Mercury Retrograde: Psych it Out

Dear Friend and Reader:

MERCURY is now retrograde in Aquarius. This feels inventive, individualistic, exciting, a bit weird and a bit wired.

For those new to the topic, or those obsessed with it, Mercury retrograde is a planetary ritual that happens three times a year, involving this meaningful little planet coming between the Sun and the Earth. Relative to the Earth, Mercury appears to move backwards for about three weeks. Through careful observation, astrologers have mapped out a few other phases of the experience. For about three weeks ahead of time, you get an echo of the effect. Then the day or two surrounding the station (change of directions) there is often an unusual level of activity, change and shuffle; that is right about now.

Then there is the retrograde phase, which lasts about 23 days — the current one goes through Feb. 18. We have eclipses in the vicinity (solar Feb. 6/7 and lunar on Feb. 20). This will intensify all the astrology and potentially make openings for complications. I suggest you tread carefully. While I am not to partial to dishing out advice,  the Ethics Dept. has proposed that a few pointers are in order. These are purely my opinion, for what it’s worth.

  • Mercury is a mental planet, and much of how we experience it involves our state of mind. This would include our attitude toward technology, which counts for a lot these days. We have not owned up to it, but we’re entirely soaked in the digital world, to the extent of being part of it. So the role our minds play in the relationship is vital.
  • Pace yourself. Rushing often works against us, but particularly during a Mercury retrograde. Take the time to think things through, and when in doubt, try logic.
  • Be careful with communications. Get off of email the minute there’s confusion and iron it out on the phone. Don’t take an unreplied email as a “message” of some kind. Write to the person.
  • Slow down spending money. It’s not really possible to stop, but it’s definitely possible to cut back, say, three-quarters of your usual spending above and beyond the basic bills. Personally, once the echo phase begins, I stop making major purchases of any kind (computers, camera gear, and any medium to big ticket stuff).
  • Stop making commitments. Just about anything can wait. If you do commit to something, be prepared for it to get shuffled around, and they are likely to work out differently than you planned. In other words, they may be more challenging, money issues will likely work differently, and there may be delays. If you can put things off for a few weeks, usually, you will save yourself time.
  • The way to make commitments is not words, but actions. The things you do during a Mercury retrograde establish a pattern, and you can use the time to get the pattern the way you need it. It may be challenging, but you will get some good opportunities to tune your routines and work out the bugs.
  • Work on resolving the past. Personally, I like to take the emphasis off of my usual blaze ahead, and wrap up what I have started, tie up loose ends, fulfill commitments and get myself organized.
  • Things that seem broken usually are not. But you can make them worse by trying to fix them. So if something seems like it’s not working right, try doing nothing. Then, try getting to it after the station-direct in three weeks. It’s a good opportunity to try the almighty workaround. There is always another way…not necessarily the best way, but one that will work, without messing things up.
  • This retrograde is in Aquarius, as is an eclipse in about a week. That is all about where you fit into the groups of people in your life. Imagine that Mercury is going contrary to what groups want. Now is the time to do your thing, think your thoughts, be yourself, find yourself, and be the person you want to be — and expect people to go along with who you are. If they’re your friends, they will.

I’m including a horoscope below. It’s my annual interior decorating horoscope. I do one every year. Invariably, someone writes to me and asks me if I’ve lost my mind — they would rather read about Iraq. The answer is yes I have, but not in the way they think. In any case, it’s fun to work in mundane astrological metaphors, like colors and objects, and to get off the psychological wavelength. I’m not that good at it, so I have help from Ursula Fugger up in Ontario. She is, among other things, an excellent mundane astrologer who could give a moving reading for a salt shaker. And if the pepper shaker went missing, she could help you find it.

Catch you Friday!

Retrograding into the future, this is
Eric Francis

Inner Space for January 2008

Aries (March 20-April 19)
Save your money and you’ll have enough to get the things that you really want, or better yet, really need. You usually want everything now, or rather, you’re used to getting it. But practicality is in the air, and everything must be judged by its merits, not its color. The kitchen comes to mind: start with the plumbing and work your way out. Your home office comes to mind: clear the space and refine it until it’s functional enough to give you the feeling that you’re actually economically secure because you can take care of yourself. I also see soundproofing in your future. You need silence, doors that lock and things that work. I know you want a fast car. Stick to the fast computer.

Taurus (April 19-May 20)
Touch the Earth. Buy North American. Remember our heritage here: we are the children of pioneers, and for the most part, we are rural folk. Search out estate sales for an authentic country dining suite with hardwood press-back chairs (they go fast). You will never regret getting an oversized rain barrel for the backyard, and let it remind you that water is precious. Remember, you are ready to settle in; the years of unsettling are over. What kind of shape is your mattress in? If it’s more than seven years old, you probably need a new one, and dark-colored heavy flannel sheets, red or gray, to match those cold, dark nights.

Gemini (May 20-June 21)
You seem to be in line for a cash payout of some kind, a settlement or situation where you get to divide the spoils. Don’t spend it all at once. Organizing takes priority over decorating, and the investment is time rather than cash. Repair all your window latches and doorknobs, and while you’re at it, go for heavy curtains rather than the kind that blow in the wind. Prune your self-help library, and get a meaningful oak bookshelf to collect the books that really matter — and donate at least one Ikea special to Goodwill. Take care of your roof and keep your house in order. I highly suggest a fireproof file cabinet, if only for peace of mind. Remember, that and nothing else is your goal.

Cancer (June 21-July 22)
You’re going to be obsessed with your living space reflecting your personality, True, you usually are, but you’ve not felt anything like this in quite a while. I suggest you start with clearing space. Scrub into the corners and gouge the attic and basement (Cancerians are the true neat freaks, sorry Virgo!). Then make your space the ideal space. If you’re working on the bathroom, don’t get a new toilet seat, get a new faucet. If you’re working on the kitchen, start with a stove and oven, and don’t let anything stop you from making it a gas range this time. If you’re working on the bedroom, try ripping out the carpets altogether and living the dream of a clean, timeless hardwood floor.

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23)
Make sure there is a space in your home that is suited for discussion. This needs to have comfortable but not sleepy chairs; a place where you have control over the lighting and whether the phone rings. The theme is clarification of your relationships, and if you make the space, the open sharing will follow. Mute the colors. Create a space where everyone wants to listen – that is the key to conversation. As for the rest, you’ve come a long way in two years and you don’t want to backtrack. Get new accessories, rather than new furniture. Cart off anything gilded, glowing or shiny. Keep any art you invested in; its value is going up, as is yours, and this is a crucial time of saving for the future.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22)
Invest in the things that have always been around: Leather, wood, denim, hemp, flannel. Not antiques, but rather those enduring products and substances, and things that have lasting value and don’t wear out. Resolve to purchase nothing that is made of plastic. For one year, purchase only hardcover books. You are already the master when it comes to being frugal; now is the time to come out of the closet about it. It’s okay to have a garden and it’s okay to can your heirloom tomatoes. It’s not just that their crude equivalent costs two bucks at the store — it’s that you want to know what you’re getting. Every time you touch your debit card, ask yourself: “Do I know what I’m getting?” You will be surprised at the answers!

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23)
This is the time to reduce, not increase. You may feel compelled to move, or circumstances may push you that way, at the same time you’re holding out for the full value of your home. The thing is, price is not the only measure of value. Happiness is, and it’s likely that a move will purge you of a world of old feelings you want to move on from. If you’re staying put, renovate incrementally, not — as the temptation will have it — all at once. Get to the roots: repairing the foundation is more important than a living room set. Plan for a new well or heating/AC unit. You are going to be thinking like an industrialist, but please stop short of the wrecking ball.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22)
This is the time of life when you find your niche, so let it be your decorating niche as well. Gray, brown and black should be the colors of your most public rooms. Create a serious, stately tone. You need an office or meeting room that is imposing for others to visit, and gives the feeling that you are someone to be taken for their word. Along these lines, stand up and make the improvements to your neighborhood so you won’t have to put a security system in the house. You will be taken seriously by government officials, and if by any chance you are looking at doing property improvements that involve zoning adjustments or other permits, this is the time to get them.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22)
Choose your décor, light or dark. The decision may count for more than you recognize; you are choosing your state of mind. Independence is what the next long phase of your life is about. Your most important environment is your technological environment. Make sure it all works and that everything is compatible with everything else. You may have the urge to spend big. But you had better spend smart. Everything you spend needs to be designed to further the cause of making, or saving, money, because this is the time when you can get that game down. Speaking of resources, invest in reducing your carbon footprint. Be the first person on the block to get solar panels, or a solar-heated pool.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20)
You must be in control of your space, and also be fair-minded when it comes to being in control of others’ space. You’re likely to be obsessed by power; put it to good use, and understatement is the way to go. Put in a high-tech woodstove, one of the ultra-high efficiency ones. You want to take anything that is waste and turn it into money. Become the recycling genius; get permanent bins and make sure that at the end of the week, there is no such thing as trash. If you want to decorate in pictures, go for black and white images of mountains or structures of any kind. Hunt down old maps, anatomy illustrations, or architectural drawings. If you must shop, get the very best for half off — you will.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19)
You are a social person, but you need a fortress of solitude. It may be an entirely new space, or it may be a way of rethinking your own space. It’s not about a nest with friends; it’s a nest for you. Start with the basement. That is the place to renovate or decorate. You need it clean, and you need it to be strong. Take care of everything that’s hidden; fix wiring, check the foundations, the sewers and pipes. Have your house inspected and check for moisture in the walls. You need windows at ground level so you have sunshine coming into the lower levels of your house. You will be slowing down, so work with a long-term plan to build your dreams on solid ground.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20)
There is something in your chart about aspiring to greatness; clean up your entryway and put power objects outside your front door. That door must become an altar to your personal magnitude, because you make a difference in the world. The door itself must be beautiful and strong; hang your hat on a very nice hook. For Pisces, interior space is all about flow. Therefore, make a study of the transitions where rooms meet other rooms. You need beautiful iridescent colors, such as glass tiles that give a splash of light or tone. God is in the details. Focus on unique place settings; you need mismatched dishes, all of which are unique and all of which have a story as interesting as your own.

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