Article Review – The Age of Dissonance; Blame the Messenger

THE AGE OF DISSONANCE; Blame the Messenger by Bob Morris

Published The New York Times 4/18/04, available at

This article solicits feedback about the phenomena of Mercury retrograde, which happens several times a year in 3 week periods. Mercury Retrograde defined: Mercury was named after the Roman messenger God and occasionally his orbit gets so slow that he appears to move backward in the sky. As the author tries to decide whether to take any of it seriously, he discovers many levelheaded and celeb fabulous people do. Yes, communication goes awry. Yes, deals fall through. No, don’t buy a new computer. But what you didn’t know was, Mercury retrograde has an underground following. I think it falls in the category of modern day folk wisdom. Everyone who’s experienced it is a believer.

A) An LA psychiatrist’s patients tell her they can’t sign contracts or keep commitments during Merc Rx (which she sees as a thin excuse for irresponsibility). Of course you do. You’re a psychiatrist.

B) Celebs are paying attention to Mercury. Marla Maples is cautious during the period, ”It’s a time to be more conscious of everything that’s happening.” Singer Taylor Dayne is a Mercury watcher who avoids making record deals when Mercury’s Rx. “It’s Murphy’s Law…but 10 times worse,” she said.

C) Make-up artist Lori Klein likens Rx to a really bad case of PMS, you see it as a sort of warning to “…keep to yourself rather than flying into a rage for no reason.”

D) The standard advice was offered: standard computer back-ups, reflecting more, going slowly.

The author himself admits to blurting out foot in mouth remarks at inopportune moments during Mercury Rx periods. This is when a compassionate friend introduced the whole Mercury phenomenon. He’s still not a believer, but floats it as a “trendy alibi” to excuse various errata. Touche.

Coquettish Mercury in Cancer moves backwards 6/15 – 7/09

Mercury, the bugger we love to love and love to hate. It’s an ambiguous relationship, as ambiguous as Silver Toes his self, err her self. Whatever. You love your computer right? Maybe you hate it today? See my point? When everything’s going smoothly and it works we love, love, love Mercury. Like a fickle lover we’ve grown comfortable with, we take he/she/it for granted. We just don’t think about how grand it is to have email (that works!), a cell phone, a land line, internet service and the post man…who always delivers. Ooh, but when things get retrograde crazy girl, it’s like that cell phone T.V. commercial. You know the one where the daughter calls mom from Vegas.
Mom: ‘What are you doing in Vegas, honey? You wouldn’t do anything silly like get married would you?’
The call drops.
Mom: panics.
Mom: jumps to conclusions.
‘Honey, are you there? Honey, you’re not getting married are you?’
Mom: at her wits end.
‘Honey, don’t make the same mistake your father and I made!’
We can only wonder if dad overheard that untimely comment. Perhaps daughter is hearing this for the first time, too (OMG, my parent’s marriage is a sham!) That’s how Mercury retrograde is…Oh, the havoc, the heartache, the communication meltdowns he/she/it can wreak. Let’s take a step back and take a breather…

Mercury is going retrograde in Cancer for 3 weeks. Jumping to conclusions is probably not a good idea. You’ll have more than one chance too – guaranteed. When your boyfriend doesn’t call, it’ll be easy to launch into insecurities…even though he’s very reliable, generally. Give these Mercury retrograde moments the benefit of the doubt – your doubt. Doubt that the inconsiderate slight was actually intended. Chances are it was something unanticipated. Cancer is a touchy-feely sign, very sensitive. Because both the Moon and Mercury relate directly to memory, memories will surface easily, especially heart memories. Steven Forrest, a teacher of mine, likened the Moon to the memory written on your heart. The heart doesn’t record details, it records feelings…your first kiss, prom night, your grandma’s funeral. You remember what you were wearing that day, your sweetie’s name or the most amazing Amazing Grace you’ve ever heard, because it left a heart impression. The heart has fuzzy logic, the details aren’t important – it’s the feeling that counts. Whereas Mercury memory is akin to your computer’s Random Access Memory, the place you store bits of information temporarily. Mercury information is uncommitted and temporary – random because it has no physical location, and can be retrieved quickly. According to wikipedia, RAM is short, reliable and consistent. Like a conversation.

So what happens when head and heart slow down? The fuzziest of logic. You may have to bypass RAM altogether and go straight for the psychic gist of things. Feeling sensitivity is strong – your feelers are attuned to the heart content, not the words. Hence, incredible subjectivity and overreaction overrule logic– especially where family and home are concerned.

Prepare to repeat conversations at least twice, probably three times, as a rule of thumb. Prepare to revisit heart memories at least twice, probably three times, as a rule of thumb. Do I repeat myself? How annoying.

Here are a few tips to avoid repeating the same thing twice (also called a mistake).

Accept no job. It’s not the right time. It will turn out differently than you expected.
Sign no contracts – unless you’ve already decided to do so, prior to this third week of June.
Double check your plane tickets, travel plans. Arrive early. Delays are likely.
Don’t fight the cancellations, double booked plans, and random no-shows. It’s all apart of the cosmic plan.
Basically, don’t start anything new, especially if you’re in the information business.
Don’t move house – unless you’ve taken care of everything prior to this time.
Don’t ride on empty. Fill your gas tank. If your car has an arthritic knee, don’t ask it to run a marathon.
Don’t sell your prized possession on a whim. Actually, don’t take any unreasonable risks. You’ll regret it later.

Go forth boldly in these things:
Anything beginning with “re-“: remember, re-pot a plant, resell your used clothes, return to a place you love, remodel your kitchen… With one exception: it’s likely not a good time to return to an old love relationship, especially if it was broken to begin with.
Visit with old friends, relatives, reunions. Yay!
Dream often and deeply, take care of old business, finish up projects you’ve already begun.
Talk it out in therapy. Cancer loves therapy, so it’s a fab time to dig into your root cellar and deeply re-hash and emote for a final good-riddance (it’s also the sign of “endings”).
Don’t push the river. Really. What’s the point in that? Go to the beach instead. Cancer energy needs sea-space, solitude, reflective down time. Keep expectations on yourself and others reasonable, easy. Expect change. Who’s really in control here, anyhow?
Give your computer a break when it acts up. Step outside.

Remember, we love Mercury because he’s the mastermind of communication and transportation, the genie inside the computer, the telephone, subway, highway, mail system and the piece of gossip (or information) that lands on our ear at exactly the right moment. Remember, don’t kill the messenger. He/she/it needs a summer vacation, too.

Thank Mercury for Mercury.

Venus enters Leo, beautifully, boldly

When you stop putting yourself on the line, and you don’t touch your own heart, how do you expect to touch other people? Tori Amos, Venus in Leo Diva

People are emboldened in heart affairs during Venus in Leo’s passage. Dramatic gestures of love and appreciation fan the flames of passion and romance – and isn’t that what we’re all after? Courtship is more than a first date, or the honeymoon period of a romance, it’s the love of a lifetime. We want that in-love feeling all the time (Leos are notorious romantics)! What we want from our partners is nothing less than worship.

We want to be wooed and others want our wooing. How to woo? Heap the attention on your lovers, lavish them with luxury, affection, and every Leo’s wet dream: praise. Be the recipient of the wooing by unleashing your creativity, charisma and 1000% original flair. Leave an impression. As Venus in Leo fashion icon Coco Chanel said, A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous. Develop a signature style, a trademark and work it, work it, work it. Coco also said, There have been several Duchesses of Westminster but there is only one Chanel! The mark of authenticity is Leos claim and in Venus’ realm of beauty, style, fashion, relatedness and love… only the fabulous need apply.

Here’s the ultimate diva clause: there’s only room for one beauty in this room. She needs her own spotlight to feel special. You don’t have a spot for her? Hmmm. Wonder how long you’ll last in her life. She ultimately carries her own, so has no problem attracting someone who will turn up the wattage on her already brilliant mega-watt smile. Her attention makes you feel special too, like you’ve passed through the velvet ropes and are now entering the VIP lounge. You feel worthy. You feel happy. You feel loved. And this evokes a huge applause, like fireworks in your heart. It’s the woo-woo…and wow! of her creative power. A gold colored aura emanates from her mighty heart, dazzling us with her fierce love and creative strength.

And now a word from our sponsor…
Feeling intimidated, judgmental, shy, guilty, or think astrology is a bunch of over-sensationalized celebrity crock? Woo-woo and wow, you smirk. Well, obviously your diva needs some of your attention. Where have you hidden her? Underneath a rock? A frumpy peasant skirt? A condescending attitude, judgmental criticism? Where’ your sense of fun? As the original purveyor of attitude: attitude is attractive. Have you ever seen a supermodel without it? Hello?) And now we return to our original programming…

And her heart – It takes two strong hearts to withstand that heat. You can impress others with your amazing strength, but without an equal, someone with gifts and bravado equally as fabulous as yours, the applause moves in one direction. Which is fine if you’re Madonna, but not so cool if you’re in the business of loving, related partnership. You want a relationship that’s dynamic, exciting and mutually supports the artistry and creative gifts of one another. And no matter how evolved you claim to be, how grown-up or ego-less, none of us, read: no one ever loses the need for recognition and applause. It’s a human thing, an unabashedly appropriate reward for our human labors of love. One person wants to see their work of art hanging in the Louvre, the other, a patent on their new drug, yet another, the paycheck that pays the gross worth of their talent. So the give and take is: one person applauds and the other is the audience. Here’s the script: I am your number one fan. I love, applaud and honor (your talent here). You are wealthy and luxurious in so many ways (list here). You are so fabulous, classy and original (other adjectives here) that you blow me away! Your creativity is so endless I can’t wait to see what you come up next! Then you switch places.

Venus is in Leo and love is in the making. What’s Leo love? It’s active appreciation for your unique strengths, and those of the people around you. Its loving yourself enough to let your creative seeds out of the closet and let them shine. Celebrate your creative strength and power, put your work of art on the line and you’ll be met with a warm reception. Showcase your talent. Take a creative risk. You may think someone else is better than you (Saturn in Leo). So what? You’re an original. And please, for the sake of those trembling Lions who are just coming out of the den for the first time, follow the golden rule of Leo: if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it at all!

Missed the Train? Lost a Wallet? Maybe It Was All Mercury’s Fault by Andy Newman

New York Times, Published: November 11, 2006 available at

Okay, this article scores 10 points for originality and effort. The writer took a poll on the statistical occurences of lost baggage, theft, flight delays and traffic accidents (but couldn’t find a way to quantify other  Mercury-related phenomena “like crossed signals between spouses, botched pizza orders, busted real-estate deals”). In true Mercurial fashion, the evidence is illusory. None of this statistically amounts to much one way or the other. I do think it’s cool that someone is trying to put astrology in the same category as evidence-based science. But it all really comes down to human behavior, doesn’t it? That’s one of the hardest things to predict, though we astrologers do a great job trying! That said, here are the stats:


– a traffic monitoring agency reports 41.9 major traffic events (accidents, traffic light malfunctions etc.) a day in regional NYC during the 2005, 2006 retrograde periods vs. 42.4 during nonretrograde periods. No significant change.

-train times for NJ transit over the past 3 years during retrograde times show trains were .4 percent less likely to arrive late.

-lost baggage claims at La Guardia during the retrograde periods are negligible, there was a .6 percent rise in lost bags.

-during the first week of Merc Rx burglaries and car thefts were down by 20% as compared to non-retrograde periods.


Note: Ms. Anne Massey, vice president of the International Society for Astrological Research, baited that last bit for the writer suggesting the current Mercury period would result in higher thefts, “most of us have to let go of something.” Guess not. (Yep, Mercury was in thieving Scorpio)


Conclusively, Mercury stands accused and vindicated once again. Can’t you see the twinkly-eyed sly devil smiling?

New Moon Gemini, Thursday, June 17, 2004 1:27 PM

“Hermes is the god of the unexpected, of luck, of coincidence, of ‘synchronicity.’ The ancient Greeks would say: ‘Hermes has entered our midst,’ whenever a sudden silence had entered the room, descended on conversation and introduced into the meeting another dimension. Whenever things seem fixed, rigid, ‘stuck,’ Hermes introduces fluidity, motion, new beginnings – as well as the confusion which inevitably precedes new beginnings.” Arianna Stassinopoulos – “The Gods of Greece”

New Moon Gemini, Thursday, June 17, 2004 1:27 PM

We’re most familiar with sun sign Gemini as the symbol of the twins. Astrologically, we know we’re encountering two halves of a whole– duality. Throughout history, twins are associated with light and the dark, the good and the evil, saint and sinner. Gemini Sun knows the contradiction of light and shadow quite intimately; a formulaic approach toward life never works for cutting off the opposite is a certain form of death. To be creatively whole and rich, Gemini’s key resource is the ability to switch up. When speaking of Gemini it behooves us to remain flexible, to not do so actually creates a chasm in which we find our innate creative freedom denied, opportunities missed and resources wasted.

Mercury, also known as Hermes, is the planetary ruler of Gemini. Hermes has many different traditional associations that speak to his/her creativity and diversity of role and form. Hermes is an androgynous figure, most often portrayed as male in literature and art, with a reputation for being able to wear the disguise of anyone– male, female, human, creature, both visible and invisible. As the natural element of mercury is ‘quicksilver’, mercury is changeable in form agilely shifting and adapting to the environment. The Olympian Gods gave Mercury the dubious task of delivering messages to/from the underworld. They obviously held Mercury’s gift of swift and sure movement in the highest confidence. Mercury was bestowed with ability to move back and forth between not only physical locations but also spaces of consciousness. This function of Mercury as messenger is absolutely essential to movement into new realms.

As Mercury traveled between realms, he had the skill to ‘language in’ new elements–providing a synthesis between gathered bits of information (indeed Mercury influenced people often excel at foreign language). As patron saint of the crossroads, many early European trade routes were known for their ‘mercurial’ figures: guides, visionaries, tradesmen, hustlers, thieves and bandits. Inhabiting the boundary between the known and the unknown, mercurial types were repositories of information: from conditions of mountain passes to where to find supplies, to who was trading what and where the next big thing was sought. At this crossroads, information is king; so unschooled travelers were vulnerable to schemes and cons of all sorts. Mercury is street smart and cunningly knows how to work this innate talent to his advantage. He uses his skill to advantage, not only transforming information into marketable, durable goods but in his magical function uses this same creativity as a bridge between worlds of the known and unknown. In this form, Hermes is the healer; objectively bring new information from the subconscious to the conscious, reconciling opposites as true act of healing.

This new moon shows a crossroads, where a new level of adaptability is necessary. We are able to receive information on new levels, and some of this information has to do with our alter ego or shadow self. As New Moon and Mercury opposes Pluto, the Daemon, Doppelganger, the Devil on your shoulder—all of these characters speak to our dual nature. Coinciding with the necessity of receiving new information we seem to be having mercurial experiences of receiving new bits of information beyond our 3-dimensional reality, beyond the reality-self interface. Many of us are noticing an enhanced ability to respond to signs and signals from beyond our everyday left-brain mode. Thoughts are becoming reality rather quickly and synchronicities more apparent. According to Carl Jung, Hermes inhabits the liminal dimension of space, or the space between. This 4th dimension is the realm where information, people, events, dreams, connections, directions just ‘drop in’ through no conscious ego effort. In this realm we are not involving the all-powerful Self, which often distorts and uses messages to the end of ego. Without the ego’s meddling, these bits of information are all the more precious. The term ‘hermetic seal’ means ‘air-tight’ and was associated with Thoth, the Egyptian god of alchemy and mystical secrets. Thoth, with Hermes’ assistance, sealed sacred spaces of information. Mercury invites us to revere these sacred pieces of information, to hold them as communion with unseen forces of truth.

Mercury symbolizes mind, as this is the physical and creative vessel in which we receive and translate information. Around this new moon we may find our minds restless and unstable, flip-flopping from one idea to another like fish flopping in a bucket. This may be a result of choices we are facing, of which the multiplicity and diversity of outcomes astound. You may embody a Mercury character in your life right now, or someone may have appeared on the scene creating ambiguity or multiplicity of choice. Mercury as the trickster has an amazing dexterity to talk us into or out of anything. Here we may use Mercury’s street talk for good or evil, to trick ourselves, or others. Mercury as a friend and fellow traveler may be friend turned into foe. Friends who become ‘shady characters’ are usually old issues that need address for resolution. Whatever form he/she takes, with Venus retrograde we see shadow in our relationships easily now and that shadow is pointing the finger back into our own heart. The trickster element wants us to acknowledge that these people around us are giving us a map or trade route to the jewel inside.

This New Moon brings new abundance of information and mental activity and associated with Pluto, a particular harshness. A semisextile to Mars & Jupiter indicates right use of power is possible, but with a quincunx to retrograde Chiron, circumventing old wounds is critical. The risk is: the head may try and leap ahead of the heart. Gemini is the mental element of air and used in excess without grounding in heart wisdom you may find yourself pulling the 9 of swords. In tarot, the 9 of swords card is a heart pierced by thoughtless thinking, the intellect without practicality or heart wisdom. Whether it’s one of negative self-talk or harsh words, the bleeding heart is a particularly painful image. Aleister Crowley names this card ‘Cruelty’ aptly describing the harsh mental critic as the heart cries out for reprieve. If you are struggling with the right words & thoughts, remedy yourself with some Venus light therapy. Before you speak, visualize yourself in a soft green blanket of light to soften your mind with heart energy. If you speak from your heart you are honoring both yourself and the other. It’s a win-win.

Retrograde Venus squares Jupiter Saturday, 6/19. Having just passed a pretty tight relationship to the Uranus and Jupiter opposition, someone or something valuable may’ve dropped onto your radar screen or fallen off. This certain something has held your self- worth in a precarious position. The tension created is a certain excitability lending itself to an attraction/repulsion sensation. The risk is overvaluation or overspending, so beware of this tendency. How to move forward confidently when there’s an argument between values and expansion into the future? Communication probably holds the wisdom key here when Mercury moves into the sign of Cancer, the sensitive crab. This is a reminder that communications over the next month should draw on the feeling nature and principles of the heart. Tune into intuition and find the answer.

6/20 Sun moves into Cancer and issues of emotional security will surface. The U.S. is a Cancer Sun ruled nation and with Saturn soon to touch on this, look to heightened domestic issues of security, tightening of economy. Emotionally too, the bare essentials are highlighted. We’re still in Venus retrograde so the personal value of safety is relevant. When do we feel safe? It’s an important question for this Sun in Cancer time and in true mercurial form you may find the answer in it’s opposite. Despite BushCo’s assertions, safety is not about issuing defense, weapons and safeguards against the forces of ‘out there’. Connectedness to others allows us freedom to express our self. This engenders a feeling of safety. When we feel safe, we let our full being shine, and if our self-expression is successful, we receive love, honor and esteem– Venus’ favorites.

6/22 Mercury trines Uranus retrograde putting a little schwizzle in your mizzle (translation: some spunk in your missive). Take Snoop Dog’s cue. As a modern day rapster/trickster Snoop Dizzle spins a rhyme and busts out a new vocabulary. Today a new connection or important meeting electrifies your consciousness. Suddenly your mind is in a whole new place. This is a good thing as both planets are bent on opening you up to radically inventive insight.

6/23 Mars enters Leo where haberdashery and bravado seem to get you everywhere. Leading into the first quarter with a swish of the lion’s tale, your best investment is about what you hold inviolable. Don’t lose your footing on 6/24 when Saturn quincunxes Neptune. The planet of form meets the planet of dreams and dissolution. It may take a little re-working to project confidence when your best foot forward feels connected to sea legs. Dreams can meet reality with some fancy footwork & creative negotiation. New solutions arise when you open up to alternative ways of working within the apparent limitation. The first quarter moon in Libra on 6/25 tells you to lay tracks down only if your heart deems it worthy. Information surrounding your adventure abounds on this day when Jupiter sextiles Mercury, opening doorways previously shut. Just like Fed-Ex, (surely an invention of Mercury) the parcel is delivered right on time.

Discern the message as the urge to commit on 6/26 appears when Saturn conjunct Mercury. Discernment. This may be a particularly mentally demanding day. Be sure you know you’re in the green before signing your name on the dotted line. This aspect emphasizes the importance of words, contracts and all forms of communications. Any commitment you make on this day will have lasting effects for better or worse. Watch what you say and think, paying particularly close attention for any negativity creeping in. It may or may not be justified; use your inner critic wisely. Try to see if this day reflects some of the issues you were sorting at the new moon. You may field more clarity around these, and find yourself able to communicate with precision.

If thoughts turned fearful yesterday, today 6/27 the order of today is lightening your load. Like 6/22, this is another day of impulse toward originality and invention. Today’s a great day to step out of the box and try something new. You are excited and optimistic, as the future seems to face forward again. Break ground today for some communication breakthroughs tomorrow.

6/28 Mercury quincunxes Pluto as communication seems to get sucked into a vortex. Keep the new insights from yesterday going as again, originality and flexibility is required to dodge the popcorn being thrown from the peanut gallery. Some of it is just junk being thrown at the super sensitive ears of Mercury in Cancer; today we may run up against the idiom ‘don’t kill the messenger’. Imagine yourself as Hermes with an ability to travel the space between. Separate old habitual patterns of thinking as you navigate new paths. Often neurotransmitters create nerve paths out of old habits no longer useful; this day we can realize an old way of functioning no longer works.

Today, 6/29, remember that the work of life is love. Venus goes direct and she’s given you the past month and a half to re-assess what makes you happy in relationship to yourself and others. With the help of Pluto you’ve gained a new level of understanding about those places you absolutely must be honored–your bottom line. As you’re challenged to bring this new awareness lovingly into your life, revel in Gemini’s gift of curiosity. Curiosity lightens the load. Be playful and curious as you receive messages from curious channels. Mercury says: take heed of messages in all forms. Messages in bottles, symbols, or shadow aspects of our self may be marked ‘handle with care’ for good reason. You’re building bridges between the old and new model of love. Proceed with Care!