Mercury Retrograde Boot Camp Day 18: Iris and the Sun

(feature photo: Apollo by John Singer Sargent)
all images on this post from Art Renewal International

I realize some people following this series are not down with astrology at all, but have enjoyed the practical focus of the series. Thank you! Today I am verging straight into what you might consider the woo-woo: i.e. who to appeal to when Mercury and its associated deities take their vacations.

Mercury is most commonly associated these days with technology: computers, cars, phones – you could say Mercury rules our world these days. It seems that nearly any technological advance involves communication, followed at a slight distance by medicine. Mercury also rules commerce, which relies on communication and marketing, theft of a particular brand that while still criminal is more about the joke at the end of it, and transportation, which saw leaps and bounds of development in the 20th century. Mercury really does move concepts forward, which makes me wonder if there’s some mother/father of invention that is also paired to him.

Inspiring and stimulating takes a lot of work, and as those of us prone to overwork know, there’s a point where if you don’t take a break, you really do end up moving backwards. We may curse and complain about our astrological El Niño but it’s necessary. No matter how good you are, you need to check your work. In fact, your ability to check your work defines how good you are at whatever you do. That’s the real, core point of Mercury Retrograde (rx.) It’s a time meant to slow down and check your work.


Even during Mercury Retrograde, however, sometimes stuff has to go through. So if you’re of the spiritual type where you feel comfortable appealing to a being or planet, I recommend these two beings for your exploration. I advocate a getting-to-know-you process; the “gimme” approach to Greek gods tends to lead to being ignored. Offerings, appropriate to the deity, help. Taking the time to read myths about them also helps.

Apollo is one Greek personification of the Sun. The sun’s energy also engages with Mercury’s – after all, the planet Mercury does revolve around the sun. Apollo is often depicted playing music with the Muses, or riding his chariot on a daily run across the sky. When Mercury is out, it’s wise to appeal to Apollo/the energy of the sun for the workarounds you have to have: all fire energy in some way comes from the sun, whether that’s a combustible engine or a lit match. That fire energy is what gets us from point a to point b, is why our computers work and need fans built into them, and since Apollo is among the overseers of  healing AND creative arts, appealing to him when someone must have surgery during Mercury Retrograde might just help ease the consequences.

“BLEST Pæan, come, propitious to my pray’r,
Illustrious pow’r, whom Memphian tribes revere,
Slayer of Tityus, and the God of health,
Lycorian Phœbus, fruitful source of wealth .
Spermatic, golden-lyr’d, the field from thee 5
Receives it’s constant, rich fertility.
Titanic, Grunian, Smynthian, thee I sing, 7
Python-destroying, hallow’d, Delphian king:
Rural, light-bearer, and the Muse’s head,
Noble and lovely, arm’d with arrows dread: 10
Far-darting, Bacchian, two-fold, and divine, 11
Pow’r far diffused, and course oblique is thine.
O, Delian king, whose light-producing eye
Views all within, and all beneath the sky…”

-The Initiations of Orpheus, Hymn to Apollo




Iris by Alphone Maria Mucha

On the other side of the Mercury Retrograde gap lies the basics of person-to-person communication. Since Mercury is the messenger of the gods, this can at times leave a gap. Yet Mercury does have a counterpart in terms of the courier gig: Iris. (Full disclosure: she is one of my patrons.) Iris, the goddess of rainbows within the Greek pantheon, is married to Zephyrus – the west wind, and is employed as a messenger by Morpheus, the god of dreams. She is also reported by Lucian to be a messenger of Zeus alongside Hermes. “Then we have Iris and Hermes, the servants and messengers of Zeus…”

If you’re facing a difficult communication or you really need to make sure you’re understood when Mercury is off sipping some well-earned margaritas, you can ask for assistance from Iris. She tends to work more on the subconscious end of the spectrum, so she may use her prismatic ability to alter mood or cause the person receiving the message to reimagine a perception. She is often listed as a “lesser” god, but in truth she is simply lesser known.

  “”Iris, the grace of heav’n, what pow’r divine
Has sent thee down, thro’ dusky clouds to shine?
See, they divide; immortal day appears,
And glitt’ring planets dancing in their spheres!
With joy, these happy omens I obey,
And follow to the war the god that leads the way.” 

-the Aeneid of Virgil






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