ANDldquo; Abuela, what are you about to watch? “
“Come! It’s time for Walter!” She would reply, in Spanish.
Walter Mercado’s image was a landmark in my grandparents’ house, where he spent most of my days while my parents worked. Every day, after school, I stayed with them and also spent all summer there. And each of those days included a few minutes with Walter Mercado. Every afternoon, I heard his emanate from the TV, and my grandmother immediately ran to get a pen and notepad. Yes, she would write down all of Walter’s advice for his Aries soul and the number he would give that day – because later on she would go to the bodega to add that number to play the lottery.
Over the years, the presence of the Puerto Rican astrologer on TV has become as important to me as it is to my grandparents – and others 120 million Latin viewers. Walter Mercado, who first appeared on TV in 1970, but to whom I was introduced in the late 1980s, was my first encounter with astrology. I sat next to my grandmother, waiting patiently to hear him say, “Tauro!” And I paid close attention to any prediction that awaited me, a Taurus, that day. Walter Mercado shaped the way I saw astrology and knowing that my grandparents trusted his word, made me believe in the messages that the universe conveys. It helped to instill a sense of spirituality that I carry with me today.
The iconic astrologer also emphasized the healing power of love. He ended his segments by saying: “Que reciban de mi siempre paz, mucha paz, pero sobre tudo, mucho, mucho amor”. This means that, listening to all the predictions he made, remember that, above all, he was sending us a lot of peace and love – because although Walter was an astrologer, he was also a healer. And this message that he signed was a reminder for us to do everything, and approach everything, with love in the first place. I also interpreted this as a way of ensuring that we could find pieces of peace and love in our daily lives.
Walter Mercado’s presence also gave me another opportunity to relate to my grandparents. They were happy to see that I appreciated someone they had so much respect for, even though I didn’t know him in real life. But it also showed the impact that the Market had. Although for a long time Walter Mercado was mainly aimed at the Spanish-speaking audience, he is considered one of the greatest astrologers of our time, spending decades on television, becoming a guest on many Spanish and English talk shows and paving the way for today’s famous astrologers.
Although for a long time Walter Mercado was mainly aimed at the Spanish-speaking audience, he is considered one of the greatest astrologers of our time, spending decades on television, becoming a guest on many Spanish and English talk shows and paving the way for today’s famous astrologers.
I believe that Walter Mercado also gave viewers a lesson not only in tolerance, but acceptance of all those within our community – and beyond. The way he dressed and expressed himself often generated conversations about the extravagant ways of Mercado, which was key. This gave us space to have conversations within a community often riddled with toxic masculinity and the belief in how a man should look and act. It is certainly an LGTBQ + icon in its own right.
The beloved astrologer has left such a strong mark on the Latinx community and the world at large that Netflix is now releasing a documentary on the Market: Mucho Mucho Amor. He is supposed to answer one of the biggest questions around him, which is “Why did Walter Mercado disappear?” Before his death in 2019, the astrologer had been out of the spotlight for some time. We stopped receiving our predictions for the New Year and seeing his face every day.
Walter Mercado was a gift to the end and remains a pillar of the Latinx community. I could only hope that, after his death, my grandmother would finally have the opportunity to talk to him about all things heavenly and earthly, over a cup of coffee.