We Are What Lies Beneath: Mercury Retrograde and the I AM

We Are What Lies Beneath: Mercury Retrograde and the I AM
Image by Hilary Clark 


Narrated by Marie T. Russell

Video version at the end of this article

Mercury Retrograde in Aquarius: 
30th January (3:46 pm UT) – 21st February 2021

All dates and times are UT so may vary in your time zone.

With Black Moon Lilith conjunct Eris at the time of its retrograde station (3:46 pm UT on January 30th, 2021), this Mercury pulls no punches and takes no prisoners. Nor would we want to be held captive, for its promise is freedom from the chains secured by our own deceptions. This is not about intricate scams or long cons that flatter to deceive, but the everyday twists and turns we perform to avoid coming face to face with who we truly are.

The Moon isolated in Virgo as Mercury turns about-face speaks of the need for careful discernment when it comes to self-evaluation and definition. Identity is a tricky thing – both the facilitator of our journey through this world and a catalyst of conflict and division, it takes great skill to manage its sharp edges with wisdom and grace.

We Are Not Our Labels

How much we emotionally invest in the person we perceive ourselves to be dictates how well we can embrace the parts of ourselves that don’t fit that image. If we see ourselves as compassionate, we may ignore our lack of concern for another’s pain. If we see ourselves as spiritual, we may sidestep our more mundane or plain old human characteristics! If we see ourselves as uniquely different, we may struggle to recognise our commonality with others.

This Mercury invites us to look at the labels we choose for ourselves and why they mean so much. Whether spiritual, political, religious or otherwise, we all have them. They can be useful to identify allegiance in a complex world. But to the extent that they’re invested with weighty significance, they can also become the very chains that steal our freedom.


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During these three weeks, we can be label free for a while and see how that feels. What’s it like to fade into the background, invisible? How does it feel to drop our own name, our own history, to relinquish the stories we tell ourselves about who and what we are? Does it mean we become a nobody? And does this render life empty of meaning? Or do we discover a deeper, more abiding truth about who we really are?

This experience of a deeper self, untouched by the slings and arrows of everyday life is crucial as we approach the first of Saturn’s three squares to Uranus this year (on February 17th). The future hangs in the balance and there are decisions to be made:

Do we maintain the status quo or lay foundations for a new way of being?

Do we choose love over fear, or fear over love?

Do we embrace the unknown or flee from its clutches, no matter how suffocating the known has become?

Do we walk our talk or sidestep the responsibility that being alive in these extraordinary times affords?

Most people have been traumatised to some extent over the past year. At times, the collective shock has been more than palpable, reverberating through the unified field that connects us all. Fear, despair, frustration, grief, anger – all have been prominent as we’ve navigated circumstances never encountered before.

Such circumstances polarise people. We run for cover or stand frozen like a rabbit in the headlights. Every day life is turned on its head, expectations cast to the wind, plans lie in ruins. We seek safe ground to share with others and cast suspicion on those who choose a different rock. Identities are born, from which conflict arises. Division ensues, which weakens us all.

Revealing the I AM

We’re at a critical point right now. What happens this year is central to how this decade unfolds. We’re all building foundations for the future. To do so well, we must know our own foundation first. Not who we think we are or choose to be, but who we are beneath that – the Self which knows all things as one, for whom identity is simply a distraction.

This retrograde passage of Mercury blows apart the ‘I am this, that or the other’ to reveal the I AM which, without fuss or fanfare, rests beneath it all. From this place we can make prudent decisions and discern the wisest action. It exhorts us to release our most cherished identities, even for just a moment, to become what lies beneath.

The more energy we invest in notions of ‘I am this type of person living this kind of life’ the more we’ll trip over our own identity in the coming weeks. Not because we’re not who we think we are, but because we’re so much more than any label allows us to be. The radiant and universal heart is neither augmented nor diminished by ego-identity. It simply cannot be defined in terms that satisfy the mind, so remains outside of our awareness while we perpetuate identities which do. But when Mercury is retrograde in Aquarius, we can relinquish the need to be someone and bathe in the sacred field which connects us all.

When life subsequently demands that we pick up that identity again – as it inevitably will – we can do so with less emotional investment, less energetic striving, less insistence. Secure in the knowing that all self-perception is a pale reflection of the vastness of our essence. From this cooler place clarity arises, wisdom flows. There’s nothing we cannot know.

Time to Unplug

If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed or overwrought recently, this is a good time to unplug, switch off and return to base! In this technological age where everything happens at the press of a key or the swipe of a screen, information overload is rife, and insidious screen addiction everywhere.

Use these three weeks to discern how much technology is enough and where to draw the line. Just because ever more of life is being forced into an online space doesn’t mean we must comply. We can still stare out of a window, read a good old-fashioned book, write a letter with pen and paper, draw, sing, pray, dance, walk, run, do yoga, tai chi, karate.

Mercury retrograde in Aquarius returns us to ourself, to discover what and who we really are aside from everything the world tells us we should be. Notice who gets your attention these days. How do you respond emotionally and physically to events in the online spaces you occupy?

Do your interactions bring you peace, wisdom and clarity? Or do they trigger painful emotion, stress reactions and that naggingly seductive compulsion to engage in something that trades peace for a conflict of opinion?

This Is How We Change The World

If we step back, regroup and reflect in this way, we can be clearer and wiser once this Mercury retrograde is over, rooted in the boundless Self from which truth and authenticity flow. We can still take a stand, say our piece, honour our inner knowing and outer commitments, but we can do so from a place of clarity, seeing beyond the ‘little me’ to the unified field that connects us all. To know this field intimately is vital now, for the dynamics of this year – whilst intensely creative – are challenging in their potential.

Much hangs in the balance and dissembling into warring factions of opinion won’t help many now. But a global community of people grounded in truth, drawing on timeless wisdom and honouring the unified field from which we all emerge…. Imagine how that could change the world!

©2021. Reprinted with permission of the author.

About the Author

Sarah Varcas, Intuitive Astrologer

Sarah Varcas is an intuitive astrologer with a passion for applying planetary messages to the ups and downs of everyday life. In doing so she aims to support people in their personal and spiritual development, making available celestial wisdom which may otherwise be inaccessible for those without astrological expertise. Sarah has studied astrology for over thirty years alongside an eclectic spiritual path spanning Buddhism, contemplative Christianity and many other diverse teachings and practices. She also offers an online (via email) Self-Study Astrology Course. You can find out more about Sarah and her work at www.astro-awakenings.co.uk.

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