Astrology of Now: The Beautiful Melancholy of Regret

Thursday October 15th 2020
Orpheus and Eurydice by John Rodham Spencer Stanhope. They had a few regrets. From Wikimedia Commons.

Orpheus and Eurydice by John Rodham Spencer Stanhope. They had a few regrets. From Wikimedia Commons.

“I don’t think I could love you so much if you had nothing to complain of and nothing to regret.
I don’t like people who have never fallen or stumbled.
Their virtue is lifeless and of little value. Life hasn’t revealed its beauty to them.”

Boris Pasternak, Doctor Zhivago

Do nothing you may later regret.

It’s easy to say. The kind of warning a mother gives her teenage daughter as she slings on her glad rags and rushes out the front door into the arms of life.

But, Edith Piaf aside, most of us have regrets. Small ones: I should have been kinder, I should have bought the marshmallows, I shouldn’t have ordered the soup, I should have volunteered. And large ones: why didn’t I tell him I loved him? why did I leave without saying good-bye? why didn’t I apply to the basket weaving course? Why did I let him touch me?

You may have been told that we most often regret the things we haven’t done: the failure to speak up for your bullied colleague, or to sit next to the beautiful woman on the bus. But that’s just not true, because of course we can also regret the things we have done: those cruel words, that adulterous fling, the naked pictures, the tweet, the petty theft, the sly remark… and maybe much, much worse.

To have regrets is to be human, because to be really human is to be flawed. To have no regrets implies that you have never lived.

I say this as a preamble to a thought about this curious month. Among other things, this is a beautiful Mercury Retrograde (14 October-4 November) for brooding over the things we regret, and possibly for saying sorry, and maybe for forgiving yourself.

Mercury is in Scorpio until October 28. Scorpio is famously tenacious. Tenacious in love and tenacious in hate. It’s hard to prise those pincers away from a person, or an idea, once they have a grip. And one of the things we may hold on to tenaciously is a regret… if only… it might have been…

The feelings that hurt most, the emotions that sting most, are those that are absurd.: the longing for impossible things, precisely because they are impossible; nostalgia for what never was; the desire for what could have been; regret over not being someone else; dissatisfaction with the world’s existence. All these half-tones of the soul’s consciousness create in us a painful landscape, an eternal sunset of what we are.
Fernando Pessoa

Your regret may be valid. It could be true that you might have been a contender, but allowing the regret to cling on to you like a scorpion won’t do you any good. Some regrets drip poison slowly over the years. This retrograde may allow you to unpick a regret — or 50 —  bit by bit, and these could be to do with others as Mercury will slide into Libra, the sign of relationships, on October 28.

It would be a fine time to take out your regrets, examine them, cut them down to size — and put them in a vitrine where they can be looked out, but where they can’t reach you. Your regrets make you human, but holding on to them too long may stop you growing.



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  1. Janet says:

    Excellent post and thanks for quoting Pessoa who is not well known, but should be.