Full Moons, Moon Stuff

Full Flower Moon in Scorpio | May 10, 2017

It’s the Full Moon! As we talked about last time, at this full moon, you can expect some issues that became highlighted in the past two weeks of your life to resolve, amplify, or transmute. The Sun is still transiting grounded Taurus, but the moon is briefly slipping into the opposite space — the deep, oftentimes murky waters of Scorpio.

If Taurus is fixed and stable, Scorpio is loose and speculative. Both are highly stubborn. Like at any full moon, your conscious desires and goals may be at odds with some emotional pathway in your heart. This time, it’s likely that something material or concrete is being challenged by psychological difficulty. That sounds abstract, so let’s say that you’ve recently committed to picking up a work project that you don’t really actually like. At the new moon, you felt really motivated because you knew the job would improve your finances in some measurable way, and that’s what you were emotionally preoccupied with at the time, so you took it on and felt great. You’ve since realized something about the project or the client doesn’t gel with your own motives, and you don’t feel so great about staying. That’s just a basic example, but there’s many emotional layers that this lunation could play off of.

chart

The Sun and Moon are the center of every single lunation, but the connections they make to other celestial bodies color in the full story. At this time, both are making a serious, yet positive connection with a very intense planet — Pluto, which governs complete transformation.

Pluto transits (“moves around”) at a glacial pace because of its distance from the Sun and earth, so it’s normally just a background player in the astrology of our day-to-day lives. It’s like a single note in a chord that plays for years on end, subtly defining generational changes that we experience as a collective. However, when it makes aspects to closer bodies and planets, its influence becomes much more personal — and its strength packs a hell of a punch.

This means that changes brought about by this full moon — and remember, full moons crave and foster change — will not be superficial. The kinds of changes that occur when Pluto is onboard occur deep in the core of our beings. This isn’t to say that you should necessarily prepare for something that, from the outside, looks dramatic and shaken up. Other people may not be able to perceive that the stakes have changed for you at all. But the kind of change you pursue at this time is a demolition or a transformation of some construct in yourself that’s been a long time coming.

While Pluto itself will not bring perceptible, dramatic change at this time, there still is the opportunity for superficial shake-ups, and that’s all thanks to another dynamic occurring at the same time. Neither Mercury nor Uranus makes significant contact with the sun or moon, but they do themselves conjunct (overlap) in Aries, bringing out a grand fire trine with Saturn and the North Node. We’ll discuss the grand fire trine in more depth later, as it’s a special dynamic that comes into focus throughout this entire year and really peaks in late summer. But the conjunct of Mercury and Uranus at this time is important. Thanks to Mercury’s retrograde, it’s the third such conjunction since late March, meaning this one is the one where the truth (Mercury) comes to light quite suddenly or unexpectedly (Uranus.) This is a jumpy aspect. Uranus is quite unpredictable, so what this dynamic looks like is a sudden event occurring, after which longer-held secrets kind of tumble out after the initial tremor. It is quite neutral, however, so the rapid energy can certainly work in your favor.

Things have already changed, but after this full moon, they will really start to feel different. This process of embracing the flame of change will continue all year, so consider this full moon a landmark at which you have important opportunities to shape the scope of that change. Like the flower, you cannot stay a seed forever — you eventually must accept the sunlight.

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Astrology Lessons, Planet Symbolism

Don’t Fear the Lord of Karma | Saturn in Astrology + moodboard

Not all planets are interpreted equally, that’s for sure. There are some planets that everyone straight up loves, or at least appreciates having in their corner. For those of us who associate our emotions with celestial bodies, there’s something irresistibly charming about the moon — we relate to her cycles of hiding in rest, and then shining close and beautiful upon all. There is something sympathetic about the moon, and astrology nerds love her nearly unanimously.

Likewise, it’s very rare for someone to complain about the unbounded energy and excess a strong Jupiter transit brings them. (“It’s going through my second house? For an entire YEAR? Helping me bring in extra cash? Oh noooo,” said basically no one ever, save for maybe an extremely change-resistant Virgo.)

Beautiful Venus is romanticized and adored for her glamorous associations with love and money — things people categorically love — and even Mercury, the trickster scapegoat, who consistently gets the most blame for Literally Everything from casual astrology fans, is almost never unwelcome for those of us who study the stars. Who could look down upon the gift of our own voice? Our ability to communicate and connect, the parts of our lives that Mercury’s placement make easier for us to navigate through that connection? These planets and bodies are all held in high regard for their blessings, whether they appear in a harmonious birth chart configuration or make a pleasant, lucky slide through an aspect of our charts throughout our lives.

But then, there are the others.

Some planets have had a bad reputation for literal centuries. The old classical astrologers resented them so much that they even gave them a mean name — the “malefics.” They were understood to, at best, bring difficulty into someone’s life, and at worst, to create obstructions, large blocks that we stumble on over and over and over again for decades at a time. Their place in your life presented a magical door that continually gets slammed shut in your face, and only your face, every time you try to walk through.

Now, it might be that I have a habit of rooting for the underdog thanks to my rising Chiron, but I’ve always found this interpretation of the Big Baddies to be cruel and unsympathetic to their energies, and also to the people affected by them. I feel that acting as though birth placements are some kind of lifelong curse is an unnecessarily defeatist and wholly inaccurate view that makes astrology itself out to be some big mean malefic. A great example of how this works is the classical malefic — Saturn.

The old astrologers really, really did not like this guy. They named him after a dude that ate like six of his own children. In Vedic symbolism, he has just as much of a tough guy reputation, but more along the lines of “tough love.” I much prefer the Vedic metaphors for Saturn as a planet — he is a teacher, a “lord of karma.”

The one aspect of Saturn’s malevolence that we have no control over is where he falls in our birth chart. There, he brings some kind of discomfort or difficulty to an area of our life, a mark that follows us throughout childhood and adolescence. It’s something so intrinsic to us for the first few decades of our lives that we have, for the most part, learned to work around it, and just accept it as something we’ll never have or be. But it’s deeper than that. Your Saturn placement is not the place where you can just waive off your failure. It’s a failure that you are repeatedly confronted with, obviously and painfully, so that you can develop a strength there — a wisdom that is more advanced than someone who was born with a gift in that area. Saturn gives us flaws and weaknesses as incentive to develop our “work ethic” in this part of our life. Basically, Saturn in a birth chart is like a strict parent who pushes you to achieve with less. Some people handle this energy better than others, which is why so many people panic during rough Saturn transits.

However, Saturn repeatedly provides for us windows of opportunity in which we can grow and improve. Every few years or so, Saturn transits into a new sign, bringing in fresh energy that interacts with the cosmic landscape in a new dynamic, not to be repeated again throughout our lifetime in quite the same way. Depending on our personal chart and the other transits occurring at the time, each of these transits is a unique opportunity to shape, evolve, and upgrade the parts of ourselves that Saturn is influencing.

Saturn takes about 29 years to move through the entire zodiac, so we experience each of these windows only a few times at most in each of our lives. The god Saturn, in the ancient Greek and Roman traditions, was associated with time, which is where some of his aspects of cruelty and destruction comes from. We only have so much time. Saturn the planet understands this and believes we should use it in as disciplined and focused a way as possible. It pushes us to do so by raising the stakes and cultivating our talents through work.

In future posts, we’ll be going over what Saturn specifically means in your chart’s configuration, as well as how it matters in transit through your chart, and specifically what is going on with Saturn at this moment in time.

(Image Credits: I made a little Saturn moodboard. Images in this spread feature the art, work, or image of Rowan Mersh, Velwyn Yossy, Yiqing Yin, Dolce & Gabbana, Meadham Kirchoff, Donyale Luna, Adut Akech, and KTZ. Other images were found while browsing unattributed, let me know where they came from.)

Astrology Lessons, Moon Stuff, New Moons

So, How Was Everyone’s New Moon In Taurus? | Some Moon Stuff, and then some moon stuff

Mine was stressful. I don’t recommend scheduling large-scale product fulfillment during good ol’ Mercury Gatorade, and in fact, I did not, but Mercury did anyway. It’s cool though, except your new moon ~ insights ~ are a little late this week. Sometimes I think I need a Gemini moon to write.

But the fact that they’re late is totally fine, because for some reason, everyone loves to talk about the moon on the day that she’s doing something exciting, but then forgets that her influence lingers for a lot longer than that.

You probably know already that the moon takes almost exactly a month to complete an orbit around month. The length of time it does in fact take is called a “lunar month” — it’s 29.5ish days. (There are slightly different figures for it depending on whether or not you’re using a sidereal system of astronomy / astrology or a tropical system. I’ll tell you about them in a later post because an explanation of them is necessary to understand why Ophicius is a scam and a lie. For now, think of them like the Celsius and Fahrenheit of figuring out where in the heck we are in relation to the other stuff in our neck of the galaxy.)

Throughout its lunar month, the moon passes through different “phases” depending on how much we can see of it. The amount we can see of it is directly related to where it is in relation to both the Sun and Earth. The moon just reflects the light of the Sun. The less of it that’s facing the Sun, the less we can see. You’ve probably incorrectly been told that the new moon is caused by Earth’s shadow; it’s actually the exact opposite. It occurs when the moon is between Earth and the Sun. The side of the moon that’s facing the Sun is getting all of the sunlight, and the side facing us isn’t getting any, so we don’t see a moon at all.

This is reflected pretty directly in astrology, too. At the new moon, from Earth’s point of view, the Sun and moon are lined right up — and so they’re in the same region of the zodiac, the same sign. We call this a conjunction. (As you might imagine, the full moon is when the opposite happens, and the moon is on the other side, directly opposite the Sun. That one is called an opposition.)

Anyway. The energy of the new moon and full moon are very different, which is why in astrology they’re said to “set” for different time periods. At the new moon, the Sun and moon are in the same sign, and working through the same kinds of energy. Since the Sun represents our will, and the moon represents our emotions, this loosely means that the new moon is the best time for us to act upon an intention to try and set it in motion — our desires and energy are lined up with our hopes and feelings, and we can set a goal more easily. The full moon, instead, is a time when things feel pulled apart or amped up by the oppositional activity, and is a time more prone to conflict (or passion, or elevation, or conviction.)

The new moon is the setting of the scene, and the events of the full moon usually come from and relate to it. So its themes have more a longer life than the period of opposition and conclusion that follow it. In this way, most astrologers will tell you that a typical new moon usually sets the tone of an entire month, where a full moon defines the following two weeks. Both have a tendency to completely “conclude” one month later during the next lunar cycle. (Eclipses are the same thing but longer.)

So, why am I telling you all this moon stuff now?

Because every lunation is impacted by the aspects it makes with the rest of its chart, and this one was really beautiful and special — it doesn’t have any.

The rest of the zodiac is doing all kinds of weird stuff, and on this month’s New Moon, the Sun and moon just kind of sat there quietly together, alone, ignoring everything, in lush and restful Taurus.

Sometimes we are completely honest that the things we have been through affect us emotionally. We can be really on top of unpacking and feeling it through just sensing the wear-and-tear the world puts on our hearts daily. We move into a period where pain feels pressing and understanding it intimately is necessary to survival, and analyzing where it came from is so clear as to be almost subconscious — because it’s obvious. We can feel exactly where it hurts.

But sometimes, even if we have gotten really articulate about how the history of ourselves has written us into being, and even if we have identified the places in ourselves where trauma has snagged and loosened our weaknesses, we still fail to trace the thread through to how we allow us to hurt ourselves through it. We can be unable to see how those emotional blockages, tensions and traumas that we have gotten so used to impact our ability to recognize what we deserve. We don’t slow down enough to feel the way the stress carries on. It’s through connecting with other people that we can often identify parts of ourselves that need attention and work, but actually unwinding it often requires real isolation, even though that’s the time when it’s sometimes the hardest to feel. Like a chronic condition or a mark on the body, we become so acclimated to its existence that we might almost forget that it is there. This might make our emotional states more manageable on a day-to-day basis, but it can also make us forget the injustice of the cause of our stress and distress in the first place. If you can’t remember that it shouldn’t have been done to you, you forget that you need to treat yourself with kindness and softness, and think of yourself as someone who is deserving, because you need it, right now and always from now on.

This New Moon falls in Taurus, a sign that always wants us to acknowledge what we materially need in every sector of our life, and even asks us to spoil ourselves a little, with any experience that stimulates and soothes our bodies. Since it does have the luxury of occurring unaspected by other planets, the whole month is about a part of you that is only for you. Every other planet can retrograde. Everyone in your life can be going through something you can’t fix or handle. Every step of the process can hit a roadblock. Everything else can go wrong, but there is one place in yourself that you trust enough to just be there. Accordingly, the new moon this month wants to let you know that no matter what else is going on, you can create a part of your life that feels good, and you can use it to treat yourself to space, solace, and rest. I hope you do.

 

 

Collage by Lohla
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Full Pink Moon in Libra | April 2017 | Identity Theft

Today is the Libra full moon for the year. Lunations always have an immediate influence on the feeling of the two weeks following, plus some later effects that can arise up to a month later. The chart around them can often feel like a look behind the curtain at things that are going to come up during that time period, and the moon itself is always deeply influenced by the activity in the stars around it.

This full moon is taking place during a quadruple retrograde. We’re nearly finished with Venus retrograde and we’ve already gone over some of the simple parts of this Mercury cycle, but today we’re going to go over some of the emotional effects of those movements and how they’re highlighted by this moon.

I tend to feel personally that Mercury retrogrades come on very fast. The last week of “shadow” prior to them always has a few events occur that make me realize what the “theme” of the retrograde is going to be, and how that might play out. For the past week, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the phrase “identity theft.” Mercury is currently moving backwards through a Venus-ruled sign, as Venus herself cycles up from the dark space of her own larger retrograde cycle. The way they’re woven together this season, you’d expect one’s movement to bring up issues that are related to the other, and I can see that happening right now. And in general, this relationship between the two bodies makes sense.

Relationships are based on communication; values are often reliant on what we’re able to understand and be informed of. Aries, where the Sun is this full moon and where Venus has left and is moving back towards, is about the expression of the self. It stands in opposition to Libra, where the moon and Jupiter are currently shining, and which rules the ways our selves harmonize into one cohesive entity — relationships. The needs of these two parts of our selves and all oppositions in astrology are, I think, often wrongly expressed as a tension. They are also interdependent on each other.

I think Venus’s time through personal-expression Aries and spiritual Pisces has asked us to make some changes to the way we ask others to respect the boundaries of our self. I think Mercury’s time through Venus-ruled Taurus is asking us to consider how other people can bring clarity or confusion into our understandings of ourselves. And so, this full moon is like a perfect thesis for the rest of this retrograde season — how do we define ourselves through each other? How come love and appreciation makes us desire sameness with each other, but necessitates that we understand and put words to our difference?

Because this is moon is wrapped up in a tangle of retrogrades, the way that we’re going to answer these questions is through confusion and agitation. The feeling that maybe we can’t resolve these two interconnected needs, before coming to the resolution that we might be able to. We all know Libra is a sign that wants to talk about balance, and moving into its energy, we often find that we’ve incorrectly weighted the scale so far.

So: back to identity theft. Because we’ve got these retrogrades, the identity theft here can totally mean credit card information, fraudulent accounts & people posing as each other online, false information and other effects that have material consequences. But on the emotional end, I also mean “who is stealing you.” Who is thieving your identity and why? This month is going to have us questioning and identifying how identities (Aries), values (Venus/Taurus), and ways of speaking (Mercury) can be co-opted for personal gain (back to Venus). But beyond that, we will be learning to guard ourselves against people who would speak for us or speak over us. Not just because it’s rude, but because it actually restricts us from speaking ourselves, as ourselves. (That’s the Saturn piece.) This full moon is a beaming, shining highlight on specifically the emotional undercurrent of all of this retrograde energy. It’s asking you to let go from judging yourself so you can more accurately judge the environment and people and communities that surround you, and whether or not they acknowledge you, and how they could be doing that better.

All of these are very inner planet issues, but look at how they intersect with outer planet movements to understand the full story. Neptune in Pisces makes the reality of situations very difficult to grasp. This placement, and its hard aspects with Saturn and Jupiter over the course of the past year or so, are what have given recent events the emotional quality of “unreality,” making world events seem like “fact stranger than fiction.” The inability to tell what Really Happened, what’s Really Going On has pervaded and obscured political discourse and our ability to ascribe cause or accurately describe its effects. This dynamic is the fake news, alternative facts, “not the Onion” influence in recent world astrology.

In our personal relationships, and in the scope of this lunar month, it describes how we often willfully see through other people’s ability to hurt us or use [our thoughts, labor, emotions, selves] us when they’re close to us. In fact, we write it off as something they may be doing unintentionally because they want to be closer to us, and we are intoxicated by the idea that someone desires this sameness and intimacy with us. Neptune in Pisces is the wishful thinking, “they don’t know what they’re really doing” denial of what’s really going on. It’s the part when you ignore the fact that something bothers you because you don’t think the other person did it on purpose and so you’re unwilling to blame them. It makes you forget that intent doesn’t erase impact, and prevents you from being able to identify the problem and speak to it.

Uranus in Aries is about the transformational qualities of self-(re)presentation and how those may change in opposition to our other needs — to connect with others, to relate to them (Jupiter in Libra). The Jupiter energy wants us all to be brought together, to work together, to balance each other. But the Uranus energy comes in bursts and fits, upsetting the delicate weight of the scales. It’s our needs, unique to each one of us, and how wildly unpredictable they can be until we realize they exist. The sun and moon mimic this during tonight’s lunation, and show us the balance that we still have to make.

 

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Mercury Retrograde in Taurus – April 2017

It’s that time again.

But it’s nothing to be afraid of. Mercury is doing that thing again where he’s like “okay, I know I usually am here to mediate your communications and make them easy and all but I’m super tired and just going to nap for a few week,” and everyone else is all “omg you’re ruining my life,” but you shouldn’t get worked up, because we can take a look at what you in particular need to be especially careful of.

There’s always a couple of things to look at when you’re trying to get a sense for what’s going to happen during a retrograde period. They are:

  • the three parts of the retrograde and when they start 
  • the sign that the retrograde is falling in & what else is going on in the rest of zodiac around it
  • where in your chart the storm is touching down

We’re going to take a look at the first few together, and then I’m going to give patrons a deeper look at number 4.

Anatomy of a retrograde

A retrograde always occurs between two points, and it goes between those two points three times. That means there’s three distinct phases of retrograde. When it begins, it’s trucking along the zodiac in a forward direction until it starts slowing down due to incoming retrograde motion. Then it hits point A, and moves backwards on the zodiac wheel. We call that point “Mercury stationing retrograde.” During this spring’s Rx cycle, that point is 4 degrees Taurus. So Mercury has been happily zipping through Pisces, then plodding through Aries, then its shoelace comes untied and it starts tripping over it in the last few degrees of Aries through Taurus, and then it faceplants right at the beginning of its journey through Taurus. And then it turns right back around and starts running backwards because it’s embarrassed or something, idk.

Point is, it stops, and reverses. And then it’s going backwards through the zodiac, clunking right over all of those points that it had just run over before. It’s going to back up to a point, finally catch its breath, and then move back over them a third time before finally clearing the retrograde and moving on normally.

That means there are three different parts to each retrograde — two “shadows” on either side, when Mercury is going over the retrograde-affected points while moving direct, plus the retrograde itself.

Here, I’ve made a low quality illustration to show you kind of what it looks like. It’s not to proper scale and all the sign symbols somehow got misaligned, but you get the idea. The “points A and B” of the retrograde are the two black lines on Mercury’s path. When he crosses the first line in forward motion, the first shadow starts. When he hits the second line, he stations retrograde and moves backwards. Then he hits the first line, stations direct, and moves forward through the second shadow. When he finally crosses the second black line, the retrograde period is over.

mercuryspath

Shadow period 1 for this round of retrograde is already well underway. This is like the part of the horror movie when the protagonist is driving up to the house and you’re like “huh, something is totally off.” But if you stay perceptive and flexible, you can kind of deduce what’s going on. Use that to your advantage. During this time, you can kind of get a feel for what issues are going to come up later so you can prepare for them. Hopefully you haven’t started calling your exes or being deliberately passive aggressive with your friends or something else that could pressurize under full retrograde.

The retrograde itself usually feels like a very sudden slow-down in time. The station date for this period is April 9th. This is the time when you have to be the most careful and during which time the most “classically Mercury” things go down — the lost tickets, the smashed phone, sending a sext to your boss, etc. But you have to stay calm, remember — it’s during this time that you are most likely to overreact and make a situation worse before the opportunity to repair it has presented itself. That’s how Mercury retrograde gets you.

Shadow period 2 is not-quite-normal yet — the energy is still very much around. But this is the time when revelation and clarification tend to occur, and the knots start to untangle themselves. It begins when retrograde ends (May 3rd this time) and continues for several weeks until equilibrium returns (May 20th.)

Let’s talk about this retrograde’s chart.

Each sign that Mercury moves through during any part of the year, including retrograde, is going to describe some of the issues that are more likely to come up at the time.

Since we know this is an earth sign, this retrograde is going to have you taking a look at what you value. This could be material and physical or more abstractly about “your values.” Taurus rules “money-in, money-out” — basic cash flow — and our comforts. On a secondary level, it also talks about how needs and desires, based on what’s important to us.

Usually, astrologers are like “purchase nothing during Mercury retrograde” and I feel like that’s often not a fair warning. Venus tends to be the planet that rules possessions and money, so I find people tend to have more of an urge to overspend or make a bad investment during Venus’s weak periods. Welp, Venus is also retrograde right now, and additionally, the sign that Mercury is moving through is Venus-ruled, so this like the one Merc retro period for which I will wholeheartedly cosign that advice. If you need to deal with purchases or sourcing for work or another big project, it’s fine to continue the project, but be super precise about the expectations you have for the work you’re looking to get done. Any ambiguity in terms of measurements, materials and qualities, return policies — take your time and iron out the details before you do something irreversible. In an earthy sign with weakened Venus energy, you don’t want Mercury to trick you into sinking your money somewhere it shouldn’t have gone. Be extremely careful and proactive about money matters and possible scams — I know it’s scary, but check your balances regularly and frequently.

Sometimes, life happens, and you find yourself having to make a big decision during Mercury retrograde. That’s okay. This isn’t about refraining from pertinent activities, it’s a reminder to dot your i’s, cross your t’s, and keep all the receipts. I’ve signed a lease during Mercury retrograde and the effect is less “this place in an unlivable horror and I need to get out immediately” and more “wow, I needed to move suddenly and I totally should have double-checked that we included our verbal agreement about x in the written lease. I should probably talk to the landlord about that when retrograde is over.”

Because this is an earth sign, it’s also not a huge warning sign of complete technological meltdown, but it can be a time when communications that are mediated through technology suffer from petty faults. It is never a bad time to back up your data and hang on to a copy or a screenshot of something for a little longer than you might usually. It is also a time when relationships mediated online can suffer from ambiguity or miscommunication.

One last little practical thing: money. Like the other earth signs, Taurus is more deeply connected to finances and possessions than other parts of the zodiac. For that reason, expect erraticism and prepare for it by being smart. Mercury’s effects don’t always look awful, but they can be “revealed” to be disadvantageous later. If a “mercurial” person ends up getting some extra money to you out the blue, don’t rush to spend it before you know you’re secure. If you’re expecting money, remember that retrograde is a slow period, especially with Venus impaired too. Keep up on your communications and expectations of payment, but try to give yourself a budgetary cushion.

When it comes to taking on a new contract under retrograde periods, it’s very important to look at the circumstances. Taurus is a sign that’s all about groundedness, so with retrograde energy, it can feel like the ground isn’t fully rooted. You can often expect “final decisions” made under Mercury retrograde to end up reversed — often due to miscommunication issues. That’s why you always hear to be careful about jumping headfirst into something new. The exception is when you are entering a project that is a return to something you have already moved on from or abandoned. Mercury rewards looking backwards at this time, so yes, take a vacation if it’s back to a place you haven’t been in awhile, reconnect. Yes, make that call about picking up the idea you hadn’t been able to juggle six months ago if it’s feeling really right now.

Towards the end of its motion, Mercury will briefly revisit the last part of Aries. Its prior trip through this area, it got itself all tangled up in a really tough astro-dynamic called a T-square. We’ll talk about this in your personal horoscopes, but the beginning period of the retrograde is going to be all about power and personal relationships, then resolving to a clearing out of that baggage when Mercury comes back to that point. For the duration of the entire period, you could be considering dropping something important to you in exchange for something you really wanted. Be sensitive and open to the possibility that you could be misreading the motives of other people at this time, for better or worse. Don’t be naive, but don’t assume the worst.

Astrology Lessons, Retrogrades

Stop Blaming Mercury Retrograde For Everything

Hello friends. Welcome to another MERCURY RETROGRADE.

Now, I understand that in the past few years, “Mercury retrograde” has become a sort of mainstream buzzword for terror, calamity, and general life falling apart. I’ve noticed a lot of amateur astrologers and clickbait writers making panicked “brace yourself!!!!!” posts about Mercury retrograde on social media and people always message me being like “Lohla — is my life about to fall apart???” and I have to be like “no bb, just play it cool.” 

I don’t know where the retrograde hysteria about little Mercury being single-handedly able to ruin lives comes from. In astrology, that’s not actually what it means, and “preparing yourself” by getting anxious, overzealous and fidgety is pretty much the OPPOSITE of what you should do.

Let’s talk about retrogrades in general, and then I’ll get on with the significance of this particular retrograde and how to handle it like a champ.

What is retrograde even I literally don’t understand how this is relevant like sun signs are cool I guess but what does this even mean

A retrograde is a common, regular occurrence in astrology — so regular, in fact, that the planets don’t deviate from their “retrograde and direct stationing schedules” — aka how often they do it. Astrology is all about cycles, and retrogrades are part of how those cycles always, always play out.

Just as planets take a certain amount of time to complete their orbits around the sun, they take a specific amount of time to complete their circuit of the geocentric zodiac map used in western astrology. Without boring you to tears, astrologers use some pretty basic math and scientific observances to determine how the planets move along the little map we use — it’s not a surprise when a planet retrogrades and it’s never for a weird amount of time. This is stuff we’ve noticed since ancient times, and we’ve been mapping the same little patterns for hundreds and hundreds of years. 

Our calendar, the Gregorian calendar, is a simple measure of the 365 (point whatever) days it takes Earth to complete its orbit around the sun. Another way to describe that is “how long it takes the sun to make a complete cycle through what we can see of the sky from our point on earth” — that’s how we look at it in astrology. It’s a little more complex than that, and there are specific reasons why a geocentric map is used and how astrologers “set” it consistently to the scientifically-descriptive heliocentric model, but that’s a bone I have to pick with Bill Nye at a different time.

Each planet has its own length of time it takes to orbit around the sun. Translating that to the zodiac, each planet takes a different amount of time to move through the zodiac wheel as observed from our point on earth. Since we are also orbiting the sun, sometimes, from our point of view, it appears as though each planet is going “backwards” through the zodiac or slowing down. 

“But Lohla, the planets aren’t actually moving any differently. Astrology’s not real, because the ancients didn’t account for earth’s orbit,” you might say. Hang on, Agent Scully, I’m not finished explaining. We got that accounted for.

Have you ever sat in a train station and watched through the window at the train on the next platform? As your train pulls out and speeds up, for a second, you might swear that the other train is pulling backwards in the other direction, even though it’s standing still. In New York, if you’re on the express, you might also notice this when keeping an eye on the local train one track over — as your train overtakes the speed of the other, the local may appear to stop or slide back, even though it’s also moving forward, just at a different rate than you are. Once you get far enough away, it’s easier to see that it’s moving in the same direction as you, just slowly.

That’s the basic optical illusion behind apparent retrograde motion. It’s a little different mechanically, but the same “trick” is happening.

Essentially, when this happens astrologically, all that’s going on is Earth is passing by another planet while they’re all going about their little orbits. Just lapping each other. So while Mercury usually looks like it’s moving east in our night sky, it suddenly looks like it’s going west from our point of view.

Slap the zodiac wheel on top of this diagram, and you see why this is astrologically relevant. Planets usually look like they’re proceeding through the zodiac in forward motion (Aries to Taurus, Taurus to Gemini, and so on). But when they’re going through apparent retrograde motion in relation to earth, they move “backwards” in the zodiac as we see it.

This has significance in astrology, but it’s not some kind of tragic saga — it’s a completely normal, routine occurrence with some easily predictable effects, and other effects that will be significant for individuals that vary from person to person. 

Before I continue, let’s get a few things down and debunk a little more:

1) “Mercury is especially awful and bad and Mercury retrograde is the worst of them all./ Mercury retrograde is the only one that matters.” 

Every single planet retrogrades in astrology.

Poor Mercury is not some uniquely mischief-making entity — he’s just a speedy little guy, so he retrogrades more often compared to everybody else. That’s why you always hear, like, your mom and your best friend and Katy Perry wailing about Mercury retro — it literally happens 3-4 times a year every single calendar year, where Mars and Venus retrograde more like every 18 months or so. There is nothing especially treacherous about Mercury retrograde — in fact, you should be less scared of it, since it’s retrograde for like /25-30% of the year/ every single year. If you hid under a blanket every single time it happened, you would be wasting over a quarter of your life!! 

PLEASE stop blaming baby Mercury. It’s mean. He does great stuff for you in your chart and transiting your chart like 75% of the time. Thank him.

2) “Yeah but you should notice when planets are retrograding and avoid those time periods to do anything important.”

My sweet astrology amateur: there is always, always a planet in retrograde. Often multiple. And life isn’t awful the entire time, so we can’t just blame retrograde motion for times when it sucks and when it doesn’t. The outer planets, because they’re such slowpokes? They spend MONTHS AT A TIME in retrograde. Months. You can’t cross off half of your calendar because a planet looks weebly in the sky. You would only have, like, one productive week every year. 

3) “Then what’s the point of paying attention?”

Because it’s more specific than that. Don’t be a nerd. Each specific planet’s specific attributes translate a bit differently than usual every time they do their little moonwalk in the sky. How they do it and how it affects your life, for astrologers, depends on:

A) where in the zodiac this is going down — just like the rest of the year, Mercury skedoodling around in Gemini is going to have super different vibes from when it’s hanging out in Capricorn

B) what other planetary aspects it might make during that time

C) how it ping pongs with your personal natal chart

All that being said, each retrograde period is going to have a ~general feel~ based on all these factors, so there’s a couple things we can make an educated guess about. Let’s get to it.

Okay, so it doesn’t ruin lives. What does it do then?

In astrology, each planet “rules” activity in certain aspects of our lives. Mercury is, most simply put, the ruler of communication. The house where it falls in our chart describes the things that get us talking, and our Mercury sign gives us the gift and tendencies of our own unique voice.

The reason why people go wild over Mercury retrograde is because, of course, communication rules everything. But this is also a kind of blessing. Things themselves are less apt to actually go completely wrong during Mercury retrograde than they are during other hard transits. However, our perception of them is skewed, which means our reactions can make a situation feel much worse. Words between friends can sour due to a simple misunderstanding. You sent a screenshot of a text conversation to the person you’re talking to. You state something clumsily, and the snippet gets taken out of context. Since Mercury rules our intellect, we can often feel like our intellect is weaker — like we aren’t as sharp, and we aren’t as quick or rational in our responses to emotional events. This can lead to sloppy mistakes in, mainly, work and friendship. But very often, Mercury stations direct, and the clouds of brain fog begin to clear, and we see that the initial horror of the situation wasn’t what we thought it was. We see that we behaved more “mercurially” than we intended and may have jumped the gun.

Mercury rules a couple of other things too, like our relationships to our immediate surroundings, short-distance travel, relationships with siblings, commutes, and our aptitude at choosing between many options.  It will also pick up some more “flavor” depending on the element of the sign that the retrograde takes place in. When it retrogrades in an air sign, we see more errors in specifically online communication and technological fritzes and mishaps. In a fire sign, we might see we made decisions too quickly and didn’t work out details well, or that we started something we don’t truly have the energy to sustain. In a water sign, we tend to misread the gauges of our own emotional loads and overcommit or show up too little in our relationships, or lose touch with our feelings. And in an earth sign, we often misjudge our own values, and how other people value us, and the ways in which they do.

Sometimes, when we make unwise decisions regarding one of these things that Mercury guards in our lives, things do go haywire. You bought tickets for the wrong flight. The cat spilled wine on your new laptop. You sign a contract or a lease that’s missing an important clause. You get halfway through launching a new project and you lose steam when you realize you made a serious error right at the start of your work.

However, there are many upsides to the brevity of Mercury’s backwardness. Often, these problems are surface-level, and they’re alleviated quickly with sheer time and patience. The slowness of the world during Mercury’s restful period also affords us a great opportunity: to double back and reflect. If you need to negotiate the terms of a contract you’ve already made, it’s a brilliant time. If you want to change something that has already been established, there’s a window to break the old agreement without really “breaking” anything. If you invite something from the past into your life, or you edit your old notes and files, you can often recover things you had assumed were lost. It’s a time to retrain your habits and tidy up what you have and repurpose it, whether it’s material belongings or relationships to people and places. Mercury still affords plenty of opportunity while retrograde. It’s just often not the ones you had planned to look for at the time.