There are few phrases that strike fear into the hearts of many like “Mercury retrograde” does. All you have to do is let people know it’s coming and they’re already starting to see what they’ll be able to blame Mercury for. What is fascinating to me is that even those who do not espouse astrology seem to tense up when they hear the words!
Bernie Ashman’s How to Survive Mercury Retrograde [And Venus and Mars, Too] is a refreshing addition to my library because he presents all of the retrograde periods in such a positive way. As astrologers, we’re used to saying, “No, don’t [INSERT ACTIVITY HERE]” during a [INSERT RETROGRADE HERE].” He doesn’t say that at all. He advises in a very down-to-earth, calm way, how to “survive” them.
What I liked even more was the sense of empowerment that this book can give even an astrology novice. Ashman mentioned this point specifically in his introduction and I think it’s excellent: That the retrograde periods have benefits all on their own if you choose to look at them. In other words, you’re not just “surviving” the retrograde, but take advantage of its benefits. To me, that is what makes this book a gem.
I also enjoyed the imagery Ashman provides of the retrograde itself: That the planet is not “moving backward”, but is an optical illusion, just like passing a car in one that is moving more quickly.
The author treats each of the retrogrades of the personal planets separately, dealing with Mercury first, and then moving on to discuss Venus and Mars retrograde periods as well. For each planet, he gives specific advice for people of each sun sign element (fire, earth, air, and water), and provides tips for the retrograde period of the planets.
While this is an excellent reference book, it can and should be read cover to cover. However, for those folks with a short attention span or an immediate need, I refer you to pages 71, 131, and 192. Each of these pages has a chart that is entitled “Positive and Negative Ways to Experience a [PERSONAL PLANET] Retrograde”.
You do not need to be an astrologer to get a lot out of this book. Honestly, if you have even a passing interest in using astrology in your day-to-day life, this book will really help you. And it will help you not to be drawn into the drama that many folks fear once a retrograde period begins.
To do it justice, this book should really be called How to Survive and Thrive During  Mercury Retrograde because of the positive spirit and perspective the author has brought to the topic. I agree with Ashman when he says “Retrograde planets are magical, in my opinion, because they will surprise you with new ideas and insights.” If you are in any way interested in astrology, this book should be a part of your library.
~review by John Marani

Author: Bernie Ashman
Llewellyn, 2016
pp. 208, $16.99 US

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