|The Power of Symbols|
I have been noticing with particular interest of late the power of symbols in people's lives. There appears to be an ebb and flow to this sort of thing, dependent upon the person's awareness of the world around them, the energies extant impinging upon our little world, the prevailing psyche of the populace and the energies issuing from the planet itself. There is, in fact, a "season" for divination--for reading of omens, portents and symbols--which moves in concert and synchronicity with the factors just listed. I have also been made acutely aware of the power of illusions in people's lives including my own and how this particular period in world history is such a brilliant time for illumination of dark corners and foggy reminiscences. I normally comment on full moons before they occur, but given the recent events in the world and in my own life I feel moved to share some reflections on the Wesak moon that has just passed and its promise for us all this year.
The Influence of Mercury
Of particular import at this time is the influence of Mercury on our globe, both symbolically and literally. This Wesak period, as I elucidated in my last article, has much to do with the dissipation of illusions. This is strongly indicated to us both by the eclipse and by virtue of Mercury making its station at this time. As we all know, Mercury--like all the planets-- orbits the Sun in a regular, elliptical orbit, always in the same direction. But, to our eyes on this planet, all the planets except for the Moon will wander across the sky for a time, appear to stop, then apparently move backwards, stop again, and then resume their normal course--somewhat like a pendulum. This effect is due, of course, to the fact that we are also orbiting the Sun in the same direction, but at differing speeds, to the other planets. Thus, our orientation to them in the sky changes over time and their apparent course also changes as a result. Mercury is apparently standing still in the heavens as of this writing, but it is actually proceeding along its merry way in its due course regardless of our perception of it. But, the power of that particular illusion is a very potent one in our lives indeed.
I will give you some examples as to how this works out. The astrologers among you will know these already, but the rest of you may find them of interest. The periods of the year when Mercury goes retrograde (and there are a few every year) tend to be turbulent times in the psyche of humanity. As I stated in the last letter, there are frequent miscommunications and misunderstandings between people, the media of all types seem to go on the fritz for no apparent reason, there are frequent breakdowns of transport and machinery and the normal psychic apparati of people do not seem to flow smoothly. The world--to put it another way--seems to have been turned on its head and to be not a little bit crazy. The Italians have a saying for it --"Mi gira la luna!" (The Moon turns me!, i.e., things -- or people -- are driving me nuts!).
Those of you who know me know I work as a machine-tool technician in my other guise. Retrograde Mercury is a God-send in my present trade because we get a lot of catastrophic machine failures during that time. The electrical problems can be particularly obscure and bizarre. I look on retrograde Mercury as job security. The plant managers who have to call me tend to have a different opinion. As another example, I know of several people who have been trying to get projects off the ground, myself included, and they have been met with delay after delay since Mercury has gone retrograde, caused by technical difficulties, misreading of intentions or instructions or from general stress. Things just do not go smoothly at all until Mercury goes direct again (The 21st, if you are interested or want to know when relief is due). But, perhaps the worst manifestation of this effect is in the world of human relations. At these times everyone seems particularly stressed and prickly. It reminds me of a line from a Joe Walsh tune: "Everybody's so different. I haven't changed."
There are misunderstandings between people who, on the whole, have been quite connected and in tune with each other, but, for whatever reason, seem to have disagreements about things which they just cannot seem to get their heads or hearts around. Sometimes these things have to wait for another cycle or for Mercury to go direct. What it actually points to is the fact that we do not see ourselves clearly during these periods and that our Souls are trying to get us to look at things in a different manner than that to which we are accustomed. Mercury retrograde is, for all intents and purposes, a time for inner refection instead of outer manifestation. If we could keep that in mind then that month-long period would go much more smoothly for us and for those who are trying to understand us.
And yet, when all this outer chaos is occurring around us the true course of Mercury is---as always--in the same direction around the Sun. This goes to the very point of this article. If this illusion of Mercury going backward in the sky is only illusion, then why does it cause so much confusion and upheaval in our lives? What is it that we are not getting? How are we thus conditioned that such a seemingly innocuous thing would have such wide ramifications with people? Remember--this Wesak period sets the tone of purpose for the year and not just for the actual full moon period. Though Mercury will go direct in a few days the tone of this present period will be carried within our consciousness for the rest of the spiritual year. It is yet another reminder to keep up with our spiritual rites and to spend more than the usual time with our own individual higher Self.
Light of Clarity
I have been quite pleased to find that when I go inward now in the midst of confusion the light of clarity is much stronger since the inception of this Wesak period than it has been in the past. At the actual time of the full moon I had the very clear impression of a strong, brilliant Light in my head which was quite apart from what I usually experience. I have found that when I want to get to the crux of a situation now all I have to do is to call on that Light and my answers invariably come. Whether that Light was of the Buddha, from some other source or from my own higher Self is of little consequence. The fact it is there is enough and that Truth issues from it. Illusions are like a house of cards. If we can get to the most essential ones and resolve them the rest will fall under their own weight because they have grown out of the main ones. This station which Mercury is making is very conducive to mental quietude and for receiving impressions form the inner realms. If we could all recognize when these periods of station are then we could see beyond the veil with much greater facility during those times and bring something forward to the world and to ourselves with a fuller potency when Mercury goes direct again.
There is another aspect to these phases of planetary motion which need to be addressed. It is oft unrecognized that everything we do in life carries a sort of momentum with it and that when we try to go against the grain of that force, so-to-speak, then we have trouble actualizing what we are seeking to express--we short-circuit our intention, for lack of a better term. Those of you acquainted with the more occult aspects of meditation will know what I am getting to in terms of this momentum, because there is a direct correlation between this sort of thing and the action of the breath in the meditative process. Let me put it another way. When a pendulum swings, it has the maximum momentum at the bottom of its stroke as it swings to and fro. As it approaches the maximum extent of its travel it slows, briefly stops and then continues in the opposite direction, gathering momentum as it falls to the center of its travel. In meditation this corresponds to the in-breath, pause, out-breath and pause, all to be endlessly repeated as long as the person chooses to do so. As it turns out, it is these pauses which are most important in meditation, because they represent dynamic points wherein we rise above the mind for a brief moment and thus allow insight to flood in.
Stations of Mercury
The stations which Mercury makes are analogous to the brief cessation of the breath in meditation at either end of the breathing process. They are very potent times in the world. They are also very disconcerting for anyone who is uncomfortable with silence in any form or for any enforced period. Energies feel stuck during these stationary periods and they are from the standpoint of external activity, but these periods are--in reality--times when profound wisdom can come and be brought to bear on the next stage of the living momentum of human activity. We could call this "the silence before the storm", if we like. I prefer to look on it as the pause which refreshes, or that stillness before renewed activity which is pregnant with promise and viability. Mercury does govern wisdom, if we remember, and the periods of station are ripe with the wisdom of the Eternal Silence of the Heart of God. I shall be very interested to see how the wisdom just received in the Wesak period will be tried in the fires of experience. Let us be certain of our direction and orientation in this coming momentous period.
At every pause there is also the choice to be made. Does one continue on the previous lines of momentum or does one change direction in accordance with a wisely assessed need? Once the line of force in one's life is chosen then it becomes difficult to change it once the momentum is established. It is like trying to stop a boulder rolling down a hill. It can be done, but at what cost to life and limb or expenditure of energy?
Fortunately, we have several times per year when we can reassess our direction in line with Mercurial intent (the garnering of Wisdom) when Mercury makes its stations. We can either let the boulder follow its own course for the next cycle or we can redirect it before it starts to roll again and hopefully save ourselves some unintended consequences from wrong choices. As always, though, Wisdom is ever-ready for us to call upon, regardless of our choices in life, regardless of the current course our lives are taking and irrespective of prevailing conditions in our environment. Of course, it is always easier to see the Sun when there are no clouds, for example, or when it is daytime, but the Sun is always the same distance from our planet--day or night, rain or shine. It is always a question of orientation, of readiness to see and of cyclic imperatives which govern how much sunlight (Wisdom) we receive.
Wisdom comes in many guises as we ramble on through life. It can come to us in visions and meditations, through experience or in any of a number of ways. Nature is very bountiful in that respect. The Chinese say that Mercury governs divination. They also say its influence is extremely unlucky, turning fortune aspects into unfortunate ones. True, wisdom often comes to us through situations perceived by us to be initially unfortunate. But, this is because of our very human tendency to rebel and to be self-centered. The Chinese further say that if wrong choices are made, Mercury brings retribution. I would expect that the unfortunate part of Mercury from the Chinese perspective comes from this very thing: the making of wrong choices. It will also be of interest to you to note that 10 greater cycles of Mercury calculates out very closely to 666 years -- well-known as the number of the Beast, or Satan, and that we just commenced one of these greater Mercurial cycles of 66 years on 7th May 2003. The last one began in 1937. But, that is another article.
Pride of Lucifer
Satan, or Lucifer was the greatest of God's angels before pride and rebellion got the better of him and he was cast into outer darkness and suffering. The Chinese had their connection with the Christian concepts of Satan and Hell through these cycles of Mercury and their idea of Mercury as a retributive agent, though they were never stated as such. Even elemental mercury causes physical and mental breakdown if it is ingested. But mercury and Mercury, when used as medicinal agents, prove to be some of the most profound of healing agencies once the wisdom aspect is accessed and is restored to its proper place in a person's life.
A big part of divination in Chinese society relied--and still does so--on the proper reading of omens or portents. The general gist of the method was to go outdoors upon rising or upon the asking of a question and to take a careful note of the goings on in the natural world with a mind toward gleaning some sort of meaning from what was occurring and thus being able to gauge what the day or response to the question held in store. This involved the use of all the senses and harks back in some degree to the monastic practices in East and West of the morning walking meditation in the monastery gardens. Keep in mind that this practice normally takes place around sunrise and that Mercury is never more than about 30 degrees from the Sun, so it is usually accessible around the time of sunrise.
The ability to read the signs of Nature is particularly heightened around the commencement of Mercury cycles. The fact that we have just commenced a new one means that there are omens a-plenty if we care to look and that Nature has a lot to offer in this regard. The last such cycle commenced just before the outbreak of WWII and there was very much more wisdom that could have been brought to bear in world affairs at that time than was the case then. Because wrong choices were made then the retribution wrought was severe, but wisdom eventually came and the forces of Darkness were vanquished for the time. Now the world is facing similar choices along many lines and we are having to seek Wisdom again. Will Wisdom prevail or will we enter into another cycle of retribution? What are all the signs and portents telling us? What are we reading in our own hearts? What does the Voice of the Silence speak to us?
If your life suddenly reads like a litany of profound symbolism and the outer world seems to constantly validate what you have been experiencing internally then you are probably having a good Mercury day and congratulations to you! On the other hand, if you have been going through life blissfully unaware that there is anything out of the ordinary happening then you may want to stop and take another look at the world around you and your own inner state. Lest we forget! I have found for myself that as I continually address the inconsistencies and seemingly negative happenings in my life at this time that Nature will invariably throw some sort of symbolic confirmation my way. The symbols are absolutely stunning at times. But we have to be willing and able to listen. It is difficult to get answers to questions when we are always yammering on at the teacher, not letting them get a word in edgewise.
Let There Be Spaces
In conclusion I would simply say to let there be spaces in your life, to allow things enough time to evolve, to follow the momentum of things so long as they are not harmful and to dwell in silence as much as you can stand when things seem all too much. The answers we all seek are there in that silent space. The Wesak always teaches us about what is of value. Most of all, it teaches us that our lives are indeed precious and priceless and that Love and an open heart will conquer what no amount of force will--because that openness leads us without fail to the correct choice. It is as invariable and inviolate as the course of the heavens. It leads us out of the matrix of our erroneous belief systems and restores the true Order to our living. May we all find such peace that nothing will stay our course and that all doubt falls away from the sheer Light of our Being. This is my sincerest wish for us all in these days.
May we all fully realize the embarrassment of Nature's riches!
Click to read Malvin's Wesak Festival 2003