My Year in Retrogrades

Posted by Fe Bongolan


After switching up the date for the Democratic presidential debate, Fe Bongolan surrenders to Lord Mercury and his mind-scrambling retrogrades in air signs to give him the homage he is due.

Here at Planet Waves we do our best to demystify the movements of the planets. Eric and all the wonderful writers work to break down and dissect everything that could happen to you during all phases of the big and the personal planets, especially Mercury retrogrades.

In our fast-moving days of ever-expanding technology and even faster moving social and cultural change, giving sage words of advice to calm our otherwise well-earned anxiousness whenever a retrograde approaches is a necessary public service by Planet Waves.

With that in mind, as a 12th-house Aquarian with a 3rd-house Gemini Moon and an 8th-house Neptune in Libra, I am not just happy, but ecstatic (no make that FREAKING ecstatic) to say that this year — 2015, the year of Mercury retrogrades in air signs — a.k.a. my year in retrograde Inferno (as in, the Dante kind) is almost o-v-e-r.

2015 began calmly enough. I started rehearsals on our new work the 24th of January during the storm after the Mercury station. We were working on a piece of choreography involving chairs. The move was to do a series of three light lunges while sitting on a chair with our hips squared towards the front of the stage.

Simple enough the first time. Nailed it, in fact. Then came the second time. The third time. The fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth time. By around the tenth time, standing up for a break, my knee was so out of joint I had to favor my other leg to walk off the stage.

Waking the next morning in excruciating pain that ice and arnica treatments could not abate, I stayed in from work, physically unable to take the 20 stairs down from my apartment to leave the house. By around the third day of limping around in agony, I managed to get to Kaiser Hospital where my doctor gave my knee a cortisone shot. It made the inflammation go down enough so that by my birthday on Feb. 1, I could walk with my family as planned from the restaurant in Chinatown where we had my birthday dinner to a small nightclub in North Beach.

But Mercury retrograde (with the help of Mars) was not through with my body yet. Oh no. After three weeks of rehearsal, in late February, the post-retrograde shadow phase in Aquarius, I noticed a deep stinging pain in the back of my head and a throbbing in my forehead, which I incorrectly diagnosed as hay fever. Three advice calls, two doctors and four days later, I developed a rash on the right side of my forehead which grew increasingly worse. “Please,” I thought, “don’t let it be shingles.”

“It’s shingles.” The Kaiser doctor said, as she looked not only at my head but at my eyelid, which was starting to swell. “Luckily, it doesn’t look like it’s in the eye. But I’m scheduling you for an eye exam just in case.”

I sat down to make a few phone calls. The first to my director, asking for a week off to recover and not infect anyone. The next call was to my acupuncturist, whose advice (and this journey) I covered in an earlier article.

With that first retro in Aquarius behind me, I was working hard on taking better care of myself. Getting enough sleep was a priority, as well as taking better care of my knee. All spring and the approaching summer was kind and full of promise as I returned to health. Our NBA team, the Warriors, were in the playoffs. My city was happy. My neighborhood was happy. I woke up the morning of June 5 to find that, despite Mercury in retro phase in Gemini, we had clinched our spot in the NBA finals. I was almost skipping to my car parked a few doors down from the house when I noticed my car’s curbside wheels were on the sidewalk.

Slowly approaching the car, I walked around to its other side. The entire front fender had been totally smashed. My car was totaled. And not only my car, but two other cars parked behind mine were completely crunched. All three of our cars had small white envelopes from Oakland Police. Inside was a notice of accident and an accident report number.

Some neighbors gathered around me. “Is this your car? Oh my God, there was a BIG sound of a crash at 6:00 this morning! It was so loud we woke up and went downstairs to look. There were ten police cars here this morning. The driver of the car that hit yours was going so fast his car completely flipped over.”

Apparently someone else had also enjoyed the Warriors win quite well the night before. By a miracle, he came out alive. But I don’t think his parents were all too pleased to have their insurance pay for my new car.

Are you with me still? I am writing all of this to get to our current week with Mercury retrograde in Libra, which I will call “My Struggle with Passwords” — or its actual working title: “How to Manage iOs Upgrades on Your Devices and Not Screw Yourself Out of Your Primary Email Account.”

If that doesn’t state the problem I am having during this Mercury storm phase, then completely mixing up the date of the first Democratic debate — and telling everyone to check them out Oct. 6 when they are on Oct. 13 — should tell you what part of my life is currently getting Merc-jacked.

If it were me and I had control over the galaxy, I would postpone 2015 and its three retrogrades in air signs altogether and wait for a better time for planet Earth to make its re-appearance back on its orbit around the Sun. Why not? The BBC postpones new episodes of “Sherlock” for long, endless years to accommodate Mr. Cumberbatch’s schedule — maddening for the rest of us, but great for him.

I know. Having control over the galaxy and our orbiting planets is above my pay grade. And really, these retrogrades have schooled me in slowing down, being careful, staying flexible in the midst of shocking reverses and, well, just paying closer attention.

But still I am elated the finish line is near. The end of this current retrograde in Libra and this year of retrogrades in air signs is in sight. With all homage to the great Dante, its been a helluva year. So far. What’s that you say, Len? There’s another retrograde in Aquarius in January 2016?

Lord love a duck.

Posted in Columnist on | 16 comments
Fe Bongolan

About Fe Bongolan

Planet Waves writer Fe Bongolan lives in Oakland, California. Her column, "Fe-911," has been featured on Planet Waves since 2008. As an actor and dramaturge, Fe is a core member of Cultural Odyssey's "The Medea Project -- Theater for Incarcerated Women," producing work that empowers the voices of all women in trouble, from ex-offenders, women with HIV-AIDS, to young girls and women at risk. A Planet Waves fan from almost the beginning of Eric's astrology career, Fe is a public sector employee who describes herself as a "mystical public servant." When it comes to art, culture and politics, she loves reading between the lines.

16 thoughts on “My Year in Retrogrades

  1. Geoff Marsh

    My commiserations for a difficult year, Fe. As a fellow Aq., I had an unusual time myself but it was mitigated by two grand trines in air and the station of Saturn almost exactly conjunct my Ascendant for what seemed like ages. No great setbacks, but it was difficult to identify which aspect to call into question when events took a turn for the unpredicted.

    And there’s another Merc Rx in January, you say? I should live so long!

    I do hope all your future trials and tribulations are confined to “Sherlock”. You should move to Britain and catch those Cumberbatchian moves at their earliest.

    1. Fe BongolanFe Bongolan


      We will carry on somehow, my friend. I had some benefic planets on my side as well. Otherwise I would be still taking anti-virals and using Uber to get around instead of my own car.

      I think the Merc-jacks were friendly reminders that anything could happen and they did because I wasn’t looking: as in the case of my shingles vaccination, which was supposed to be on my 60th birthday but I missed it; my car had over 85,000 miles on it and was due for expensive overhaul sooner or later; and double-checking the dates of the debates on the DNC website before announcing it to PW would have been helpful.

      As for the UK, I would LOVE to stay in the UK wherever I could comfortably and creatively thrive. I put that out there now, today, on this blog. That would be great fun. Mr. Cumberbatch would be a perk to the overall experience.

      For me, Mercury was the Great Teacher reminding me of the surprising twists and turns of living in our world. Not everything goes as planned but sometimes that’s better in the long run.

  2. Geoff Marsh

    Well, Fe, we all make mistakes otherwise we wouldn’t be human. Glad you’re over the worst of it, fingers crossed.

    You’re welcome at mine any time, although it might not have the creative comforts you seek. Not all gay men live in bijou designer homes! But it is on the coast, and we do have swans.

    How boring if everything did go as planned. I would have been a millionaire or dead by now.

    See you après Paris, peut-être.

    1. Fe BongolanFe Bongolan


      How sweet of you to offer. Don’t want to press you too much. Will start the visualizing to make all goals. Travel, artistic, and Mercury retro mitigated as possible.


      1. Geoff Marsh

        Swans? Oh, all right then, here’s the wiki link.

        In Britain they all belong to the Queen, so you can’t harm, kill or eat them. They are very graceful and serene but their feet may be paddling like mad below the surface of the water just to keep them in that state. Just like the upper classes, really.

        They mate for life and if one of a pair dies, the other laments with the saddest sound in nature – a swansong. It’s heart-breaking. Humans have learned a thing or two from swans. They’re lovely.

  3. Geoff Marsh

    P.S. Here’s one for the Sisterhood. Woman protest against austerity cuts affecting safe housing for domestic abuse victims at London film premiere. Right on. This is activism I can relate to.

  4. Barbara Koehler

    Poor Fe!
    Some day it will be your comedy routine;
    these Mercury retro’s of 2015.
    It’s already a tellable tale you tell
    of horrors endured all coming from Hell.

    The trickster has ways of making his point,
    but bending your knee bone clear out of joint?
    T’ain’t funny at all if it leaves you in pain.
    Still shows must go on. . .even if lame.

    Been there and done that, haven’t we all?
    Relatable stories we all can recall
    of automobile failures & dates misconstrued
    so Mercury’s past thoughts can all be reviewed.

    I love Cumberbatch’s Sherlock . . swans too!
    Can I please move to England with you?

  5. Amy Elliott

    I wouldn’t bother coming over until at least 2020, when Prime Minister Corbyn will surely right the wrongs, punish the murdering Tories, and heal the wounds of our nation.

    Well, I can dream.

  6. Geoff Marsh

    Ah, yes, one of the great Mars opposition Neptune in Pisces dreams, Amy. Well done!

    To be in England, or not to be in England – that is the question:
    Whether ‘tis blowing in the wind to suffer
    The stalls and barrows of outrageous Farage
    Or to take charms against his sea of roubles
    And by opposing end him. To cry, to weep –
    No more – and by a weep to say we end
    The headache, and the thousand natural schlocks
    That parliament is heir to. ‘Tis a communion
    Devoutly to be missed. To cry, to weep –
    To weep – perchance to scream: ay, there’s the nub,
    For in that weep of death what screams may come
    When we have shuffled from this morsel royal,
    Must give us cause. There’s the Respect
    That Galloway makes of so long a strife.
    — William Wagstaff, Year 3.

  7. Barbara Koehler

    Bravo Geoff! You ARE a clever fellow! Very entertaining indeed. Each and every line a jewel but I really loved “the thousand natural shlocks”. . LOL

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