Mercury Retrograde
Testing Times of Self-Remembering
© 1999 Antero Alli (excerpted from ASTROLOGIK)


This is only a test...a memory test.

"Oh no, Mercury's retrograde!"... "Don't do anything until Mercury goes direct". I always wondered what the fuss was all about so I decided to conduct some tests over several different periods when Mercury went retrograde. What I discovered surprised me. Times of Mercury retrograde seemed to demand a greater dependence on memory to solve my daily problems and to communicate more effectively with others. Without investing more conscious effort in my memory, I found that communications did tend to "short-circuit" or "cross wires". Hmmm. So, I saw what the fuss was all about. However, I have seen nothing written, no books, on how to respond more creatively to this Merc retro phenomena then to whine and complain about it.

I have come to see the timing of Mercury retrograde like the periodic ringing of a bell in a monastery, reminding the monks walking the grounds to remember the moment passing before them -- to wake up to the moment. The bell rings and then, there's the memory of the bell ringing. In this way, Mercury retrograde marks a brief period of time when memory, re-membering, plays a greater role in our day to day. If ignored, you may forget things you wish you hadn't..

We can only remember moments that have already passed; the next moment already replaces the last one in a stream of moments flowing in the eternal now. What we think of as present time may actually be our memory of present time. I think that when Mercury goes retrograde people tend to to stumble more over their passing moments until they begin putting more effort into remembering them. During Mercury retrograde more memory is required.


Those most vulnerable to Merc-retro may be those born with Gemini or Virgo Rising, or Gemini or Virgo Sun, Gemini or Virgo Mercury and/or Moon, or those charts with strong concentrations of planets in either sign or in the Third House, and/or a heavily aspected natal Mercury.


Mercury retrograde works on our consciousness as a kind of memory test. The kind of blunders made during Mercury retrograde with misunderstood words, communication misfires, messed up schedules, verbal and written contracts may indicate the degree of self-remembering lacking in those moments. For example, when attempting long-distance communications during Mercury retrograde, try doing a little more footwork before making the call. Remember your history with the person you are trying to reach. A prepared memory may help alleviate that paranoiac cry, "Oh no! Mercury is retrograde! What are we going to do?! We're screwed!"

It's safe to assume that most astrologers accept Mercury as a symbol of the human faculty of intellect and intellect shows many attributes. We use our intellects to solve problems, translate our experience into information, think about what to say and write, and develop modes of conceptual interaction with other intellects. At a rudimentary level, intellect enables us to learn and process information. Symbolic information is processed, organized and made accessible to recall through intellectual memory.

Maybe Mercury retrograde marks a period of time when the information levels of the universe undergoes increasing complexity and density, demanding more effort on our behalf to process all the extra input; more data, more memory needed. Look at your computer as an analogy: to run heavier loads of information at higher speeds, you must add more memory. If you don't, information processing slows down, freezes or fails to function at all. When the computer finally crashes, it's time for a major memory upgrade. Sounds a little like Mercury retrograde to me.


Pay Attention, Remember Yourself.

Any intellect that has forgotten how to stop, look and listen has developed a learning problem. Any frenzied intellect can easily shut down and fragment under the stress of its own closed systems of preconceptions and assumptions. This kind of myopia can come with concentration loss, a slowness or difficulty in learning new concepts, an ongoing repetition of similar errors, and a propensity to interrupt the conversations of others. Solving these problems demands paying attention to what is happening and the mental fortitude to actually register what is happening. It's the middle phase of registering what is happening that increases self-remembering.

Real communication is rare enough and made more difficult if we are unwilling to upgrade our memory. If we avoid the work of self-remembering (and effort is required!), it is safe to assume that communications will probably breakdown as our ill-prepared intellects scramble in a futile attempt to process increasing degrees of complexity. The ringing bells of any Mercury retrograde period are, in effect, opportunities for checking in with how conscious we are and how well we are remembering ourselves. In this way, it can be a time of creativity and also, a discovery of the function and significance of memory in everyday life. So, the next time you hear someone say, "Oh, no, Mercury's retrograde!" what they really mean is, "Oh no, I need more memory!"



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