Is it? I don’t know. Maybe. Since the dawn of man, humans have looked to the stars and planets for guidance. Sometimes these observations are based on imaginary configurations (honestly does …
Is it? I don’t know. Maybe. Since the dawn of man, humans have looked to the stars and planets for guidance. Sometimes these observations are based on imaginary configurations (honestly does that really look like a lion to you?), at other times, they’re based on what soothsayers in King Arthur’s court decreed… and then there’s actual science, often confused with the aforementioned flights of fancy. We’ve all heard that “when the stars align” is an indication that conditions are favorable to do fill-in-the-blank, depending on one’s faith in the great unknown. The Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English (yes, it’s a thing) states that “when a person claims that something is written in the stars, what happens in their lives is controlled by fate.”
And then there’s astrology, the study of the movements and relative positions of celestial bodies interpreted as having an influence on human affairs and the natural world. To be honest, I don’t know what to believe (except actual science of course), and I bend my own personal rules “whenever the wind blows” as Barbara Fox would say. “I am the master of my own destiny!” I’ve trumpeted aloud when feeling particularly invincible, often followed by a firm conviction that the outcome of fill-in-the-blank has nothing to do with my own efforts, and is “totally beyond my control.”
For the last few months, I’ve felt particularly vulnerable to outside influences, and at times, crippled by a fear of the unknown, reinforced by real honest-to-goodness just plain bad scientific stuff happening all across our great, big, beautiful world. The past few weeks have been particularly stressful, as I’ve experienced great difficulty communicating with others, complicated by my cell phone being on the fritz, checks getting lost in the mail and arguments with pals springing up out of left field. In a moment of weakness, I looked to the skies for an explanation.
“Is Mercury in retrograde?” I typed into my computer, desperate to blame a rocky planet for my woes, even though it’s more than 50 million miles from Sullivan County, NY. According to www.almanac.com, the troublemaker is indeed, doing its wacky, wobbly thing, which began on June 18 and continues (sigh) through July 12. “According to the age-old practice of astrology, we are all influenced by the effects of Mercury in retrograde” the almanac informs. “Three times a year, it appears as if Mercury is traveling backward. We refer to these periods as Mercury in retrograde. These times, in particular, are traditionally associated with confusion, delay and frustration. Think email blunders and frazzled travel plans. And be prepared for angrier people,” the article continues. “The planet Mercury [is believed to] rule communication, travel, contracts, automobiles and such.”
“Well that explains your flat tire,” I said matter-of-factly to my friend who had a blowout on the Palisades Parkway earlier that day. “Nothin’ you could have done differently. It was written in the stars. Too bad you didn’t have a spare,” I chirped. “Mercury’s in retrograde, no sense beating yourself up.”
On my way to catch another beautiful Town of Bethel sunset last Friday evening, I noticed a bump in the road, which turned out to be a huge snapping turtle slowly (duh) working her way from a bog on the left to Lake Superior on the right. She appeared prehistoric and motionless, so I stopped the car and got out as Dharma wagged enthusiastically, unaware of what the old broad could do to her.
“No, you stay here, girl,” I cautioned the dog before grabbing my camera to capture the moment. Was it fate that drew me to the turtle? I wondered this as I stopped cars in either direction, motioning for them to pull over and allow Mrs. Snapper to make her way to the lake safely so she could lay eggs and start the whole life cycle over—all in agonizingly slow motion. “Mercury’s in retrograde!” I yelled to the other drivers, not sounding like a crazy person at all. “The internet says that bad things will happen,” I hollered. “We can’t let her get run over!”
As if to prove my point, my cell phone rang once and promptly shut itself off. “See what I mean?” I shouted to the truck driver behind me, who sighed in resignation, impatiently tapping his fingers on the dashboard, clearly annoyed at my good deed for the day. “Okay, she made it!” I cried gleefully, waving them through. “You are all free to go.”
Was it my destiny to save the life of a snapping turtle and her future descendants? I waved buh-bye to the others, who were happy (IMHO) to be rid of the crazy man, his turtle and his dog. Was it written in the stars, I wondered? Was it the turtle’s fate that I be there at that moment in time? I steered toward home before catching a glimpse of the orange glow over White Lake, NY, reminding me why I was on the road to begin with. Happy to have a camera instead of my now-useless cell phone, I looked both ways and pulled over, this time allowing Dharma to scamper down to the shore as the reflection glinted off of a lakeside cottage and the water below, illuminating the glory of what one single star, our sun, can provide.
While it says nothing about sunsets and turtles (Attorneys at Law), the Google (thanks, mom) does suggest that this period is “a good time to sit back and review where you put your energy in your life. Take a moment to reflect.” (Coincidence? I think not.) “Mercury retrograde can be an excellent time to take a step back and reanalyze who you are and what you are doing,” the article recommends. “But do refrain from making any drastic changes until after retrograde has ended.”
Fun Fact: According to actual science, Mercury retrograde is not real in that the planet does not physically start moving backward in its orbit. It just appears to do so because of the relative positions of the planet and Earth and how they are moving around the Sun.