“What time has ever been a simple time for those who are living it?” asks author Elizabeth Gilbert in her novel, Committed. And yet, as news rushes through the tendrils of technology, flooding our nervous systems, squatting for days and weeks in our divided minds, this time, for most of us living in it, is knotted with perplexing complexity and information overload. The old ways are not working any longer yet for so many of us, nothing seems clear or certain in a world where plastic grows like a cancer in our oceans and human populations bloom like algae. Where what seemed sure and certain empties into the unknown.
On December 3rd, Mercury began its last Retrograde cycle for this year (December 3rd-24th.)
In the nuanced language of astrology, the planets describe the quality of experience we assimilate and express. A Retrograde Mercury asks us to be patient and tenacious in the face of delays or obstacles, and amidst the ceaseless clamorous chatter, to “remember what peace there may be in silence.”
Patience and the commitment are carelessly tossed aside in the distractions of the times we live in. Yet in the North, Nature withdraws, retires inwards and waits patiently for spring’s Resurrection. Colours empty into shades of grey and stark skeletal branches pierce through the low lidded sky. In the South, shards of sunlight shatter the blue-sky dome with a radiance that saturates the secret life of rocks and trees. Shimmering light sweeps across the ocean sprinkling daubs of dancing silver over the crests of the waves, rendering us drunk with light, satiated with heat, immobilised, enervated. Time quivers and expands.
This time of the year may bring endings, the potential of new beginnings. It may bring the polarity of choice that skewers us in indecision.
Between the retraction of Winter or the swelter of Summer, the way forward may not yet be clear. We may have to be still. We may have to wait.
Astrological Mercury embodies eons of symbolism that can be traced to the Babylonian, Chaldean, Egyptian mythology and religious systems. A strongly placed Mercury in your birth chart enhances your ability to be humorous and charming. Mercury is the teacher, the comedian, the net worker, the communicator, the trickster who brings lightness and laughter and a new perspective to our world. Mercury is also associated with Thoth, the Egyptian god of healing and fertility and it is with our words that we can heal, with our words that we can birth new possibilities.
The Retrograde cycle of Mercury occurs three times every year and moves through the elements of fire, air, earth and water, in a procession across the zodiac, alerting us the rhythm of inner reflection that is needed for a more conscious experience of living. Mercury’s realm is magical trans-formation. He was the god of cross-roads and times of transition. Mercury was the only god who travelled back and forth from the Underworld.
Mercury is an important planet in our birth chart, signifying how we access information from the unconscious as we silence the chatter of our mind. In these Mercury Retrograde cycles, our perceptions may shift, igniting the creative process, birthing brilliant ideas.
Right now, we are all, on some level, experiencing a Mercury Retrograde cycle in the fiery sign of Sagittarius, which is a sign associated with our beliefs about the world. Sagittarius is about expanding our awareness, learning something new, perceiving with new eyes.
Mercury harmonises its energy with Saturn (November 28th December 9th and again from January 11th 15th) and as this calendar year hurries to an end, we may feel a sense of moving through treacle, sucked down by obstacles when everything around us is moving so fast. As Saturn and Mercury, hang low in the molten evening skies, there’s a deeper message contained here, said so simply by the Buddhist monk, Haemin Sunim: When everything around me is moving so fast, I stop and ask, “is it the world that’s busy, or is it my mind?”
Saturn is often connected with the law of karma and Mercury is about our perception. When these two energies combine in the heavens we return to the inner sanctum of our thoughts, that very private, personal space where linear time dissolves. We may choose to revisit the past, to follow the sweet scent of nostalgia to rest in unchangeable memories of someone we loved with all our heart. We may decide to clear away a tenacious thought that clings like a burr, repelling our peace in the still dark hours just before the dawn.
“Don’t let the hand you hold hold you down,” wrote the poet, Julia de Burgos. The simplicity of this statement may have a resonance for those of us who still hold the hand of an old hurt, a fearful thought, a limiting core belief.
“Nothing is good or bad, but thinking makes it so,” said the Bard. Nothing exists until we become aware of it. It’s the awareness of our minds that births the world we see into being. It’s our perception that makes the time we live in simple, or painfully fraught. All it takes is a conscious shift in perception to see a new world, a promised land, a world where we can anchor in Faith, trust in the process of Life itself. “Every thought you produce, anything you say, any action you do, it bears your signature”, says Thich Nhat Hanh.
Today, let’s bring new vision, self-reflection, and healing to our thoughts and to the words we speak. Today, let’s be mindful that we do have a choice to re-write our signature, clearly and simply.