May 17, 2015

Is it Actually Mercury Retrograde or Do You Just Need to Get Your Sh*t Together?

False colour view of Mercury

Is it just me or is this whole Mercury retrograde thing getting a bit tiresome?

Astrology is all well and good if that’s what you’re into and I know there is some “science” to it although I’m not sure exactly what that is.

I’m an Aries and a lot of what astrology has to say about this resonates with me in terms of my character and my relationships. I used to love reading my mom’s ancient Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs book when I was younger.

Why were my Gemini friends so moody? Did I like the sound of the Leo man or the Scorpio man more?

Every time I met someone new I’d look them up.

The thing is though, I could extract pretty much any meaning I wanted to out of anything and I could recognise elements of myself or others in each sign. I still like reading my star sign sometimes and I once had my palm read by a Chinese astrologer/palm-reader in Covent Garden Market. He said I’d be a published writer. Back then I thought he must be joking, but clearly he knew something I didn’t.

So I’m open to all that mystical, unexplained stuff—honestly. I also know that astrology is all about energy and connections and I believe in that too, to an extent.

But if I read one more article about Mercury retrograde and what I need to do and not do as a result, I might just break my computer myself instead of waiting for the retrograde to do it!

This is my beef with all the retrograde talk:

It’s New-Agey:

Most average people don’t know what the hell Mercury retrograde actually means literally speaking and won’t bother to look it up or admit to not knowing. At least I have found this to be the case for most woo-woo ‘in-speak’ which is what this has become. Often the Mercury bit is dropped and it’s just referred to as retrograde.

And in a typically new-agey vague but reverent fashion, we’ll just take it for granted that some serious universal event is happening here and we’ll pay attention (without bothering too much with the details or reasons.)

It’s a Misnomer:

Mercury is not moving backward, it’s just an optical illusion. Mildly alarming, I can imagine, to the astrologers who first noticed this whole phenomenon, but a misrepresentation nonetheless. And one that has become enshrined as a real phenomenon.

The best layman’s explanation I found is this:

“Mercury is the closest planet to the sun, and thus has a smaller orbit around the sun than we do. That means that it goes around the sun and then passes us by to go around again before we have even finished our first rotation.

You can imagine the planets as Indy 500 race cars, with Mercury on the inside flying by at top speed and our little planet Earth, which is more in the middle of the track, traveling more slowly. Each time Mercury goes by on another lap, it appears to us that it’s actually going backward.” 

The Starchild website, which is a service of NASA, have this illustration to explain it:

“You can experience this effect for yourself. Start out standing side by side with a friend. Have a friend walk forward slowly. Now you walk forward at a faster speed. Watch your friend and think about how they are moving relative to you. At first, they move away, then as you pass them, they appear to be moving backward relative to you – even though they are still walking forward.”

It’s an Easy Explanation:

I’m not a fan of over-simplistic explanations. In fact I’m downright suspicious of them. I believe life is simple on one level, yes, but also deeply intricate and complex.

I just can’t agree to chalk up historical events like plagues in China, riots in Los Angeles and Economic crashes to a planetary optical illusion that can be explained by science. There are too many factors that contribute to and culminate in events like these for a retrograde to be anywhere near a satisfactory explanation for me.

Forgive me if I’m totally misunderstanding the whole retrograde thing here, and please set me straight. I’d love to actually understand the logic, because honestly as I see it, there is none.

It’s just too easy to blame all our problems or mistakes on a retrograde. It’s like saying, sorry I’m such a grumpy b*tch today, my chakras are just out of alignment.

Come on!

If I miscommunicate, lose an email, miss an appointment or crash my car, that’s down to me and my lack of clarity, crappy organization and bad driving (or someone else’s)—not whatever the hell the planets happen to be up to!

Despite all this, I’ve decided that it can’t hurt to honour Mercury retrograde.

In fact I’m going to do just that. Here’s my plan:

From tomorrow, I’m going to organise the pile of papers that’s been growing on and around my desk for months, call and message those people I’ve been meaning to contact since last year, clear out my 1,000 strong email inbox, check my side mirrors twice (reversing is my weakness) and get google calendar happy.

That way I’m sure I can outsmart all this Mercury retrograde sh*t apparently heading my way.


Renegade Health
Aquarius Papers


Relephant read: 

Modern Scapegoatism, let’s stop Blaming Mercury Retrograde.


Author: Khara-Jade Warren

Editor: Renée Picard

Image: NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre/Flickr

I think Astrology is bullshit. Here’s why I’m wrong:

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