Since Halloween, something sinister has been happening in the heavens. Something that is allegedly a factor in the present descent into chaos that everyone’s lives seems to have been taking. 

No, it isn't a winter weather advisory, nor is it the slow but terrifying approach of finals. Mercury is in retrograde, and for everyone who feels like their life has turned into an out-of-control dumpster fire, there may be a reason for it that’s less related to midterms and more related to the stars. 

The practice of astrology is an age-old art that’s been around since the very first discovery of recurring constellations in first century B.C. In honor of the final mercury retrograde of 2019, here is a comprehensive introduction to the world of astrology. 

For those who may be unfamiliar with astrology, the practice involves reading and interpreting the placement of celestial objects and how they affect human affairs. This is most often done through reading a person’s natal chart, which is a snapshot of the astrological sky at the precise moment of birth. The placement of the sun, moon, planets and comets all affect a person’s birth chart and the energy they represent can be manifested in a multitude of ways in conjunction with where the celestial bodies are.

It is important to recognize that astrology is considered a form of pseudoscience by the scientific and academic communities and many don’t see it as an accurate or reliable way to gauge information, due to the untestable nature of the claims and unbacked research. Though it may not be a scientifically accepted practice, the history and the art form can be used either as a fun party trick or a curiosity fueled hobby.

The best analogy I have come up with to explain the astrological calendar and its’ many intricacies is by comparing it to a pizza. The 12 signs, Aries, Taurus, Gemini, etc, are like the crust, acting as a rotating circular foundation of the celestial scope in which all other stellar events take place. The signs are the baseline of a person’s personality and identity, thus affecting the temperament of a particular concept. 

The calendar is further broken down into 12 houses, which are interpreted to rule over various aspects of life like marriage, creativity and finances. The houses stay in place, relative to the signs and each section can be broken down by various nuances depending on the degree juxtaposed to the sign. They are like the sauce and cheese. Houses act as the fundamental environment for outcomes in life as well as specifications for personality traits. Finally, the planets are like the toppings, which indicate the specific nuances of a person’s identity. Each planet and astrological body rules a particular trait like communication, love and aggression, which directly interacts with the house and sign that the planet is in. 

These predetermined traits can be manifested in a person’s life in a multitude of ways depending on which zodiac constellation a planet is in and which house it falls under. Thus creating the opportunity for infinite outcomes and characteristics. 

As the celestial bodies move, they are believed to affect whatever parts of life that they rule.

So when Mercury, the planet of communication, technology and travel, appears to move backward in the sky, it causes a significant amount of issues in areas of life pertaining to travel, technology and communication. Computers and phones are known to stop working, scheduling issues arise, and everyone becomes just a bit worse at communicating their thoughts and feelings. This recurring chaotic event is known as retrograde, and it happens about three times a year for mercury. 

A person can determine their likely career choices, sex life, communication style and even past childhood trauma from their birth chart depending on where certain planets are located in conjunction with the houses, signs and each other. All one needs to see their chart is their date of birth, time of birth and city of birth. Plug the information into a natal chart calculator and it’ll be generated along with an explanation of each placement. 

As with any centuries-long practice, one can’t shove together decades of knowledge into one column, but these are the basics, and if your curiosity about the stars piques as we continue into our final mercury retrograde of the 2010s, you can learn more about astrology by a simple google search or by clicking here