On the Spiritus Mundi mailing list, Christopher Warnock often complains of the way in which Mercury retrograde seems to have been chosen as a New Age scapegoat: along with Luna Void-of-Course, it seems to have absorbed all the “negativity” and malific influence that was (traditionally) ascribed to numerous planetary aspects and interactions. Although I have only a little more interaction with the New Age community than I have with traditional astrologers, I can definitely see this dynamic at work. Rufus Opus has talked about the magical “storms” associated with bad astrological “weather” like Mercury retrograde in the context of his Hermetic practice.
For myself, I have an interesting relationship with Mercury in general and the retrograde period in particular. You see, while I’ve seen everyone else scrambling around me trying to deal with unanticipated communication, computer, and travel related disasters, I’ve never personally experienced any difference. I’ve never noticed periods of my magic backfiring, only to later discover that Mercury was running backwards. I kind of thought it might just be that New Age hooey. Specifically, I thought that people were just more self-conscious about the sorts of disasters they were already living with every day—you know, just like I was.
Then I discovered that I was born under Mercury retrograde.
For all that I have been a self-identified occultist since the age of sixteen, I am woefully ignorant of matters astrological. Don’t get me wrong – I spent my time studying sun-signs, just like everyone else. But I never graduated into complete charts. I didn’t even really know that they existed until well after I’d grown bored with the subject. I fell for the pseudo-scientific debunking games of folks like the Amazing Randy. (Hey, don’t blame me: I went to public schools. Critical thinking was something I learned later, out in the real world.) Since those early days, I have since learned that astrology is a massive, complex area of study with multitudinous, conflicting schools of thought. But it is only within the last year that I have begun to study it in earnest.
My initial forays have been sporadic. I still have a half-dozen charts I’ve promised people I would complete for them as part of my studies. (And I really will generate them soon. Before I leave for Real College, even.) Realistically, I’m only beginning to learn the vocabulary. The underlying theses still elude me.
As you delightful readers may or may not know, I am a novelist. A great number of my stories revolve around occult themes. Having recently started a new project, I decided that an excellent way to work on character development for the protagonist, and as an excuse to work on something other than my homework, I would create a birth chart for her.
It’s been fascinating work so far.
My chief resources on this project – astrology in general, not just Dorothea Faigin – are Astrolog and Astrology: A Cosmic Science by Isabel M. Hickey. The former came recommended by Chirotus, the latter I am “borrowing” from Aradia’s library.
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I have just found out that Venus is currently retrograde. There’s also some kind of Martian action going on that I don’t understand.
Maybe that’s why I’ve been feeling so butch lately.