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  • Helen Tyrrell

The Cosmic Messenger Changes Gear

Updated: Sep 9



Ah, it’s Mercury retrograde again – or very nearly – meaning I’ve spent the last week or so trying to tie up various loose ends before the cycle begins proper.


You probably know about the dreaded ‘Mercury retrograde’, whether or not you are interested in Astrology - when the planet Mercury appears to travel backwards in the heavens for a few weeks, before resuming its normal, forward motion.


Named for the fleet-of-foot, messenger-god, with his winged sandals, Mercury was the Roman incarnation of the more ancient, Greek, Hermes, lord of communications, trade and markets, roads and travel, and methods and means of communicating,


What might it mean when he starts moving in reverse?


I’m not especially Mercurial, unlike my highly Mercurial father who often anticipated Mercury retrograde with exaggerated, dramatic foreboding, probably partly to amuse me! But with Gemini on his Ascendant and Mercury in first house, Mercury was indeed a crucial part of the way he experienced and related to the world. He obviously felt it!


I find Mercury retrograde often means I uncover past errors, or glitches I hadn’t been aware of before, and experience delays and frustrations in communications. Much as I dislike discovering my own mistakes, I sometimes get the chance to correct them, if I am lucky. I try to be more vigilant with plans, and try not to mind spending time on revisions and corrections. Sometimes, old friends turn up out of the blue; or old projects come back into focus for a bit. I can get a bit more introverted and reflective for a while.


Of course, you may have no truck with Astrology. After all, its status as a pseudo science is widely accepted. Real science doesn’t deal with the symbolic.


Nonetheless, for many people, the compelling symbolic map of human experience Astrology provides is at once universal and personal, fascinating, sustaining and enriching.


It is something I have studied and used all my life. I also use it carefully. It’s too easy to get fearful, fatalistic or passive when looking at the cosmic powers in our lives. Far better to interact with them creatively, if respectfully, keeping an open mind, and remembering that intention and character are what counts in any cosmic storm! Yet it can provide frame of reference for understanding of our own natures, and lives, in archetypal and mythical terms, inviting greater perspective, meaning and self-knowledge, Hurrah for that!


While Astrology is out of fashion today, the shifting sands of scientific thinking warn us not to be too fixed in our own thinking. After all, Astrology has been around since the times of our earliest ancestors, those same ancestors who first imagined the original Mother Earth as a sacred, self-sustaining goddess, a system of which all creatures, including humans, were a part. This ‘primitive;’ view has such strong connections to James Lovelock's ‘Gaia Hypothesis’ of the late twentieth century, and valid today, that he named it after her. Maybe our ancestors were smarter than we give them credit for.


Another discovery unravels the basis of what we hold as scientific truth, that objective observation is distorted: Physics reveals today that subject and object are entangled, so much so, that the very act of observation is found to change the behaviour of the observed. Boom!


So, it’s complicated. We can be sure of one thing however: no matter how sure we feel about the accepted truths of today, they are just another mindset, and probably one that is missing something. Better to fly with what resonates within than to stick to external rules, which are forever changing.


Besides, when we see our small planet within the larger universe, it is hard to imagine that the other heavenly bodies have no effect on us and vice versa. After all, the moon is mistress of tides and women’s menstrual cycles; the Sun lord of all life on Earth; why would other planets not affect us?


Do I use Astrology much? All the time! Do I use it in my practice? Never! At least not without an express request from a client. Nevertheless, working with the images and stories of the constellations and planets can be a powerful way of reaching a deeper, symbolic understanding of life. It can be a useful additional coaching tool for anybody wishing to explore their life themes through the prism of archetypal, universal, forces. The trick is to avoid becoming too fixed in the way we meet these forces, and to remain positive, powerful agents within our own lives.


I'm conscious of writing this very close to the first day of Mercury’s September retrograde cycle. But here’s the thing: life goes on!


I'm inspired enough by Mercury to make him the centrepiece of my thoughts and communications today, so I'll wish you all a very happy Mercury Retrograde and catch up next month when the more normal direction of travel is resumed!


Now, if you’ll excuse me, I still have a couple more loose ends to tie up before Friday! :-)


  • Mercury Retrograde starts 9th September and ends 2nd October 2022.

  • A really good Astrology Podcast is Pam Gregory Astrologer on YouTube

  • There are so many books to recommend, and if you have more than a passing interest in Astrology you will already know what you like. If you want to talk and exchange ideas, or ask for recommended reading, just get in touch.

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