As an astrological practitioner I used to think that astrology was a correlative system developed by the ancients to match astronomical phenomena to current Mythos. According to an article by a physicist, astrology is the study of the relationships of electromagnetic fields around planets, stars, solar systems and galaxies. It feels that both are true. However since astrology is a tool, I don’t want to be thought of as just an Astrologer. I work as a Shaman with the tool of astrology in my bag.
An astrology teacher once advised me not to go backpacking into Desolation Wilderness in the High Sierra of Northern California because of a Saturn transit which indicated a possible fall and broken bones. I told her: “I’ll be careful.” I didn’t fall nor did I break any bones.
I know people that use astrology to justify their fears and stop them selves from doing this or that because of what planet is this way or that way. I call this Victim-Astrology, the use of astrology as a way to curb behaviors as if there were a giant code in the sky that could tell us the right or wrong way to do something. This could be an example of becoming a tool of astrology rather than using astrology as a tool.
Retrogrades and Mercury Retrograde
The term retrograde is applied to all planetary bodies in our solar system except Earth, the Moon and the Sun. Retrograde is the apparent motion of a planet that appears to go backwards against the zodiac from the point of view of being on planet Earth. A retrograding planet is an optical illusion. The planet is not going backwards in the sky (see the link at the end of this report for a visual demonstration and a second link for more information on retrograde motion). During a retrograde motion the planet is as close to the Earth as it will get during its orbit.
(Mercury is retrograde until September 5, 2017)
Western Astrologers claim that during Mercury retrograding communications become more difficult as if they weren’t already difficult enough. In addition to that thinking, contracts, machinery breakdowns (especially computers and automobiles), and travel snafus are more common during this time. Often times clients will call me to ask if Mercury is in retrograde because communications are off in their lives and more often than not the retrograde is not happening.
The complexity of our culture, the speed in which technology and change occur and the institutions that we once relied on for stability have been for many years have been destabilizing. Climate-change, growth of the power of Corporations, failures of governments are examples of the destabilizing factors. Looking to a phenomena beyond our control is a good way to – at the very least – explain what is happening and at worst is a way to abdicate our sense of responsibility and put the blame on Mercury retrograde.
Are we making a self-fulfilling prophecy when we blame Mercury Retrograde for our problems? Probably. If so this is an error in judgment when we blame Mercury retrograde for problems that could happen at any time. What about all the events that go right during the Mercury retrograde period? When you look for problems through the filter of Mercury retrograding are you not more likely to find them? Western Astrologers make the problems of Mercury Retrograde worse by playing on our fears. They write about adversity and those wishing to know more feed into these fears and make matter worse. Western Astrology assumes that the energies of a planet in retrograde make the energies go inward. This is deductive logic at work. Communications are difficult as I look for all the examples that make my case. But logic is does not always reveal truth, for example – if all cops wear blue than if I am wear blue I must be a cop. When we fall victim to astrology, mainly Mercury Retrograde we may unwittingly fall into victim-think. Is it not better to rise to a challenge by meeting it when we feel able to do so, than running away because we are afraid?
Since Mercury is the closest planet to Earth and it is closer still during a retrograde period (usually 3 weeks 3 times per year) it follows that the electromagnetic influences may be more intense than when Mercury appears in direct motion (going forward against the background planets and stars). There seem to be three choices that could be made with regard to Mercury retrograding.
- Engage in the intensity
- Remain neutral, observing oneself and acting from a neutral base
- Retreat, and meditate
I have come to see this as an empowering choice for clients and myself instead of a way to limit our actions due to a certain point of view. And in fact Vedic or Jyotish Astrology interprets retrogrades in the much the same way.
An animation for retrograding Mars: