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Mercury – the writer’s patron symbol

March 2, 2010

With Dale away from his desk, we’ve invited  Anne Whitaker to  step in today.  Thanks Anne!

Indulge me. Have a guess. Which planet, do you think, might be specially linked to the writer’s craft? Yes, very good. It is indeed Mercury.

Mercury represents the principle of communication in all its facets. Pitching and selling ideas, reworking, appraising, editing; all the activities of the scribe’s trade are encompassed by the Mercury function.

Gorgeous Mercury!

Mercury – isn’t he gorgeous?!

In the spring, summer and autumn/winter of each year, the planet Mercury does something strange. It appears to slow down in its orbital pace, stop, then start to move backwards. This is known as retrograde motion. It is of course an illusion. Otherwise, we’d have fallen off the solar system aeons ago.

However, the effects down here on Earth when Mercury is in its  2-3 week retrograde phases are anything but illusory. For years, I studied this phenomenon in my own life, the lives of family, friends, and astrology students. In sum, communications of all types become strangely awkward and hard to manage during those times.

I learned to look forward to having some rest during Mercury Retrograde, since my referral rate dropped. Normally clients always turned up for appointments, MR periods being the exception. Cancellation rates increased. Once, a client called to cancel because her house had just caught fire (yes, she called the Fire Brigade first!).Two clients often turned up at the same time. Cheques invariably got lost in the post, or clients forgot to bring cash. One summer I moved office during MR, becoming involved in a dispute of byzantine complexity with the telephone company which took almost a nervous breakdown to sort out.

As MR periods approached, I used to entertain my students by looking at their individual horoscopes, which enabled me to be more specific regarding possible MR effects. I told one student, a lawyer, that a female helper in his workplace was likely to have communication problems which would impact on him. His feedback?  His secretary sprained her wrist, and was unable to type during the entire MR period.

Mercurial people, eg writers, are those most affected  by Mercury’s retrograde phase.

What can we writers do to maximise advantage and minimise disruption when Mercury is retrograde? MR is a positive time for going back over all matters to do with communication, and cleaning up.

Some examples: if you’ve been putting off a purge of your filing system, do it now. If your accountant has asked you nine times for your last year’s papers, use this 2-3 weeks to update them. Dig out and finish some of those half-worked articles. Use MR times for reminder letters to editors. If you’ve been writing furiously and the brain/wrist is seizing up, have a break. Catch up with some reading. As we know, fallow time is creative.

The don’ts? If it is not feasible as a working writer to avoid or delay taking new initiatives or completing existing processes, eg sending out new proposals and submissions or signing contracts, leases, etc, try to accept complications or thwartings philosophically. Also – be prepared for delays, eg when travelling, especially long distance.  Don’t sit under the mailbox waiting for cheques. And please, don’t arrange for a phone installation!

“Come on then !” I can hear you shouting as you search for my phone number or email.

“Tell us WHEN !”

Just send me a £50 cheque and a self addressed envelope….

….oh, all right….. Since this is a writer’s website, I’ll tell you.

The Mercury Retrograde periods for 2009/2010 are:

i) Retro 26/12/09, Direct 15/01/ 2010. ii) Retro 17/04/10, Direct 11/05/ 10. iii) Retro 20/08/10, Direct 12/09/ 10. iv) Retro 10/12/10, Direct 30/12/ 10.

As you can see from the foregoing, it is now six weeks since we emerged from the last MR period, and about six weeks until the next one. This gives you time to check your diaries and see what was going on on the writing and communication front the last time: what went awry? What worked more smoothly than usual? And – you have time to work out the best set of strategies for the upcoming MR spell.

Let me know how you get on !

[note: this is a general article based on the assumption – not unreasonable!! – that  a correct horoscope based on the DATE, PLACE and all-important TIME of birth for any writer would reveal a prominent placing for the planet Mercury, and its associated sign of Gemini. For example, my horoscope reveals that Mercury is the Ruling Planet of my horoscope, and links strongly with Jupiter(quest for meaning) Saturn(discipline and focus) Uranus(rebellious spirit) Neptune(imagination, other-worldliness) and Pluto( intensity, obsession). That makes me  VERY Mercurial! ]

(edited version of an article first published in the Women Writers’ Network Newsletter August 2004)

800 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2010
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page


Anne W

Anne Whitaker has written in one context or another all her life, having had many articles and essays published in recent years in contexts as diverse as The Mountain Astrologer (USA) Kindred Spirit (UK) and Scotland’s Sunday Herald. Based in Glasgow in Scotland, she is now focusing on writing, and on running her popular website for writers and readers : Writing from the Twelfth House.

Her first book “Jupiter meets Uranus” was published in April 2009 by the American Federation of  Astrologers. It is a research study of the Jupiter/Uranus conjunction of  1997, set in its mythological and historical context. She is currently  seeking a publisher for her second book, which is now being serialised on its own website : “Wisps from the dazzling darkness – a sceptic’s take on paranormal experience” .

Contact email: contact.anne.w

Thanks again Anne for your interesting insights!

If other readers would like to submit an article for a future guest post – please contact one of the regular writers.

  1. March 2, 2010 7:19 am

    Good old Murcury Retro.. not the best of times to be doing anything website back up based or the like…..

    some great things to think about here Anne..

  2. March 2, 2010 7:36 am

    Thanks Annie! When I was still running classes, Ronnie at the Copy Bureau here in Glasgow, Scotland, became a great pal via my constant photocopying visits. After he realised, gradually, that most of his machinery snarl-ups timed themselves for Mercury Retro periods, he got me to give him the timings for MR at the start of every year, pinning them up in a prominent place in his shop. “D’you know, Anne,” he said one day.” you’ve convinced me. There’s definitely something in this astrology lark!”

  3. March 2, 2010 7:56 am

    giggle!! I think Jodi would have something to add to this as well – as her partner is a big sceptic – but has begrudgingly accepted that there might be something in it all..

  4. March 2, 2010 10:18 am

    I started out not even as a sceptic (in the open-minded sense, which I like and which I still am) but as an out and out dismisser. But like so many dismissers, I mistakenly thought astrology was the Sun Sign entertainment wing. I was almost entirely ignorant of the 6,000 + years of empirical evidence in support of the theory that ‘as above, so below’ – the assumption that everything is interconnected. As the planetary energies shift and change, so does collective and individual life here on Earth.This is the basis of true, deep, astrology – and it works! I spent nearly 20 years doing ‘blind’ horoscope readings – no information about the client apart from date, time, and place of birth. Starting out with the assumption that ‘this can’t possibly work’ I proved to myself that it does.

    I remain, Yours Faithfully, A. N. Empiricist-Sceptic.

    ps. Well – might as well go back to lecturing after all that spiel!

  5. Ronnie permalink
    March 2, 2010 11:21 am

    Hi Annie, Dates copied, printed and stuck on the wa’.
    I have been warned !
    For the …. th year, thanks again.

  6. March 2, 2010 3:26 pm

    Hi Ronnie

    you are more than welcome. And try to stay off the ceiling when Merc goes Ret!


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