Previous entries on Astrology are indexed here:
There is a reason we cover our eyes with our hand when we say the words asserting that the Creator of this world/universe/everything is ONE.
This key idea, One as the Origin, has to be the foundation of how we interpret absolutely everything we see, hear, feel, do, perceive with our flesh -- all we want and all we do about what we want (wanting being the condition of not-having) is configured around One.
But One is an IDEA first and foremost. Once you grab hold of this idea, everything in your life changes significance and you make different choices.
Neurologists have discovered that our brains re-circuit in response to experience, and "learning" (intellectual activity) changes the way our brains light up neurons. Learning creates new neural pathways.
But no matter what, we live welded to a physical body, so we weight what our physical eyes see heavier than what our mind thinks. "Seeing is Believing."
Thus, when relearning twice a day, that all is Created by One, we have to take our eyes out of the brain-circuit, by covering them and closing them, so the Idea registers louder than visual impressions.
Astrology (as the precursor of modern Astronomy and Astrophysics) is based on empirical evidence gathered entirely by sight -- naked eye sight, before telescopes.
Over centuries, from Egypt onwards, using parchment and fast-fading ink, industrious geniuses recorded, correlated and experimented with two databases, one of what they could see in the sky, one of what they could see in people's lives. Their project was to connect these two databases.
Along with these scientific, empirical observation databases (one of the stars/planets and one of human behavior ) curious humans imagined various correlations between the two. Mostly nonsense, but over centuries of corrections, the imaginary explanations distilled down to some pretty reliable facts.
Once you get the ONE concept wired into your brain, these factual databases of Astrology become as useful as Astronomy but for a different purpose.
You need more to untangle this complex world.
You need to factor in human Free Will and Creativity -- the decision making process and the choices we make at the end of that process.
So our eyes "see" Mercury go Retrograde. That's what the naked eye sees - Mercury (a dot in the sky) stops and goes backward. So what?
Today, we all know the planets do not "go retrograde" -- we all ride our orbits around the Sun (oval, not circular, and not even all in the same plane!), and the Sun zips through the circuit of this Galaxy, which is moving away from some point at an INCREASING rate. The universe is expanding at an increasing rate! That factoid has just been discovered and announced in peer-reviewed literature, but nobody really knows why or how this is happening, and you can not discern it with the naked eye.
This dizzying, rapid, systematic but mysterious movement is one reason that our repetitive tasks (like re-asserting twice a day ONE - JUST ONE AND ONLY ONE) are actually not repetitive. Each time we wash dishes or drive carpool, it is done in a new place, and affects that new place. Then we move on. Like plowing a furrow, you don't stop after making a 1-ft long trench.
The human eye sees, and we live or die on the basis of our decisions made from seeing. Tiger! Run!. Avoid getting in front of that Uber autonomous car.
By repetition of this Idea of One we try to grasp that what we see is not what is really there. Decisions made by factoring in what is really there work better.
Today, most all of Science is founded on what is "really there" as opposed to what the naked eye sees. Particle physics to advanced agrochemical applications, we live or die on what we understand but can't see.
So Astronomy and Astrophysics lets us understand some of what we can't see, but does not explain (or even try to explain) the observed and documented connection between what we see in the sky with the naked eye, and the decisions and actions of people, individually and collectively.
Fiction, especially fiction involving emotion and soul-growth, is based on "theme." All themes are based on some theory about that connection between "the stars and planets" and "human decisions."
It is all "imaginary" -- or Idea based.
The one Massive Idea that human imagination barely sketched by itself is the Idea of the Oneness of The Creator.
Egypt had their Sun God and tried to arrange a religion around just that one -- but it didn't work. Humans tried in every culture all over the world to figure this thing out. It is said that the Creator offered the Torah to all the other Nations before coming to Abram - because only Abram accepted the Torah simply because it was the Creator offering, and never mind what would be required of him or what consequence or reward might come of it.
That Idea had to be given, to be inserted into our Reality -- we couldn't imagine it.
So when studying Mercury or any "Planet" appearing to go Retrograde (as observed from Earth), we have to start tracing the connection between that Observed Event and the Observed Human Response by understanding what a human is. To do that, we must start with One.
I once learned in a course that the Soul enters material reality through the dimension of Time.
That one statement rearranged my entire understanding of what everything is about. It rang true to me because of decades of study of physics, math, chemistry, Tarot, Astrology, human behavior, etc.
The Soul can't be verified by physical instruments because it has no physical dimensions. It exists only in Time.
Astrology and Astronomy both portray our existence on Earth as riding on one "hand" of a giant clock, the Earth. We live inside a clock - the solar system.
That is all the universe is - a clock.
Time is the key idea. Lately, speculation about whether the "speed of light" is a constant throughout the Universe is disturbing physicists. We know about Time Dilation, and we know what Gravity does to stretch space.
We also know (though many don't like this idea) that human lifespan is limited. We "start" somewhere on the clock and eventually we end somewhere on the clock. The clock ran before we started, and it continues after we leave.
Time Marches On.
But as we live our little segment of Time, we make and implement choices.
Thousands and millions of choices during a lifetime, big choices we are consciously aware of, and little choices which are components of a larger project, habitual choices.
For example, we are driving to the supermarket, but there's a Yellow light -- choose to stop or choose to go. Chances are, with the Creator's help, you will get to the supermarket regardless of which little choice you make in that split second.
But the consequences of a yellow-light decision can be life-altering.
Thousands of years of observations correlating Mercury with Small Decisions, short and routine trips, smaller movements of all kinds, show that there is a vague ( very vague) correlation between the Retrograde and the success of tiny decisions that seem on the surface to be trivial.
One time in your life, you decide to run the Yellow, and BANG, you need a new car and five years of litigation.
Mercury goes Retrograde in different places several times a year - but only once in a 100 year lifespan will it produce a significant Event.
It is well known that trivial annoyances mount during a Retrograde Mercury - the airline loses your luggage for 3 days, your car needs a new tire, the dress you ordered for an Event comes the day after.
Shipping snafus don't register on shipping company computers because it just doesn't affect that many people that way. Only a few times in an individual's life will such snafus pile up and up and up until you want to scream.
It is not Mercury Retrograde that "causes" snafus. Rather, it is the accumulation of small decisions made over many years - of habits, and of responses to other forces operating in your life, most notably the way you relate to The Creator, conditioning yourself to see the One behind it all.
A hundred times, you'll make it through the Yellow light. One time, other planets will line up (Uranus, Mars, Saturn, Neptune) and unexpected, aggressive, irresponsible, or drunken drivers will tangle with you.
How you come out of it is up to your Creator.
We live in a clock with 9 Hands (or more) -- which move within our lifetime. The "fixed stars" don't move visibly in 100 years, but the planets go round and round never coming back to the configuration when you were born. Nobody lives to see a Pluto-return. The planets tick off "aspects" to that birth configuration, indicating what "time" of your "life" is going on right now.
It is just a clock. It tells you what time it is, not what to do about that or what will "happen" because of it.
For example, at a Mercury Station (short trips) on your Natal Saturn (bones), you may have a dentist appointment. You may run the Yellow light and get there on time, without running out of gas. But the Mercury clock doesn't tell you whether you will have a cavity or not. Brushing your teeth regularly (short, frequent, repetitive actions are Mercury) will have contributed to that, but not determined it.
Your genes, your nutrition as a child, and dozens of other small variables will contribute to healthy teeth - The One determines the outcome.
The outcome of the Dentist discovering a small cavity may be a Big Blessing because it averts some more irksome course of events.
But Mercury and other planets' position does not determine whether the Dentist will be in to be at your appointment, nor how long you might have to wait if he's dealing with an emergency, or how long it will take once he gets to you, or how much the bill will be.
Mercury is just one "hand" of the clock we live inside of. The clock has no content. It is an empty appointment calendar you have to fill -- or not fill. The clock has no content, no outcome. We must live our lives providing that content.
Mercury is about small, repetitive things that don't seem to us to "matter" until they annoy. So Mercury is also about Practice Making Perfect (Gemini and Virgo). Repeat a minor action, practice practice practice, and you end up at Carnegie Hall.
So at the Stations of Mercury, when they fall at particular points in the Natal Chart, you will find that what you have Practiced will manifest.
If you've practiced getting your brain circuits to see One behind the visible reality of your life, that will manifest clearly, loudly, emphatically, and precisely one time in your life, and very likely at or near a Station of Mercury.
When a planet "goes retrograde" it also eventually stops and goes "direct" again -- as the Earth moves in its orbit relative to the planet that seems to go backwards.
Both points, the retrograde and direct, can coincide with a clear Event.
It coincides because it's time for that Event to happen.
For example, if you're trying to buy a house, you start by saving a down payment and scoring high in Credit. As you are saving, things happen (often at a Retrograde station) to make you spend some of what you've saved. Then you keep pushing and scrimping, and trying, and POP you start to see the savings account grow. That goes on for a year, then interest rates get reduced. Then you get a raise so you save more. Someone gives you money, and you save it. And it goes on and on, three steps ahead and two back.
That's "life" and everyone knows it. And that is the pattern of the planets, direct and retrograde, ahead and back.
Mercury retrograde often corresponds to a time when you have to do things OVER --you fill out a form, and the office loses it, so you have to do it over. You pay with a check, and the bank bounces it by mistake, and you have to make a new one and pay a penalty. You ship a box, and it comes back addressee unknown, and you see you put the wrong number in the zip code. Retrogrades are also second chances -- when you mess up, you wait a while, and take another whack at it.
So you're saving up for a house, and interest rates tank, houses go on sale, you bid on one -- and Mercury goes Retrograde and your mortgage paperwork doesn't go through. You try another bank, and a few weeks later Mercury goes Direct, and the mortgage goes through -- but the house got sold out from under you. So you quick bid on another house, and actually like its location better, and you get it and hold your breath through the Closing.
These are the plot-twists of the story of your life -- and everyone else's.
Fiction writers can use Mercury Retrograde effects without ever mentioning Astrology or Mercury or any such related concept, just by replicating that on-again-off-again-do-it-over pattern in the plot of the Main Character's life. Everyone recognizes it as real, so you evoke verisimilitude by using Plot Twists based on the twist of what we see planets doing (as opposed to what is really happening.)
Note the intervals between Direct and Retrograde on all the planets, and how many years each takes to complete an Orbit of the Sun. That is the benchmark fiction writers use (because everyone knows it whether they know Astrology or not) to "pace" the spiritual and emotional maturity of a Character.
If you try to convince a reader that an Event caused a Character to change behavior at a pace different from the master clock we live inside of, the reader won't believe it. You will seem to be writing a Comic not a novel - the Characters will seem cardboard. It takes Time for a Soul to change their grip on their body. TIME is the key.
Life has a rhythm, dramatic Events have a place, framed by life events. Lives have a shape, pace, and direction. Read a lot of biographies to pick that up.
You can depict Wise Characters by revealing how they see that pattern in pacing of Events as all to the Good - as a pattern gifted us by the Creator with a message, with information embedded in it.