Wascally Wetwogwade! Mercury Retrograde

Listen to this episode here

Metaphorcast 9/27- 10/3, 2021

Kierkegaard famously said, “Life can only be understood backwards: but it must be lived forwards.”  

Understanding things is the mind’s job, represented in the zodiac by Mercury, the quick-silvered Messenger of the Gods.  It moves forward very quickly, faster than any other planet in our solar system.  But 3 times a year, it gives the illusion of moving backwards and we find ourselves in the spell of Mercury retrograde for about 3 weeks.  Good thing Mercury is the planet of mind, which is good at understanding life in a backwards fashion.  Mercury goes retrograde at the beginning of this week on Monday, September 27th and will continue its moonwalk until October 17th.  As we continue to live forward, let’s also see how well we can employ our minds to look backwards, and better understand the lives we lead.

Looking back is synonymous with reflection.  When you look in a mirror, there you are as a reflection looking back at yourself.  As Bob Dylan sang, 

When you wake up in the morning, baby, look inside your mirror

You know I won’t be next to you, you know I won’t be near.

I’d just be curious to know if you could see yourself as clear

As someone who has had you on his mind.  

In this romantic instance, a lover’s reflection, far away from her, wagered to be stronger than the actual reflection looking back at her from a mirror right in front of her.  

Distance is of little importance when it comes to the power of mind.  The Extended Mind Thesis, created by philosophers David Chalmers and Andy Clarke states that the mind extends into the world by use of tools and other minds.  The idea is that just like a prosthetic limb can become part of a body, technology such as computers or even notebooks become part of our minds.  You say you know the time and then look at your watch, or that you know where something is then consult your smartphone.  Your mind extends into your environment.

And then there’s the matter of other minds!  Other people’s ideas allow us to think of thoughts that we never otherwise would have.  Just think how limited our minds would be if ideas were never shared!  Ideas are like oxygen, the air we share. 

Thinking and looking back has a wide network of assistance.  It isn’t just you alone in your head indulging in some “me time”.  It is your mind, out in the world, entangled with the ideas that have inspired you, shaped by the people who you love and admire, made more efficient by the tools you use. 

When you reflect, when you look back, certain things can happen that simply can’t happen while looking forward.  Threads show up and some declare themselves as common.  Dots appear that beg to be connected.  Patterns emerge.  Connections converge.  Before you know it, you are sitting in the middle of a movie that has a definite plot.  It is this kind of 4th wall shattering that credits Mercury as a bonafide trickster.  “Down in front” yells Bugs from the back of the theater.

That’s right, it’s a wascally wetwogwade, with you in the center of it.  

This year has been a year of air sign retrogrades for Mercury.  After retrograding in Aquarius through most of February, and Gemini through most of June, we are now looking into most of October with a Libra retrograde.  Above all, Libra is an otherness.  

No matter how much your reflection in the  mirror looks like you, it is still fundamentally not you.  The otherness of who looks back at you in the mirror is similar to the otherness of your mind as it extends into the world.  Silver provides the best reflection, and remember, Mercury is liquid silver.  It is fast moving silver, reflecting with a silly symphony of extensions from notebooks to neighbors.  It is you and not you.  The more not you it is the more you you may become. That is to say, the more you embrace the tools and inspiring ideas that surround you, the more you may come to understand the life you live, and feel a fuller sense of who you are.  

Maybe that is why we can see the rabbit in a Full Moon. 

That’s All Folks!

Until next time,

Happy astro pondering!


Alchemy with Astrology: Celebrating Wonders of the Natural World

Alchemy attempts to transform base metals into gold.  The three prime elements that it works with are Sulfur, Sodium and Mercury.  But before you say, ah- I’m not interested in metals- realize that we are not just talking about metals.  We are talking chemical changes that occur everywhere in nature.  We are talking about our bodies as well as our psyches. Astrology and Alchemy are very intertwined in their symbolic language and we can learn a lot about ourselves and the world we live in by realizing these parallels.

The great physician and philosopher Paracelsus was a committed alchemist who believed in natural healing in a natural and magical world.  He said that sulphur mercury and salt are the 3 substances that give EVERY single thing it’s body.  Using the example of a piece of wood as a “body”, the part that BURNS is the sulphur the SMOKE is the mercury and the ASHES is the salt.

Okay so let’s bring these three alchemical elements into their planetary forms, starting with Sulfur.

Yellow as yellow gets!

Of all of our planets what does this photo most remind you of?  The Sun right?  Bold and yellow like our Father Sun.

It is often found near volcanoes and hot springs.  Heat is associated with Sulfur, like the Sun.

Sulfur is the substance sparks the fire of a match

It is also the prime ingredient in fireworks.

Sulfur is also known for it’s pungent smell.  Think rotten eggs.  This is another shade of it’s boldness- it’s “isness”.  Sulfur is akin to the SOUL, like the word “SOL” which is latin for Sun.  The Sun is the “I am” principle.  Our “being”.  In french “I am” is “Je suis”.  Jesus is the “Son of god” (Sun?) and “walks on water”.

Like this?  Here is the Sun “walking on water”.  This idea was introduced to me by the great Santos Bonacci (Mr. Astrotheology)- of whom I’ve watched HOURS of youtube videos.

egg yolk
The yoke of an egg is loaded with Sulfur.  Yellow and round like the Sun.  It is the egg’s center, it’s core (“coeur” is french for “heart” which the Sun rules)

Father Sun is that part in us that is the “inner king”, like a lion.  Leo the lion is the sign associated with the Sun.  We all need this masculine roaring “isness” in order to know what we want and where we are trying to go in life.  This is the essential vital principle within us, the Qi that flows through the body.

Moving on to Sodium.

What does this substance remind you of?

The familiar iridescent glow of the Moon is found in rock salt, one of the most common compounds of Sodium.  The Moon, as we have discussed in other posts has been associated with the word MUNDANE, meaning “of the earthly world”, with Monday being it’s symbolic day.  Sodium is akin to the BODY.  Remember the Sodium is the ASHES of the stick, falling back to the earthly ground when the other two substances are gone, it remains.

In the Bible, Lot’s wife turned into a pillar of salt when she longingly “looked back” behind her.  Eurydice, the beloved wife of Orpheus, disappeared without a trace when he looked back as he was leading her away from the Underworld.  Getting stuck in the past can keep you from healthy transformations (fire and smoke).  When those things are done you are left with a pile of ashes, or a pillar of SALT.

Of course the Moon is associated with the past, which can take on a dreamy tint.

As in “she has a past”

In fact, everything about the Moon is elusive, and just beyond reach.  Mystery surrounds all things with the Moon, which is funny because the Moon is supposed to be connected with mundane Mondays!  What is going on?

Let’s take a look at the metal that is associated with the Moon, beautiful shiny and perfectly reflective Silver.

Commonly used as currency throughout history, MONEY is very associated with the MOON.  The latin word for Silver is “Argentum”, as in l’argent, the french word for money.

We wake up on a mundane Monday to go out and make some MONEY?  And then we all turn into ASHES at the end of it??  Is the Moon all about this bleakness??  I don’t think so..

The term “matter” is associated with “mother, moon mundane” but ANOTHER word that joins this club is “MATRIX”.  What if what we see is only a glimpse of a deeper more mysterious MATRIX of a magical world?

There are 7 metals in Alchemy, with Silver being the 7th yet containing the previous 6 in “spiritual form”.  I’m not saying I know what that means but I think it is safe to say that even though Silver is MUNDANE it is also MAGICAL.

Here is a nice chart showing the 7 metals with their respective corresponding planets.  Up in the left corner we see our familiar trifecta of the burning log analogy.

Silver (Moon) is also the best conductor of electricity of all the metals.  Sodium (Moon) is key in the operation of all electrical signals to and from the brain in the human body.

Paracelsus saw the Moon to be associated with the brain.  He believed all the mysteries of the universe (the macrocosm) could be contemplated by studying the human body and nature (the microcosm).

Okay, so to review, the Sun is associated with Sulfur and the “spark of life”.  It is the Soul of a person (aka SOL which is latin for Sun).  In other words it is a person’s vital essence.  The Moon is associated with Sodium and the body, and all it’s many mysteries.  What about Mercury?  What about the smoke?

The smoke is also Bogey’s BREATH.

Mercury is thus symbolically associated with the SPIRIT, a.k.a “RESPIRE”.  It is the ANIMATING principle of the soul within the body.  InSPIRation is an animating word that puts the SPIRIT back in someone’s heart and mind, thus motivating them, ANIMATING them.  Where does this root word “SPIR” come from?

Back to this image and the idea of magic in the mundane world, the latin root word SPIR means “coil”.  This is where the word “spiral” comes from.

Spirals are found all around nature.  What is this animating life-force that the ancients associated with Mercury?

The caduceus is the symbol associated with Mercury and displays two SPIRALING snakes.

We recognize the ancient ANIMATING COIL when see a picture of our self-replicating DNA

The circle represents totality and wholeness.  “God is a circle whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere” -Hermes Trismegistus

There is no animation on this picture but it sure does appear to be spinning!  This optical illusion shows how a spiral can trick us (Mercury the trickster!) into seeing movement (ANIMATION).

Spirals emphasize CHANGE which paradoxically is the only thing that is consistent in the Universe.

“The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change” -Heraclitus

I find it helpful as an astrologer to view the birth chart as a spiral AS WELL as a circle.  Embracing changes of the spiral, yet finding peace within the circle of wholeness.

Anyway- before I go off in too different a direction here (thanks to Mercury and his bag of tricks) I will sign off.  I look forward to learning more about the principles of Alchemy and how they tie into Astrology and the natural world.

alice in wonderland laying in between the daisies