The following article was written by Vedic Astrological Scholar James Kelleher, leader of my Winter trip to Southern India. They say in India if you submerge yourself in the waters of the Ghanges your sins will be forgiven. I'm remembering James seated across from me in a small boat on the river, the fires of the crematorium a hundred yards off, bodies floating by, as I decided it'd be against my better judgment to leap over the side. "So Paul, you're sorry" laughed James. "But you're not that sorry." I've also heard him joke "It's Mercury Retrograde. Oh no. Don't go to the store!" But jokes aside, I do know from my relationship with James and my teacher John that a retrograde period is a good time to plan, organize, rest, refine but not begin creative projects, and of course go on retreat. Or take a vacation.

Mercury will begin its retrograde phase on July 26th at 29 degrees of Cancer, in the last degree of Ashlesha Nakshatra. Ashlesha's desire is "the desire to defeat my enemies". It is a nakshatra who's shakti is "the power of poison". Mercury retrograde is normally a period that makes the communication process more complicated, but this period may be especially prone to arguments and disagreements. On the world stage, this can lead to greater acts of violence and aggression. This is magnified by the fact that Mercury is conjunct Rahu and in opposition to Mars and Ketu, so there will be much more tendency for various types of political conflict, now. 

On the individual level, Mercury retrograde in Ashlesha is a perfect time for doing your psychological homework. The best way to avoid arguments and disharmony is to re-frame your experience by trying to see things from the other person's perspective. When you realize that everyone is just trying their best to be happy, however misguided their means might be, it makes it easier to have compassion for them. 

So here's a theory I call JK's theory of crazy. Everyone is crazy. Some are crazier than others, but everyone is crazy in some way. Believe me, I know what I am talking about because I am very crazy myself : f you are walking on the street and you pass by a person who is out of his mind on drugs and also mentally ill, and if he hurls four letter insults at you in the most disgusting language you have ever heard, what do you do? Do you resent him or get angry at him? Do you go up to him and confront him and say, "Look here buster, you can't talk to me like that. If you continue, I'm gonna give you a fat lip?" Or do you just quietly cross the street and get out of his way. After all, he's crazy and out of his mind. He is just trying to be happy like everyone else, but he doesn't know how to do it. So why waste your time and energy arguing with him, fighting with him, or trying to change him? Just wish him well and get on with having a nice day. 

As the well-known spiritual teacher, Anthony Demello, used to say, "You can't teach a pig to sing. It frustrates you, and it aggravates the pig!"