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how i learned to stop worrying and love the retrograde
just doing my job here
i have been lecturing people on mercury retrograde for at least a decade now. i have a clear memory of being 16 in a packed car, perched in the middle seat, riding mascot, evangelizing to my classmates about what mercury retrograde means. i know that was the first time they ever heard it, but not the last. this was after sitting on the gym bleachers explaining jungian archetypes in 2011, to my snarky stem friends who were asking me to prove to them how astrology works. it was a different time. i remember feeling so desperate for them to understand, but neptune was still in aquarius and people were still heavily into their atheist scientific dogma phase.
over the past decade of observing and experiencing mercury retrogrades, i’ve picked up on some details. i’ve learned to love mercury retrograde. and to never complain about it. and to never point it out. and to never let it control what i do or don’t do. i am exceptional, of course.
the worst thing that mercury retrograde does is create a “false sense of urgency” (rick levine said on episode 317 of the astrology pod— i cannot stop quoting this). this false sense of urgency is an egotistical myth. it’s upheld by a hyper capitalist rigidity. an inability to admit mistakes or clean up our mess. an immature attachment to constant forward progress. a reliance on authority and inability to assess situations using the knowledge we already have ourselves. mercury retrograde refers to an introspection, or turning inward to get information.
in my experience, the reorganization and delays that mercury retrograde asks of me always bring better results than the first time around! i just don’t get so hung up on things not working out the first time, duh.
mercury retrograde allegory 1
It is the first day of this current Mercury retrograde in Libra. I am in a remote mountain town in the Carpathian mountains at a non-commercial festival. Last night was the last night of the weekend-long festival. On the dance floor we reached a consensus that we need the 12 PM bus back to Lviv, because “according to the festival organizers,” Big Leg said, “the 2 PM bus is already full.” There was no way we were getting the 7 AM train. It was already 5 AM. No one was packed yet. Our only way back to the city was the 12 PM bus, so we better get on— or else.
After doing the crybaby on the dusty dance floor set up in an abandoned sanatorium (soviet resort, not asylum), then straddling Natasha Onion as she was on all fours, pretending to ride her like a horse, gangnam style, I left my crew at the party just before sunrise. As much as I was pushing myself to stay, my throat was getting too irritated by the stupid smoke machine. I was the only one who had gone to sleep.
At 11:35 AM, 25 minutes before the bus departs to Lviv, a six hour drive, Big Leg is nowhere to be found. He’s definitely still at the sanatorium, a 15 minute walk up the mountain. Natasha Onion is not getting out of bed. We start to bicker. Panicked that we would be stranded, I start to pack everyone’s bags for them, like a pageant mom. I pull my suitcase downstairs and leave it at the bus stop. A fellow festival goer suggests we ask the bus driver to wait. Because no one has phones for some amish reason, I plan to walk 15 minutes up the mountain to find Big Leg and relay the message manually. At the last minute, standing outside at the bus stop with my suitcase, but not exactly ready to abandon my friends who I got a hotel for in Lviv, I connect to wifi. In this moment of crisis, I search for a train back to Lviv, and realize that there was a train at 5:20 PM, just a smooth 90 minutes after check out.
Because I was relying on the festival organizers for information, rather than using my own brain, I was stressed for literally no reason. I had suffered from a false sense of urgency. With the 5:20 PM departure time, we got to spend more time in the mountains and eat a nourishing meal. The train ride was the most amenable train ride of my life. Also, tickets were significantly cheaper than the bus. There were beds for me to catch up on rest after only sleeping one hour. The train conductor gave us tea and told us to be quiet “🤫” about her selling us beer, even though all i could say was “так”. It was a significantly more pleasant experience than the stories I heard about the bus, which had no toilet, no AC, no hot tea, no Ukrainian train conductor to flirt with, and was completely full, wall to wall, with strung out hungover ravers. We made it out of town with grace, because miracles happen.
mercury retrograde allegory 2
My birthday was a few weeks ago. I knew planning it would be annoying: October 5 is when Mercury retrograde was with a flaccid Mars, both combust. Crunchy skies, but it was a wonderful solar return. I was planning a karaoke birthday party for October 9, sent out invites before I even left for Ukraine.
Then I changed it to October 15, so my guest of honor, Sasha would be in town to celebrate. I was set on October 15, 9 PM. I even looked at the inception chart for the party and it had the benefic of sect angular w luminary of sect and the other benefic co-present with the ruler of the ascendant. Sent out invites again!
Then it came time to actually book the venue. The venue specified in my invitation was unavailable for 9 PM. I reached out to two additional venues. Once I settled on an alternate venue, I sent out a third draft of my invitations. It was then that the original venue called back and offered something better. I was so annoyed that I would have to change my invitations for a fourth time, not to mention confused and afraid of the second-hand confusion.
A sense of dread washed over me. I didn’t want to have to message them all again. I have more important tasks. Then I realized that everything would flow better on Sunday, October 17. On October 15, everyone is working. Other parties are popping up. My [redacted] is having an event that I should show up at. I sent out a fourth invitation, changing the date of the karaoke party, location “TBD”. By the time I finally settled on the second location (the original location had an event on the 17th), I wound up having sent five different invitations to my karaoke party, total.
During the final delivery, I learned one of my friends, Ilgen-Nur, an indie rockstar on tour in France on the 15th, also one of Sasha’s closest friends, can attend on October 17! October 17 turned out to be way better than October 15, I just had to let it happen. It just required me to get over myself and message everyone five times. Who cares.
so i had to tweet, “mercury retrograde is fine if you surrender.” because if you cannot be fluid, if you have to be rigid and constipated, if you cannot change or be mercurial, flexible, then you cannot work with mercury. mercury as a planet is so multifaceted. mercury retrograde requires forgiveness and softness.
astrology is a translation of a natural phenomenon. nature is not robotic. nature is not an assembly line. we are part of nature. we are not meant to work like machines. when mercury takes a break from being switched on and thinking a certain way, it reminds us that we also need to, too. any complaints about mercury retrograde will be mocked as hyper capitalist nonsense from here on out.
while tropical astrology does try to bring harmony and perfection into something chaotic and imperfect, there is still space in the system for people to make so-called mistakes. if you’re so ashamed of making mistakes, maybe ask your family about the time when you were potty trained. i’m not a psychologist, but i think there’s something to the scheiße.