Oh My Stars

Mercury Retrograde is once more approaching, and astrology fans everywhere are warming up their excuses for all things Mercury related — phone calls, e-mails, commerce, short trips, signing contracts, elevators, parsley, farmer’s markets, wi-fi connections — to go wonky. But although Mercury doesn’t actually go retrograde until Saturday, you have my permission to start blaming it now. In fact, you have the Universe’s permission as well: we are now in the Mercury Retrograde Shadow Period.

Mercury goes Retrograde on Saturday. From our position on Earth, that means that Mercury appears to stand still in the sky and go backwards. This happens at 3° Cancer and carries on until July 1, when Mercury will have bumbled all the way back to 24° Gemini. The “Shadow Period” is that stretch of time before and after the retrograde when Mercury (although still going forward) passes through the degrees it will cover during the retrograde. In other words, this retrograde shadow period actually began on about May 23, when Mercury hit 24° Gemini. Although the retrograde ends on July 1, it won’t be out of the shadow until July 16, when Mercury passes by 3° Cancer again.

Mercury rules a lot of important things in your daily life, and having a retrograde to blame your problems on is pretty great. But, honestly? It’s not that bad. A little caution with Mercury-ruled activities is called for, and that includes the “shadow period,” but it doesn’t automatically imply disaster.

How much stock one should put into the traditional warnings about Mercury retrograde is almost a matter of your personality, or what kind of astrology you prefer: Old School or New School. If you’ve read much about astrology, you probably understand the difference between “Old School” and “New School.” Just as societies change but human nature doesn’t, so has our approach to the same astrological factors over the centuries.

A New School astrology interpretation of “Mars in ______ in the ______ house” will read something like “in this incarnation, you will feel challenged to prove yourself in matters of ______ and will have excellent drive with those areas of life.” An Old School astrology interpretation of the same “Mars in ______ in the ______ house” will tell you something like “you are an angry person who gets huge blisters on your _____ and will probably die horribly.”

Put another way: give your birth chart to the most enlightened, New-Agey evolutionary astrologer out there and he/she will be able to accurately tell you (between handfuls of granola) what next month will be like for you, and will do so with considerably accuracy, and the whole thing will sound kind of like this:

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Give the same chart and the same data to an Old School astrologer, steeped in all the ancient techniques and translations, and you’ll still get an accurate interpretation of what’s coming up in the next month, but overall it may come across more like this:

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Personally, I try to keep things as positive and optimistic as possible. But I’ll admit that there are days when calling your flooded basement “a free indoor pool” doesn’t truly capture the essence of the situation.

So: for those of you who enjoy having a reason why your communications and contracts and commerce are all screwing up, Mercury Retrograde is here for you. If you prefer thinking of Mercury Retrograde as a time better suited to meditation than calculation, it can work that way too, and I’ve got some pointers on how to handle this time HERE. But in either case… check your spelling.

Questions about your birth chart, or astrology in general? Want to know more about my big discount on readings for new clients? Write me!

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