Have you been feeling out of sorts lately – a little sluggish, despondent … generally muddled? Are you snapping at friends and family for no apparent reason? Are miscommunications wreaking havoc with your plans? Do you find yourself wanting to go to bed immediately after dinner and sleep until – oh, I don’t know … April?
Don’t worry. It’s not you. In fact, it’s perfectly normal given the trying circumstances we’ve been in for the past few weeks.
For starters, we’ve had to deal with the February Blahs. There’s a reason that February is the shortest month of the year. Scholars will tell you it has something to do with the Romans (particularly that egomaniac Julius Caesar), but I’m pretty sure it mostly has to do with the way this month seems to drive us New Englanders right to the brink of insanity. You’ve heard Twain’s tale of a Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s court? I think there may have been a Yankee at Caesar’s court, too, advising the emperor to minimize the dreary days of February.
February is a month that seems to go nowhere. Other than Groundhog Day (which is almost always disappointing news) and Valentine’s Day (which often brings as much stress as romance), these twenty-eight (or twenty-nine) days are usually pretty dull. While January sparkles with the last of the holiday magic and the first blush of the New Year’s promise, February drags its feet through the slush like a sullen teenager who is frustrated at being caught between innocence and independence.
Indeed, February feels like a kind of purgatory. It is the holding pen where we gather to wearily endure the last of winter’s wrath and prove that we are worthy of spring.
Unfortunately, this year’s February Blahs coincided with another challenge: Mercury retrograde. I’m no astrology expert, but there are two astrological occurrences that I believe exert a very real influence on humans: full moons and Mercury retrograde.
It was while I worked in retail that I came to believe in the lunacy-inducing effect of the full moon on otherwise normal people. Without fail, each full moon brought out the crazies and the crazy behavior. I learned to expect anything during a full moon.
Mercury retrograde happens (thank goodness) less frequently than a full moon. This year, we will be subjected to this phenomenon in February, June, and October. While I can’t explain the astrological details (it’s sort of like an optical illusion that causes Mercury to appear to go backwards in its path across the sky), I can tell you that when Mercury retrogrades things tend to get a bit mixed up.
In addition to messing with technology (expect bugs, breakdowns, and a general lack of cooperation from machines), Mercury retrograde is typically blamed for silly mistakes and what the characters in Cool Hand Luke referred to as “a failure to communicate.”
The planet Mercury is named after the Roman god of the same name – the fellow with wings on his feet who is frequently seen schlepping bouquets of flowers for FTD. In the past, Mercury used to schlep messages for the other Roman gods and also served as a guide for souls heading to the Underworld.
The period of Mercury retrograde is sometimes likened to a trip to the Underworld because it tends to be a time of reflection and reinvention. It’s common to find yourself questioning the status quo and tuning in to your intuition (which is heightened during Mercury retrograde).
So you see, whether you’re feeling discontent, cranky, or confused it’s not really you. It’s just the effects of the February Blahs and Mercury retrograde. The good news is that both the month and the period of retrograde end tomorrow, so you should wake up on Friday feeling like a new person. Won’t that be nice?
This piece originally appeared as part of my bi-weekly column series in The Ipswich Chronicle.
Photo Credit: A.Currell via Compfight cc