Mercury retrograde (apparent backward motion) signifies difficulty in communication from misdirected communication to missed communication. Like a letter lost in the mail (or in today’s mode, stuck in a spam filter), you may not know about it for a while.
Mercury went retrograde in water sign Cancer on June 7 and goes direct in air sign Gemini on July 2. Mercury will then go back (forward) through Cancer from mid to late July.
Mercury has been on my mind for much of the retrograde period. The Hero Twins story brought to awareness some deeper levels of Mercury which is sometimes misunderstood as superficial conversation.
Mercury seems to be about perception itself and its reputation for trickery simply the trickery of perception. Two stories on the BBC demonstrate the trickery of Mercury well.
Facebook Emotion Experiment
We learned just before this Mercury retrograde that for one week in 2012 Facebook conducted an uncommunicated test on 689,003 users. According to the BBC story which quotes a report:
The experiment manipulated the extent to which people were exposed to emotional expressions in their News Feed.
Using the date of February 4, 2004 when Facebook was launched at Harvard (according to Wikipedia). That chart has sun in technology-oriented Aquarius and moon and Saturn in emotion-oriented Cancer. Mercury is in the late degrees of Capricorn (and possibly opposite the moon).
Saturn in Cancer is a sense of not belonging or lacking home life and emotional security. According to The Astrologers Handbook by Sakoian and Acker, Saturn in Cancer:
. . . may cause the inhibition of the expression of emotion, which is likely to result in estrangement from family members; such emotional isolation in the domestic scene can lead to neurotic reactions.
These people hide their inner feelings from public view in order to preserve their dignity. Emotional sensitivity and the need for approval sometimes force them to build a shell around themselves, which can inhibit the expression of true warmth in personal relationships.
The Facebook research was published online June 2, 2014 with Mercury at two degrees of Cancer (five days before it went retrograde) and Jupiter at 20 degrees of Cancer. Transiting Mercury and Jupiter (which has a 12-year cycle) were in between Facebook’s natal Saturn and moon.
Cancer is about personal emotions and the research in an undisclosed week of 2012 was meant to gauge unconscious emotional response (“emotional contagion“).
Our perceptions of others through their Facebook feeds could probably fuel a psychological textbook. Our reactions to those friends may be no different than when we meet them in person; but how often do you meet with all of your friends, past present and somewhat unknown, in one room at one time?
It’s emotional overload that creates Mercury in Cancer type perceptions – do I belong? Do they like me and my posts? Have I offended someone? Why are are my friends more [fill in the blank] than me?
Mercury in Cancer perceives through the personal emotions. This is a wonderful placement for your spouse who you want to read your emotions as you walk in the door. This is also wonderful for a writer or other creative person.
Where this placement can be difficult is when you need emotional detachment to make decisions or where you respond emotionally to everything thereby weakening your nerves draining those around you.
When Mercury in Cancer visits Facebook (which is voluntary, by the way), it may respond more strongly to the images and words created by friends than would Mercury in an air or earth sign.
Pickpocketing Your Perceptions
. . . According to neuroscientists our brains come pretty much hard-wired to be tricked, thanks to the vagaries of our attention and perception systems. In fact, the key requirement for a successful pickpocket isn’t having nifty fingers, it’s having a working knowledge of the loopholes in our brains. Some are so good at it that researchers are working with them to get an insight into the way our minds work.
The most important of these loopholes is the fact that our brains are not set up to multi-task. Most of the time that is a good thing – it allows us to filter out all but the most important features of the world around us. But neuroscientist Susana Martinez-Conde, the author of the book Sleights of Mind, says that a good trickster can use it against you. She should know: as a researcher at the Laboratory of Visual Neuroscience in Arizona, she has studied how Las Vegas stage pickpocket Apollo Robbins performs his tricks.
“Trickster” is a word used in the article and a word associated with the sign Gemini which is ruled by Mercury. Gemini is the sign of the twins which means while the rest of us focus on one object, the Gemini can focus on two which is a perceptual advantage. Gemini and Mercury are also able to think and move quickly.
Distracting our focus is the key to finding the loophole in perception. From the BBC story, it also appears, from the woman who was pickpocketed by a man carrying flowers, that creating a perceptual “story” is also important. A man walking toward a woman with flowers evokes lots of images from greeting cards, movies, songs and poetry. It feels “nice.”
Pickpockets are rightly ruled by Mercury which understands perception. And pockets. And everything else – quickly.