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About every four months, Mercury, the planet of communication, commerce and transport, appears to stop in its tracks and back up for three weeks, what astrologers call “Mercury Retrograde.”
When Mercury is in its retrograde period, communication snafus are common. Traffic snarls unexpectedly. Emails get lost, letters are returned to sender, computers crash, and messages disappear into the void. It’s considered a very bad time to buy electronics or sign contracts of any kind. One of my friends had his Blackberry fall into a men’s room toilet. Most famously, Mercury stationed to go retrograde the very hour the polls closed in Florida in the 2000 election. By most accounts, it’s a three week headache.
But Mercury Retrograde isn’t really so bad if you know how to work with it. First off, you have to understand that in our technomaniacal society Mercury Retrograde is going to stand out as a much bigger deal than if we lived in an agrarian culture where high-tech means a new harness for the oxen. What to us appears to be such a malevolent force would seem more or less benign if we weren’t so intent on working against it.
Consider the flow of information coming at you on a daily basis, from television, radio, computer, and of course your cellphone. You can keep it all organized on iCal, which will be synched among your computer, cellphone, and iPad (you just have to remember to consult your to-do list).
It’s not just personal information. Remember when news stories had a beginning, middle, and end? Now, the flow of new stories just pushes even big stories out of the picture, leaving us to wonder "Whatever happened with....."
It’s no wonder that people in their 30s and 40s are starting to think they’re getting Alzheimer’s and taking memory supplements. We take in an enormous amount of information, gobbling up a bunch of facts but almost never chewing them, and rarely do we have the opportunity to digest anything. We're exposed to a lot, we pay attention to very little. We see many things, but have a hard time finding meaning.
That’s the big Mercury Retrograde truth - you need a little background to see the foreground clearly. Without a little down time, our entire lives can seem like a gigantic “Where’s Waldo?” We’re swimming in a sea of information, really important personal, business and social stuff, bundled together with an extraordinary amount of useless chatter all making demands on our limited nervous systems. It’s not surprising that we can’t find our keys.
So during times when Mercury is retrograde, unplug, slow down, and go off-line. Don’t go after new information. Turn off the television. Reread a book, but don’t buy a new one. Spend a little time outside, go for a walk. Or sit in the kitchen and talk. Or cook a really nice dinner. Play a board game or cards with friends. Do the sort of things that make time slow down, things that seem hopelessly boring.
It’s even better if you can incorporate a little background quiet into your daily life on a regular basis. Spend a few minutes meditating. Try listening to the same songs over and over again until you know them really well, and can hear all the little nuances. Try eating one meal by yourself, in silence, without anything to read or listen to - see what your food tastes like. Then Mercury Retrograde won’t seem like such a change, and you’ll actually be able to function a little more clearly.
Of course, you can plunge ahead and try to ignore Mercury’s retrograde period. But don’t be surprised if you find yourself fishing around in a toilet for your cellphone.