Dear Readers, I have come to find out that writing about Mercury Retrograde is quite a controversial topic. Below I share an email I received from a reader who identifies as ‘Passively Curious’. It seemed a potent thing, and so I share my response as an open letter. …… Dear Vedic Wisdom, First off, what is Pachamama? As far as I know, it is an amazing US-based cooperative that buys coffee only from cooperatively-organized coffee producers across the world. Secondly, I am hardened/slightly bored and immediately disinterested to any sentences or phrases that use “Mercury Retrograde.” In fact, my perception of Mercury Retrograde is that it is constantly happening, as people nearly inevitably feel that their lives are perpetually fucked. What guidance can you give me there? On a side note, Mercury Retrograde would be a great band name. Sincerely, Passively Curious P.S. On another side note, what even IS Mercury Retrograde? …… Dear Passively Curious, Thank you for connecting in wonderment. You raise some good points that warrant a response. First things first. Let’s soften and narrow our gaze towards this feeling of being “hardened/slightly bored and immediately disinterested” when it comes to Mercury Retrograde as a topic of exploration and your sense that Mercury Retrograde must in constant presence since “people nearly inevitably feel that their lives are perpetually fucked.” I’d imagine that this is not the only place where you call on the razor-sharp tools of your boredom, hardening and disinterest. In fact I’d wager 16 crow’s feet with a side of snake skins that there are moments when you arrive upon something, internally or externally, that doesn’t adhere to present logic, doesn’t respond to left-brain prods and pokes and won’t fit into any of the boxes that you try to put it. These will be met with your boredom, your disinterest and a hardened exterior. And it’s not just you, that’s for sure. For any of us who’ve come up through Western culture, we’ve internalized an atomic-level ego defense system that causes us to immediately minimize and write off anything that is actually and truly powerful. This is the same defense system that causes people to identify as bored by meditation, for example. The boredom is simply a cover, a mask, for a fear response to life- our avoidance and fear of the things we know can change us, the things that live beyond the realm of our conscious control and easy understanding. They require surrender to be grasped. What we’re talking about here, really, is the Dark Feminine. All things of the Deep + Dark Feminine are rejected by our society and on some level by each of us individually, especially in our intimate relationships and in our sacred bodies. We feel afflicted, betrayed and terrified of the things that happen in our bodies. We feel angry, fearful and frustrated when our bodies exhibit chronic pain or autonomic symptoms for which there is no clear origin. And for women, whose bodies are an ever-changing landscape of expressions, there is always something new, something unknown. It’s difficult, when ‘knowing’ is the only thing we value, to recognize the power we can access by partnering with the unknown. When our bodies erupt with some new story, as they do in our cycles, our making and releasing of new humans, in puberty, peri-menopause and menopause (just to name a few) the Dark Feminine shows us we have options other than rejection or fear. There is actually the possibility of not needing to find a logical explanation but sliding the fingers of our trust into the mystery of the unknown-that-we-are. All too often however, we just find good, logical excuses to not feel the discomfort of confronting something powerful and unknown. Just as it happens in our bodies, its how we meet the Mystery when it shows up outside too. To understand the root of our own feelings of dimishment is to look at the ways, historically and presently, that all things Feminine are belittled, trivialized, ignored, co-opted and othered. It was not all that long ago (and still persists for certain) that women were taken to be completely irrational, adorable, not fit for intellectual enterprise and mostly just existing for the entertainment, enjoyment and showcase of the men around them. Culturally we still continue to grapple with a reality of women as infinitely powerful and able to live by their own rules, which may change with the frequency of their bodies, rather than by making their lives in the image of some pre-established order. We still grapple with the reality that a person may be completely valuable, holy and worthy even if they aren’t trying to ‘be better’ or constantly hone another skillset or work at being attractive. It is nearly incomprehensible that we are really just whole as we are. We see the same treatment of children, minorities of all kinds, natural medicine and the Earth itself. On some level, we just can’t bring ourselves to accept that the experience of another’s reality that doesn’t jive with the one we’re living could be equally as valid, important and worthy as our own. And I should know. I used to have such fragility in my own Dark Feminine that I couldn’t accept the validity, purpose or value of Energy Medicine. It’s quite hilarious, looking back. Here I was, a yoga teacher, Ayurveda practitioner and bodyworker, yet I scoffed at something as silly as energy medicine. Since I couldn’t understand it, it felt threatening. It felt better to just write it off as fake and ineffectual, rather then to reckon with the fact that if Energy Medicine is real and powerful, it means that Energy itself is something I’m accountable to. And rather than admit that I wasn’t accountable for my energy body, I just chose to ignore it. And yet it was Shamanic Energy Medicine that gave me my life back, after having mostly lived a life that didn’t actually belong to me at all. It was Energy Medicine and the Dark Feminine from which it springs that has given me what my daughter calls ‘an unbreakable smile’ and a well of joy that is completely independent of circumstance. It is simply always there. Even when I went through months of grief and woke every morning feeling like a waterfall of bricks was smashing my brain with pain and sorrow, that joy was still there. I was present in my grief and pain in a way that allowed me to harvest the special kind of nourishment it brought, like the way certain trees flower and cone only in the hottest forest fire. So Passive, this is an awfully long way of saying: check in with that boredom, that hardening, that disinterest. What’s underneath it? What are you trying to keep out and what are you trying to keep down? My heartfelt suggestion is that you actually let yourself become truly and radically passive. Check the weaponry of boredom, disinterest and hardening at the door and become submissive to all that you’ve rejected in yourself. Let your hands be tied and your eyes be blindfolded as you put yourself in trust of the parts of you that obey no law other than their own, that have a depth of wildness that refuses to conform and who hold immediate knowledge of your own crazy wisdom and a brilliance that answers to no one. Let yourself become that passive, that everything that’s been held at bay is allowed to erupt and have it’s loving way with you. And in regards to people using Mercury Retrograde to perhaps validate or rationalize their lives feeling perpetually fucked, I warmly and generously affirm that that speaking to that circumstance is the whole intention of this blog: to understand that the very things we feel fucked by actually hold the exact set of keys to our power, our sense of value, our resource and the life we are yearning to live. ….. In response to your query regarding what Pachamama is, beyond a coffee company, and what Mercury Retrograde is, I’ll be happy to share what I know and lend you my perspective. Before I do, I’ll just remind you of what I shared earlier. Things that are alive and magical (like you, me, Pachamama and mercury retrograde) simply don’t conform to a standard definition. Like the face of a river they change every day. The information I share here is more a map which can’t be mistaken for the territory. The only way to truly know about these things is to form direct relationship yourself-no intermediary. Facilitating the direct relationship between badass healers like yourself and their own wild medicine is the reason why I write and it is the inspiration behind the group work I offer as well as my Mentorship program. If your soul is sending a clear call, we can look at getting together in sacred space. Pachamama is the name given to the Goddess Mother who is also the Earth. We need to be clear that our language is always going to fall short when it comes to things bigger than the cultural ego. After all, the English language was developed to facilitate commerce, not connectivity. Pachamama isn’t just the physical Earth that we live on, that builds our bodies and sustains us. It is the principle of embodied love itself, the Divine Feminine. She is a sacred, living other with whom we can have rich, passionate and devoted relationship, just as we could with another human. Mercury Retrograde is part of the dance of the heavens. As we know, planets and stars and all sorts of things are on the move in the Heavenlies, and each planet has an orbit with its own shape and timing-not all the planets in our solar system orbit at the same rate. So, four times per year, Mercury finds itself going a bit slower than its friends. It does not actually ‘move backwards’ but just appears to, as faster moving planets whiz by. During these weeks when Mercury ‘slows’ we experience a reversal of its usual energetic influences. There is a slower pace, when we try to rush we become thwarted and there is a recalibration of one’s inner compass that motivates us to renegotiate our agreements, with self and others, at a deeper level. ….. I want to make sure, before this missive ends, to address the real question I sense being asked: how do I find meaning and value in a world I can’t always make sense of? How can I trust myself? These important, wisdom-generated questions are honestly best answered from the deepest cavern of your own heart, through the genuine relationship that you cultivate with your guides, your body and Pachamama Herself. I’d encourage you to just really go for it with the healing practices I set for the in the original blog post. Can you imagine? Being that committed to your own inner conversation for three whole weeks? You would find all the answers you truly need and a whole bevy of even richer, more interesting, and juicy questions to live too. Dearest Passive, I thank you for this correspondence and for your radiance as a human. I relish the opportunity to dig deeper, to free myself from the entanglements of assumption and sink my teeth into a juicy conversation with those I love. May Pachamama and Mercury Retrograde bless you on your lovely head, and everywhere else.