The general wisdom about Mercury retrograde boils down to respecting the cosmic messenger’s capacity for trickery. Communicating and getting around are likely to go flooey, so plan ahead. Take precautions. Make allowances.
There’s a school of thought that these strictures don’t apply to people born with Mercury retrograde. For them, life flows better when the winged god returns to his condition at their birth.
That’s the theory, at least. It hasn’t been my experience. I have Mercury retrograde natally, and that hasn’t exempted me from garbled or misdirected messages, or maddening, schedule-thwarting road closures, or printers spewing alien poetry.
Maybe what sets me apart is having Mercury one minute — not one degree, one minute — from my Sun, which makes for lightning storms under the best of conditions. Or maybe the problem is that my Sun-Mercury-Retro is in my 12th House — the house of self-undoing.
Read on, then you be the judge.
The Best-Laid Plans
I took the risk of air travel during this year’s Mercury retrograde in Capricorn. The timing was out of my control — the reason was a wedding — but I cushioned the potential for disaster. I flew in on a date that wouldn’t endanger anything critical if my flight was delayed. And I mentally added an hour to the drive, since rush-hour traffic between my town and Newark has a tendency to simulate a parking lot.
Besides, the trip fit the symbolism of Mercury retrograding in my 11th House. The groom (well, one of them) has been a friend since our first week in college. And otherwise I’d also be hanging out with a few high school pals, two of whom were also traveling back to our childhood home town for a mini-reunion that formed around my plans.
Add to this that I have Gemini (ruled by Mercury) on the cusp of the 3rd House (also associated with Mercury), and that everyone involved is either a Gemini or has a significant placement in the sign, and all conjunct, too. I figured the odds were stacked in my favor.
The morning of my flight, I walked out on time. My car was iced over. Worst it’d been all winter. So badly my scraper couldn’t get the glass clear. I turned on the defrosters and left the car running while I went back inside for a last-minute pit stop.
“Oh, wait, that might not be safe,” I thought. I unhooked the ignition key from the ring and hit the lock on the way out.
And returned to the sight of a locked car running. With my spare key in my purse. Inside my locked car. Along with my AAA cards.
(And who rules keys? Mercury of course)
Trying Plan B
Plan B was immediate: calling the neighborhood driveway mechanic, who could no doubt jimmy the door open. Yes, my cell phone was locked in the car, too, but I’m one of those Aquarians with a Saturnian streak. I still have a landline. Two rounds of calls to his three phones (he’s also an Aquarian) got nothing but voice mail.
Then a memory shot out of nowhere. The old guy who’d sold me the car had stashed a code in the trunk for manually opening the remote-controlled locking system he’d installed. I stopped using the remote years ago because the casing kept coming apart, and even longer ago lost track of the copy of the code that I’d put in my wallet. (Guess my rising sign.)
I still had the remote, though, and darned if its ring didn’t have a trunkish-looking key. It worked! I dug through the trunk. No sign of the code anywhere.
Okay, then, what about the remote in my hand? Replace the batteries? That required a lift.
Fortunately my next-door neighbor was home. He’s retired, in his late 70s, and loves to step in and help. I asked him for a ride to the drug store and a short-term loan for the batteries. Sure, he said.
But first … he had to test the trunk key in the door lock. Try to pull a passenger window down with his hands. Peer and inspect and paw through the trunk for the code, even though he’d never seen where it had been originally posted. And then, while I chant-pleaded, “Please just take me to CVS,” climb into my trunk and attempt to push his way into the back seat.
If reading this is irritating, imagine living through it.
Once at CVS, I had to physically prevent him from dropping my battery irretrievably into a display. What I needed was out of stock, but the passage of time had a silver lining: By this point, the auto supply store had opened. Two new batteries and one tight wrapping of duct tape later, the remote worked.
The ordeal had lasted an hour, exactly the amount of time I’d allotted for rush-hour traffic. It was not lost on me, as I drove off, that returning a long-dormant car remote to working order was in keeping with a Mercury retrograde in Capricorn.
The Friendly Skies
I reached long-term parking at the time I’d intended to be at the airport — basically, only 10 minutes later than planned. From then, all the switches flipped without snag.
The airport shuttle left as soon as I boarded. At the terminal, I walked into smoothly flowing parallel screening lines in place of the single-entry, bottleneck-spawning system that had resulted in my once missing a flight. I reached the gate a miraculous 38 minutes before boarding. (I have three placements in my 6th House; Mercury’s in the details.)
I phoned my neighbor to thank him again and let him know I’d made it in time. Squawking overtook the connection. “Something’s wrong with my phone,” I said and begged off the call.
“Mercury’s retrograding it,” said a male voice next to me.
I knew him.
Twenty-five airlines in three terminals, and 25 gates in Terminal A, and I was sitting next to someone I knew. Who lives even more remotely than I do in New Jersey. And belongs to the same spiritual institute. Who was waiting to board a flight on the same airline, at the gate next to mine.
Nobody could make this stuff up.
Oh, and the make of my car? It’s a Mercury.