“Abuela, what are you about to watch?”
“Come! It’s time for Walter!” She’d reply, in Spanish.
The image of Walter Mercado was a staple in my grandparents’ home, where I spent much of my days while my parents worked. Every day after school I was with them, and I spent all summer there as well. And each and every single one of those days included a few minutes with Walter Mercado. Every afternoon, I’d hear his emanate from the TV set, and my grandmother would immediately run to grab a pen and notepad. Yes, she’d jot down all of Walter’s advice for her Aries soul and the number he’d give for the day—because she’d later go to the bodega to add that number to play the lotto.
As the years went by, the Puerto Rican astrologer’s presence on TV became as important to me as it was to my grandparents—and the other 120 million Latino viewers. Walter Mercado, who first appeared on TV in 1970, but to whom I was introduced in the late ‘80s, was my first encounter with astrology. I’d sit next to my grandmother, patiently waiting to hear him say, “Tauro!,” and pay close attention to whatever prediction awaited me, a Taurus, that day. Walter Mercado shaped how I viewed astrology and knowing my grandparents trusted in his word, it made me believe in the messages that the universe delivers. He helped in instilling a sense of spirituality that I carry with me today.
The iconic astrologer also emphasized the healing power of love. He’d end his segments by saying, “Que reciban de mi siempre paz, mucha paz, pero sobre todo, mucho, mucho amor.” This meant that as you listened to all the predictions he was delivering, remember that above all, he was sending us a lot of peace and love—because while Walter was an astrologer, he was also very much a healer. And this message that he’d sign off with was a reminder to us to do everything, and approach all, with love first and foremost. I have also interpreted it to mean to make sure we could find pieces of peace and love in our daily lives.
Walter Mercado’s presence also allotted me another opportunity to bond with my grandparents. It made them happy to see that I’d found an appreciation for someone they held with such deep regard, despite not knowing him in real life. But it also showed the impact Mercado had. Though for the longest time Walter Mercado was primarily for a Spanish-language audience, he is regarded as one of the biggest astrologers of our time, spending decades on television, becoming a guest on many Spanish- and English-speaking talk shows, and paving the way for today’s famous astrologers.
Though for the longest time Walter Mercado was primarily for a Spanish-language audience, he is regarded as one of the biggest astrologers of our time, spending decades on television, becoming a guest on many Spanish- and English-speaking talk shows, and paving the way for today’s famous astrologers.
I believe Walter Mercado also gave viewers a lesson in not only tolerance, but acceptance, of all of those within our community—and beyond. The way he dressed and expressed himself often sparked conversations around Mercado’s flamboyant ways, which was pivotal. It gave us space to have talks within a community often riddled with toxic masculinity and the belief of what a man should look and act like. He certainly is an LGTBQ+ icon in his own right.
The beloved astrologer left such an imprint on the Latinx community and the world at large that Netflix is now debuting a documentary around Mercado: Mucho Mucho Amor. It will reportedly answer one of the biggest questions surrounding him, which is “Why did Walter Mercado disappear?” Prior to his death in 2019, the astrologer had been out of the limelight for quite some time. We stopped getting our New Year’s Eve predictions and seeing his face every day.
Walter Mercado was a gift until the very end, and continues to be a pillar in the Latinx community. I could only hope that following his passing, my grandmother finally had the opportunity to talk to him about all heavenly and earthly things, over a cup of cafecito.