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Mercury Retrograde – the joke is on us!

The Sun is the centre of our Solar system and represents our ego/self, astrologically.

Mercury, as the planet nearest to the Sun, represents how we think, process information, communicate, how we express that ego/self.

Mercury is named after the Roman god (equivalent of the Greek Hermes and the older Egyptian Thoth). We gain many insights into the astrological meaning of a planet from the mythology of the god after whom the planet is named.

One of the myths about Mercury tells how he stole a herd of cattle from his brother, Apollo (the Sun god), just five minutes after he was born!

Clearly, a precocious little god!

Mercury eventually revealed his trick and Apollo forgave him when the clever and creative little god invented the first lyre as a gift for his brother. With it, Apollo was able to make the most beautiful, divine music.

Mercury's theft of his brother's cattle is suggestive of the planet's retrograde.

He was so clever that he got away with it by getting the cows to walk backwards!

This is Mercury as the 'trickster' and what we tend to experience when the planet is retrograde.

Mercury was not being malicious, he was just having fun. Entertaining himself, really. So, when Mercury is retrograde, the joke is on us and it is most important to maintain our sense of humour. Humour, too, is mercurial.

It has been said that “laughter is the best medicine” and Mercury is associated with healing.

He carried the caduceus, a magic wand given to him by is brother, Apollo. The caduceus is used as a symbol of modern medicine.

The element, Mercury, is very mercurial being both liquid and solid. It was used was in medicine as an ingredient in the widely used antiseptic, Mercurochrome (until mercury was determined to be extremely toxic!).

Mercury is also called quicksilver, a term which is sometimes used to describe someone with an unpredictable, changeable temperament. Of course, Mercury is also used to gauge the changes in temperature or barometric pressure.

Likewise, Mercury, from an astrological perspective, helps us to perceive, interpret and gauge the changes in our social climate, to 'read' other people and situations.

When it is retrograde we can misinterpret, leading to misunderstandings which can create conflict.

Mercury's name derives from the Latin word 'merx' meaning "merchandise", as Mercury was originally the Roman god of tradesmen and thieves.

Mercury, god of the crossroads, also governs transportation: how we get where we're going, both physically and mentally.

This god of travellers also played the role of spiritual guide, in charge of transporting souls to the afterlife. Known as the 'psychopompos' (soul-guide), Mercury (as Hermes) was believed to cross the boundaries between the worlds and convey the souls of the deceased to their home in the Underworld.

I think this is an important aspect, often overlooked. It suggests to me that part of the meaning of Mercury retrograde is to slow us down in our daily rushing about so that we can explore the deeper spiritual and unconscious processes at work in our lives.

It is so easy, especially in our modern world, to be distracted by the trivial, superficial aspects of life and ignore the deeper realms.

I think, if we focus on the minor inconveniences, irritations, frustrations that can occur in our day-to-day when Mercury retrogrades, we miss out on an opportunity to learn, to recognize what is really going on in our own individual 'underworld', the unconscious.

A good example of this came up in a session this week with one of my regular BodyTalk clients. Her main concern when she arrived was a physical symptom which seemed to be resolved through our earlier sessions, but now was resurfacing. She speculated that the digestive issues might be caused by something she'd eaten.

When I asked what else was going on in her life, she reluctantly mentioned a 'minor' thing that she had been dealing with for a few weeks. It was such small thing, she felt embarrassed to even mention it.

She had taken on the job of organizing a small get-together for her group and was finding that after dozens and dozens of emails it was becoming more and more frustrating. Once a date and location had been settled, the hostess suddenly couldn't host. Then someone else said they 'might' be able to... and finally confirmed. Then someone else wanted a different date or time.

Her role was just organizer....she was just the messenger, trying to get everyone 'on the same page'. The process had her feeling extremely was her digestive tract!

With further exploration, we were able to see how it wasn't about this one event, of course, but what that interaction was triggering for her at a deeper, unconscious level.

The physical symptoms had brought her for a BodyTalk session so these deeper issues could be brought to conscious awareness, so there could be a release of some old, deeply held beliefs and emotions.

Our thoughts and emotions trigger the release of neurotransmitters and hormones, the body's messengers. Perhaps this is why Mercury is associated with healing as well as with our thought processes.

Though this was a BodyTalk session, not and Astrological consultation, it felt appropriate to explain briefly about the current Mercury (and Mars) retrograde...and we had a good laugh about how that made sense with what she had been experiencing.

If you are finding it difficult to move forward right now, that is because it is actually a time for reflection, re-evaluation, research, reviewing past actions and reconsidering plans and strategies.

Retrogrades are a natural part of the planetary cycles, and occur because of the relative distances of the planets and how long each takes to revolve around the Sun, relative to our Earth.

“There is a time to every purpose under heaven.”

Just as the tide must retreat in order to come flow in again, and we must breathe out in order to breathe in, we sometimes need to take a step back before moving forward.

That is what a planetary retrograde signifies. It is a time to pause, take a step back, review and finish up old business so that you are ready to move forward once the planetary energies are going in forward motion again.

This applies collectively as well as individually, so it is a time for groups, whether small family or community groups or corporate and government organizations, it is a time to learn from the past in order to move forward and create a better future.

It is important to realize that each of us is like and individual cell in the body of humanity. The healthier each of us becomes, the more we contribute to the health of the whole.

If you use the retrograde period for more introspection and reflection, you may learn a great deal about yourself and things will generally go quite well.

Maybe that is why the symbol used to represent 'retrograde' is the one used in medicine to represent 'prescription'.

If you try to just keep pushing forward with your ego-driven agenda....well, that is like moving against the tide and you will encounter resistance.

Then you can complain that things are going wrong because, after all, "Mercury is retrograde", as I so often hear.

I can always look for someone or something outside myself to blame or to explain 'what is happening to me', rather than learning to recognize that everything I perceive as 'out there' is only my perception and interpretation based on what is going on within.

The road to health and healing for each of us, and therefore for all of us, is 'the road less traveled'.

It is the road inward to 'know thyself'.

Remember, “as long as you can laugh at yourself you will never cease to be amused” and “he who laughs last, laughs best”!

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