Mercury, Greek mythology, Roman mythology, Hermes, messenger, statue, artwork, GrecoRoman artwork

Mercury Retrograde Wednesdays

Mercury, Greek mythology, Roman mythology, Hermes, messenger, statue, artwork, GrecoRoman artwork

Here it is, folks: the final Mercury retrograde cycle for 2020. On October 13 at 9:05 pm Eastern time, Mercury goes retrograde at 11 degrees Scorpio, backs it up into Libra on October 27, then goes direct on November 3 at 25 degrees Libra– just in time for the U.S. election. If you think this energy will make for a wild, strange October, you’d be right. But it’s not unmanageable – and that is saying a lot coming from me. More on that in a minute.

Mercury: The Basics

Mercury, Greek mythology, Roman mythology, statue, messenger, Mercury retrograde

Mercury, the messenger of the gods. Image credit: Rwendland / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

Mercury (Hermes) is the messenger of the gods in Greek and Roman mythology. He did a lot of dirty work for Zeus, serial cheater who had a vengeful wife, Hera. He also saved the lives of several mortals and demi-gods who found themselves in difficult positions. Mercury is also a trickster and shapeshifter. He loves a good joke or prank. Some of the things Mercury rules includes:

  • Advertising
  • Bees and beekeepers
  • Books and literature
  • Communication – written, oral and electronic
  • Computers
  • Desks and offices
  • Keys
  • Licorice
  • Mirrors
  • Schools and teachers
  • Sewing
  • Stationery – pencils, pens, paper
  • Travel (particularly short trips)
  • Transportation – buses, trains, cars, bicycles
  • Writers and editors of all kinds – journalists, newspaper reporters, proofreaders, editors, novelists

In astrology, the term retrograde refers to when a planet appears to move backward through the signs. Retrograde cycles for the planets vary – and Mercury’s retrograde cycles are among the shortest, logging in at approximately three weeks. If it feels longer, that’s due to the shadow period, an approximately two-week period when Mercury is moving along a path that it will revisit later. There’s a pre- and post-retrograde shadow period: typically the post-retrograde shadow is not as intense as the pre-retrograde shadow and is more of a final review of everything that occurred during Mercury retrograde.

Mercury, planet, Mercury retrograde, astronomy, astrology

The planet Mercury. Image credit: Brocken Inaglory / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

Mercury managed to get the best PR team out of all the planets because so many people are aware of Mercury retrograde cycles and how it affects traffic, electronic devices, and communication. As a Gemini rising, I am all too aware of my love-hate relationship with Mercury, as he rules both Gemini and Virgo. I cannot tell you how many times I have cursed him out while dealing with a phone issue, downed wifi, car issues, or some other shenanigans. But I have also learned the necessity of planning ahead and being extremely organized before retrograde cycles, and going above and beyond my usual efforts to ensure my emails and social media posts are clearly written. I will review plans and task lists with clients and colleagues both verbally and in writing, so that we eliminate any possible confusion. I try harder to shut my mouth and listen to other people, too.

As you’ve read in my previous posts about Venus retrograde and Mars retrograde, you know that retrograde periods are a time to move inward. It’s an opportunity to slow down and be reflective on what that sign rules. And since Mercury rules Wednesday, I encourage you to celebrate Mercury Retrograde Wednesdays during his final retrograde for 2020. Starting on October 14 and ending October 28, spend the next 3 Wednesdays honoring this versatile, multitalented planet with some very mercurial activities.

Activities for Mercury Retrograde Wednesdays

Mercury retrograde Wednesday, Mercury, astrology, communication, travel, reading, writing, books, girl with moxie

  • Write it down. Get a notebook or journal and write down what’s on your mind. Give it all to the page – it can handle what you have to rant or rave about. Read my post about daily writing rituals if you need some suggestions on how to start.
  • Take a little trip. Get in your car or on a train – whatever feels safest for you – and set off on a day trip. To really honor the free-spirited, impulsive nature of Mercury, don’t plan out where to go (but do make sure the car is full of gas, tires are properly inflated, etc.). Allow yourself to be surprised. Bonus points for bike rides!
  • Read. Mercury rules the written word, so grab a book or magazine or newspaper, your favorite beverage and maybe a snack, and settle down in a comfy chair to read. For this activity, I recommend going analog – Mercury may decide to zap your phone or tablet just when the action gets exciting, because he is a jerk like that sometimes. Do not ask me how I know this. Mercury also rules humor, so a collection of humorous essays or a satirical novel is an excellent choice.
  • Reorganize your office/work area. This includes your desk, files, shelves and bookcases. Definitely keep this activity to physical items – otherwise you may end up deleting computer files you needed. Again, do not ask me how I know this.
  • Watch something funny. Mercury loves to laugh, so scratch that itch by watching a movie or sitcom that makes you laugh. A standup comic special is also an excellent choice.
  • Clean the mirrors. Get some window cleaner or a spray bottle of white vinegar (my personal choice), a soft clean rag or paper towels, and clean all the mirrors in your home. You may even want to set up a new mirror somewhere, or perhaps buy a compact mirror for your go bag or purse.
  • Handwrite a letter or note to someone. Mercury rules handwriting, pens, pencils, and stationery, so this is an activity he can totally get behind. If you have no idea what to write, here’s a list of ideas.
  • Call a relative. Pick up the phone and call your mom, dad, sibling, your favorite uncle, the aunt who sends you care packages (shout out to my Aunt Gigi*) and check in with them. Doesn’t have to be a long conversation, nor does it have to be a heavy one. Just keep it light and loving, and you’ll both feel good by the time you hang up.
  • Sew. Mercury rules sewing machines AND needles, so if you enjoy sewing, set aside time on Wednesdays to sew a small project or work on a longer one. I love to sew, and I plan on doing this as much as possible – but you best believe I’ll be having a chat with Mercury ahead of time about not dicking with my machine, breaking needles, or jamming up the bobbin. Brand new to sewing? I highly recommend the Crafty Gemini’s tutorials for beginners.

Mercury retrograde Wednesday, Mercury, astrology, desk, office, organization, reorganize, humor, comedy, comics, sitcoms, girl with moxie

There’s a lot of planetary activity this year that poses some major challenges for all of us, and Mercury retrograde is just another part of it. But if we come at this cycle from a place of honoring the shift in perspective that’s required during Mercury retrograde, it can be a much easier transit to manage. Laugh along with Mercury as much as you can!

Freddie Mercury, Queen, rockstar, statue

Everyone’s favorite Mercury: the legendary Freddie Mercury. Image credit: Corvus / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

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Mercury Retrograde in Pisces: It’s the Most Frustrating Time of the Year

Connection speeds got you down?
Your bus or train running behind schedule?
Mobile phone, laptop, or other electronic device not working right?

Welcome to Mercury retrograde, my friends.

Long time readers of GWM have likely read previous posts I’ve written about Mercury retrograde, an astrological phenomenon that happens about 3 times a year. To understand this occurrence, and why some folks get so frustrated when Mercury is retrograde, I’ll provide some background.

Mercury, Greek, mythology, Hermes

Artistic rendering of Mercury (Hermes), the messenger of the gods in Greek & Roman mythology. Image courtesy elfinspell.com

Mercury (also known as Hermes) was the messenger of the gods in Greek & Roman mythology. He had a wicked sense of humor and loved to play tricks. In astrology, the planet Mercury rules all forms of communication. This includes e-mail, faxes, Internet, phones, text messages and snail mail. Mercury also rules transportation: planes, trains, automobiles, even bicycles and scooters. On a more abstract level, Mercury rules thoughts, concepts and ideas.

In astrology, the term retrograde means that a planet appears to be moving backwards through the signs of the zodiac. All planets except the Sun and Moon have retrograde cycles, and these retrograde cycles tend to trigger areas that need special attention. I found this explanation from Dwight Ennis to be particularly helpful:

Astrologically, a retrograde planet is symbolically retracing ground that has already been covered. Wherever one finds a retrograde planet, it seems to indicate a need to internalize that planet’s energies, come to terms with them, and “own” them.

When Mercury is retrograde, communication can get all screwed up. Websites go down for no apparent reason. Social media becomes unpredictable, with real-time updates & feeds not working the way they should. Electronic devices lose power or break down completely. Travel can be wonky as well: traffic might be much worse on the freeway, flights are delayed or cancelled, and you might have car problems.

The unpredictability of Mercury retrograde can manifest in other surprising ways. Whenever a major awards ceremony takes place during Mercury retrograde, such as this year’s Academy Awards, I’m always interested to see what happens, because the favorite in any category can end up not winning. This year’s results didn’t disappoint in that regard, with Argo taking Best Picture, Ang Lee winning Best Director for Life of Pi, and Christoph Waltz getting the Best Supporting Actor award for his work in Django Unchained – when none of them were seen as the favorites by many pundits.

On February 23, Mercury went retrograde in the sign of Pisces, which rules intuition, imagination, compassion, and understanding. Pisces also rules large bodies of water and water pipes. During the Oscars, I found this tweet which perfectly describes the wackiness of Mercury retrograde in Pisces.

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I like to think that Mercury finds all of the delays and communication breakdowns and surprises amusing. He’s a trickster, after all. But that doesn’t help when you’re waiting on a call about a job or your car won’t start. The good part is that Mercury retrograde cycles don’t last very long; the most intense portion of the cycle goes on for 20-24 days. It’s enough time to make you loopy, but not so long that you lose all hope of ever having a working Internet connection again.

It may help to think of Mercury retrograde cycles as a time to re-engage with areas of your life that have been neglected. Our world spins so fast these days (figuratively speaking) that it can be difficult to find the time to take on those tasks we’ve been putting off for a while. Personally, I’ve been using this Mercury retrograde period to take a look at old projects and determine if I am interested enough to revive them, and I’m re-organizing my stuff and weeding out items I no longer need. Notice all the “re” words? That’s because retrograde cycles are good for “re” activities: revise, reassess, review…you get the idea.

While searching online for current pieces on Mercury retrograde, I came across this piece from 2010 that resonated with me. As someone whose ruling planet is Mercury (I’m a Gemini rising), I often struggle to find the good during Mercury’s retrograde periods. The excerpt below gave me some food for thought:

Mercury Retrograde is a time to lay off the caffeine-powered Mercury engines of our lives and find something else–stillness, Athena, Jupiter, anybody but Hermes/Mercury. And this is what could be filling us with dread as we think of Mercury receding away from us. We’ve come to depend so much on him that we can’t picture him moving away from us…We don’t use it as a time to reflect on our attachment to our computers, our phones, our social networking accounts, our blogs, or even ways of communicating, whether electronically or not. It doesn’t mean that we have to cut off Mercury or Mercury related concerns entirely, even if that were possible.

It means that we can give space to other dimensions of Mercury through other “gods” or principles, like looking at the beauty of our handwriting, which is more of a Venus/Jupiter concern. (Yes, when was the last time you looked at your writing script? Have you ever pushed to develop or improve it, especially since writing in script is becoming a dying art?) Or does a recent argument with a friend highlight how you might not listen as well as you think you do? Or do you speak more forcefully, with too much Mars, than you might think or would like? Similarly, are you being as serious about your communication or your spoken commitments as you could, which is to evoke more Saturn? Or how are you evoking Athena (strategy) and wisdom on your job?

So while I referred to Mercury retrograde as being the most frustrating time of the year in the post title, it really doesn’t have to be. And if I keep telling myself this, eventually I will believe it. In the meantime, I’m counting down the days until March 17, when Mercury goes direct. Only 13 more to go…

Friday’s Hot Tip: 5 Ways to Help Your Unemployed Buddies

I decided to follow up on Sunday’s post about dealing with the unemployed with some good tips on helping out friends and family members who find themselves without work. These tips are based on what I’ve experienced being unemployed/underemployed, and what I wanted from my friends and loved ones during that time.

1. Start with asking, “How can I support you?”

These five little words should become a mantra for you, as this phrase works beautifully in many situations when someone is experiencing difficulty in their life. In an unemployment scenario, it gives the other person the power to decide what they want or need as they process the loss of their job. Pro tip: don’t ask this question just once, either. Whenever they need to vent about their job search, interviews that went nowhere, or their struggles to stay afloat, it’s your opportunity to ask what, if anything, they need from you.

2. Don’t assume you know their master plan post-layoff.

As I briefly mentioned in Sunday’s post, unemployment can give someone the opportunity to pursue life-long dreams. It opens the door to write, start a business, make a career change, travel, or volunteer. And believe it or not, they might not want a full-time job again. Everyone’s situation is different – give them space to figure out what’s next, and if you remember Tip #1, then they might just let you in on what they are dreaming up.

3. Keep your comments about money to yourself.

Trust me when I say someone who is unemployed (or even underemployed) does not want to hear you complain about the state of your bank account. Nor do they want to hear your comments about what they are doing or not doing with their money. Like politics, sex, and religion, discussions about money can kill a conversation, and in some instances it can kill a relationship. Do yourself and your friend a favor and hold your tongue.

4. Don’t radically alter your communication style or forget about them altogether.

Just because someone loses their job doesn’t mean they are a social pariah and you need to leave them alone. By the same token, if you were having phone conversations with them every couple of weeks, don’t suddenly start calling every other day. Be sensitive to their situation and let them guide the conversation when it comes to work or career topics, but feel free to talk about current movies, TV shows, books, music, local news or happenings. Or you could even talk about your pet’s antics or the latest celebrity scandal. The key is to keep things normal.

5. Let them mourn the loss of their job.

Momcat always told me, “When a relationship ends, it’s a death and it needs to be mourned.” She was talking about romantic relationships, but this also holds true for the relationships we have with our jobs, which are just as complex and layered as any love relationship. Give them space and time to grieve, and allow them to dictate when they are ready to move on in their career.

Have your own tips to add to this list? Leave them in the comments section.


Coming Clean

T-Wizzle and I talk frequently about clean communication. When we express our complete truth without fear of criticism, we cleanse ourselves and allow others to be cleansed as well. Yet this type of communication requires us to be vulnerable and share those parts of ourselves that we believe are impure or dirty.

As a matter of hygiene and principle, people don’t like dirt. We feel wrong when things are grimy. So we create wipes, solvents, lotions, and soaps to eliminate any filth and make our surroundings clean, shiny, and beautiful.

What we often forget, though, is that there is no growth without dirt. Nature needs soil in order to plant seeds. That same soil offers nutrients and protection while those seeds germinate, bud, and blossom. People aren’t much different. We have to reach down into our dirt in order to plant seeds of compassion that can grow and blossom. It’s that compassion that allows us to truly connect with others.

This message came through to me so clearly when I saw Babel a few weeks ago. In the film, Susan Jones (Cate Blanchett) and her husband Richard (Brad Pitt) are touring Morocco in an attempt to reconnect after the loss of a child and a brief separation. While eating dinner, Susan criticizes Richard for putting possibly unclean ice into his drink, and she repeatedly uses hand sanitizer to keep away any germs. But when she is shot in a bizarre accident, and there is no hospital available, she cannot ward off the dirt. It’s getting dirty that enables her and her husband to finally come clean and express themselves fully, without fear of being misunderstood.

Seeing Babel made me think about my communication with myself and others. Am I digging into my dirt and expressing my feelings? Am I being as clean and clear as I can in what I say? Am I speaking my deepest truths?

Society doesn’t promote clean communication: it’s all about making sure someone else isn’t hurt. “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all,” right? But what about saying something helpful? In my experience, nice words are often enabling of bad habits and poor behavior. Saying “he deserved it” or “she wasn’t worth the time” may be “nice words” that seem clean, but they are just another way to make things look shiny and pretty on the surface. They aren’t the words that get down and dirty and address the truth.

Yes, it’s hard to come clean. And yet once you do, the truth that comes through is fresher, purer, and brighter than you can ever imagine.