Column: Healing the body, mind, spirit during retrograde

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Release the past to rest as deeply as possible.”

The last tweet from Charlie Murphy the night before he died.

For many Pagans, Mercury Retrograde carries the reputation of being a time to expect communication, traffic snarls, computer problems, and overall worry about saying or doing the wrong thing. How many times do you wonder why everything seems to be going wrong, only to relax when someone says, “Mercury’s in retrograde”?

[NASA / Pixabay]

Pagans in general learn early about the stars, astrology, and the impact that times of delay can have in general. Venus in Retrograde asks us to think hard about who and what we value: who do we let into our lives, what or who do we treasure and how, what means the most to us overall? Old lovers – the source of emotional wounds – may stroll back into our lives. We may be tempted to take a dip into past familiar relationships.

Yet both of these retrogrades are excellent times to stride forward with healing and repairing wounds of all types.

Sometimes it seems that it is easier to stick a label on the period of time, like retrograde, than it is to dig deep and challenge the self to heal wounds that bubble to the surface during these times. For example, I recently had a sebaceous cyst suddenly appeared on my chest. It had remained dormant, until one evening it swelled, burned, and required medical treatment. During those initial three weeks, I reconsidered the spiritual significance of having a wound suddenly appear. Antibiotics would take care of the infection eventually, but it was the realization that this was happening during retrograde period that required a serious look at what I ate, what I drank, and what I stressed over.

During Mercury Retrograde, finding where the stress appears in life is key to healing the wounds that are found. Mercury Retrograde, for example, demands that we stop and look at how we communicate with the self. In my situation, it was time to take a hard look at how I communicate with my own body. Was I honoring what it was trying to tell me? Or, like so many people, was stress blocking my ability to hear or to see due to working too many hours, drinking too much coffee, getting too little sleep, and saying “yes” to too many causes, committees, colleagues?

Often, modern life seems to require the “go, go, go” mentality for fear of missing out on the latest trend before collapsing into furtive bits of sleep when the body is worn out and beyond insomnia. Sometimes an actual visible physical wound that requires care is the method of hitting a large “STOP” on the fast-paced road of everyday life.

When caring for a wound, you have to focus on yourself and your own needs. For those who give constantly, this can be a slightly strange feeling. As a result, the devotion to caring for the self and wound healing during retrograde periods is a built-in method of slowing down and taking stock of what matters to you – the individual.

If you have a broken wrist, you learn to adapt to a cast and, if necessary, to write or type with the other hand. If you have a broken leg, the use of crutches is a signal to others and to your own body that you have to slow down in performance of everyday tasks. Other people will see the visible sign of self-care and pause to assist you by helping out when possible.  No one expects someone with a broken wrist to use both hands until the wrist is healed.

Similarly, wound healing during retrograde works because we accept that healing itself is a process and not an instant fix. We are more gentle with ourselves in looking at physical wounds, and we grow from being the same during retrograde periods.

But what if you notice that Mercury is in Retrograde, and you just don’t have a physical wound to remind you to slow down? Your legs and wrists are not broken;you don’t have ailments that require antibiotics and, by your own standards, you are rolling along physically as you always have been?

Wounds are not just only physical. Some of the deepest ones that Mercury Retrograde addresses are emotional.

How many times have you stopped talking to friends, family, or lovers due to an argument just before or during a retrograde period? You want to find the right words, to make the perfect gesture, or to even get the best gift to smooth things over. Maybe things are a bit uneven, despite an apology or two. How do you heal such wounds during retrograde? Should you even bother?

[Public Domain]

When you feel overwhelmed and when you are on the outs with your loved ones, maybe taking the time of retrograde to remember why you like someone in the first place. Instead of attacking the outside issue, try taking time for sharing a relaxing meal in a neutral location is a place to start. Retrograde healing starts with the self, the acknowledgement that there is a wound to be fortified and restored to vitality.

Rejuvenation is also an aspect of wound healing when Venus is in Retrograde. While Mercury Retrograde is three to four times a year, the eighteen month cycle for Venus Retrograde gives a longer span of time in between pauses. Communication is a daily ritual. Who and what we love changes.

Healing the emotional wounds of past loves, of lost valuables, and who we claim as friends or associates is tough work.  We sometimes say “time heals all wounds” as a reminder that the passage of time can make a painful breakup, divorce, or lost friendship just a tiny bit less painful. Love songs urge us to give things time. During retrograde periods, we get that time.

What helps heal wounds more than having a former boyfriend or girlfriend make an effort months or years post-breakup to get you back? For a brief moment, perhaps a date, or a bit longer, you get to review and recoup perceived losses. You might wonder if the relationship should be given another chance. Would trying again with a more complete awareness of what went wrong?

For some, all it takes is a bit of space to consider what each person values. For others, a return just gives a chance to put a final end to the hopes of a renewed relationship.The beauty of Venus in Retrograde is that the timing works really well in making space to explore the past with another without having to make a final commitment.

Other wounds to address during retrograde period might include what happens during the day at work. Recently, I spoke with a friend who was struggling to deal with one person in her professional life. The irony was that my friend had found and helped this other person get the very job where the problems were occurring. During the retrograde period, the two individuals have a chance to re-examine whether their friendship could survive the working relationship. Maybe it will or maybe it won’t.

We have work friends and we have work disagreements. While it is not necessary or possible to check the chart to see if Venus is in Retrograde to solve all problems, the retrograde period does remain a good time to think about what work and the work environment means.

Wounds related to professional life could be many thing: a boss who seems to be against you, the perception that no one listens to you at work. During retrograde periods, it is a good time to make a checklist of what you need from a profession or any job.

If it is just the money and nothing else matters, then you have time to reflect and be open with what you are willing to do and accept for that money. If you find your livelihood to be temporary, you can work out your own contract regarding how long you expect to be in that particular job or field. If you suddenly find that nothing seems to make you happy at work, healing this wound during retrograde may involve finding a career assessment test or simply time to sit with yourself or someone who knows you well to talk about your strengths and weaknesses.

Maybe the result will not a complete job change, but rather a lateral transfer to a similar field or even the same job, but in a different location.

Addressing wounds of occupation and how we spend our time is important; however, the base for all wound healing is remembering what matters. What do you value most and in what order? The premise of a television series Famous in Love surrounds what happens when a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is presented to college student Paige Townsen. Overnight, she goes from obscure to a glamorous Hollywood life. Does she make the goal of completing college to please her family, keep her best friend, and stick to her original expected plan or does she grab the unexpected and hope for the best?

To make the series work, the drama comes from traveling the unexpected road of decisions that challenge the character’s values. Paige is ordinary, until good fortune changes her life. The series explores personal values and what happens when you get what you think you want: fame, fortune, and fantasy.  Like many dramas, viewers watch because they have similar problems or dilemmas. How often do we dream of winning the lottery, so that we don’t have to work?

Perhaps the desire for monetary excess is not to stop working but to have the ability to spend time doing what we crave and cherish freely. For some, a lifelong dream might be to travel or to give back by starting a dream business or to have the means to give money to causes that have the same ethical and personal values as the individual donor.

[Photo Credit: Easa Shamih / Flickr]

During times of Venus in Retrograde, looking at the manner in which we earn our keep is important, but re-examining the fire that drives us to committing ourselves to our chosen profession is even more important. How many times do you see someone who is a nurse, a doctor, a lawyer, a bus driver, a trucker, a teacher, or construction worker  just because a parent or some other family member worked in the same profession? What about those who only take a profession because a parent or loved one was not able to fulfill his or her professional dream?

I knew a woman who desperately wanted to be an architect, but her father had been unable to fulfill his dream of working in the health care field, so she took his place. Her older siblings became an accountant and an artist, so she was the father’s last hope. During Venus in Retrograde, it is a good time to ask whether one’s values, occupation, and company are in line with the self.

Overall, wound repair during retrograde periods is the best benefit of reconsideration, renewal, and review. The hardest part of healing the wounds is the act of letting go, the need to release control in order to let the healing happen. Retrograde periods provide a space and time to separate from the hectic pace of everyday life for the purpose of rejuvenation.The choice to examine openly appears to be easy. The pain of exposing the wound to the healing process means giving up control. For humans, this is difficult. What if the wound does not fully heal, or what if we need additional treatment beyond what we expect?

Whether it is an emotional wound, a physical wound, or psychological wound, healing can start during the retrograde period, but we cannot control when it ends or how it will end. In short, we cannot steer or regulate how our wounds will heal or in what form. My cyst is now a small flat oval with a teardrop in the center. It reminds me of a time of pain, but also how retrograde periods are more than just reasons to get upset over computer glitches, communication problems, and horrible traffic jams. Retrograde periods can bring much renewal and strength through enforced rest and healing.

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The views and opinions expressed by our diverse panel of columnists and guest writers represent the many diverging perspectives held within the global Pagan, Heathen and polytheist communities, but do not necessarily reflect the views of The Wild Hunt Inc. or its management.