Friday, June 20, 2014

Mercury Retrograde- A Few Helpful Hints

It's that time of year (well, one of several times of the year) when the planet Mercury goes retrograde- it appears to be moving backwards relative to us here on Earth. This is often considered the time to go hide under the bed and wait for it to blow over (it ends July 7th of this year). But there are a few things to keep in mind here- first of all, as with everything in life, there are pros and cons. Having this time can be a useful period of self-examination and introspection, even if things seem to be going sour. First, let's take a look at what most people try to avoid during this time. Mercury appears in the Zodiac as the planet of communication- where it appears on your chart influences how you communicate, how effectively you communicate and listen, and where strengths are. Remember also that the planets can influence- they do not control. Free will is, as always, an important factor. So communication may be off, you may not find what you need, things may just generally not work out for you. So what do you do? Often the universe gives you lessons in with troubles, so what can you take from this time?
First, what areas are giving you difficulty? And why? There are several Tarot cards to keep in mind, all Major Arcana cards, that can help to clarify things during this time. First, the High Priestess, who represents wisdom and secrets hidden in plain sight. In terms of this time, it's easy to get tunnel vision, and see only things that aren't working out, troubles and sources of stress. The High Priestess tells us to take a step back- what are we missing because of stress?
Courtesy of Egypt Urnash, from the Tarot of the Silicon Dawn
I chose this image not because the author is kind of a hero of mine (yes, just went all geeky fanboy there) but because of what's in this card. Two women? Yes, but look behind them at all the screens, showing different images, and all the conduits and wires back there, as well as the machinery in the foreground. All this is pointing to a lot more going on, and this is often the message the High Priestess tells us- don't look at what your eyes are drawn to, but what else is around. Say you're troubled by a relationship- you're constantly bickering, you wonder why in seven hells this person can't just agree that you're right and have done with it. The short and easy answer is, why are they not listening to ME? But consider the nature of the question. What aspect of the situation are you not seeing because you're so wrapped up in your own point of view? In this way, though you still might be disagreeing, at least you can gain some understanding from the situation. Same thing with Mercury; poor communication can be something to work on, instead of retreating into more typical patterns of thought.
Next, moving in sequence, we encounter the Hermit, number 9 in the Majors. The Hermit is, in some ways, a transition from the High Priestess, as the Hermit represents looking within yourself, illuminating hidden areas of your life. Notice that the Hermit carries a staff and lantern- the lantern indicates bringing things to light that were hidden by the dark. Going back to our example, were you so caught up in the negative that you missed something? It's ok if so, we all do it now and again! But a big part of the Hermit is fearlessness, one aspect of the staff he carries. This Hermit has the will and determination to see what the truth is, even if it hurts. And this too is an aspect of Mercury's retrograde- it can be a time to examine the past, to bring up old hurts and sore spots you may be holding on to. Not for the faint of heart, this can be a tough time, but worth it for the insight and understanding it engenders.
From the Dragon Mind of Zen Tarot
So again, there's an up side to this. What hidden writing and lost secrets will you uncover during this time? Well, that's up to you! But the Hermit and the High Priestess work together here, as the High Priestess poses the riddle (What am I missing in this situation?) and the Hermit represents the determination to go out and get that knowledge.
Third, we have the Hanged Man. Here's a card that tells of sacrifice and tough times (I'm noticing a theme here) but that sacrifice is for a reason. Here, what the Hanged Man gains is insight and new perspective. Similar to the Hermit in this regard, the Hanged Man is in some ways an evolution of the Hermit here. The Hermit goes out and finds, the Hanged Man takes on the challenge this new knowledge represents. Sometimes the sacrifice we make is that of our comfort zone- new knowledge means we come to look at the world in a different way, and things cease to be the same. We change, in other words, and that change can be scary. I chose this version of the Hanged Man from the Vertigo Tarot, as it is portrayed by Shade, from the comics of the same name. Shade goes through several reincarnations, either going back of his own accord or being forced back, and in addition to losing his mind on more than one occasion, developing a split personality, sort of, and removing his own heart, well, he does his best to set things right.
One of many versions of The Changing Man
So long story short, the Hanged Man can be a tough card to deal with, and in my experience rarely are we called upon to remove vital organs, change sex (well, involuntarily, anyway) and come back from the dead. But nonetheless, there are difficult times in life. Yet again, what can we learn from these times? It may be that we become stronger, more able to cope with these things, and ultimately develop a broader perspective on our time here. What we take away can become useful tools, or can become a helpful resource for others going through their own tough times.
Mercury going retrograde can be a tough time, and I'm sure we all know tough times aren't limited to the motions of the planets around us. But it's not what we go through, but how we go through it and what we can take away that determines our experience. Remember, life is a learning experience- nothing you learned from and gained from is ever truly wasted.