Mercury Direct in Aquarius: Rethinking Thinking

Mercury stations direct this week — to be exact, just before 10 am EST (15:00 UTC) on Wednesday, Feb. 11. For those unfamiliar with the concept of Mercury retrograde, three times a year for about 22 days, Mercury passes between the Sun and the Earth. This creates the Mercury retrograde effect.

Will Robinson and the robot from Lost In Space.

Will Robinson and the robot from Lost In Space.

Thanks to the Internet, many more people know about Mercury retrograde than ever before. And, I believe, thanks to our increasing dependency on technology, which has infused and/or infested every corner of our lives, Mercury retrogrades have become more noticeable.

Often the last few days stand out the most — and in recent years I’ve seen that the weeks following the retrograde can include a number of lingering effects. At minimum, it can take a week or three for things to settle down. Things, as in financial issues, problems with technology and various shades of confusion and miscommunication. Mercury retrograde may or may not stand up to scientific scrutiny, but it’s certainly a well-established psychological and social phenomenon.

Mercury will be stationing direct in Aquarius, the sign associated with patterns and in particular thought patterns. These patterns tend to be fixed rather than flexible, in the style of Aquarius, which is a fixed sign (the other kinds of signs are cardinal, representing initiative; and mutable, representing the ability to flex or toggle between modes easily).

So here, we get an image of rethinking thinking. This is happening in an environment where we’re constantly needing to relearn things. The learning curve associated with technology is a constant grind, so it seems like we’re rethinking; but my observation is that as technology evolves, people tend to become increasingly fixed in their patterns and points of view. This may be your basic “reaction formation” kind of psychological response.

When that happens, the typical way to change is through a collapse, crash or meltdown. We see a lot of that. It’s as if systems and patterns don’t get attention till they cease to function, and in turn threaten other systems that surround them. This is your basic recipe for disaster.

What we need now is flexibility, not rigidity. Events and discoveries this week may drive that point better than any theory, though it helps to know what you’re looking at. We hear plenty of talk about “sustainability,” though most of the time that word is misused.

I think resilience is closer to what we really need. Resilience means systems designed to have extra capacity, the ability to change, and some excess slack. What we tend to do is push every system to its maximum. It leaves little space or energy to bounce back. In thought and communication, this means leaving yourself room to be wrong — and open to new information.

One of the problems I believe we currently face is overestimating how much we think we know. This tends to snuff out curiosity, or even your basic common-sense asking of a followup question, based on the feeling (or other awareness) of not understanding.

Logo of the United States Cyber Command.

Logo of the United States Cyber Command.

I am currently involved in a media research project that is alerting me to the impact of digital technology on our lives. We are not going to be able to reverse the digital tide, unless, of course, there is a cataclysm of some kind — a power grid failure, cyber warfare or some other Internet failure.

If you don’t believe that cyber warfare is possible, ponder for a moment the existence of the United States Cyber Command. Space is no longer “out in space.” The United States Space Command has been retired — or more accurately, it was folded into the United States Strategic Command, which operates and defends military satellites, among other functions. The larger emphasis is now on the Internet, where we may face an actual threat of more serious proportions than an attack from outer space.

That we live on the edge of such an event nearly all the time is not adding any sense of relaxation or confidence.

We need, at least, to admit that our lives are fully immersed in digital technology. Digital technology really means robotics. We are used to thinking of robots as those tin cans bumbling around on Lost in Space or Star Wars. Robotics right now is primarily a mental phenomenon — and the result of any medium is that we tend to become like it.

The next step would be to admit there are some impacts of digital technology that are obvious, many others that we will discover and some that we cannot know because they will be revealed long after our lifetimes.

What we can do now is live consciously from day to day and hour to hour. Were I to make one suggestion regarding the astrology this week, that would be it.

23 thoughts on “Mercury Direct in Aquarius: Rethinking Thinking

  1. Shelley Stearns

    My systematic reaction to most technology is to resist it no matter what it is. I get really freaked out and worry it will change how I interact with people and my environment. I remember someone made a joke at an astrology party once about favorite wine openers for Mars signs, that Mars in Virgo would love that wine opener you can get where you just push a button and it’s all clean and neat. I have Mars in Virgo, and that wine opener appalls me. I just want the one that is basic and you have to work to get to the wine 🙂 I’d also prefer to have to pass around the bottle a few times to get it open.

    Also, I like to be able to hide when I want to to and I feel that our current technology doesn’t allow for that. So its forcing me to assert a public image that is as real as I can make it, instead of keeping parts of myself purposefully veiled. I don’t know really how to cope otherwise.

  2. Len Wallick

    Eric: Thank you. Even as much as your closing emphasis is to be present in the moment, this is also one of your timeless pieces of writing that will remain a valid and relevant reference long after the day-to-day of this week has been folded into a longer, more holistic continuum. Not sure how you do it, but you have once again elegantly demonstrated your deep connection to The Continuum.

  3. Alex Brocklehurst

    Technology is the bottom line for much contemporary experience but we struggle to understand it, outwith the very real agency of technocracy. Marx was interested in the means of production and who controls them.

    Basically, digital is lightning speed binary operation – a series of yes/no, open/closed circuits. Consciousness and the human brain do not operate on a pure, number-crunching frequency, but the technocracy is effectively reducing everything to quantitative efficiency. Computer chess algorithms are a super illustration of this fact. It was believed as late as the early noughties that cyber-processing on a quantitative level would never surpass a human world champion’s subtle grasp. Wrong!

    The developments in storage and processing speed reduce all information to mere data – and data you can manipulate easily. There are no shades of grey with noughts and ones – it is either ‘correct’ or not. Life becomes the crude (not aesthetic) mathematics. With said chess example we see under tournament conditions now how so often somebody like Garry Kasparov prevailed because of calculating complications, applying psychological pressure on the opponent. But psychology is not experienced by a cyborg entity – even when losing, where a human opoonent would wilt, the silicon monster just relentlessly finds the best move – one human slip is punished ruthlessly.

    The AI brain is the model of perfect processing – once systems are governed by such consistency, all human endeavour becomes inferior. We already see this in employment and labour markets. Eventually with cyber-flesh appearing on androids we will see both Star Trek and Terminator-like developments.

    Humans are NOT inferior but already the agenda is in place from technocracy. Reduce ALL to data and then interpretation becomes meaningless and then of course.. so does meaning itself…

  4. Michael Mayes

    Shelley, I’ve got Mars in Virgo, and I prefer the manual opener as well!

    Eric, this piece is heavy when I think about the impending doom of a major technological disaster or war, or as Alex calls the “technocracy”. There’s so much to be said about this issue of letting things go until they’re at a breaking point, or until a crisis happens. Taking a stance on that dangerous tendency of waiting until it’s too late, in regards to our dependence on technology is a start in the right direction.
    What alternative do we have at this point other than to ride the wave of technology? What would we do if we lost the internet? Would we go back to the old days of writing receipts, filling out job applications on paper, having to have printed bus schedules, buying actual alarm clocks? Not to mention financial systems, banks, businesses, literally every facet of the economy, health care, on and on. So many people depend on their phones, or computers from the moment they wake up in the morning when the alarm on their phone goes off. Our lives are increasingly being micromanaged by devices we carry on our person. There is no turning back, but if we had to go back to the way things were before the internet and smart phones due to a technological apocalypse, we have the advantage of knowing what we know now, which is more than we knew before.

    1. Shelley Stearns

      Great idea, and that is wonderful, but I want to add that I believe the physical is just as important and human. Technology separates us from this if we aren’t aware. But, increasingly the Internet is becoming available while camping. Last summer a friend of mine was texting her boyfriend the week we were gone when she found a spot available.

  5. Lizzy

    Your research project sounds fascinating, Eric.
    Hugging and Shelley, one of the things I loved most about my annual retreats was the total detox from technology – and we were also encouraged to use our mobiles as little as possible.
    But I find technology a really valuable tool for a part of my teaching job – which makes it possible to continue communication with my students and to stimulate their learning outside the classroom really effectively – and it’s anything but alienating in this case.
    (Mars in Virgo too – and I’m with you guys on the bottle opener)!

    1. Hugging Scorpio

      hey Lizzy (nice to write with you again btw!),
      I like how you describe the stimulation of learning which is really about expanding consciousness.

      I just want to add something as perhaps a complimentary statement to that. I got to know you through PW (and others) – technology/internet. But my most meaningful processes came as a result of meditating on our relationship as energy beings, participating in that non-physical space we misname as “the internet”. And as my computer lay quietly turned off, I leaned into the space where my hands can see, and I reached for something you or others described – and I understood it only by turning off my mind and turning on my heart.

      Physical is very important; non-physical is the energy source that allows a multiplicity of physical experiences.

  6. Eric Francis Post author

    Mike, yes, we basically have no choice but to ride the wave. The key to preserving our humanity is knowing that we become like our media. Therefore, in living our lives through the robot (interconnectivity and automation), how do we do that? In my current edition of Planet Waves FM I get into that concept…it may come down to touch and smell. The internet is oblivious to scent, and touch is reduced to the touch screen (which does count to some extent). But it’s cold. The current podcast and probably tomorrow’s look closely at how “interconnectivity” and robotics influence sex and relationships. Would greatly expand this discussion…when you press “post comment” on this website, do you think of that as a robot? It is!

  7. Janet

    I so agree with you about resilience. One thing I’d like to say about the idea of “bouncing back” is that that term was coined when referring to the architectural integrity for stress on structures like buildings and bridges, which we want. But I think it limits and simplifies the discussion when using the term to refer to people and communities, much like greening limits and simplifies the sustainability discussions. People don’t bounce back, we adapt and transform (as you were saying), we change with circumstances. Bouncing back implies that we should expect ourselves to come out of a situation in the same condition as we entered it; I think that expectation is dangerous when we live in such a precarious time. Two very different problem statements: How to I bounce back from this crisis? How do I thrive/strive through this crisis?

  8. Mary Turcich

    Intuition is faster than digital. Takes no time at all. Seems the info was already there. Beat that.

    My Mars is in Aries and I honestly find cork popping to be an unpleasant, startling sensation. What a baby.

  9. Mandy

    This is brilliant, Eric. I’m nowhere near a techno wiz, but my personal system certainly went through a reboot this last week. I really like the “sustainability-resilience” observation, “leaving yourself room to be wrong and open to new information”.

    Aquarius/Mercury/Saturn – my dad drilled into me that I was stupid to the point that I wouldn’t put my hand up in class when I knew the answer, just in case I was wrong and would feel humiliated. I realize that I’ve compensated (detrimentally) by feeling a need to prove myself. An unnecessary, high expectation of myself that has contributed to making mistakes (when you put so much pressure on yourself to get it ‘right’ is usually when you make mistakes – rigid).

    I don’t need to prove myself, I just need to be myself. The flow is much more natural and authentic that way, and I definitely feel more resilient with it.

    Fixed signs can definitely take a while to turn.

    There’s A Hole In My Sidewalk
    – by Portia Nelson

    Chapter One
    I walk down the street.
    There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
    I fall in.
    I am lost… I am helpless.
    It isn’t my fault.
    It takes forever to find a way out.

    Chapter Two
    I walk down the same street.
    There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
    I pretend I don’t see it.
    I fall in again.
    I can’t believe I am in the same place.
    But it isn’t my fault.
    It still takes a long time to get out.

    Chapter Three
    I walk down the same street.
    There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
    I see it is there.
    I still fall in… it’s a habit.
    My eyes are open.
    I know where I am.
    It is my fault… I get out immediately.

    Chapter Four
    I walk down the same street.
    There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
    I walk around it.

    Chapter Five
    I walk down another street.

  10. Jere

    I would debate the formal semantics of ‘technology’, relative to dependence. We could go past (or future) beyond ‘opposable thumbs’.. or fire..

    The ‘need’ to constantly relearn isn’t a need at all. In essence, the prefix ‘re-‘ is a misunderstanding of the realization that one is forever on the board, riding the wave, while at the same time learning to ride the board and wave (in a gazillion different ways at once).

    I would edit your ‘resilience’ to include “One has no fuckin’ choice. Watch the sky.. it never stops.”

    I’m ignorant as shit, and I fuckin’ know it. But I laugh the whole time! (Except when I don’t, ’cause some shit hurts,.. but I’ll still laugh later.)

    Hey man, I absolutely Love life. There’s nothing quite like petting a dog, or smiling.. Hell, I’m stoked when I get to chat with folk over air-waves!

    Fear is natural, keeps us on our toes. At the same time, it’s a lesson to be learned.

    Gotta go play in the garden,

    Peace and Love,


    1. Amanda Painter

      “The ‘need’ to constantly relearn isn’t a need at all. In essence, the prefix ‘re-‘ is a misunderstanding of the realization that one is forever on the board, riding the wave, while at the same time learning to ride the board and wave (in a gazillion different ways at once).”

      jere: yes! exactly. thank you for the reminder!

  11. Drew

    Hi there. This comment is unrelated to this post but I just came across this article and thought it was interesting. It caught my attention because of the dates they mention. Basically the last time these blood moons coincided exactly with major Jewish holidays was in the late 60’s just like the last Uranus Pluto Square era. It’s a ‘coincidence’ that reinforced in me the feeling I think we all currently have about how significant the changes we have all gone through these last two years are. And also how we are all now re emerging into the world, transformed in some fundamental way that we are now seeing the first glimpses of.

    Thank you for all of your great writing and creating this community.

    1. Amanda Painter

      Hi Drew —

      Not sure how often you hang out at Planet Waves, but i thought I’d let you know that Eric prefers commenters use caution when using the phrase “blood moon” for several reasons — primarily that it is being used by mainstream media as an inflammatory term. Yes, there are Native American tribes that have used the term historically, but it is not a astrological term.

      The periods of Israeli/Jewish history that Hagee cites are not my specialty, either astrologically or historically, so I cannot really comment on his accuracy, or on any potential meaning. But I will say it’s curious to see a “pastor” getting into what is essentially an astrological topic, but doing so without apparently using astrological technique strikes me as a little dangerous — because he’s sliding straight into the “bad omens/good omens” type of thinking, which is reductive and often superstitious. Whereas the kind of astrology practiced and offered at PW is meant to offer people options and self-understanding in the face of challenges.

      Also, unless Hagee gets into the astrological charts for the founding of Israel, I question the validity that he doesn’t believe in these so-called blood moons in terms of “end times” for everyone, but *just* for Israel.

      Here is Hagee’s wiki page; I have to say, the phrase “Charismatic megachurch” sends chills up my spine — as do some of his beliefs and actions:

  12. Yoniyoganidra

    Lovely writing Eric and connectiive collective conversation that followed.

    The Internet doesn’t engage our proprioceptive sense except through key strokes, swiping and the pressing of screenbuttons or icons; all lame capabilities of an extraordinary sense.

    The stunting our senses are enduring do to the proliferation of technology is frightening. Not just because we are loosing touch (every pun intended) with the space around and through us but because we pass our sense capabilities along as genetic structures to our children.

    Like our sexual urges….our senses are another “if you don’t use it, you lose it” process.

    The space between you and a touch screen and that person on the other side of the world you just connected to, and the space between you and the lovely person sitting next to you, or walking by you, is so dynamically different to your nervous system …it simply amazes me that we are letting the robots be our middlemen.

    And, without them, I could not connect to the Planet Waves tribe and others so enthusiastic about The PW Teams approach to engaging with the stars.

    I guess it’s all about knowing how much; like when I am painting…knowing when to stop or to just say ” that’s enough for today”

  13. Bette

    Speaking from the perspective of one who grew up without not only technology but also electricity, phones, & running water, I find the modern ultra-reliance on technology a bit puzzling & concerning. Does anyone know how to manage without it? Write a letter in longhand, however effortful it may be to say all one needs to say? Stow supplies such that one can live comfortably for periods of time without shopping? Those are just a few of the questions.

    I’ve only had my own computer/net for not quite 5 years – wonderfully useful for communication, great source of learning (though I still use my local library a great deal), but I hope I could manage without the tech if I had to. And yes, the running water, central heating etc. which I enjoy now are not taken for granted.

    Mandy, thank-you for the Hole in My Sidewalk piece – I’ve kept a copy of it on my fridge for a few years, reminding me that past blunders need not be repeated!

  14. Amy Elliott

    Hey there, fellow Mars in Virgos!! *waves* I love technology, especially computers; and one thing I can confirm from my own experience is that to interact most successfully with a computer, you have to get into its brain, so to speak – understand its limits and processes. In doing so, I suspect that as Eric says, we become more like computers ourselves.

    … A programmer’s partner asks him to go shopping. “Please get two loaves of bread, and if they have eggs get a dozen.” He returns with 12 loaves of bread.

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