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Mercury Retrograde and My Social Sabbatical


No dinners, no lunches, no parties, no movies, and (gasp) no Dodger games for one month. Starting today. I'm on social sabbatical. Or at least that's what I'm calling it.

I sent out an email a couple of weeks ago informing my friends that I’m going underground. Please don’t tempt me with texts about box seats at the Hollywood Bowl.

August was a lovely month to get away and spend time with family and old friends, but now it’s time to get down to it. I’ve got a book to finish and a blog to post to. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Or drastic measures, however that saying goes.

So imagine my surprise when I found out that Mercury was retrograde in Libra (my sign) for all of September. What? You don’t know what that means? Okay, well, let me explain in the only terms of astrology I understand: layman’s.

I’m no astrology expert, but I do peruse my monthly forecast at what I think are two of the best sites on the net. Astrologyzone and Astrostyle. Through reading them, you start to get acquainted with the lingo.

Each astrological sign is ruled by a different planet, except Libra and Taurus--they share the planet Venus. Venus rules love, relationships, beauty, art and music. (Which is why the visual aesthetic of this blog is just as important to me as what it says.)

Mercury rules Gemini. Geminis are known to be intelligent, witty (they have a way with words), restless, changing, traveling and mercurial. I’m sure you’ve seen that image of the Greek god Mercury. He's depicted as flying through the sky with wings on his back. Hence, the word mercurial.

Mercury is the planet that represents communication and moving parts. For most of the calendar year Mercury travels forward, bringing progress in all of its areas. But three or four times a year, for I’m guessing two weeks or so (like I said, I’m no astrologer) Mercury goes retrograde. It travels backward. The dates for the next retrograde are Sept. 7th-29th. But astrologers agree that we are affected by it up to two weeks before and two weeks after--so, until mid-October.

During this time it feels like we've got cement feet. Not only does it seem we’re not progressing, but things also go a bit wonky in the areas that Mercury rules. Communication and travel mix-ups happen. Computers and phones break down. Oh, and people from your past come forward.

Here are a few tips to survive Mercury retrograde.

1. If you must travel during this time, double-check flights, hotels, reservations and itineraries.

2. Do not buy anything with moving parts—electronics, appliances, computers or phones.

3. Avoid signing any new contracts because miscommunication is likely to happen.

4. Do not start any new projects.

5. Do not make any major decisions. Things are processing. You'll have more information later.

So what are we supposed to do?

Complete what you’ve already started.

Even though Mercury retrograde is seen in a negative light, I quite like it. It’s a time when the universe is asking us to chill out. Regroup. In fact, it’s a time to do anything that has a “re” at the beginning of the word. Re-do, re-write, re-connect, re-charge, re-view, re-think, re-vamp, re-apply, re-consider, re-model, re-flect, re-organize.

In a talk given on Transcendental Meditation, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi compares TM to archery. He says TM is the action of pulling back the arrow before shooting it. There can be no accurate forward movement without first pulling back. Meditate so that you can go out into the world—more surely, more clear-mindedly and more effectively toward your target.

That’s how I see Mercury Retrograde. We can take full advantage of this phase by pulling back. When Mercury goes direct again, we’re ready, full steam ahead.

Additionally, each time Mercury retrogrades it does so in a different sign. This particular retrograde is in Libra. Meaning, Libras will feel it the most.

But that’s not all. Libra’s take note. The Sun, for us, is in Virgo in our 12th house. I have no idea what that's all about, except I read that placement means "rest and escape" for us this month.

Mercury retrograde in Libra? The Sun in Virgo in my 12th house? I never stood a chance. I am at one with the stars and planets. I am on social sabbatical.