Mercury is a zippy little planet. Being closest in proximity to the Sun its orbital period is only 88 days. From our geocentric perspective it never really appears further than 28 degrees away from the Sun. Therefore it can only ever occupy the same or an adjacent zodiac sign. This is pretty significant when we try to understand Mercury’s function.
If the Sun is potentially our most rational, decisive and conscious sense of self, then Mercury is his facilitator. Hovering as our Hero’s closest acolyte, acting as his “eyes and ears”, Mercury is constantly feeding the Main Guy with a steady stream of information. Therefore, the primary function is that of communication. Essentially the Sun makes all the decisions, whilst Mercury provides the necessary clues and know-how.
Spinning around at such high velocity, Mercury, ruler of the mind, is able to gather local data and relate it back to our Hero by bridging the distance between two points. Its proximity to the Sun indicates just how clear the subject matter will be to our Hero, who relies as heavily upon Mercury as we rely upon our five senses (and our mathematical ability) to work out what is going on around us. Of course, sometimes our mind plays tricks on us and we must really stay ‘with it’ to avoid any misunderstanding from occurring. Information is one thing, intelligence to clearly discern and use it creatively requires consciousness and awareness of the present.
This makes Mercury’s communication role instrumental to our Hero’s overall ability to achieve good, clear, conscious bearings on what is happening, what is desired of him, and how to go about expressing himself with a sense of certainty and creative purpose.
Scouting about so closely to the Sun, Mercury appears (from earth) to be darting ahead then swinging backwards (or retrograde – Rx) until it disappears behind the Sun, only to reappear to the other side. Like a pendulum, it seems to swing from left to right in rhythm with every step the Sun takes forward. Whilst most useful at its greatest distance, Mercury often appears too close to the Sun’s orb (within 8-17°), becoming highly agitated ‘under the sunbeams’ and its effect is increasingly diminished as it gets closer in orb. Its function is said to be most debilitated when ‘combust’ (<8° conjunction) but this is mostly on the material level. In truth, it is the spirit of Mercury (or any planet ‘flying’ too close to the Sun) that is infused into our Hero’s expression. Therefore, we find the Sun dominating the communicative functions that Mercury would otherwise perform, often rather assertively or authoritatively, as a teacher or a spokesperson would.
Mercury’s Rx period usually lasts around 3-4 weeks, during which time a period of pensive retrospection begins to occur. Here, we commonly experience a more delayed, subjective or introspective responses in usual day-to-day activity, affecting the rhythm and natural flow of our decision making. This creates sync issues, not to mention the associated mayhem of our usual lines of communication and transportation slipping into all sorts of disarray. Whilst these are usual witnessed out in the physical dimensions, internally they can provide useful opportunities for reflective assessment, review and inner contemplation of the way we are moving through our journey. Ultimately, by allowing us to slightly repose and make necessary adjustment of our thoughts and processes, we are afforded a look at things from another perspective, and chances to improve or alter our style.
Mercury spins backward into the aura of the Sun’s beams, becoming briefly obscured entirely by the Sun (cazimi) at which point it is farthest from the earth. Yet its function is so deeply potent through the Sun’s piercing rays that with enough meditative presence it can manifest as a genius-like quality. Many of us have access to this, but how many of us are born with the ability to still the mind and focus purely on the objective without any interference? This is the primary goal of meditation. To still the mind from feeding us information which might be tinged with points of view, thoughts and opinions which are not relevant to what we are currently perceiving. In retrograde we succumb into greatly subjectified ideas that are great for reflection but not ideal for immediate perceptiveness of the situation. Hence we lose our slight edge on the pulse. Needless to say, meditation is most important during retrograde periods to keep us centred.
It takes a full 5-6 weeks for it to draw out of its own retrograde shadow, after which it hurtles forward, this time in front of the Sun. The entire precession is a necessary part of the Solar-consciousness experience, occurring no less than three times a year, and invoking much development in the evolution of the native’s thought complexes. Naturally, if the mind is not being used effectively (excessive dull activity) it has an adverse outcome, especially as the individual progresses with age, manifesting in the breakdown of the brain’s interconnective functions. Exercising the mind creatively keeps this process working in good healthy order, and so the retrograde period serves more as a spiritual respite to allow a sort of digestion of the voluminous influx of mental input generated by our busy sensory processes.
Once upon a time, the universe only produced the odd Buddha, Krishna, Mohammed, Lao Tzu or Jesus figure once every thousand years or so. They all spoke and taught with true mindfulness and expressed their words from a place of conscious awareness. In the last 50 years there has been a huge growth of enlightened masters in both the eastern and western cultures. As communication grows faster, with improved, wider education and more access to information, so does the ability for teachers to connect with students.
Soon, as more and more of us learn to get over our ego hang-ups, tune in and channel directly through the pure intelligence within, there will be a veritable explosion of buddhas all over this planet. This could not happen without clear, unbiased communication.
In the beginning there was the Word. This Word was relayed by Mercury, ruler of the mind and communication. Slowly, through the ages, the Word has picked up pace and started pelting towards us from all directions and at lightning speed. It stands then, that mastering Mercury is a critical element in the alchemical process that is occurring to humankind today.
As Mercury goes into retrograde, it is a perfect time to review and reflect upon our thought processes. How much does our personal, inner ‘newsfeed’ facilitate our ability to see clearly, and how much does it sometimes complicate and distort the true picture?