Thoughts on Communication

The art and science of communication is always on my mind.  In my own natal chart, I’ve got Mercury Rising, the planet Mercury representing communication in astrology.  Plus, as a writer, coach, and mama, I’m always striving to find better ways to teach and learn.

As I write this, we are smack-dab in the middle of a Mercury Retrograde, and while that arrangement doesn’t usually trip me up too much, this one has proved to be a little challenging.  I’ve really had cause to re-examine communication styles.

In a natal chart, the placement of Mercury describes the person’s communication style.  Since there are twelve zodiac signs, and therefore twelve possibilities for Mercury, there are twelve different communication styles.  No wonder we have trouble understanding each other!  It can be tricky to remember that not everyone will hear, speak, and process in the same way.  One person might focus more on the emotional aspects while another only sees the facts.  I suppose a truly great communicator would be able to speak and hear in twelve different styles.

As a parent, I’ve found a great resource in Thomas Gordon.  Dr. Gordon is a psychologist who created several models for group leadership skills and who wrote a terrific guide called “Parent Effectiveness Training.”  This book describes great techniques for ensuring that both parent and child feel comfortable talking and that both are heard.  (Check the website for more details:

As a coach, I find myself constantly learning and adapting.  The makeup and goals of a team are always evolving, and a good coach needs to be able to read both the individuals and the group.  Personally, I believe that a good coach needs to be (or have been) a competitor also.  It’s the old “walk a mile in my shoes” concept.  How can I teach you what it feels like to have a rival breathing down your neck at the finish line if I haven’t been there myself?

As a writer, I think there’s no better mindset to have than that of the student.  Reading, paying attention, learning, thinking, applying–these are the most important tools in a writer’s toolbox, in my opinion.

What do you think?  Have you had any communication challenges in the past few weeks?

Mercury Retrograde

Mercury, Messenger of the Gods

Mercury, Messenger of the Gods


Mercury is retrograde this month from the 6th to the 26th.  Here are some quick facts about a Mercury Retrograde:

  • The planet Mercury is named after the mythical god Mercury.  He is usually depicted with a winged hat and shoes, symbolizing his status as messenger of the gods.  In astrology, then, Mercury in a natal chart indicates one’s communication style and perceptions of the world.
  • Mercury goes retrograde four times per year.  Retrograde motion appears backwards to us from our position on Earth.  A planet does not actually travel backwards in its orbit; it simply appears that way to us from our vantage point.  (Think of it this way–if you zoom past a slower car on the road, it can seem as if the slower car is going backwards in comparison to you.)
  • Retrograde Mercury symbolizes delayed or difficult communication, interrupted travel, and opportunities for reflection.
  • For people born during a Mercury Retrograde, astrologers offer several possible interpretations, including communication issues (such as stuttering or shyness).  On a spiritual level, though, a person born during a Mercury Retrograde is often said to be working through old karmic issues of other lifetimes.
  • In general, a Mercury Retrograde is a time for internal reflection and review.  Some astrologers would warn against signing contracts or making travel plans; in my opinion, however, it is simply a time to do our due diligence and make decisions thoughtfully, not hastily.


Mercury Retrograde

You Talkin’ to Me?

On September 17th, the planet Mercury moves into Libra for a couple of weeks.  If you recall your mythology, Mercury was the messenger of the gods; he is usually represented with winged feet.  In astrology, then, he represents communication.  How do we communicate with others?  With ourselves?  How do we perceive, reason, and make sense of the world?

Mercury is one of the faster moving planets in the sky, and so it doesn’t stay in any one sign for very long–generally two or three weeks each.  So that means in a one-year period, we here on Earth will experience twelve different communication styles.  (If you are thinking that my math doesn’t add up, you will need to figure in the Mercury Retrograde periods.  When Mercury is retrograde, it can stay in one sign for up to ten weeks.)

So, this messenger planet goes through twelve  different styles of communication each year. Plus we each have our own natal Mercury sign (where Mercury was at the moment of our birth).   Hmmmm. . . .  Perhaps this explains why we humans have such a difficult time getting along!

One simple way to help us all communicate better is to think of the four Element categories of the signs.  This way, we only need to remember four main styles of communication, rather than twelve individual ones.  Here are the Element categories and their signs:

FIRE–Aries, Leo, Sagittarius

EARTH–Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn

AIR–Gemini, Libra, Aquarius

WATER–Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces

Fire signs emphasize action, intensity, and identity  Earth signs focus on stability, practicality, and sensory input.  Air signs are intellectual, logical, and social.  Water signs operate in emotions, spirituality, and transformation.

As someone with prominently placed Mercury in her chart, I am fascinated by communication and am always thinking of ways to make it better.  When I listen to or read others, I try to determine their bias–does the speaker have a Fire, Earth, Air, or Water Mercury sign?  That way, I can be more objective in my listening and stand a better chance of understanding and being understood.  Next time you interact with others–whether it’s a big presentation at work or just chatting with your buds–think about the different astrological “languages” and how they shape your communication.