“He knew that all the hazards and perils were now drawing together to a point: the next day would be a day of doom, the day of final effort or disaster, the last gasp.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien
I always find it disappointing when I see people warn each other when Mercury is in retrograde, especially with silly Facebook postings. It is even more depressing when I see people blame things on it. It seems like the magickal community, at least those that have chosen not to put any depth into their studies, goes into a panic mode during these time as if a cloud of doom is passing by.
WHAT IS RETROGRADE?
If we watch the sun, moon and planets in the sky, they appear to rotate around us from east to west even though we know that they really rotate around the sun. Because of this illusion, they sometimes appear to slow down, stop, and reverse direction! Every planets exhibits this behavior, and Mercury will exhibit this behavior three or four times a year for about three weeks each time.
SEEING THE DIVINE IN THE PLANETS
Many Contemporary Pagans will look skyward and see the Divine there. The see a cosmic dance on the grand scale that is often summarized using the simplified phrase from the Emerald Tablet “As above, so below.” Great men have sought to map meaning to these movements in order to better understand the Divine and the physical world around us.
Over time, common attributes and associations were derived based on the individual object, its behavior, and its relationship to other celestial bodies. In determining their influence on individuals, they are often further mapped to their date of birth.
THE INFLUENCE OF MERCURY
The Romans knew of seven bright objects in the sky: the Sun, the Moon, and the five brightest planets. They named them after their most important gods. Because Mercury was the fastest planet as it moved around the Sun, it was named after the Roman messenger god Mercury.
The God Mercury was commonly associated with travel and borders, roads, travel, and foreign lands. He was often petitioned for safety before embarking upon a journey. He was also associated with trade and commerce, prosperity, abundance, and success; which lead to associations with luck and good fortune.
Even today, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, Mercury is associated with “communication, travel, contracts, automobiles, and such.” (http://www.almanac.com/content/mercury-retrograde)
THE INFLUENCE OF RETROGRADE
The retrograde behavior of Mercury is often taken to have a negative influence on those things associate to it. Communications is hampered, travel is disrupted, commerce is disrupted.
But you should never insulate the Mercury retrograde behavior from the influence of all the other bodies. We all know that life is a sum of many interactions. Nor should we believe that Mercury Retrograde is the most important influence happening and thereby trumping all other influences.
It is precarious generalizing its effect on all individuals as we are all unique. Some astrologers believe that those born during a retrograde (which is a significant considering it happens 3-4 times a year) can actually make you immune from its affects and might actually be beneficial.
I unfortunately see the panic created by Mercury retrograde as another step toward the dumbing down of Paganism and the aversion of some Pagans to reading anything of substance and their addiction to digital “crap” via social media. Though I will not argue against personal revelation over careful research, I do believe that you have a personal responsibility to research and apply critical thinking to statements made by others.
So what should you do or not do during Mercury retrograde? In the end, it may not matter what we believe, but more about how we use those beliefs to influence our daily lives. If you feel strongly about the influence of Mercury Retrograde on your life, then instead of hunkering down with your hands over your heads, and blaming your misfortune on a tiny planet 48 million miles away, look at it as an opportunity to reconsider and reflect. Control your life and do not let Mercury control you! Pay more attention to your writing and speaking skills and consider ways to improve them. Put more thought into your trips and make them more safe and fun. And for celestial heaven’s sake, take some personal responsibility!