I know the title of this newsletter article is strange. But partially because I really love the strange and also because the entire writing process for me and many others is so doggone hard, I thought that I’d express some of my thoughts about the writing process itself. Then I’ll get into the subject of the Mercury retrograde cycle we are about to enter. After all, Mercury is concerned with communication, so why not talk about that very thing.
When I’m staring at the intimidating blank page, everything I thought I was going to write about suddenly comes into question. Is it really the thing I want to write about? Will people like it or find it relevant? How should I go about saying it? And why am I picking this topic and not something else that is equally important or interesting? Then I usually go blank until my thoughts seem to always come back to one basic question. Why am I writing this at all? What is my motive? Then I just go – Hmmm! Part of this question includes looking at not just why I find the subject interesting, but more importantly, why might the reader find this interesting. But the irony is that since I’m not a mind reader, I don’t know, and cannot know, what the reader will find interesting. At this point the mind goes quiet and I just sit. I gradually become quite simple with myself and ‘feel’ my own desire to have an adventure. That’s how it starts for me along with the hope that some of my readers will also have an adventure with me.
One of my favorite writers, Malcolm Gladwell, who wrote a book called “What the Dog Saw”, summarized his thoughts on this very subject as follows: “Good writing does not succeed or fail on the strength of its ability to persuade. It succeeds or fails on the strength of its ability to engage you, to make you think, to give you a glimpse into someone else’s head – even if in the end you conclude that someone else’s head is not a place you’d really like to be.” Having said all this, I can only add my hope that you may enjoy a short adventure into the mind of an astrologer who enjoys giving you a glimpse of what is in his head.
Many people nowadays are aware of the Mercury retrograde period. It occurs every 4 months or so and lasts for approximately 21 days, more or less. Sometimes, I think of it as the ‘scapegoat’ of astrology since so many blame events in their life on this astrological transit. Caught up in the blaming aspect, we can lose sight of the fact that this period is actually quite important, valuable and necessary.
Here are the details: Mercury went retrograde on Saturday night, April 17th, 2010 at 9:06pm, PDST at 12° of Taurus. It continues its retrograde movement until Tuesday, May 11th where it returns to its regular direct motion at 3:27pm at 2°40′ of Taurus. Anyone whose natal chart is activated by the area that is affected by this cycle, will be noticing its effects with more emphasis.
The value of all Mercury retrograde cycles is that it is necessary for us to review and look more deeply at some area of our life involving our thinking and communication with others. The regular motion of Mercury is quite rapid, often moving at a faster speed than the Sun. As such, our minds race forward and if it weren’t for this cycle, we could not only get way ahead of ourselves, but not have the chance to be aware of the need for reflection and reevaluation. This is exactly what is needed for the next three weeks. However, it is also true that this can be an especially active time, even though one would prefer to have time to kick back and ponder. This is due to the fact that another aspect of this period is that one is often going to feel a need or demand to finish a cycle. Often it is accompanied with a feeling that it absolutely MUST be finished. So, we have two contrary forces operating at the same time, rest and reflection – opposed by the need to make an effort to complete some cycle or project. Meanwhile, there is a greater likelihood of things breaking down or needing to be fixed, while simultaneously feeling the need to move forward rapidly, which, of course, is usually not possible. Lovely, isn’t it? So, what are we to do? Patience is what we need here, accepting, if we can, what we are able to move forward on and what are not. Not so easy, though, if you have a very demanding boss who knows nothing of Mercury retrograde and can’t stand hearing ‘excuses.’ That’s one of the problems of living in a culture that does not have a clue about timing.
Since this cycle occurs in Taurus, patience becomes even more necessary than ever. The strength of Taurus is thoroughness, steadiness and not missing the little details that are, in fact, so important. So, this particular retrograde cycle may feel even slower than most of them. If we can accept this, any developing frustration will be mitigated or even non-existent. It can also ask us to closely examine our underlying values so as to help guide us to a deeper understanding of what we really do care about and where we want to spend our time the most.
One astrological aspect this Mercury retrograde cycle will be making is a square to Mars. This will amp up the desire nature and increase our tendency to push-push, no matter what the obstacles. It could even heighten the tendency to become angry and hostile if frustration builds to the breaking point. So, it is going to be especially wise to remain calm no matter what is going on at work, on the road, or in any communication. I’ll be saying more when we get further into the retrograde cycle, especially when we reach what’s called the Inferior Conjunction between the Sun and Mercury, which will occur on April 28th at 8° Taurus.
Soon the Game Will Change
For the past 12-18 months, the underlying transits have all had a very Saturnian nature. For one thing, Saturn has been in aspect to both Uranus and Pluto for this entire period. In its negative aspect, Saturn can increase one’s pessimism, emphasize what is not possible and all the reasons for why something will not work and provide the sense that life is hard and full of challenge and limitation. An example of this, in my opinion, is the Tea Party movement, which has primarily an anti-tax message. The interesting thing is that taxes for those earning less than $250,000 a year, is less than it was. Also, although there is more we need to know about the details of the bail-out program, it does seem possible that the actual cost will be less than expected. I’m not sure yet what is driving this movement, though in the coming year, I suspect we will learn a lot more about this.
The truth is that Saturn does approach every matter with realism and caution, but this can be helpful. It can temper us, prevent excessive enthusiam and focus our attention on taking care of our obligations (debts). Because Jupiter has been absent from this underlying transit, Saturn has had the dominant influence over us. It is this that will be changing very soon. In late May, Uranus will change signs and enter Aries, which will quickly be followed by Jupiter in early June. On June 6th, Jupiter and Uranus will conjunct in Aries and the energies of life will begin to feel quite different than it does now and do so almost immediately.
Jupiter is about expansion and freedom, while Uranus is concerned with independence, individualism and in Aries, great spontaneity. Together, they are likely to drive the Saturn restraint and caution out of the building. This is one of those transits that everyone will be able to experience personally. It will brighten things up a bit, but also create a great sense of volatility and unpredictability. I’ll have a lot more to say about this transit in the coming months and into the next year as well.
As always, I invite you to respond with your own experiences of Mercury retrograde and urge you to return to the blog from time to time to see what others are saying. I will try to respond to reader questions as much as possible. And if you also would like to share your own thoughts about your process of writing, please feel free to share. I’m sure many of the readers will appreciate it.