To get an idea of how best to work with Mercury and the “Retrograding” of this planet (Mercury will be Retrograde from August 2nd to 26th 2011), we can dig into the mythology of the character it is named after. Doing so may help to understand the effects that the Retrograde cycle has upon the earth plane and those in it. This can be a productive time if we realize what we are working with, instead of ignorantly trying to push against it. Most of the planetary influences correlate very closely with the mythology of the deities that the planets were named after. Mercury has basic “rulership” over the following three things: The Mind, Travel, and Communication. Many subcategories fall under these three categories, which would take too long to list and explain here.
I’d like to compare the feminine messenger of the gods to the much more widely known Mercury, and how she relates to our communications and psyches whether or not Mercury is Retrograde.
In our culture that is nearing the end of its predominantly male influences, we hear a lot about how men and male characters have pioneered, managed, and invented most of what makes the world go ’round. We have seemingly endless references to male deities and political figures, and the little bit that we do hear about powerful female movers and shakers is often tinted with heresy and extreme criticism.
In Greek mythology, Iris, Messenger of the Gods was the personification of the Rainbow, a worldwide symbol of hope, confirmation, and divine intervention. As the rainbow is the bridge between the Heavens and the Earth, it was through this aspect of nature that she both traveled and transmitted her messages to both humans and the gods and goddesses. She was the personal servant of the highly esteemed Goddess Hera. Iris’s name is frequently mentioned in the Iliad, where she is portrayed as a beautiful maiden with wings of gold, flying swiftly into the depths of the sea and underworld. Iris supplied the clouds with water in order to replenish the earth when it was in drought. She also had the ability to put liars to sleep with an ewer of enchanted water from the River Styx. Often she was depicted holding the same staff or caduceus that is associated with Hermes or Mercury.
There is an asteroid named Iris that can be found in the birth chart and in transit – asteroid #7 on http://www.astro.com
Why do you suppose there is far less information available to us about Iris than a character such as Mercury? I welcome your comments and research on this subject.
My personal theory is that Iris was not and is not especially popular partially due to the bias around male authority and patriarchy. She held an understated yet powerful position, and still does. I notice her influence particularly strong during Mercury’s cycles, therefore have come to see her as a sort of female personification of Mercury. While Mercury Retrograde is typically associated with mishaps and delays, I attribute some of the more subtle aspects of its cycles such as intense or lucid dreaming, creative inspiration and the increase of synchronistic experiences to the influence of feminine qualities of consciousness and the archetypal presence of Iris.
Many people become very inward and/or depressed during Mercury’s Retrogradation. The focus is more “yin” than “yang”, more feminine and receptive in nature than outgoing and masculine, so it can be especially difficult for those who push for constant achievement and outward activities. The frequent male, left brain perspective and common experience of the Mercury Retrograde influence is related to his Trickster aspect. Tricks, snafus, and quirks galore seem to crop up mercilessly, catch us off guard, spoil our best laid plans and screw with many of our mundane affairs. Understanding that there is a time and a place for all things and that Mercury Retrograde is about reflection and review can help. Opening ourselves to divine revelation can stimulate far more positive experiences for ourselves and those around us. This is where honoring the feminine aspect of nature comes in. Underneath all of the overabundance of machismo that permeates so many ideologies and religions, the Goddess in her many guises, colors, and faces prevails…for she is the inspiration of man.
From Iris we get the name iridescence, the word iridium for a rare element containing a diversity of colors. Her name is shared with a vibrant flower and a most fascinating part of our anatomy – the iris, in which is said to reside the “seat of the soul”.
Just as the rainbow itself symbolizes truth, promise, and synchronicity, Iris may be an Inner Angel that listens to our hopes, fears, dreams, and prayers, and carries them to and from higher realms, even beyond our own. While Mercury is Retrograde or skies are gray, she just may help deliver us from the sense of separation we tend to feel as humans and facilitate for us a magical and wondrous correspondence with divine forces that we might otherwise miss.