What was the message—when the winged Messenger, Mercury—entered its-retrograde shadow just as NASA’s Messenger entered this planet’s orbit? And what should we make of the first close-ups of Mercury’s surface being released on the very day the planet stationed retrograde?
Of the gods, Mercury is the most clever and nimble, an artist of intricate puzzles. Perhaps he knows we’ve named his craters for artists, musicians and writers; he released his photos as Earth was entering a Pisces Moon (the sign of photography, art and symphonies). What was that bright spot on his very first photo? The Debussy crater. Does Mercury have a special relationship with this gifted composer? Of course! Rising with the Sun on the eastern horizon just after Debussy was born, Mercury is strong in his own sign in this chart.
Mercury’s retrograde is traditionally seen as a time of snafus and mechanical breakdowns, but NASA’s engineers checked the Messenger craft carefully before turning on its instruments: everything worked! I’ve had this argument with colleagues for years: I’ve noticed that a lot does work during the retrograde. And it seems that Mercury may have chosen this moment to give us both a new view of his surface—and of retrogrades. At least—to allow in his Mercurial way—that at the same time unexpected problems can occur so can unexpected miracles.
Mercury retrogrades occur three times a year, but at least one of those will be what I call a “fix-it” retrograde. Just as the name implies, this retrograde allows us to fix many critical problems we’ve collected in the preceding weeks. It’s as though the universe floats a “to do” list into our hands and we discover an easier momentum to tackle its projects. We take advantage of the “redo, rethink, rework, repair” promise of the time.
Our brains usually want to drift and dream during Mercury’s retrograde. That’s why they don’t pay attention to details, which is what creates many of our frustrating retrograde moments. Yet with Mercury in quick-paced Aries now (along with five other planets!), there’s just too much energy to pause in the usual retrograde way. What’s more, Saturn is opposite the cluster of Aries planets. If we don’t direct energy carefully, he will call us to account! So how can we best use this “fix it” retrograde to actually fix things?
Let’s take our cue from NASA’s Messenger. In order to enter Mercury’s orbit—so close to the stronger gravitational pull of the Sun and without any atmosphere to slow itself down—the space craft had to perform a clever slow burn, so it could be captured by Mercury’s gravity. Perhaps in the whirling universe of your own life, there’s a particular way you could slow down, in the proximity of your problems; let their gravity pull you into their orbit. Once there, check your plan, get focused, and turn on the juice.