Mercury Retrograde: Backwards Medicine

Enter the reigns of backwards medicine. It is here that I remember to learn to laugh off the cosmic joke surely after a good amount of angst and frustration is felt. I give thanks for my life. Thanks Creator for this thing called life, for the breath that enters me like a dosage of tranquility when entered slowly and with intention. To breathe in peace in the midst of confusion, hurt or anger is precious medicine.

I realize that most of my life was backwards. I was raised on reverse psychology –Mexican style. No wait –Rancho Style: Panindicuaro, Michoacan Style. I can still smell the burnt trash on the hill and the yerba Buena at the entrance of my Grandparents turquoise adobe home. I can hear the birds chirp and feel the dog try to lick my hands. This is where my mother grew up and learned that this was not the life she wanted. I don’t blame her. I wouldn’t want to wake up making meals all day, cleaning and hearing refranes all day. She still flashes these memories back to me, “uuh, Si te hablaria como me hablaba mi mama… no aguantarias!” And she’s absolutely right. I wouldn’t hang in a life like that. That wasn’t my life. And that wasn’t her life either. My momma had dreams to be a poet by night and a fashion designer by day. Queria ser una capitalina –except that patriarchy stole that from her. So she adjusted. She became the opposite of her desires. And yet through it all she has masterful sarcasm that helps her get through it all.

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I grew up in South Central LA. A sensitive little girl in a tough neighborhood. Recently my brother reminded me that he had to mute the TV when the “X-Files” theme song would play because it would trigger me. He would have loved to taunt me with it but my Dad would tell him not to. I remember when I was made fun of by brothers who would call me Moe for reasons I have yet to figure out. I remember I would want to laugh it off and yet felt an incredible sense of vulnerability followed by morifying embrassment for having a feeling about being the target of laughter. I wish it was recorded.  Right before I would actually cry in these sorts of scenarios, I would smile then involuntarily frown then smile then frown then smile then frown then smile then cry. No joke! Smile now, cry later was exactly it for me. Only immediately later.

So how is this relevant to Mercury Retrograde? Well, I’m beginning to realize that my whole life was a sort of training for how to ride this wave of backwards medicine. Mercury Retrograde provokes communication breakdowns. Cell phones break, snail mail gets lost, computers crash and brains seem to work on different frequencies not being able to process the misunderstandings happening right before our very eyes. And people get mad or get to reflect. What was that about? Why did I think that? Why did she say that? Etc. My mom revels at that sort of thing. Laughs that you mistook her. Enjoys the reaction of human folly. In some ways, I admire her for that. It’s also because of my mom that I have what I diagnosed myself with as Singing Terrets. In the pains that my mother could not express (because creator forbid she felt her pains) she would sing. As a kid, I would see her in the kitchen singing and she would ask me to sing with her. So there we were like Coyotes howling at the moon. Dancing and laughing and I didn’t know then what she carried to cause the random bouts of energy. So I learned to laugh it off, sing it off and dance it off when I couldn’t hold it all in me anymore. Because well, why dwell in it. Humanity is a thing of entertainment.

Huey Coyotzin is the archetype of Backwards Medicine in Mexicayotl. He is depicted singing and playing drums in the sacred texts. Coyote is the great trickster. The playful creature with a powerful curiosity who just doesn’t seem to get it. It might have seen the armadillo roll into a ball and take off before its eyes many times and yet every time it sees an armadillo, Coyote goes for it. It’s not that he doesn’t have sharp instincts, it’s that it’s entertaining to Coyote. It’s fun. He thinks, “Maybe I’ll get it this time!” I know that folks on the red road get very weary when that Coyote shows up, “Nooooo!” we think “What’s tricking me now?” It seems to come in a veil mistrusting the unknown and the known. Truthfully, Coyote is an omen of innocence and curiosity. It’s an omen of humor and learning through opposites. It’s the stuff great novels and albums are made of. And in this day in age, that makes for great reality TV and meme posts. It’s a testament to our humanity. Sometimes I think Scientist must work with Coyote medicine. I mean, they have a hypothesis and test it over and over in pure quest to find the truth. And they work kind of backwards: First you have your assumption, then you experiment to find the answer as opposed to experiencing something first then reaching a conclusion without an assumption.

All this to say, that humanity is a tricky sort of thing. I can tell you what I mean but sometimes it’s understood better if I sing it to you then the notes, the vibrations and the gestures in my face will tell you what my poker face cannot. Especially because we are taught to hide our emotion, hide our humanity. I am realizing that Coyote medicine can serve humanity as its muse.

Interestingly enough, before Xochiquetzalli -the archetype of blooming beautifully like a flower- became the patron of visionaries and artists she was first Ixnextli -with eyes of ashes- the shadow archetype to the goddess. Ixnextli was punished for cutting the flowers of Tamoanchan -the place where the unborn fed from the trees to return to humanity. Her punishment was to stare into sun until her eyes became ashes. The working symbolism here, as I interpret it, is having chosen not to honor life that was yet to be born, Ixnextli’s punishment was then to see the light -to undo her shadow until she bloomed. Until she became like the flower. It is in Ixnextli’s fall of grace that she was able to become the patron Goddess of those who need to grow into their true selves by believing in their higher self. A beautiful story of how backwards medicine may still lead us to redemption and to serve others in doing so.

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Coyote Asks: How will you take what pains you and make it serve you? Or will you choose to let what pains you be your master? And as it reads your confused face, Coyote would say, “Keep trying. You’ll figure it out!”

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Author: TeoTlacuila

Sara Martin is a mother, artist, writer and jewelry artisan. In Sara's mothering journey, she began the process of cultivating and liberating herself to become a positive healing force for her community by providing support for their creative projects. Sara is currently developing content on sacred womynhood, the power of autonomous self-healing through art, writing and working with medicine allies such as crystals, animal totems, dreams and herbs.

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