If you’ve been at the receiving end of a chain of unfortunate miscommunications and crappy luck lately, it might be because Mercury is in retrograde. I've heard about Mercury retrograde as the cause for technical mishaps and bad luck in the past, but truthfully, I had no idea what that really all meant because I don’t pay that much attention to astrology. That said, I obviously pay enough attention to know that Mercury retrograde exists in the first place, but I wanted to learn more. So, I hit up Tara Greene, a pretty famous Canadian astrologer, to figure out what exactly Mercury retrograde is, and to see if some of the unfortunate things that have been happening to myself and the people around me lately could because of this tricky little planet's current cosmic alignment.
VICE: Let’s start off generally, what the hell is Mercury retrograde?
Tara Greene: A common belief is that when Mercury is in retrograde, the planet is moving backwards. That’s not what it is. Mercury rules communication: how we think, how we talk and therefore, by extension, all of the computers that we use. But, Mercury doesn’t actually move backwards, it’s just that the Earth moves at a different speed, so we're going faster. As a result, Mercury appears to move backwards. It’s like if you were in a train station, and one train overtakes the other. One is moving forward and the other appears to move backwards.
Interesting. Well, some pretty unfortunate shit has been happening to the people around me this week. One of my interns got out of bed, and his glasses were beside his bed on the floor, because I guess he doesn’t own an end table, and he stepped on his glasses and broke them. Is Mercury to blame for that?
(Laughs) Well I don’t know if Mercury is to blame, but that’s the kind of thing that would happen. Usually, during Mercury retrograde, you’ll put something down and then totally forget where it is. You can’t blame it on the planets. I want to make that clear. We all have free will. It’s just that we’re all interconnected. Things get turned upside down, but you can’t blame it on that energy.
Well, fine. I’ll stop using the word “blame”. Moving on though, the gas in my building was off on Tuesday. Was that because of Mercury retrograde?
If you were expecting the guy to come at a certain time, and you were waiting and waiting, and he didn’t show up or he showed up at a different time, or he couldn’t get fixed, or...
Yeah! He was super late. The guy showed up at like, midnight, to fix our building’s gas. Very unprofessional.
Okay, that’s more like Mercury retrograde. Somebody doesn’t get the communication at the right time. You see what I mean? Mercury retrograde is more about the communications aspect of things.
How about this: My best friend had this problem where the power bar that his computer is plugged into broke, which was strange, so he went out and bought a new one. On the way back from the store, he threw out the packaging for this new power bar, so he wasn’t able to return it. That sucked for him, because when he got back to his place, the original power bar was working. He bought a new power bar for nothing!
That’s a typical Mercury Retrograde kind of thing. When things are wonky, or if they’re working one second then not working the next, or when things are not following the usual plan... these are all common symptoms of Mercury retrograde.
How about the U.S. election? Did you see the voting machine video where someone was trying to vote for Obama, but the check box keeps checking Romney, and the person keeps pressing Obama and Romney keeps getting checked off? Do you think that kind of technical malfunction could be a Mercury Retrograde thing?
No, I think that the Republicans set-up the machine that way.
Tara Greene hanging out at a banquet hall.
Nefarious! Ok, my girlfriend was on the bus a couple of days ago, and she dropped her iPhone 5 and broke it. Could she have avoided that? Was that a Mercury retrograde assisted event?
Well I would say that it could happen any time. Mercury doesn’t control gravity, but that kind of thing is more likely to happen during Mercury retrograde.
Right. So I couldn’t necessarily say: “Oh, don’t feel bad, you only dropped it because it was Mercury retrograde.”
Now, I have to say also that in terms of traditional astrology, like in Indian astrology, Vedic astrology, which is the oldest system that we know of, it’s apparently 12,000 years old, they consider retrograde planets to be good because the planet is actually brighter. You can see it, it’s more visible, it’s closer to the Earth. They consider Mercury retrogrades to be positive. So they have a totally different take on it. Now, if you’re born during Mercury retrograde, I don’t know if you want to get into that…
Sure, why not.
Because Mercury is going retrograde for about nine weeks out of the year, statistically, 30% of the population could be born under a Mercury retrograde. Now, everyone I know who has Mercury retrograde, and I’ve done hundreds of charts, usually doesn’t feel very positive about how smart they are, or how they’ve been defined as being. Sometimes they have learning disabilities.
I’ve seen it in children’s charts, and I wish that parents would actually get their kids’ charts done and know that, if your kid is being told they’re A.D.D. or they have a learning disability, they’re often Mercury retrograde. Kids like that are really very bright and very creative, they think outside the box.
Mercury retrograde is a real tricky thing, isn’t it?
It is a tricky thing, but some of the most creative people I know are born with Mercury retrograde.
You say, “born with Mercury retrograde” as if it’s a lifelong condition.
Well yeah, actually, it is a lifelong condition if you’re born during one.
That makes sense, I guess. One more example: my editor has eczema and his eczema was acting up this week. Could that have been inflamed...
By the Mercury retrograde? Mercury doesn’t necessarily rule the skin, per se, so not necessarily. He might have been just stressed out because things were all kerfuffle’d for him. There’s actually a period, before Mercury goes retrograde, when the planet is slowing down and things start to kind of get wonky. Then Mercury goes retrograde for three weeks, but before, that, there’s a storm period. The whole retrograde process takes about six weeks.
So maybe the Mercury storm inflamed his skin in a roundabout way?
Crazy. Any advice on how to deal with the rest of Mercury retrograde?
Don’t buy anything new. Really watch your computers. Double check, triple check, everything because it’s guaranteed that something is going to go askew. Don’t make new plans. It’s only a few weeks, so take that time to reflect on things. It’s near the end of the year, you’ll maybe want to start thinking about what’s going to happen in 2013.
Thanks. I won’t buy any new power bars.