About Writing (and a little on Mercury Retrograde)

Posted on April 17, 2010
Posted by Jim Sher

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.

Mercury Retrograde

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.


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14 responses to “About Writing (and a little on Mercury Retrograde)”

  1. clzittle@gmail.com' Cheryl says:

    I finally had time to read this and reflect on it. There is so much I can say here. I am a Tauras moon at 11 degrees. I have a rather large customer who has not been able to commit to moving forward due to concerns. So we are at a standstill and I am hoping he will move forward soon. I am capi at 7 degrees so this Saturn Pluto (with Pluto moving into my first) has affected me deeply, I feel more cynical especially about relationships and work than I ever have. Funny, I know that transit is moving in June, and it gives me hope, yet, I just don’t feel it. It is an interesting time and its great to have an explaination of why that so many of my friends don’t have.

    Keep up that writing. I like to read it.

    Cheryl Zittle

  2. jgracelewis@gmail.com' jgracelewis says:

    I need help – ugh

  3. I couldn’t resist your invitation to comment on the Tea Party movement. I don’t know what you mean by the Tea Party being a “true” movement, Perhaps the Tea Party groups don’t want to be grouped into one group because there are various groups that probably differ philosophically. However, at least one group (the one formed by Dick Army)has strong corporate funding, not to mention the pro bono promotion and organization offered by Fox News.

    Regardless of the relatively low numbers count at their rallies, these Tea Party groups get tremendous media coverage, in contrast to progressive groups on the left who get almost no coverage, even when they draw into the hundreds of thousands of attendees at their marches or rallies. The Tea Party groups seem to not be a threat to the powerful corporate media. Therefore, how “true” a movement can that be?

    Putting it bluntly, I think the main concern of the Tea Party movement is that there is a Black President in the White House. Where was their rage when President Reagan increased the federal budget (mostly through military spending)enormously AND increased taxes except for the richest Americans, where he cut their taxes. Where was their rage when President Bush concentrated more government power over the people with warantless wiretapping and lying to the public about a military invasion that cost taxpayers billions in increased debt. Where was the rage of this group during a Republican administration? They only experience rage when they think some of their taxpayer money is going to people they don’t want it to go to (like people who currently don’t quality for medical insurance). As far as I’m concerned, these people are for the most part, truly mean-spirited and racist.

  4. ltdennison@yahoo.com' Linda says:

    I was trained as a journalist at 14. Been writer since birth. Interesting to read about writer’s block. When you have a deadline, it’s a luxury you can’t afford. Literally. I may write crap that needs to be rewritten but I have no trouble w/ words on a page. And I still do ALL my outlining and raw drafts by hand. Becomes rough 1st draft when it goes into computer and expands exponentially. By hand encourages brevity!

    Merc Retro: Have had three re-schedulings today and yesterday, what I said was definitely NOT was was heard.

    Tea Party: Would have more credibility if Palin were not its mouthpiece. BUT there are a lot of angry Americans in both parties. Given Mars Retro in US progressed chart AND US first Pluto return coming around, I DO look for this so-called democracy (a republic really) to topple, sooner than later. Given Obama’s chart in 2011, I hope it’s not by assassination. I’m lifelong liberal Democrat, and I’m ready to just vote against all incumbents in November.

  5. Jim Sher says:

    To Deborah:

    I’d love to hear more from my readers expressing their views about the Tea Party movement. This is, I believe, a true movement. All movements are consciously or unconsciously, expressing something that a society has not been acknowledging and which does need to be heard. That’s the part that makes this movement important.

    Yet, your post raises the point that there are dangers when fear controls any movement. That’s when things can get out of hand.

    I’d love to hear more thoughts on this.


  6. My question regarding the Tea Party movement is why are so many determined to live in fear as though the government is going to take away all liberties? I simply don’t understand this need to be afraid and not to make the choice to see the good in all that has happened politically and economically.

    Part of my personal view is that people with an agenda whip up people most likely to be uninformed and geared toward fear and suspicion for personal gain.

  7. olgaduff@yahoo.com' Olga Tarin Duff says:

    Thanks Jim. Mercury retrograde is always a time that I want to REVIEW. Whether it’s my work, contracts with others, looking up an old friend, or just my life in general. With this retrograde I’m feeling worry/concerned about a few things and it’s making me take a
    closer look into my past. I’m sure there are more planets in my chart helping to make this
    happen. Can you help me by pointing me in the right direction, I feeling like it’s Saturn…Thanks.

  8. inspire@inspiringhealth.net' James says:

    I did not remember when this Mercury transit was starting but I knew it was soon. It is forming an aspect with my Mercury and I have found that I am actually very interested in doing more writing and have already been doing so which started on the day the transit began. I have been feeling a need to clarify my thoughts regarding a number of different topics. I can really feel the need to look more deeply at my communication and thoughts.

  9. lisriccomini@sbcglobal.net' Lisa says:

    thank you for this post. I plan on carefully tracking what happens in my life over this retrograde cycle. Very interesting as we are wrapping up some obligation (debt) on May 11th.

  10. Jim Sher says:

    To Eileen:

    Any significant movement in a society will always be astrologically connected to more than on just one planet. The Tea Party movement seem to be an aspect of the Saturn, Uranus and Pluto transits. I mentioned Saturn in this article because of their tendency to see things through a dark lens and are so pessimistic about this country at a time when the facts suggest that taxes for most Americans has decreased, not increased. However, it is also true that some of their concerns are valid and our government would do well to begin to address them. It’s a mixture of things as all movements usually are.

  11. Jim Sher says:

    To Margaret:

    Unfortunately without know more aobut your chart, I’m not able to comment on what might happen about your employment situation. Sorry.

  12. margaret_hewitt@bellsouth.net' Margaret says:

    I am a Taurean and I really do not know what to expect during this time. I am on unemployment so I do not have any ideas on what will happen in this area of my life. Please, let me know what you think.

  13. eileenareena@yahoo.com' Eileen Tracy says:

    About what’s behind the Tea Party movement. I don’t remember which sign you were writing about, but several months ago, you told us that we were entering a period of demonstrations, but the demonstrators would most likely be the republicans. Since you wrote this, I have attributed the tea party phenomena to be an astrological influence.

  14. Perhaps I can attribute Mercury’s retrograde motion to a personal rekindling of interest in writing. Today I experienced similar feelings of self-doubt about writing, and whether presenting essays about my ordinary life would have any meaning to anyone else. I finally concluded that regardless of what others might think, the process of putting my thoughts on paper (or should I say on digital memory) is a valuable process for me.

    I’ve become aware of my need to reshift my thinking about what the Mercury retrograde cycle really means. When the Mercury retrograde period approaches, I often have this feeling that I am not “ready” for this cycle, or that I am at a place where I much rather “push” than reflect. For example, over the past few weeks I’ve had a respiratory infection that has drained my energy considerably, and it has been hard to even accomplish the minimal basics in my life. I am now at a place where I feel better and my energy is returning to a more normal state. It would have been more convenient to be sick during a Mercury retrograde period. Nevertheless, it is true that I’m at a place where I do need to do research and fine tune plans for moving forward.

    As a former student of yours I just want to convey that I know from experience that you have a lot of valuable material and perspectives to share with others. I look forward to reading your blog entries, and I get antsy when you don’t post anything for a while. I know that there are many others who also value your work, which is instructive and thought provoking. Keep on keeping on!

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