I stumbled on Lennon Mara while I was buried in the throes of Mercury Retrograde, frustrated, strung out, and super over how I was feeling. I was drawn to a couple of her instagram images outlining The Retrograde Project, because they seemed to offer me something different. They offered a new approach. A new outlook. A new idea. Mercury Retrograde didn't need to be bad.
As soon as Mercury retrogrades, many of us bury our heads under the covers and blame everything that goes awry in our lives on this little planet. But what if we could use this astrological influence to better our lives and to give ourselves some much deserved self-care attention?
I was hooked. I bought the workbook, devoured it, continued to work with it and then I did what every sensible person does: I reached out to the cosmically inclined Lennon Mara. And she had a lot to say on more than just Mercury.
Rogue Wood Supply: So what is The Retrograde Project?
Lennon Mara: The Retrograde Project is a digital guide + workbook designed to transform our relationship with Mercury retrograde from one of irritation and victimization to one of freedom and evolution. I hope to evolve the form that this project takes each retrograde cycle: during Mercury retrograde in Taurus this April, for instance, there’ll likely be a community component, along with fresh insights and inquiry pages that align with the nuances of that particular transit.
RW: I can't wait! What inspired you to come up with such an idea?
LM: Ultimately, I’m always looking for ways to empower readers with the tools they need to get the most practical use out of astrology. The Retrograde Project is my first attempt at creating a more comprehensive, experiential guidebook of sorts aimed at enabling real use of the transit without all the heavy-duty astrological details.
I’ve also got to credit the waves of Mercury retrograde fear-mongering that flood the internet every few months for giving me the final push to bring The Retrograde Project into being. I just don’t believe that we are victims of the transits activating our charts and my experience, along with that of many others, supports this.
In fact, I think gaining an understanding of what exactly is being activated during a transit gives us a unique perspective and a real opportunity to work with it rather than expend all our energy resisting it. If we do the work, we don’t have to stymie our life-force every few months with long lists of prohibited actions and behaviors to refrain from. We get an opportunity to re-imagine or re-structure an area of our lives, to let our lives become our teacher.
It’s a magical way to live.
RW: I loved pouring through The Retrograde Project workbook. It definitely helped me to reflect and actually figure out what I needed to reassess. I'm always diagnosing Mercury's energy as the "re" phase; rework, reassess, revisit, etc. But these reassessments don't need to be negative at all! Your workbook is really helping with that. Can you tell me a little about your foray into spirituality and astrology?
LM: I started studying astrology when I was 12 years old. I’d fallen in love with a boy two years older who nurtured a deep interest in metaphysics — and so, as every insecure 12 year old does, I tried to map myself to his predilections and then fell immediately more in love with astrology, witchcraft, tarot, and the like, than with him. I have so many memories from that time: spells conducted on the back patio under a full moon and then being sent outside to scrape wax off the table the next morning; convincing a parent to take me to the bookstore and stealing away to pore over books of spells. That kind of thing.
At the time, I had that really wonderful introductory book Llewellyn put out — Llewellyn’s Complete Book of Astrology I think— and read it incessantly. A year later, I fell in love with someone else and shifted abruptly again, and left astrology in the dust.
Close to ten years later a housemate of mine came home with the very same book. One night I pulled it off the shelf and picked up right where I left off: I really haven’t been able to stop studying since.
RW: What inspired you to begin Moon + Quartz?
LM: I launched Moon + Quartz to share my vision of astrology as a powerful and pragmatic tool for personal evolution. When I initially opened up shop, I knew I wanted to do work that got right to the pith of the issues my clients brought to the table, but I also wanted to give them concrete, tangible, actionable ways to engage with and use each transit’s energy consciously.
Over time, I found myself wanting to cut out everything that wasn’t going to yield those tangible results in my clients’ lives — and so The Saturn Sessions were born.
The Saturn Sessions consult is all about how to work with the energies that Saturn in Sagittarius is kicking up in your natal chart over the next two years. It’s been so fun to watch clients take an active role in preparing for and engaging with major Saturn transits, turning them into opportunities for growth, evolution and in some cases, major rewards.
RW: Who was Lennon before Moon + Quartz?
LM: Ha! Lennon didn’t exist.
RW: Whaaaaat?! What do you mean?
LM: Lennon Mara is a pseudonym. We’re living in a very Neptunian age of digital transparency in which the hyper-accessibility provided by the internet has created a slipstream of identity that continues on ad infinitum. It’s exhausting. I wanted to create something whole — a system, a site, an approach, an identity— without having to integrate or maintain any continuity with everything else I’ve done and accomplished before. Just immediately present, aware, existent — and getting right into the work. It’s about the work, for me, not who I am, which is a deep and humbling practice.
RW: So what are your signs and what can they tell us about who you are?
LM: I’m a Sagittarius with a Scorpio Moon and Gemini Rising. I think that goes a long way toward describing the penetrating nature of my work, the depth I bring to it, which is somehow able to co-exist with this innate sense of pragmatism and efficiency that is contiguous throughout everything I do. It’s a weird way of being in the world, and it’s taken me a long time to value and see those apparent contradictions as gifts.
RW: If someone doesn’t know much about astrology, what would you tell them? Where is a good place to start?
LM: There are a few directions I’d point them in. Online, I think Bob Marks’ astrology lessons are pretty radical for newcomers. Astro.com is one of my go-tos, always. Cafeastrology.com is another handy reference. In print, Robert Cole and Paul Williams’ The Book of Houses is phenomenal for diving right into the experiment of living cosmically. I still think Llewellyn’s Complete Book of Astrology is great. Anything by Steven Forrest.
RW: What are some common misconceptions about astrology?
LM: That astrology is something that happens to us, or that we’re somehow astrological victims. That we can’t use absolutely any transit for our own transformation and liberation. That we don’t have creative control. The truth is, we always have a choice. Part of my work is to show people where those choices lie.
RW: Artist, astrologer and biophiliac - what is it about these three things that you identify with, and why?
LM: I love this question. First and foremost, above and before everything else, I’m an artist. The part of me that compulsively experiments, that is always tinkering, improving, forging new connections, creating and inventing… That’s the artist in me, and it dominates the discourse. Next I’m an astrologer — that’s the piece that’s always seeking out meaning, the synergy and alchemy of transits and aspects, a deeper a sense of purpose. Biophilia is a term used to describe the instinctive bond that connects human beings with other living systems, the state of being attracted to what is most alive and vital. A deep love for being alive. More than anything else, those three aspects of self define my identity.
RW: I’m so excited that you’re launching monthly horoscopes in February! What can we look forward to with this new addition to the Moon + Quartz website?
LM: I’m always looking for ways to make astrology more pragmatic and useful so that anyone can work closely with cosmic energies, even without much astrological knowledge. February’s launch is my latest experiment with a solution, and best of all, it’ll be completely free. You can sign up right here.