Lammas in the Retrogrades

One of the things I hate the most is being forced against my will to take good advice.

I hate it even more if it seems like I’m being forced to take good advice by fucking meddling planets.

I can accept that a certain degree of my existence is at the mercy of the Wheel of the Year, the solar cycle, because who the hell can deny that? Nobody who lives anywhere with seasons. No issue there. But while I have nothing against astrology, I’ve never been inclined to accept it. Actually, no, I do have something against it. I’ll recognize the authority of the sun as we spin around it, but why should I have to doff my cap to other stars, never mind the damn planets? I’ll admit that the other stars and planets represent cycles just as much as the trip round the sun does. I guess I’m just a chauvinist when it comes to cycles, a bigot in my treatment of cosmic forces.

Some, usually including me, would consider this prejudice rational for any number of available reasons, but as I’ve recently confessed, the accuracy of Austin Coppock’s “space weather forecasts” has left me unable to scoff at the astrology. Specifically, I got battered so badly by the Mercury Retrograde this past spring – not just me, but everything and everyone in sight – that I just couldn’t ignore it. It wasn’t a prophecy self-fulfilled by the fact that I heard and never forgot Austin Coppock’s warning about this period on a wintertime episode of Rune Soup – oh no, I wanted Coppock to be wrong. I still want him to be wrong, but it hasn’t happened yet and I no longer expect it to. The bastard has just nailed everything so far.

Even before bringing all the weird planets into the mix, I knew this wasn’t going to be as good of a year as last year. Nothing supernatural about that – 2017 was probably the best year of my life and nobody ever really gets two of those in a row. That’s cool. But it’s not, because it’s way worse than that, because this is a year of retrograde upon retrograde. Yeah, I thought the confusion and frustration and inability to connect associated with the spring Mercury Retrograde was bad, but I hadn’t seen the Mars one yet. That started right after the solstice, and things just got weird. Heavy. Lots of heated, unexpected disputes with people close to me. Surprise mini-disasters all over the place. So many little things suddenly going wrong that the cumulative effect is staggering. On top of it all, since Mars is the closest it’ll be to Earth for the next 15 years, that dusty red prick just hangs in the sky all night every night glaring at us. You can almost hear it taunting us, lest we forget for five seconds in the solace of the evening the dreadful weight of this retrograde cycle.

And then, holy shit, halfway through the damn thing, you gotta throw another Mercury Retrograde in, worse than a turd in the swimming pool. Everything I just mentioned was amplified. Fights, professional and political impasses, suddenly broken cars and dishwashers. Perhaps worse than anything else, a near complete inability to adhere to daily goals and practices or overall to accomplish anything whatsoever.

That’s where we find ourselves this Lammas, right in the middle of all this. Makes it easy to enjoy the summer, doesn’t it? Complete paralysis, high rivers, soupy humidity, and like 5 visible planets in the sky scowling at us.

I’ve put forward considerable effort of will toward being happy, experiencing joy, soaking up the season, and forming positive memories. I’ve got a strong will and I’ve succeeded, against all expectations, at all of those things. At least to a certain degree. But I can’t push my luck. Just a week ago, I remember thinking to myself that my job is to fight back against these bullshit retrogrades, to laugh in the face of the cosmic forces that would try to get me down. And every single day since then, something has completely exploded, leaving debris and weeping and gnashing of teeth all over the street and nearby buildings.

It’s fine. I can avoid utter misery, but I can’t actually fight against this. It’s not just me, either. I was watching a Facebook Live broadcast from my buddy Dave the radical pastor, in which he mentioned he’s completely stopped meditating and an injury has prevented him from exercising. Hell, look at Coppock himself! He says right here that he’s basically completely suspended his operation for the remainder of the retrograde. Reading his announcement, his words about Mars being crucial to his personal strength and activity resonated pretty strongly with me, particularly having lived through this for a month and a half already. I suspect perhaps there’s a reason that’s true for me as well.

And I, too, have – as I said at the beginning, against my will – suspended all operations. I haven’t done shit in terms of my Building a Wizard’s Tower system essentially since the solstice. No tai chi, no daily prayer and meditation, no weekly divination, nothing. Not much exercise, either – which especially sucks, since Coppock and Rune Soup host Gordon White suggested strongly that such times are good for starting exercise regimens and quitting smoking. I’m 0 for 2.

If there’s any silver lining, however, that’s where the good advice comes in. My spiritual schedule is based on recommendations made by Jamie Wheal and Stephen Kotler in their book Stealing Fire, and the biggest suggestion they made that I chose to ignore was that after several months of trying out your system/schedule, you should take a month or so and completely fuck off. This month would then reveal what aspects of your system is working because its absence would be noticeable. But no way in hell was I gonna do that. What was the point of spending all that time and effort trying to build and follow a system if I would then have to stop doing it for a whole month?! No way, man.

And yet here I am, against my will, following that advice. I am attempting in earnest now to restart these processes, before the (current) retrogrades end, knowing that it will be much easier when they finally do, but I’ve taken over a month off and I recognize that this was a good idea, even if I don’t like it. Wheal and Kotler were, of course, correct, and I do see exactly what I miss (almost everything) and what I don’t (not that much) and the message is pretty clear that the system is a good one and that I’m in a position to take it to the next level in the months to come.

I hope you, too, can get at least some shred of something positive – even if unwillingly – out of this difficult time in outer space. I hope your summer isn’t totally bad. Remember that the worst of this garbage is gonna lift before the beginning of September and you can then safely start waving the middle finger at that low, ponderous red-red planet giving you the evil eye every night. It won’t be the end of the difficulty – there’s like 2 other retrogrades either in progress or about to start, which carry challenges of their own – if less pronounced. Then for the end of November, we’re treated to the final Mercury Retrograde, which will probably be another complete shitshow.

If it makes you feel any better, Coppock said that Jupiter will be in charge for December and it’s gonna be a good time. Gotta take whatever good news you can get sometimes, right?

Good luck out there, space cowboys.

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