Last week, the second Mercury retrograde this year came to an end. I know because I overheard a group of friends toasting their Espresso Martinis to the end. We won’t have to go on Amazon and buy the most cost-effective portable hard drives to back up our data lest this planet of communication and its ‘backwards’ orbit around the sun causes technological chaos. We won’t have to drop it into polite small talk as though it were a meteorological observation. Akin to reminding people to bring brollies: ‘Oh be careful of travelling long distance. Mercury retrograde!’ When your Uber driver talks about Mercury retrograde causing the North Circular pile-up, you know that this astrological happening is shifting from social media bubbled stardom to normalised water-cooler fodder.
I thought back to a month of minimal mishaps. I also chortled at the regular frequency of this meme-friendly planetary motion popping up in friends’ WhatsApp conversations to explain away every single thing that had gone wrong, no matter how regularly they occur outside of the retrograde period. A missed flight connection. A cab driver going the wrong way. A poor wi-fi connection. Someone winding up in ER, despite the circumstances of said in-patient having little to do with the namesake planet of the Roman messenger god. Who or what did we blame beforehand? Guess ‘Shit happens’ or good old fashioned ‘C’est la vie’ doesn’t quite cut it.
But it’s not just this planet’s movement antics that have seeped into everyday vernacular. Chasing sunsets and moon rises, getting up for rare lunar eclipses and general observation of constellations is no longer restricted to the realm of new age (or neo new age?) joss stick users who still manage to get some use out of Camden Stables Market. Just as more people turned to questioning the afterlife after the 1918 pandemic and the First World War, so it is that we need the assurance that beyond our post-Covid planet, some things just can’t be messed around with — like when the moon is sure to appear redder and larger on this particular day.
And at the same time as my mum sends me WhatsApp notes about assured lunar movements, we’re also reaching into a hodgepodge jar of unquantifiable mysticism. On a recent press junket for active sandals in Ibiza, we were asked by ageless mystics in gauzey, flowy dresses and beaded necklaces, ‘Where are you going? Where do you want to go?’ Cue a group of media-driven people, whose lives are impossible to unshackle from this ‘disrupted and connected world’, trying to find words to describe where they’d like to go (outside of bucket-list travel destinations). There was almost an embarrassed fear of saying the gauche wrong thing. Thankfully the growing life in my belly acted as a foil. I’m five months pregnant and for gauzily dressed mystics, my very obvious round tum is their catnip. Much like turquoise jewellery or holey crochet bags.
‘Every new life is born with everything they need,’ one mystic assured me. I can rest easy then, even as I’ve opted to bring new life into the world at a time of protracted warfare and economic turmoil. That doesn’t even include the longer standing state of climate change or the digital doom of the metaverse. But here I am, holding a heart-shaped pebble that the mystic gave my daughter to hold next to my belly, feeling temporarily at ease that all will be well. Until the next retrograde, that is.