)… it can only mean one astrological thing.

Mercury's gone retrograde on our asses, yesterday (Thu Mar 2) through Mar 25. (And yes, all the aforementioned snafus have already happened to me this week.)

For astro-followers, the drill is a familiar one: When Mercury switches to retrograde motion (three times a year, for three-and-a-half weeks), our ability to carry out our Mercury-related business turns wacky and weird. And considering Mercury oversees all our communications and short-distance travels, that means a lot of variables in our lives threaten to go haywire.

But there's no need to draw everything to a grinding halt and wait it out. (As if we could.) Merc-retro problems only exist in how we look at the situation.

Yeah, easy enough for me to say. If the computer breaks, it's broken. Right? Simple as that.

Or is it? Perhaps, in the mad rush to fix the 'problem' by banging on the keyboard and repeatedly pressing the power button, you're actually creating the real problem. Maybe the computer just needs a few minutes to catch up with all that surging data. And maybe, in the midst of waiting for it to restore itself to electronic glory—instead of cursing its fucked-up-ness—you realize you're long overdue to backup your files. As soon as the computer sputters back into normalcy, you do your backup… and end up more prepared than before.

Sure, it may torment you to no end that the contract still isn't finalized. But would you rather hurriedly sign the wrong contract, or will you graciously glide along with the holdups until everything falls into the right place? In the interim gridlock of misplaced paperwork and modified wording, you just may stumble upon that one detail you forgot… and then, thank God for the delay, eh?

In my faithful astrologer's view, timing is always perfect. (My starving ego, alas, doesn't always come along for the ride.) It's just that, through our unavoidably limited subjective lens, we can't see why. We goad ourselves into believing the apparent lapses in progress or play must have their cosmic reasons, or else we're not able to accept things as they are—which is a prerequisite for leading a spiritual life.

Astrology helps sustain this belief, by giving a structure for understanding the symbolic quality of a particular timing. No, it doesn't give us the full-on 'why'. (It's those mysteries of life that keep it exciting to awaken every morning.) But it lets us know that, whatever the misery or misadventure, this too shall pass. In the meantime, have another iced tea and watch the clouds float by.

These several days adjacent to yesterday's Mercury station (the temporary stand-still as a planet shifts direction) comprise an especially pungent moment… though its true brute force hides behind a curtain of consciousness-obscuring fog.

See, folks, Mercury's in Pisces, a placement that casts the mind in a peculiarly sensitive and easily persuaded mood. Mercury in Pisces believes what it wants to believe, or what it thinks the other person wants it to believe… and changes just as easily as a room moves from stuffy to drafty, merely by opening a window. It's a wonderfully romantic placement for conjuring sweet nothings to utter in a lover's ear, for composing poetry and song lyrics… and for stepping out into dreamspace, where the sorcerer's seeds are sown in the daring act of imagining something far more splendid than what now exists.

Yet, Mercury in Pisces is fairly abysmal at producing clear objective messages of fact or function, without attachment to the emotional desires of sender, recipient, or both.

The week's pungency comes at the hand of powerful master Pluto, who remains prolonged in a tense square to Mercury during its adjustment to retrograde-ness. Any Mercury-Pluto square inherently pushes communications into deeper territory, by probing past the surface sayings to the unaired stuff beneath. But with Mercury in Pisces, the sign most susceptible to other influences, Pluto has even stronger sway—perhaps without us even noticing.

That is, with the mix of (1) Mercury retrograde, (2) in Pisces, and (3) squaring Pluto, we may easily overlook the depth of what we're actually conveying. Tiny glimpses of our inner drives, desires and demons sneak out through seemingly innocuous exchanges. Though we smile and nod, we can't keep a lid on how badly we yearn for certain responses and outcomes. And when it comes to moving ourselves through space, we're pushier than we think. We subconsciously seek the opportunity to crush the competition, even if it's just the person waiting next to us in line. Or we seductively court their domination, so we can submit to their fiercer philosophic absoluteness… and maybe play like they forced us to.

The beauty of this Mercury retrograde rests in the profound psychological resonance we unconsciously evoke, in saying far too much or barely anything at all. If we're astute, we catch it as it's permeating out our cells, through our open lips and busy fingertips. Or we don't detect that wise truth we already know somewhere inside, until someone else points out what we just told them.

We didn't know how desperately we wanted the prized position, until our application turns up lost en route, as misdirected mail somewhere in Alaska.

We never realized how passionately we love and lust for that special someone, until a highway closure keeps our reunion at bay for another long hour, orange cones blocking us from that tingle-filled embrace. And trying to drive around the messy traffic will only prolong the separation, my impatient passion-mongers.

The delay happened for a reason… if only to remind us to savor those extra minutes, with deep breathing and fantastical imaginings. Why scramble, swear or speed along? That only makes it worse.