When it comes to astrology, most people know only a little bit, but they often know about the dread time called mercury retrograde. Four times a year, even people who don't believe in astrology will nods wisely and attribute any travel or communication to the planet's backward motion. For three weeks at a time most of us feel bombarded by the resurfacing of issues and problems long-thought buried. All sorts of things seem to happen during mercury retrograde: bizarre arguments about insignificant things, fritzing electronics, hellish travel delays . . . you get the picture.

(As a bit of explanation, a planet is retrograde when it looks like it is reversing its usual orbit around the earth. It isn’t actually moving backward, it just appears that way because of the way the planets move in relation to Earth. All of the planets turn retrograde (which means the sun and moon do not) and the close in, or personal,  (Mercury, Venus, and Mars) have the biggest impact on us when they retrograde.

Bernie Ashram, an astrologer for more than three decades, thinks that there are opportunities to be had in the retrogrades, and his book How to Survive Mercury Retrograde [and Venus & Mars, too] shares his perspective in a way that is accessible to all, no mater their level of astrological understanding.

By using intuition and a positive mindset, Ashram believes that the Universe will bring you positive things. It is a time to make empowering choices and to align oneself with the creative power of the All.

I think that perspective weakens the overall strength of this book. If I'd been just perusing, rather than reading all of it to be able to write a review, I probably would have put the book down. Retrogrades, and Mercury's in particular, hit me very hard and throw my world into chaos, despite my being a basically positive person who has done a lot of work to make those times as useful as possible. (I slow down, double check, give myself and others permission to take more time, look forward to what is revealed, and generally work with what comes my way. It still sucks four times a year.) Ashram's outlook feels almost like 'the power of positive thinking' and all of its attendant falseness.

So, move past the overly-positive tone of the introduction, and you have . . . a really good book. REALLY good. After a brief but excellent looks at how mercury retrograde is altered by the zodiac sign it is in, Ashram moves right into specific advice (he calls the tips) for surviving mercury retrograde. Things like avoid falling into guilt, and travel will help you process your thoughts. I found the tips to be well thought out and valuable. Ashram then repeats this pattern for both Venus and Mars.

How to Survive Mercury Retrograde is a great book, well worth adding to the astrological section of your library.

~review by Lisa Mc Sherry

Author: Bernie Ashman
Llewellyn Publications, 2016
pp. 242, $16.99