Mercury and Memory: I’ve Heard it All Before

by | Jul 9, 2007 | Mercury the Messenger, Real Time Astrology | 2 comments

Okay folks, retrograde Mercury in Cancer has thoroughly reached a dead stop. The lord of ebb and flow, that cosmic administrative assistant who keeps the wheels of the brain turning, your computer’s RAM accessible and your appointment calendar straight has been at the same 3 degrees of Cancer since July 4th! And even though Mercury technically begins moving forward (from the earth’s perspective – Mercury never moves backwards literally) it won’t make it to 4 degrees until July13th. To elucidate this slow waltz, Mercury usually moves between 1 ½ to 3 degrees A DAY. Things aren’t only not moving forward, they’re in a holding pattern till next weekend. No, this isn’t your energetic can-can (we’ll see that when Mercury moves into Leo in August), this is a very dreamy trance dance.

Moving backwards. Where the planet moves backwards, the mind follows. Emotionally, fluidly, memories hold water. Thought resists form. Try holding a cup of water without a cup. Try paddling upstream. Time moves forward, but something’s frozen in there. It’s a memory. We have memories we don’t like and memories we do. Mercury in Cancer beams them down to earth as raw emotion. It’s a little confusing. First, rarely do we have control over what we remember. That the soul, in her mystery, attaches emotional importance to particular memories, we know. The smell of apple pie. The embrace of someone who loves you. The pain of having been hurt. Good memories are replayed. But, in the case of trauma, why, we wonder, are bad memories replayed? Mercury’s memories can bridge gaps in awareness at the right time, or the wrong time. Pick up tomatoes at the grocery; brush teeth; remember broken heart. Recall is great, but how great is remembering the same pain all the time, the same worry, or the same tragic scene replayed over and over and over…? If our consciousness is an email address for the universe to reach us, those memories are the kind we’d rather not accept. Return to sender. Do we have a choice?

Maybe we do have a choice. Remember the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind? One of my all time favorite movies. Briefly, the main character played by brokenhearted Jim Carrey wanted to forget his ex-girlfriend Clem (Kate Winslet) so went to a shmuck who erased her from his memory. One by one, his memories were plucked away. Dissolved. To many, the idea of having one’s memory wiped is mildly to majorly terrifying. But for people who suffer a tragedy over and over, by reliving it in memory, it’s a hopeful thought. Personally, uncomfortable memories have been apart of my consciousness as long as I can remember. Ha! No, really, how many times (in my teens and 20’s) did I wish for release from the purgatory of memory? So many. Because I saw how memories of negative events had a way of controlling my ability to be fully present. Is this real, or is this a pattern of expectancy created from memory? Ask this question enough and you begin to feel like a hostage at your Aunt or Uncle’s house, forced to sit on the sofa and watch home movies and vacation slides… from two decades ago. (When life resembles history, it’s time to move on.) My natal Mercury is in Cancer so I have a pretty strong sense of how the body patterns itself through emotional memories. The body is so inextricably tied to memory that we can create disease, or years of walking around as an emotional cripple. Some people say our whole conscious self is built on a string of memories. We’re remembering ourselves every day…

Ahem, which reminds me why I’m writing…As so often happens with real-time astrology, I was listening to an NPR segment today on memory. The show began: where do you keep your memory? And can we locate it in your brain? Well, yes. Science says memories are proteins, quite visible in the human brain. And if we can see it, we can understand it and then change it right? Scientists experimented with a protein on lab rats and discovered if given another specific protein during the moment of associative memory recall (the kind of memory that hears a bell, feels a painful shock and then associates the bell with the shocking pain) the rats forgot the pain. In other words, whereas the bell once caused them to brace for the certain pain, after the memory-erasing protein, they forgot bell = pain. Bell could’ve meant “dinner.” So they tried the experiment on a human being: a woman who was tragically raped in her youth, and because of her mother’s disbelief, told no one. After keeping this haunting secret for so many years, she participated in the experiment, and as she recalled the abuse, the memory-eraser was administered. Result: while she didn’t completely forget the trauma, the emotional suffering associated with the trauma was greatly relieved. If fact, the emotional effect of the trauma was so greatly reduced that after telling no one for her entire life, she was now able to talk about it on television.

That lifetime memory? It was created in only a moment. But it’s the emotional interpretation of our experience combined with the fact that we keep repeating it that makes a negative event disabling. And by looping it through our minds, for better or worse, we relive the emotions and the memory for a lifetime. There are great memories worth holding onto, right? A baby’s first steps, a surprise birthday party. All in favor of memory say hurrah! But the funny thing is, scientists say the more we relive a memory, the less reliable it becomes. After the initial kiss or pain, every time we remember, we’re literally re-creating it. My husband and I have re-lived our first kiss a hundred times, and even though we retell the tale for strictly sentimental, feelgood reasons and not for accuracy, I’m certain I know less about how it really was today than I did on that romantic, moonlit evening under the stars… (Were there even stars?)

So every time we re-create the memory, we get further from the truth. That’s right, there is no such thing as a true memory. Scientists say that the purest memory is one that’s un-remembered. They say, only amnesiacs have a memory bank as pristine as an Alpine mountain stream. The amnesiacs are untouched by mythologizing, romanticizing and increasing loss of accuracy. The rest of us are revisionists, making up personal histories as we go along. (The nostalgic romantics among us have permission to sadly sigh now) What was, existed only in the moment – you can’t take it with you. And from this perspective, why would you want to? Apparently, by remembering, all you do is cloud and sully your pristine mountain spring with inaccuracies.

But wait, a beautifully reassuring thought arises: the remembrances I’m not aware of are quite possibly the purest pieces of my being. A brand spanking new memory that bubbles up in my consciousness is a momentous observation of my own purity, once removed (because I’m remembering it). If only those memories that bubble up for the very first time are close to being remotely true, the things I don’t remember must be far closer to Truth than the repetitive stories I tell myself. As I contemplate this delicious new awareness, it dawns on me: Oh, I must be a pure mystery. How exciting! And the past? Well, that’s just totally unreliable. This may be an uncomfortable thought for some, but let that thought in and feel the freedom, taste the independence! Here’s a liberating mantra to try on for size – I am not who I remember myself as being. Because when you realize that only original stories are true ones, and those are gone in a flash, you become sneakily suspicious about those re-remembered memories. A potato isn’t a potato once it’s become a hash brown, right? You get my gist. So what is their agenda, those repeat memories? What are/were they thinking? The saying goes, if I’ve heard it once I’ve heard it a thousand times… and I don’t know about you but once is enough for me.

Here’s the juice: I’ve asked that question for much of my life. While I’ve my ad-hoc theories, therapists, and self-help books none adequately addressed the emotional and physical suffering that painful memories cause – until I found Emotional Freedom Technique, or EFT. My physical experience tells me all physical and psychological distress is stored in the cosmic emotional memory bank, and that sucker keeps re-investing those memory coins till you figure out a new place to deposit them (in Astrology, the whole natal chart is karmic by nature, but karma destined for the REPLAY button, aka your “life story”, is found in the nodes of the Moon). EFT, known as the “tapping cure,” is deceptively simple– you’re guided through a process of tapping on energy or energy meridians while actively remembering the specific memory tied to your specific symptom. Painful memories are a call for healing – which is why all healing modalities ask you to remember – when you first felt this way, what it reminds you of. The soul’s remembered story is a vital piece for your self-understanding, but the point is this: you are more than your memories.

Ha! Try convincing a stubborn bodily symptom, that. When emotional memories run deep enough, the body communicates like crazy. But with the help of an EFT practitioner, you activate the ingrained memory by re-telling it but this time release it with a message of self-acceptance. Then you tap that self-acceptance right into your Chi channels. Whereas the scientists administered a drug to the rats and the woman during memory recall, EFT administers the ultimate healer: Love. Sound too easy? I’ve seen many, many healers, and beyond the shadow of a doubt I know the Original healer is unconditional love. Period. In fact, if I were asked to define healing I’d say healing is love. Cancer’s gift is unconditional love and self-acceptance, so our retrograde Mercury Juju is remedying those leaky pipes of memory and self-confusion with a truer understanding of who we are. To get past the endless re-creation of another untrue story, let’s unclog our brains, and release into the watershed of the Original emotion. We are Love.


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  1. Fairychimes

    Healing is love. We are love. Two such simple phrases and yet it is as if Mountains of truth errupt before our eyes and reach for the heavens and wells of discovery open from within that reach deep to the center of the universe, so profound the concept. Oh Cancer bring us your gift to feel to accept to release……

  2. Jessica

    Hi Fairychimes! Your comment has all the ingredients for a New Moon ritual… or a poetic prayer. How beautiful!

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