Do you believe in astrology?
Over the last couple of weeks when something unfavourable has happened, like my computer crashing every 10 minutes, getting trapped in the elevator, and just generally feeling out of sorts, I have been blaming Mercury going into retrograde.
Mercury Retrograde, an astrological event that happens 3-4 times per year. In our case, it goes from Oct 21st to Nov 11th. Yes, I know…whenever I mention it, I know it makes me sound crazy. Astrology is a strange study; it’s based on a premise that there’s a relationship between cosmic phenomena and the events happening around us.
Astrology has strange vocabulary like Pluto square Mars or Venus Trine Mercury. You may be shaking your head at this because you don’t believe in astrology. I probably shouldn’t, but I kind of like it sometimes. Astrology is like reading a story that I’m a part of… It’s like when little kids tell their parents “Tell me a story about me.”.
Dinner with an Astrononomer
When I was in Hawaii, I had dinner with an astrophysicist / astronomer named Michael who works up at Mauna Kea. If you didn’t know, Mauna Kea, is the most important land-based astronomy sites in the world. Isolated in the middle of the Pacific, at the top of an extinct volcano, you will find several millions of dollars worth of telescopes. Hawaii is an ideal environment away from light pollution. The summit of Mauna Kea is is 4207 metres above sea level, so it is often above the clouds. If there is a news article where there has been a report of something new discovered in space, like this comestroid, it often comes from the high powered telescopes up on Mauna Kea.
I asked this Dr. Michael if he believed in Astrology. He does look at stars for a living after all… surely he might know if objects in space have a correlation to who we are as people and events on earth. Then again, how would he know that unless he was someone who was also in touch with his feelings all of time. Who of us are?
Dr. Michael smiled, shook his head and then looked up for a second as if to remember something. He said, “I had this girlfriend once, who used to go around introducing me to everyone as an Astrologer. It drove me completely mad.”
“So I take that as a no…” I said.
“It’s complete bollocks!” he answered. “Those people are crazy.”
I thought about another couple that I met on the Big Island. Kathryn and Joseph , They are kind and generous people who happen to make their living as astrologers. They really feel that they are helping people answer questions in their lives, and I respect their drive and focus on their mission, even if I don’t participate in actively getting readings, or attending their events. The last time I bumped into them was at Honaunau Bay. The Bay can get quite busy with tourists. I was coming out of the water after having been out snorkeling for an hour. Kathryn spotted a very large inexperienced and sunburnt tourist lady about to enter the ocean in a sharp and rocky spot. She turned to her husband and said “Sweetie, go help that lady!” and Joseph made his way across the lava to help this lady. Were they completely crazy? Nah, they just believe in something different.
I pushed Dr. Michael further. “Really? We’re not affected by objects in space around us? What about the moon and tides?”
“Yes, yes,” he answered “the rise and fall of the ocean are affected by the gravitational forces of the moon, but the rest is too far away to affect us. We are talking light years away… Also, space is in 3D, some objects are close and others are far in constellations. It’s not like constellations are flat drawings. It’s only our view of it from earth.”
He had a point there… Maybe this explains why every horoscope that I have ever read about being a Virgo just doesn’t sound like me. Virgos are supposed to be neat, organized, and at times fastidious. I am none of those things. When I have said this, my astrology-believing friends have always said “Well, your rising sign is pretty important, what time were you born? You should get your astrological chart done.”
In astrology, the rising sign (or ascendant) changes roughly two hours. I don’t know what time I was born. My mom had 5 kids, and I give her a complete pass for not remembering that detail, having endured 5 times in labour.
Let’s get back to what I was talking about in the first place… Mercury retrograde. Mercury is the smallest planet, closest to the sun, and appears to move quite quickly to us on earth, hence why it’s named after the roman messenger god. Mercury is the patron roman god of messages/communication, travelers, and luck. When the planet mercury is in retrograde it looks like it is moving backwards in the from how it usually moves.
Astrologers believe that Mercury Retrograde causes all sorts of havoc. Plans go haywire, communication breaks down, electronics break, contracts are in flux. When I was trapped in the elevator on my way to a Dribbble meetup and the first thing that I did was to blame Mercury retrograde verbally. James, one of the people who I was trapped with answered That explains so much…
When I cited it as the reason behind my getting trapped it to a very logical friend of mine she said. People believing in mercury retrograde makes me believe in confirmation bias.
Confirmation bias…me? Hm…I hadn’t thought of that, but yes, absolutly! I am guilty of confirmation bias. I like associating with the stars and planets with me.
Astronomer / Primal Scientist Harriett Witt
When I was on Maui, I got the pleasure of attending a star gazing session with astronomer Harriett Witt as part of the Maui Sierra club. Harriet is an award winning astronomy writer and speaker. She calls herself a ‘primal scientist’ because she tries to talk about what classical science ignores, spirituality.
I enjoyed her stargazing talk because she reminded me to see earth differently. The earth moving, not the sun. At sunrise, the sun looks like it rises it is because we are sitting on the planet, and the part of our planet that we are standing on is moving towards the sun. Likewise, when it appears to be setting it is because we are spinning away from it into our own shadow. She cited Bucky Fuller‘s use of the terms sunsight for sunrise, and sunclipse for sunset as they are more accurate terms.
By this time tomorrow, you’ll be 1.63 million miles from where you are now because we orbit the sun. By this time a year from now, you’ll be back at the same spot in our orbit where we are today.
— Harriett Witt
My mind wants to skip that statement when I read it. Sitting here and writing this while our earth is turning makes me feel strange, even though I know it’s true. It’s so big and it makes me feel small.
I wish that I would have thought of asking Harriet about astrology. I liked what she said in this video about how we are made of stars.
The calcium in your bones, the iron in your blood, oxygen in your lungs. Every element in your body except for the hydrogen was originally created in a star and exploded out into space and ended up on the earth. They were created in the cosmic furnaces that are called stars. This means that we are on the earth but we aren’t of the earth. The hydrogen in our bodies come from the big bang and who knows what caused that…
So I ask the question to you. If we are made of stars, can we be affected by them in the same way we are affected by the moon? There is no real way of knowing for certain. No scientific method can be followed because there are too many variables. It is what you believe…
So when Mercury retrograde is here, I am blaming that retrograde work delays, communication kerfuffles, change of plans. I do all of this because it makes me feel better in the randomness of it all. When I dismiss it all as nonsense then I feel worse. The Mercury orbit returns to normal on the November after Rememberance day. Let’s see what happens…
Overall, the message that I’ve gotten about retrograde is this: Shit is going to happen right now, other shit will be delayed no matter how hard you try and how hard you want it to work out. Practice patience and try your best to go with the flow… I think this is good advice for any time of the year.