July 14, 2020

The Chaos Within – Hang in the Balance with Peter Mercury

by joeyphoenix

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“In times of chaos, that’s when magic is possible. Chaos is from the Greek, it’s the primordial force by which all things are created.” – Peter Mercury

Peter Mercury (he/they) is a non-binary aerialist, movement artist, and circus arts performer whose wild and wicked way has brought them to venues around the world. Their work has been featured in notable publications like Glamour Magazine (Germany), i-D Magazine, The Boston Globe, and reviewed by columnist Michael Musto. 

They have a longstanding residency at the notorious House of Yes in Brooklyn, a venue known for its eclectic events and dance parties, were a company mime with American Mime Theatre Company, have toured aerial and burlesque acts in music festivals like Bonnaroo and Electric Forest, and currently find themselves on another adventure somewhere in time and space. 

They join Joey Phoenix on the podcast to talk about following your guiding star, what it’s like to walk in stilts, and how the experience of bending their body into beautiful shapes has given them the opportunities of a lifetime. 


Lindsay Mack’s Tarot for the Wild Soul Podcast

Mentioned in this Podcast

Lindsay Mack
Tarot for the Wild Soul Podcast
House of Yes
i-D Magazine
American Mime Theatre Company
Electric Forest
The Boston Globe
Michael Musto
Saturn Return

Image by Joey Phoenix

About The Chaos Within

Hosted by Joey Phoenix, The Chaos Within is a podcast celebrating the weird, the wild, and the creative – featuring makers, doers, artists, and oddballs exploring the unknown and tapping into their creative energy.

The Chaos Within is produced by Creative Collective and is available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

The Logo was designed by Anton Presents, the intro music is by Paul Senn (psenn@thetau.io) using the Theta-U Creative Circuit System, and the outro music by Chris Wilson Sound using one of Joey’s maternal Grandmother’s haunted music boxes.


Audio Transcript

Joey Phoenix 0:00
Hi everyone, it’s Joey Phoenix, your host. I’m really excited to share this podcast today with you. It was supposed to release it sometime in June, but I decided against it because I needed to, I wanted to, it was my responsibility to sit down and shut up and listen to what the protesters were saying. And so I took a little break in June, and I am back now, you know, to spread and podcast joy to all of you. And in the hopes that I am doing something that’s both intersectional and boosting of BIPOC voices and queer voices and that intersection in the community. My guest today is Peter Mercury. And they are a lovely friend of mine who is non-binary and an artist and a weirdo. And today July 14 is you know, Bastille Day, but it’s also International Non-Binary people’s day.

And I, as you may or may not know, I identify as non binary. And what that means is that I do not believe that my gender fits in a binary. I don’t think that I can be defined by male or female standards. And so I am off the grid when it comes to gender, and that means different things to different people. And you know, if you’re not sure what somebody’s gender is, ask, in fact, never assume that you know someone’s gender. So whenever you meet someone new, ask them what their pronouns are, just to be sure. I personally use they them pronouns, because again, if you he may, or she may, I will like it. But Peter is a lovely human, and I’m excited to share my interview with them today, and it actually surprisingly, keeps its purpose. Well it definitely hits the mark because during this during our interview, we talked about the difficulties of finding nourishment and taking care of our bodies and our brains and dealing with quarantine and the world has started to reopen a little bit, but, I mean, let’s be real, it’s gonna be a long time before we’re actually back to doing things in a way that feels comfortable for most of us.

I also want to give a nod to Lindsey Mack, who is the host of the Tarot for the wild soul podcast and I’ll definitely have that in the show notes. I took her wild soul Tarot class this summer and it opened my eyes to the spiralic journey of the Tarot and I’ve been able to learn a great deal from her works and we do in this podcast mentioned the Tarot and talk about moving from the hanged man to the death card and that is something that exists in Soul Tarot and is very important to me. So I would recommend you going over and listening to her podcast. And you can subscribe to just about anywhere. Yeah, so without further ado, here is a bright young human who has a lot to say. And Happy International non binary people’s day.

The Chaos within, part of Creative Collective presents, is a podcast celebrating the weird, the wild and the creative, featuring makers, doers, artists and oddballs, exploring the unknown and tapping into their creative energy. The intro music is by Paul Senn, and the outro music is by Chris Wilson Sound. In the beginning, there was chaos. I’m your host Joey Phoenix.

Peter Mercury is an aerialist, movement artist and circus arts performer whose wild wicked way has brought them to the news around the world. Their work has been featured Notable publications like Glamour magazine from Germany, I-d magazine, The Boston Globe and reviewed by columnist Michael Musto. They have a long city residency at the notorious House of yes in Brooklyn, a venue known for its eclectic events and dance parties. They were a company mime with American Theatre Company have toured Arial and burlesque acts and music festivals like Bonnaroo, and Electric forest and currently find themselves on another adventure somewhere in time and space. They’re here on the podcast today to talk about following your guiding star, what it’s like to walk in stilts, and how the experience of bending their body to beautiful shapes has given them the opportunities of a lifetime. Welcome, Peter.

Peter Mercury 4:38
Thank you, Joey. I’m so happy to be here.

Joey Phoenix 4:42
I’m delighted to have you here as well. How are you holding up thrilled this? Are you still finding ways to be upside down regularly?

Peter Mercury 4:51
Well, the whole world is really upside down right now, isn’t it? And I’m actually just really finding time to just hang in the balance and I think it’s okay to surrender right now to the unknown. surrender to the chaos that’s really what I’ve been working on. And though I’m not finding as much time to be physically upside down, doing my circus crafts I am relishing in the too much time of being emotionally spiritually upside down. That’s kind of what we’re all experiencing in some way we are we are the Hanged Man card in the Tarot right now. And I think that is I think that is okay. And I’ve really just been surrendering to that and finding the fragments of lessons or beauty that we can find and these upside down times.

Joey Phoenix 5:46
Absolutely. I I love that you bring up Hanged Man energy because I feel like finding a sense of peace and self nourishment when you have very little control over what’s happening is an incredible medicine for our current environment. So I couldn’t I couldn’t agree more. What are the ways that you are nourishing yourself?

Peter Mercury 6:09
I’ve really taken this time to do so much inward reflection, soul searching, and working on some of the spiritual practices or hobbies or just personal growth that I’ve been craving to have the time to do for years, even decades. I feel like I’ve wanted time to work on certain things and then suddenly the universe just forced me into that time so right now I’ve speaking of Tarot, I actually have been working a great deal on my tarot reading. I have been a I’ve had tarot cards since I was like 11 years old. It’s always been a part of my practice way spirituality. But now I feel like I’m finally I’ve been given the opportunity to just To be with with myself and my cards and my intuition and really study them as divination.

I’ve always wanted to practice reading them in this time when it’s when we don’t know anything. I mean, there’s no it’s such a useful time for trying to divine the future because I have absolutely no idea what’s going on. So I always have questions. I’ve been doing other spiritual work and, you know, one of my main goals of this quarantine of this chaos was that I don’t want to tune out I want to tune in. I think it’s really easy to you know, be out of work be out of purpose in many ways of life. The things we usually define ourselves to give us purpose in life or give our lives meaning. I decided I didn’t want to just numb myself to at all I didn’t want to just get into a you know, a television hole or anything. lose myself in the world. No, I wanted to really tune in to tune in as deep as I can to what’s happening in the world what’s happening in my life what’s happening in the universe. So I’ve been, I’ve been doing research on that I’ve been studying astrology and and listening to the lessons of my ancestors are something I’ve never done before. I’ve just been trying to listen to spirit and and allow myself this upside down time to do so.

Joey Phoenix 8:31
Yeah, definitely feels like we are all taking a collective collective breath in right now. And it’s like, for a long time there have been hyper production and like overdoing and like no rest and now we are given the opportunity to rest to breathe and to pull into ourselves.

Peter Mercury 8:51
Yes, absolutely. And, you know, I, I keep a journal almost every single day and I was just looking through my journal that I’ve had for like the past six months and it’s so funny in like December, in January before any of this happened, I was writing about something that I write so often I was writing about how I was so busy and so frustrated and overwhelmed. And honestly, that’s something that I experienced so so, so much. I mean, as a performer in New York City, that’s my full time career. So I’m I’m hustling so much, I mean, every single week, I have to create new content, I have to create a new aerial act and new ground, new costumes, a new collaboration, working this choreography building this new show, I mean, I feel like every week I have like 17 different projects that I have to accomplish. And then then that I accomplish them on to the next week, more and it’s like, Whoa, my gosh, do I never get a break.

And I was writing about how I just need a break. I need a vacation. I need a time away from having to create content every year. single moment of every day or so it feels so this has been like this strange manifestation of that, you know, I really, I, I’m appreciating the fact that I don’t have to hustle to create content, I don’t have to keep up with the industry, I don’t have to do any I don’t have to. There’s no way for me to make my money so I don’t have to make more content to make money right now. So what I can do is use the time to focus on the creative endeavors that My heart wants to do. You know, I don’t have to create a new Act for that gig this weekend that’s going to pay my bills. But I do get to focus on writing something that I want to write or reading something I want to read. So I’m finding plenty of creative endeavors, creative outlets, and creative projects, and it’s really refreshing to not have them be with any pressure whatsoever in fact, you know, it’s funny about pressure. I feel like more can be done. When I don’t have pressure. I feel like I’m working more because I have no deadlines than I would be if I if I had a deadline tomorrow, you know, so this is the truth.

Joey Phoenix 11:19
I am a restless, busy bee myself and like I, I tend to like look at free time and be like, Alright, what can I do to fill this space and I’ve always struggled deeply with like being still and finding stillness and I hear like you have always been like one of the people that was going going going in like involved with 9000 different projects like learning experiencing. And here like even in your restful times, you’re still active. How I suppose how has like this pivoting time like challenged you? Like, what are the things you learned about yourself through this and like, I guess the when the world reopens, again, how we’ll be able to bring the thing That you’ve taught in this to your future

Peter Mercury 12:03
just about when all this really started March 21. So the equinox this past this past spring is the day that Saturn entered Aquarius. So that is the actual start of my very first Saturn return. So I’m turning 29 in two weeks at the end of May I so I just started my Saturn return I’ve been thinking about this a lot because um you know, your Saturn return is supposed to be this this time of like great reckoning and, and sometimes great change and it’s when you really consider the the path that your life has been on. You have to ask yourself, have I been working towards my goals? Am I happy with what I’ve been doing? Do I Do I want to I really want what I think I want to I really want what I’ve been working towards, how is my life going To be different in my neck in this next, you know, 28/29 year cycle, where do I want to go from here and it’s interesting time to be experiencing this great cosmic reckoning because it’s like the whole world is experiencing amazing reckoning.

The whole world is in this sort of figurative Saturn return. So, for me, it’s really crazy that I’m diving into that so deeply right now and at this time, but it is a it’s really amazing, and it’s useful, and I’m grateful for it. So, so I’m taking this time not only again, this time, cosmically and globally, to really ask myself these questions of like, what do I need to learn right now? And what is it that I want to do and what kind of future do I want to have for myself and for the world? And it’s so hard right now. to even think about the future. I mean, I don’t even know what next week is gonna To be like, last year or five years or 20 years, like like every future that was promised to us since our childhood, it simply is no longer. And we’ve been, we’ve seen this slowly crumbling for at least the past five plus years. I mean, I feel like I’ve been watching the reality that has been built around us start to glitch and dissipate and and who knew it would all kind of really come to a head. So soon, we have to accept that nothing will ever be the same again. So that just means I have absolutely no idea what the future holds. But that isn’t such an exciting thought for Tim. So to me, I believe that while it’s really easy to imagine the worst case scenario that could come out of all this well, if it’s That easy to imagine the negative, then it must be equally easy to imagine the opposite the positives. So I think this is the time that I’m using, and I hope others use to dream as wildly as you absolutely can. Am I in my wildest dreams for the future?

This is a catalyst for solving climate change, and creating a more unified, global connected world. And maybe this is how we fix all the social problems is what wakens us up to all of the issues, financial, social, I mean, everything every all the issues that we’re facing as a society. Maybe this allows us to, to fix those and come out in such a better way and I’m choosing to have that vision for the future. For myself. I don’t exactly know yet. I feel like I am on this sort of Campbellian Hero’s Journey right now, and I still have to pull the sword out of the stone I still have to find what the lesson is that is that I need to bring back to the ordinary world and bring back to the people what? What can what will be useful for people to know. And for me to know and how is this going to change my life, and I’m just working on making my dreams as big and bright and beautiful and, and preposterous as I can. Now’s the time to imagine the impossible, because it just might be possible.

Joey Phoenix 16:41
I really love that. And I think it’s very back to Tarot practice of reading from the Hanged Man or the hanged one into the death card. the death card is not about death. It’s about transformation. I think we definitely are at an inflection point globally right now where we can decide for ourselves, do we believe the future can be better than we are now? Or do we believe that we’re doomed? And I think like, for each person that said that for themselves like hearing you say, I believe for myself, we’re at an opportunity I have an opportunity for greater experience is really incredible for me to hear and I’m encouraged by the way you talk about that.

Peter Mercury 17:22
It’s in times of chaos is when magic is possible. I mean, chaos that’s that is the, the from the Greek it’s the the like primordial force from which all life all energy, all everything is created. So, you know, I think it’s, it’s so interesting. Chaos is a is in the title of your podcast, because I think that chaos is just the most the most magical energy and the most magical space. All we can do is surrender to it. I know we can’t really control chaos, but you can surrender to it. And if you allow yourself to go without flow, I think it will. You can land on your feet, you can you can even land in Paradise, as in some ways I have, they say it’s like when you’re in a car crash or when you slip on ice and you try to save yourself, you brace your whole body. That’s when you get injured is from bracing. So I’m trying to control the chaos. But if you but if you really surrendered to it, if you if you just let your body bounce through the chaos, then you’ll come out with less injuries. So that’s really what I’m trying to do.

And with the Hanged Man, the death card, these energies are really these concepts and things that I’ve been thinking a lot about and working with. As you said before, I think it is necessary to like the Hanged Man to find some peace and serenity. in this situation and just take the opportunity to look at it from a different angle. And the death part of that is, you know what? We cannot escape that no king North has until escaped death, neither will our society neither will our way of being that we’ve known for the past, you know, several hundred years or whatever. This is really coming. This is coming to a head when we felt that, and it’s funny before this, I really feel I felt such a nihilistic view for the future. I I’ve been thinking deeply about climate change. My whole life, really, especially for the past few years, I’ve had this sort of like, complete nihilistic experience. I’ve and I’ve really just been thinking like, well, the world’s gonna end and I’m doing everything I can in my daily life to to be better environmentally, but I am The world’s gonna end there’s no one’s changing, and there’s nothing we can do about it. So I’ve had that vision for the future. Until now, I this threw me upside down and looked at the apocalypse in a different way. And I realized, when actually faced with a mini Apocalypse, I realized they don’t have that nihilistic vision anymore. And I do believe that we have the ability to change and we have the ability to fix our worlds. And we can live it doesn’t have to be a cyberpunk dystopia that we’ve been dreaming. We can live in a utopia and eco topia, readers have to create it, and now’s our chance to notice that wake up to it and take some action.

Joey Phoenix 20:48
Absolutely. Thank you so much for sharing your truth and being vulnerable to talk about the things that move you these well, where we are right now. Where can people find out more about you and the work that you do?

Peter Mercury 21:07
Thanks for asking. So I think my, my, my, my best avenue/online experience my work and my, my worldview is probably through my Instagram. My handle is Peter x mercury. And that’s where I showcase a lot of the a lot of images from my aerial Ember last performances from various events that they perform and the work that I’m creating. And it is a little it’s a little it’s a little empty right now. It’s a little on pause right now, I haven’t posted much during this period because not performing much, but that’s okay. I think it’s a very A appreciated break. But yeah, follow me on Instagram he directs mercury. That’s where I’ll be. That’s what I hope I hope to get back to sharing my work, my art, and the my experiences through that avenue as we go forward.

Joey Phoenix 22:20
The Chaos Within is produced by Creative Collective. Creative Collective connects creativity, community and commerce across the Northshore as a collective of creative professionals, small businesses, organizations, and individuals. They coordinate a series of events, traditional and non traditional marketing initiatives, resources and best practices to define why creativity matters in all aspects.

In the beginning, there was chaos. Then you make it yours.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai