Mercury Retrograde Wednesdays: The Aquarius Edition

We are 5 days into the first Mercury retrograde for 2021 and it’s taken me this long to finally get this post completed. That’s my life as an Aquarius Sun/Mercury, with Gemini rising, when Mercury goes retrograde: plans go sideways, surprises pop up, technology can get wonky. How about you? How have you been forced to pivot lately?

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While Mercury retrograde can be very challenging, it’s also our opportunity to slow things down and be open to changes. With Mercury retrograde in Aquarius, the sign of innovation and revolution, it might be more dramatic than usual. But we can channel this energy and make it work for us, not against us.

Mercury: The Basics

Because retrograde cycles ask us to review content, let’s review what we know about Mercury from mythology. Mercury (Hermes) is the messenger of the gods in Greek and Roman mythology. Zeus had a lot of affection for Mercury’s cleverness and entrusted him with several tasks. Mercury was the only god who could freely move into the underworld and was a psychopomp, guiding souls to the underworld. (To learn more about Mercury/Hermes, I highly recommend watching this episode of “Great Greek Myths.”)

Mercury is a trickster and shapeshifter. He loves a good joke or prank. While I’ve listed some of the things Mercury rules in a previous post, Mercury also rules:

      • Artisans & craftspeople
      • Bicycling
      • Butterflies
      • Carrots and celery
      • Clothing
      • Conversation
      • Dictionaries and encyclopedias
      • Dogs
      • Fingers, fingernails, hands and arms
      • Handwriting
      • Hygiene – personal and public
      • Imagination
      • Memory
      • Roller skates
      • Stories & storytelling

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.

The dates for Mercury retrograde in Aquarius are:

  • January 15, 2021 – Mercury enters shadow period
  • January 30, 2021 – Mercury stations retrograde at 26 degrees Aquarius
  • February 20, 2021 – Mercury stations direct at 11 degrees Aquarius
  • March 13, 2021 – Mercury leaves shadow period

As I’ve said before, Mercury has an excellent marketing/PR team because so many people are aware of Mercury retrograde cycles and how it affects travel, electronic devices, and communication. Those of us with Mercury predominant in our charts (Gemini and Virgo Sun/Rising, in particular) may struggle the most when Mercury is retrograde. The beauty of studying astrology, though, is learning how how planetary transits and retrograde cycles may affect our lives, and finding ways to work with those energies. Being aware of upcoming Mercury retrograde cycles can help you prepare for them. When Mercury is retrograde or about to go retrograde, regardless of your personal placements, it can help to:

      • Create contingency plans for events that will take place during Mercury retrograde
      • Work on communicating clearly with colleagues, clients, customers about projects and tasks
      • Focus on listening deeply to others
      • Accept that plans may go sideways and you will have to be flexible in your response

As you’ve read in my previous posts about Mercury retrograde, 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 for the remainder of this current cycle – and perhaps during the shadow period as well. From now through February 17 (and, if you’re so inclined, through March 11) spend the next couple Wednesdays honoring this versatile, multitalented planet with some very mercurial activities.

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Activities for Mercury Retrograde Wednesdays: Aquarius Edition

Break your own rules. Aquarius loves a good dose of shock and awe, and with Mercury in retrograde in this sign now’s the time to look at the rules you live by and see if it’s time to break them – especially if those rules are keeping you stuck in unhealthy habits, beliefs or mindsets. I am NOT encouraging you to be unsafe or break the law! To borrow a phrase from reformer & activist John Lewis, consider where you can make good trouble in your own life.

Read about activists, revolutionaries, reformers, and innovators. Aquarius is the sign of revolution, reformation and innovation, and Mercury rules reading, so read books and essays written by or about folks such as Martin Luther King Jr., Malala Yousafzai, Mahatma Gandhi, Gloria Steinem, Harvey Milk, Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, Emma Tenayuca, Cesar Chavez, and Luisa Moreno. Online searches on activists will pull up even more names, so have fun with it!

Contact your local leaders. Advocate for your community by sending an email or postcard to your local, regional or national leaders about issues that matter to you.

Get outside. If it’s safe enough for you to do so, go for a bike ride or strap on some roller skates. Take a short trip by car to a place you’ve never been before. No matter your mode of transportation, make sure everything’s in good shape before you start: check tires & wheels, fill up the gas tank, have a paper map handy, bring a phone charger. And don’t forget your keys!

Write often, especially by hand. Get some paper and pen/pencil 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.

May this Mercury retrograde period bring you fresh insights into what is in need of change and upheaval in your life, and what changes you wish to bring about, whether it’s personally, professionally, regionally or globally.

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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

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  • 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.

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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!

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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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It was 15 years ago today…

…that I began the Girl with Moxie blog. To paraphrase another song, I started at Blogspot, now I’m here (on self-hosted WordPress).

A lot has changed for me in 15 years, both personally and professionally. I started the blog out of boredom and restlessness at my office job. One day while surfing the interwebz, I found a wealth of bloggers who were writing about music, movies, TV, books, their lives, their jobs, their kids. I was introduced to music I had never heard of, found recipes and ideas that intrigued me, made new friends. I decided to dive in and write about whatever was on my mind.

I miss that simplicity. Because while I enjoy Instagram and Twitter is good for breaking news and a laugh, and Facebook does occasionally have its merits, there was something very gratifying about seeking out blogs to read and connecting with fellow bloggers on a much more low-tech scale. Long-form writing is still around, but it is often drowned out by all the video content.

Even though I don’t blog like I used to, I refuse to give up this site for many reasons, the main one being that it’s still an avenue for me to explore ideas and share my experiences without the editorial process of querying, rewriting, editing and handling rejection. I still get some traffic here (seeing the Google searches that bring people to the GWM blog is often amusing), a good friend hosts the site for free, and it’s an archive of my cyberpresence in a way that other resources aren’t.

Here’s the plan: I’ll share content from that first year and add some updates. I’ll try to carve out the time to craft new posts (it ain’t easy these days, for reasons I will get into later).

Let’s do this, kids.

Moxie on Wire

Back in January, I watched Man on Wire, the documentary about how Philippe Petit fulfilled his dream to walk a tightrope stretched between the Twin Towers of New York’s World Trade Center.  In 2009 this film won the Oscar for Best Feature Length Documentary – and with good reason. It’s a compelling story about dreaming big and not being afraid to fall – figuratively and literally.

The story seems simple yet so ridiculous: in the early 1970s, a rebellious young man with a love of heights sets his sights on the then-tallest building(s) in the world, the World Trade Center in New York City, as the location for his next high-wire act. With the help of his friends and an “inside man”, he manages to sneak up to the roof, get his equipment set up and actually crosses back and forth between the towers for 45 minutes. He’s 1,350 feet up in the air, without a net. Just typing that last sentence makes my heart race.

While the entire movie was incredibly captivating, there was one scene in particular that stood out. It’s right when Petit is preparing to go out on the wire and he is having a crisis of faith. It isn’t until he gets out to the middle of the wire – did I mention it’s 1,350 feet up IN THE AIR? – that Petit begins to smile. He ends up walking – nay, dancing – between the two buildings for nearly 45 minutes. While there’s no video footage of the event from the aerialist’s perspective, the still photos show the incredible rapture and joy Petit felt as he finally achieved his dream.

After watching this film I sat for a while, just thinking about the courage involved in making this walk happen. Not only did Petit have to be fully committed to doing this, he had to have buy-in from his partners in crime, as it were. One close friend had to bow out of the mission, it was that intense.

How many of us are not taking that chance to step out on that wire, to go beyond the feats of derring-do already accomplished? Yes, it is scary, and there’s no guarantee it will end well. But just as Philippe had a support team helping him achieve his dream, we all have people who are ready to help us create that path to success, even if that path is narrow and treacherous. I’ve learned this firsthand over the last couple of years.

When I first started writing this post back in February, I knew it was time to step out on that wire and I was scared shitless. It was high time to leave LA, but where to go and what to do was unclear, at least to me.

And then the answer came. In late March, while I was in meditation at my favorite place in Los Angeles County, the answer came. And the answers kept coming…in the form of a place to live up north, in the form of friends and strangers and opportunities.

To put it simply, I’m here to tell stories. My stories, others’ stories. And by sharing these stories I help myself – and others – process and heal and move forward.

As my first step in honoring this path, I applied to attend the Tomales Bay Writers’ Workshop this October. It’s run by Pam Houston, an amazing writer who also happens to be the director of the creative writing program at UC Davis. I’d never tried to get into a workshop before, as I always thought my writing wasn’t good enough. But this time, with the help of a great friend who read a piece I’ve been working on and gave me unwavering support, I stepped out on the wire and applied.

And I got in. Holy cannoli, I GOT IN.

Now comes the bigger challenge: paying for this shindig. I applied for a fellowship, but with only one per genre (fiction, nonfiction and poetry) there was a slim chance I’d get it. So I have to look for other funding, which is where you, dearly devoted blog reader, come in.

T-Wizzle advised me that I put a PayPal link for donations here on the blog. “You never know what people are willing to do to help,” she said. And while that’s another big step forward, I keep finding, over and over again, that she’s right: you never do know what people are willing to do to help.

With that, I’m taking another step forward on the wire and telling the world:  I want to go to this workshop and I need $1550.00 before July 15 in order to attend. The Donate button is in the right-hand column.

The more I think about how far I’ve come, as a writer and as a person, I wonder if I’m truly ready for the next step. But like Petit, I know I have prepared myself. I have set my sights on other goals and achieved them. So I’m going forward with my own high-wire act. I don’t know if I will reach the other side safely, but I’ve gotten this far, dammit, and turning around now would just piss me off. And more and more I have this sneaking suspicion that, like Petit, I will reach the middle and realize just how effortless it is to reach the other side.

man on wire 2

To me, it’s really so simple, that life should be lived on the edge. You have to exercise rebellion. To refuse to tape yourself to the rules, to refuse your own success, to refuse to repeat yourself, to see every day, every year, every idea as a true challenge. Then you will live your life on the tightrope.

– Philippe Petit

Everybody Should Play the Fool

One of the neat things about Mercury retrograde is that sometimes you get an opportunity to reconnect with someone from your past. Recently I e-mailed the blog link to Sparky, one of my childhood friends, and as a result we had a great conversation tonight.

Talking to Sparky brought back all these memories of hanging out at her house in the summer. She’d call me up in the morning and ask if I wanted to come with her and her mom to collect the money from the videogames they had bought & placed at a local arcade. They would pick me up and we’d head off to the arcade. I felt super-cool to be with them while they pulled the silver bin from the belly of the Frogger or QBert machines and emptied out the quarters. Often Sparky’s mom would give us a bunch of the quarters and we’d run off to play games for a while. If it wasn’t for the Ms. Pacman they had in their basement, I would have never learned how to get past the banana board.

Sparky had a pool where we spent a lot of hours. We would try to figure out the best way to keep our masks from fogging up while we were underwater, and we’d play Star Wars and other games. Sometimes her older sister and her current boyfriend would be at the pool with us – we frequently acted even more outrageous than usual just to get attention.

Since VCRs had just become popular, Sparky’s mom would take us to the video store and we’d pick out a few things to watch while we feasted on chicken patties and chocolate pudding. We watched movies like The Dark Crystal and Legend and Krull – and I turned Sparky on to Xanadu. We were big into fantastical stories.

Sparky was goddamn genius level. She could read at an extremely advanced level and was an incredibly skilled artist. She wrote elaborate stories about worlds in the 4th dimension and drew pictures of the creatures that lived there. She created a cartoon called “Oh for Dragon’s Sake!” that was actually published in a local paper. Sparky’s creativity was boundless and she was the one that encouraged me to write my own stories. Because of her influence, I started writing a story called “Unicorn Island” about a man stranded on an island that was inhabited by unicorns, and another story called “The World’s Greatest Wimp” about a muse who helps a geeky guy become a total hunk. She drew covers for my books-in-progress – I think they might still be somewhere in my parents’ attic.

When we were about 13 or 14, her family moved to the West Coast. I was devastated, but we had already started morphing into teenagers and weren’t so concerned with expressing our creativity.

Tonight, Sparky and I chatted via instant message. We talked a bit about writing, and how it seems so difficult to find the time to create. She actually hadn’t written or drawn much in recent years, and was actively working to get back into the habit. I told her how much I had always enjoyed her writing and drawings. She said, “One thing I’m trying to do now, with writing and drawing, is recapture the fearlessness I had when I was 12 and younger. It wasn’t till 12 that I learned to hide being creative.” After she said that, I instantly realized why we had reconnected at this point in time…and I thought about the Fool.

The Fool card in Tarot comes at the very beginning of the Major Arcana. The card depicts a brightly dressed young man who is gazing at the sky and is about to fall off a cliff – nearby, his small dog is barking and jumping. What’s interesting about this card is that the man looks happy, and the dog doesn’t seem to be alarmed. Based on this interpretation, it makes you ask: is the Fool falling, or is he leaping?

Very young children have no experience of the world as being scary or frightening. Someone has to tell them to not touch the stove or to look both ways before crossing the street. Like a child, the Fool is devoid of experience that tells him to be afraid of the unexpected. He stands at the edge of the cliff because he doesn’t know any different. When the Fool comes up in a Tarot reading, he is telling us to “drop the knowing.” When we no longer look to our fears to dictate how we behave in the present, we become the Fool: trusting that if we leap, we will not fall.

Sparky and I were fearlessly creative as kids. We took the leap into our imagination over and over again, and never felt bad or wrong for it. Then something shifted and we took on the belief that it wasn’t okay to be creative. Now as adults, seeking something beyond our everyday existence, we’re playing the Fool. We’re dropping all of our fears and taking the leap back into our creativity and fantasy, completely trusting that we will not fall.