Mercury Retrograde in Virgo & Leo

Iris

Iris

The quieter we are, the more patient and open we are in our sadnesses, the more deeply and serenely the new presence can enter us, and the more we can make it our own, the more it becomes our fate; and later on, when it “happens” (that is, steps forth out of us to other people), we will feel related and close to it in our innermost being. And that is necessary. It is necessary – and toward this point our development will move, little by little – that nothing alien happen to us, but only what has long been our own. People have already had to rethink so many concepts of motion; and they will also gradually come to realize that what we call fate does not come into us from the outside, but emerges from us. It is only because so many people have not absorbed and transformed their fates while they were living in them that they have not realized what was emerging from them; it was so alien to them that, in their confusion and fear, they thought it must have entered them at the very moment they became aware of it, for they swore they had never before found anything like that inside them. Just as people for a long time had a wrong idea about the sun’s motion, they are even now wrong about the motion of what is to come. The future stands still, dear Mr. Kappus, but we move in infinite space.

— Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Mercury Retrograde in Virgo

In times of destiny, when the threads of fate become loosened to be rewoven within momentous change, we can count on Mercury to slyly guide us in beguiling fashion.  Though Mercury when retrograde has become a scapegoat within popular culture, experience reveals that the Star of Hermes when retrograde enacts its namesake’s role of a psychopomp, or guide of souls.  Even the most frustrating or upsetting events that occur during times of Mercury retrograde ultimately tend to lead us onto a path that will take us into the experiences we need in order to reach our next level of growth.

Thus it is fitting that in between eclipses, periods of time that always signify vital turns of fortune and fate, Mercury will station retrograde and disappear into the invisible realm of the solar underworld at sunset.  While Mercury is retrograde we will experience a Total Solar Eclipse, both the Sun and Mars uniting with the North Node of the Moon, Saturn stationing direct, and Jupiter finally perfecting its long anticipated sextile with Saturn.  Factor in that Mercury begins its retrograde while opposite Neptune and ends its retrograde conjoining Mars at the same degree as the Total Solar Eclipse, while a Pisces Moon waxes full in union with Neptune, and we have an incredibly volatile and fertile mix of astrological transits that promise to bring dramatic changes and opportunities for profound growth.

Even though popular discourse labels periods of Mercury retrograde as disastrous aberrations that bring misfortunes and mishaps, the phase of Mercury retrograde is a regular cyclical phenomenon that happens at least three times every year, an essential aspect of Mercury’s orbit.  Unlike the astrological stereotypes, important actions can be initiated during Mercury retrograde as well as successful contracts signed.  However, during Mercury retrograde it is advisable to sustain mental alertness and be open to signs, symbols, and information in your environment that can help guide your intuition toward which actions to take or commitments to make.

Mercury retrograde is intrinsic to Mercury in astrology, a planetary archetype of contesting and contrasting.  While Mercury signifies insight in addition to communication, the lessons of Mercury do not always come from stability, as experience shows that chaos and disorientation can lead to illumination and realization.  Once Mercury moves retrograde it descends from being a visible Evening Star into an invisible, subterranean guide of soul catalyzing change and growth in situations that range widely from the maddening to the vivifying.  Flowing with Mercury retrograde involves letting go of strict control, opening to the wisdom coming from unexpected sources.   As the changeable nature of Mercury is found in its extremely variable speed, when Mercury slows down to station it is important to pay attention to its aspects in the natal chart as well as to other planets by transit.

This is the second year in a row that we are experiencing Mercury stationing retrograde in Virgo during a time of eclipses, as last year in 2016 Mercury stationed retrograde in Virgo two days before an Annular Solar Eclipse.  This year’s version has a more mysterious opening act, however, due to it occurring in between eclipses rather than just before the beginning of eclipse season.  The days in between eclipses are always full of unexpected shifts and significant encounters, and so adding in the beginning of Mercury retrograde will amplify the strange fatefulness of the time.

Iris as Mercury and Vesta

Mercury stations retrograde while united with Vesta in Virgo and opposing Neptune in Pisces.  During the build-up to Mercury retrograde, which included the Lunar Eclipse in Aquarius, Mercury formed two exact conjunctions with Vesta (Mercury has been within three degrees of Vesta in Virgo since July 26).   A figure of myth who encapsulates the symbolism of Mercury united with Vesta in opposition to Neptune is Iris, handmaiden of Hera (Juno) and messenger to the gods.  Like Hermes, Iris also carries a caduceus, yet the other magical tool she carries, the water pitcher, helps show how her function as messenger differs from Hermes.  Golden-winged and radiant, Iris is a goddess of sea and sky who connects heaven and earth, watering the clouds with her water pitcher full of the enlivening waters she collects from the sea.  She therefore helps produce the rain that brings fertility and cleansing to our Earth, yet she is perhaps most known for her association with the rainbow she also creates.  Iris is as swift as stormy winds, able to descend into the depths of both the ocean as well as the underworld.  Similar to Hermes, Iris connects the world of gods with the world of humanity.

The union of Mercury with Vesta in opposition to Neptune signifies that through devotional focus we may perceive powerful messages and guidance, while at the same time suggesting a downfall could occur when engaged with deception.  One of the mediating roles that Iris plays between humanity and the gods is through facilitating the fulfillment of the prayers and wishes of humans by illuminating them to deities in position of assistance.  Indeed, the golden wings of Iris are capable of bringing light to the most dark of places.  Yet, for those who break oaths or knowingly express falsehoods, Iris will put them to sleep with the water she has collected from the River Styx in the underworld.   Similarly, with Neptune in Pisces playing a monumental role during the period of Mercury retrograde, it will be vital to maintain focus on being honest and authentic so as not to fall into the realm of Neptunian illusion that will be capable of wreaking havoc like a tidal wave.

The association between Iris with rainbows is a beautiful symbol to work with during the upcoming Mercury retrograde that will take us into the zone of an immensely powerful Total Solar Eclipse.   Rainbows not only link heaven and earth with their transcendent and otherworldly colors, they also help to inspire hope and the capacity to believe it is possible for us to lead a more fulfilling life than current circumstances indicate.  It is further fascinating that in some versions of myth that Iris is married to Zephyrus, the west wind, and that their union gave birth to Pothos, one of the winged gods of love (the erotes) whose name translates as “yearning” and is associated with strong desire and longing for a loved one who is oftentimes absent.  It will be important to stay grounded in our earthly realm (Virgo) with clear focus (Vesta) during this Mercury retrograde period, and yet at the same time to fully realize the available gifts we will need to allow our imaginations and desires to open us to potentials that go beyond the confines of our present reality (Neptune).

Chagall the apparition.jpg

The Apparition (1917) by Marc Chagall

Mercury opposes Neptune

The union of Mercury and Vesta in Virgo in opposition to Neptune dominates the beginning of this Mercury retrograde period, with Venus in Cancer playing a facilitating role.  As Mercury stations retrograde, Venus is separating from harmonious aspects with both Neptune and Mercury (a trine with Neptune; a sextile with Mercury), as well as separating from a recent conjunction with Ceres in Cancer.  During the retrograde movement of Mercury, Venus will move on to catalytic aspects with Pluto in Capricorn, Jupiter in Libra,  and Uranus in Aries.  The influence of Uranus is further strengthened by the Moon applying to a conjunction with Uranus as Mercury stations retrograde, as well as the fact that Mercury will ultimately station direct in a helpful trine with Uranus.  However, since Mercury will also station direct less than a day before a Full Moon in Pisces that is united with Neptune, there is an unmistakeable looming influence of Neptune upon the course of events that will accompany this period of Mercury retrograde.

While the totality of the aspects listed above could coincide with many diverse forms of challenge, all of them are amazing catalysts in the realm of artistry and inspiration.  Mercury has incredible strength in Virgo, being both its home and exaltation, and so as Mercury slowly begins to peel itself backwards it can help facilitate deep focus on artistic and academic projects of all mediums and forms, especially those that involve a component of research and analysis followed by expression.  Nine days after Mercury stations retrograde we will experience a Total Solar Eclipse in which Mercury will function more as a subtle guiding influence than a dominant component of the  portal opened with the syzygy.  During powerful eclipse alignments like we will experience this month, new manifestations will appear in our lives coinciding with other elements fading away.  It is a blessing Mercury is retrograde in Virgo, as it is a mutable earth sign that can aid us in staying connected within our bodies and all of the mutating details of our daily lives.

With the strong transpersonal influences of Neptune, as well as Uranus and Pluto, upon the Mercury retrograde, the capacity of Mercury to bring nonlinear and unexpected messages from oracular sources is heightened.  Pay close attention to the messages received from synchronous alignments of your daily path with animals, plants, minerals, music, and all manner of symbolic signs.  Allow your intuition and bodily instincts to transmit impressions that you value at least as much as whatever your rational mind is constructing.  It may prove very difficult to keep events moving in accord with carefully made plans, however opening up plans and projects to the flow and all of the changes that will coincide with the month ahead can improve end results.  Oftentimes the frustrating experiences of Mercury retrograde illuminate the exact components of life that needed our attention in order to be reworked or strengthened.

the-creation-of-man-1958-1

The Creation of Man (1958) by Marc Chagall

Mercury in the Heart of the Sun

The rebirth moment for Mercury during its retrograde comes on August 26 when Mercury aligns with the Sun at the exact degree and minute.  This is known as Mercury’s cazimi moment in which it enters the heart of the Sun to be purified and regenerated.  In contrast to the Mercury cazimi that occurs when Mercury is moving direct on the other side of the Sun from our orbital position (known as its superior conjunction that last happened at the Cancer Solstice), the inferior conjunction of Mercury with the Sun occurs during its retrograde when Mercury passes in between our orbit with the Sun.  Symbolically, the superior conjunction tends to bring more spiritual epiphanies or sudden insights weaving disparate strands together, whereas Mercury at the heart of the Sun during its retrograde tends to bring a deeper, penetrating insight into the current reality of our material lives and the pang of incarnation in our earthly flesh.  In the days surrounding August 26 we may feel like resting our Mercurial functions as a part of its regeneration, however, the period of time in which Mercury is within a degree of the Sun on August 26 will bring added strength and power to all Mercurial activities such as all forms of research and expression.

Mercury will enter the heart of the Sun at 3º48′ of Virgo, an incredibly powerful placement of Mercury.  The fourth degree of Virgo is in both the home and exaltation of Mercury as well as within its own Egyptian bounds, signifying that this a section of the zodiac in which Mercury not only has important work to do but also has extraordinary strength.  The Sabian symbol for the fourth degree of Virgo, black and white children play together happily, was interpreted by Dane Rudhyar as signifying “the overcoming of socio-cultural prejudices.”  Though it may seem laughable during a time of such widespread vitriolic discourse in global politics full of prejudice that any sort of collective evolution could be occurring around oppression and prejudice, it is worth bearing in mind the play space of children in which the influence of cultural conditioning has not yet taken hold.  The Sabian symbol for the degree of Mercury cazimi suggests perceptions can awaken that go far beyond the constraints and limitations of how we have been conditioned by surrounding culture to perceive and judge the worth of others.   The idea of playing together happily also highlights the theme of imbibing daily life with as much playful creativity as possible during this time of tumultuous astrological transits.

Mercury will enter the heart of the Sun five days after the Total Solar Eclipse in Leo and one day after Saturn stations direct for the final time in Sagittarius.  At the same time Saturn is stationing, Jupiter will have entered the third decan of Libra it rules and will be applying closely to a last quarter sextile with Saturn.  As a result the period of Mercury entering the heart of the Sun on August 26 is a potent moment to re-center amidst all of the changes being brought forth from external and internal events.  Saturn stationing brings a seriousness to the moment that calls for us to walk and talk in absolute integrity with our inner values and principles, while the harmonious aspect between Jupiter and Saturn can bring opportunities to stabilize and strengthen both the vision as well as the foundation of whatever we are developing and crafting.

Iris_Carrying_the_Water_of_the_River_Styx_to_Olympus_for_the_Gods_to_Swear_By,_Guy_Head,_c._1793_-_Nelson-Atkins_Museum_of_Art_-_DSC08946

Iris Carrying the Water of the River Styx to Olympus for the Gods to Swear By (1793) by Guy Head

Mercury Stations Direct in Leo

Mercury stations direct on September 5 at the same degree as the Total Solar Eclipse in Leo.  Mars will have already entered Virgo by the time Mercury is exactly stationing, but during the course of its stationing Mercury and Mars will unite at the end of Leo.  Both the Sun as well as Mars will have united with the North Node of the Moon in Leo during Mercury’s retrograde, and Mercury will furthermore be stationing direct four degrees away from the North Node of the Moon.  At this point we can receive a important message that connects us directly with however the narratives of our lives has been transmuting during this period of eclipses, and with the new information will come opportunities to create movement within whatever openings came through with the eclipses.  Mercury uniting with Mars while it is stationing can coincide with some heated and difficult conflicts, so it will be important to be actively practicing mediating skills in conversations with others.  There is immense inspirational fire available in this period to push yourself forward dramatically in areas of growth you previously have not fully embraced.

The influence of Neptune looms over the stationing direct of Mercury, since the Moon will be applying to a conjunction with Neptune and within a day of its stationing we will experience a potent Full Moon in Pisces united with Neptune.   Amping up the energy even further is the fact that Jupiter in Libra will be getting closer to its final opposition with Uranus in Aries.   The opposition between Jupiter and Uranus is a breakthrough moment in which many diverse, ingenious insights and messages will enter the collective.  Some of the most powerful moments of the Jupiter and Uranus cycle, however, often come in the private moments of significant conversations and relationship experiences, or the work of isolated artists creating outside the rays of mainstream spotlights.  There is amazing inspiration and imagination available within the surrounding transits of Mercury stationing direct to seize and work with.

Finally, its interesting to note that Mercury will be stationing direct while in conjunction with the Persephone asteroid #399.  The myth of Persephone emerging out of her time in the underworld is a fitting symbol for the fact that both Mercury and Mars will be emerging from out of their underworld experiences while united with the Persephone asteroid.  Demetra George wrote the following about the Persephone asteroid in her book Finding Our Way Through the Dark:

In the birth chart Persephone, as a daughter of the patriarchy, symbolizes the process of a child’s separation from its mother.  Persephone can indicate how and where, either physically or psychologically, we may be abducted and plunged into an underworld experience (sometimes at an early age) where we encounter terror, loss, and confusion, and feelings of abandonment. This descent can enable us to develop a relationship with the hidden forces in our unconscious, activate our psychic abilities, release the past, discover a new sense of our adult self and strengths, and emerge transformed and renewed.  Some individuals who experience Persephone as a tragedy from which they have never recovered may react by developing patterns of distrust, withdrawal, fear of sexuality and intimacy, fantasy life, depression, chemical addictions, separation anxieties, victimizaiton, passivity and powerlessness, and being acted upon by the strong will of others.

–Demetra George

Persephone’s name means “she who is to be feared” (Guttman, p.176), and it is possible to view her abduction into the underworld as more about her destiny than a tragedy, for the unalterable shift she created in the cosmos through becoming a life partner of Hades who would descend and ascend back and forth between the upperworld and the underworld, was a calling that fit the unique gifts she held within her soul.  Roberto Calasso in The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony wrote that Persephone stepping into her role as Queen of the underworld who can re-ascend to the world above implied that the “invisible would now reassert its rights over the body of the visible more strictly than before: their dealings with each other, long diluted and mingled together on earth, would find a new center of gravity.”   Persephone, Mercury, and Mars united at the end of this retrograde signify that the time has arrived to collect all of the wisdom and courage you can draw from the past period of underworld experiences in order to re-ascend into our wider communities with whatever gift or message you have cultivated to share.  Like Iris soaring with golden wings and bearing a pitcher full of underworld water, we can create rainbows out of the stormy atmosphere and commit ourselves to oaths of living and creating in accordance with our essence in good ways for all.

References

 

Calasso, R. (1993). The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony.  Knopf.

George, D. (1994). Finding Our Way Through the Dark:  an astrological companion to Mysteries of the Dark Moon. AFA.

Guttman, A. & Johnson, K. (1993). Mythic Astrology:  Archetypal Powers in the Horoscope.

Rudhyar, Dane. (1974). An Astrological Mandala: the cycle of transformations and its 360 symbolic phases. Vintage.

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Mercury Retrograde in Taurus & Aries

Fingal_s_Cave,_Island_of_Staffa,_Scotland_by_Thomas_Moran,_1884-5,_High_Museum_of_Art

Fingal’s Cave, Island of Staffa, Scotland (1884) by Thomas Moran

Mercury Retrograde

For one throb of the artery,
While on that old grey stone I sat
Under the old wind-broken tree,
I knew that One is animate,
Mankind inanimate phantasy.
— W.B. Yeats, A Meditation in Time of War

In the cool air of twilight as the Sun descends below the horizon, Mercury begins its journey into the underworld as a retrograde planet.  While changing into the role of a psychopomp as fluidly as vespertine colors transfigure into the darkness of nightfall, Mercury retrograde opens us to a liminal perceptual space which offers guidance in between life transitions and the crossing of thresholds.  Mercury delights in the part of a cunning guide of soul during its retrograde phase, beguiling all with unforeseen twists best handled with intuitive receptivity to direction.  On April 9 Mercury will begin its retrograde within the earthy home of Venus, a twenty four day passage that will take it back into the fiery home of Mars where it will hold lengthy counsel with Uranus.  As Mercury will station retrograde less than a week before the current Venus retrograde ends with Venus stationing direct, there is an incredibly volatile atmosphere at the beginning of Mercury’s retrograde which will require constant focus on recalibrating the connection between our perceptions and translation of meaning.

Within the rulebook of astrology, Mercury refuses to be caged in by categorizations of gender or preference for day or night.  However, since Mercury begins its retrograde period as an Evening Star, it finds accord stationing in Taurus since the nocturnal sign of the Bull is both the exaltation of the Moon and the domicile of Venus.  Mercury stationing retrograde in the inwardly receptive sign of Venus will lead us to find meaning through our subjective sensual faculties as we will be drawn into our corporeal senses and instincts.  Fittingly, Hermes in myth is bound to the fertility and life force of nature, a seductive mediator who reveals the spiritual found in the profane and the profane that may be discovered in the spiritual.

Mercury caduceus by Bradley

Mercury caduceus glyph by Bradley Naragon

Hermes was born in a cave, a fitting origin to his destiny as subterranean caves were the temples of our ancestors where Spirit was received in the flesh.  In the instinctual sign of Taurus our Mercurial capacities turn within so that our diverse senses take precedence over rational analysis.  Similar to how Mercury in alchemy conjoins the animating spirit with its earthy body, the full bodily perception available with Mercury in Taurus brings nonverbal insight into the world-creating spirit concealed in material forms.  Along these lines it is fascinating that Taurus is the heliocentric South Node of Mercury, for Mercury does not move at a fast pace in Taurus but rather sustains a slowly churning rhythm grounded into the sensuality of the moment.  The plodding, patient, and thorough movement of Mercury in Taurus also helps bring awareness to practical considerations and focus on developing and nurturing work and relationships toward their full potential.

In popular astrology there are many warnings to not start businesses, sign contracts, make important purchases, initiate relationships, or basically make any major life decisions while Mercury is retrograde.  It has also become common parlance even among those with minimal astrological understanding to not only complain about Mercury being retrograde, but to blame all technological mishaps and communication breakdowns on the phenomenon of Mercury appearing to move backward through our zodiac.  However, Mercury being retrograde is not a cursed anomaly but rather an essential aspect of Mercury, as essential as sunset is to sunrise.  Very successful businesses, contracts, and relationships of all sorts can begin during Mercury retrograde, but it is more important than normal to pay attention to our intuition with regards to the choices we make and the ventures we begin.

During Mercury retrograde the orbit of Mercury comes in between our Earth and our Sun, bringing Mercury as close to us as it ever gets.  In the resulting amplified atmosphere of Mercury, it is vital to maintain keen awareness into the synchronous interplay between sights, sounds, and other senses within our environment.  It is further paramount during Mercury retrograde to pay attention to gut instincts and the symbolic meaning of omens and other oracular messages that cross our path whether from our nightly dreams or daily travels.  Our inner life will need tending especially during the first week of the Mercury retrograde in Taurus, as Mercury will be ruled by a Venus that is also retrograde but in the process of stationing direct.  Since Venus is in her exaltation of Pisces while simultaneously forming a catalytic relationship with Saturn, our sensual perceptions will receive sharp and potent messages and we will need to navigate an inner sea of emotions that can become turbulent at times.

great work le triomphe hermetique

from Alexandre Toussaint de Limojon de Saint-Didier’s Le Triomphe Hermetique (1689)

Mercury rules the first face of Taurus where it stations retrograde, giving Mercury greater natural aptitude to do its work of interpreting and communicating meaning.  The astrologer Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces noted that the Mercurial first face of Taurus holds resonance with the thorough and patient planning necessary to develop future harvests.  Mercury is under the full influence of Venus at the beginning of its journey as it is in both the home and the bounds of Venus, with Venus at a standstill in her exaltation of Pisces.  The fact that Mercury initially moves retrograde ruled by Venus retrograde, with Venus forming a conjunction with Chiron and a square with Saturn, cannot be overlooked or downplayed.  It will be necessary during the initial movement of Mercury retrograde to face the truth of our external reality as well as our full interior realm of feelings without denial.  Whatever needs nurturing, adjustment, alteration, or rebalancing will be revealed if we are paying attention, and with the gained awareness we can begin to modify our decision making and development of goals.

Since Mercury is also stationing in the exaltation of the Moon and close to the specific exaltation degree of the Moon, it is compelling that its retrograde begins with a waxing gibbous Moon on its way toward a conjunction with Jupiter in Libra and an especially dynamic Full Moon in Libra the following day.  Not only will the Full Moon at the beginning of Mercury’s underworld journey be conjoining Jupiter, but the Sun will also be united with Uranus while the Full Moon itself forms a challenging square to Pluto in Capricorn.  In short it will be impossible to miss the messages Mercury intends to send at the beginning of its retrograde, as significant illumination will show up in both collective and personal events revealing what was previously hidden or unclear.

As Mercury will move all the way back into Aries where it will eventually station in conjunction with Uranus, the fact Mercury retrograde begins with a Full Moon that connects both the opposition between Uranus and Jupiter as well as the square between Uranus and Pluto is pivotal.  Jupiter at the time of the Mercury retrograde is volatilizing the square between Uranus and Pluto, having recently moved away from an exact opposition with Uranus to form an exact square with Pluto.  As a result it’s not so much that unexpected developments are going to be appearing out of nowhere during the first phase of the Mercury retrograde, more that a fresh perspective can be revealed toward storylines that have been developing over time.  Mercury in its psychopomp role can provide the guidance needed to discern our next step if we are paying attention, helping us find our place within the tumultuous shattering and shifting of collective structures occurring all around the world.

The Mercury retrograde in Taurus also serves as a finale for the transit of the lunar nodes through Pisces and Virgo, with Mercury serving as the ruler of the transiting North Node of the Moon.  Mercury will station in range of a trine to the North Node of the Moon in Virgo, and when Mercury unites with the Sun at the heart of its retrograde it will also be closely trine to the North Node of the Moon.  After Mercury stations direct on May 3, the true nodes of the Moon will shift into the South Node of the Moon in Aquarius and the North Node of the Moon in Leo on May 9.  The lunar nodes have been in Pisces and Virgo since 12 November 2015 (true node calculation), a time period that has lived up to the mutable sign significations of immense change, endings, and transitions.  While its possible that the Mercury retrograde will coincide with circumstances bringing up a review or reflection upon the life changes that have occurred since November 2015, it is also likely that opportunities and boons will present themselves enabling us to integrate final lessons and make new choices resolving our experience with the Virgo North Node.

marlene-seven-roasting-cinnabar

Roasting Cinnabar (2017) by Marlene Seven Bremner

Mercury in the Heart of the Sun

That Light who’s smile kindles the universe,
That Beauty in which all things work and move,
That Benediction which the eclipsing Curse
Of birth can quench not, that sustaining Love
Which, through the web of being blindly wove
By man and beast and earth and air and sea,
Burns bright or dim, as each are mirrors of
The fire for which all thirst, now beams on me,
Consuming the last clouds of cold mortality.

— Percy Bysshe Shelley, from Adonaïs: An Elegy on the Death of John Keats

Mercury enters the heart of the Sun on April 19 or 20, depending upon your location, the moment in which Mercury unites with the Sun at the exact degree of the zodiac.  When Mercury retrograde unites with the Sun, labeled its inferior conjunction by astrological texts, Mercury is aligned with our Earth in between our orbit with the Sun, as close as Mercury ever gets to us.  This moment is experienced as a rebirth of the Mercury archetype within our lives, and at the time of its union with the Sun, Mercury is said to be in its seat of power, like an empowered Hermes taking a turn behind the reigns of our solar chariot.

Venus in Pisces rules the union between Mercury retrograde with our Sun, and significantly at the time of their union Venus will have recently stationed direct and will be applying tightly to her final square with Saturn in Sagittarius.  There is a fascinating relationship between Mercury being cazimi (at the heart of the Sun) and the Venus retrograde of 2017 for the Venus retrograde began with Mercury cazimi in Pisces while direct, meaning that Mercury was on the other side of the Sun from us.  As Venus begins to move direct again as a Morning Star, we once again experience a regeneration of Mercury, this time with Mercury close to us in orbit.  The harmonious relationship between Taurus and Pisces is part of the reason why Venus is considered to be exalted in Pisces, as their relationship supports staying true to one’s inner values while dissolving blockages in support of making the needed alterations to manifest inner visions.

The sabian symbol for the first degree of Taurus where Mercury’s inferior conjunction occurs is “A CLEAR MOUNTAIN STREAM” with the keynote of The pure, uncontaminated and spontaneous manifestation of one’s own nature according to Dane Rudhyar.  The union of Mercury and the Sun being ruled by Venus in a tight square with Saturn may make it difficult to picture spontaneous manifestation if you hold certain astrological dogma in mind, however in truth there is no reason that spontaneous authenticity cannot arise in response to the cold necessity of Saturn.  Mercury is being purified within our central light of Spirit fire at the same time Venus in her exaltation degree is calling us to take accountability and integrity into expression of our deepest love.  Within clear boundaries of structure, instead of feeling repressed or hemmed in there can arise an improvisational display of our primal creativity.

Mercury retrograde at the heart of the Sun also occurs during a last quarter Moon in Aquarius on its way toward an eventual New Moon in Taurus, the inner home of Venus, as well as with Mars at the final degree of Taurus.  Thus though Mercury is at the first degree of Taurus and Mars at the last, both are still within the domain of Venus in her exaltation of Pisces.  The powerful Venusian influence upon this moment further amplifies potential to reveal inner desires and values needing to emerge into awareness, with the last quarter lunation helping us dislodge from old preconceptions. In addition, it means that shortly after Mercury unites with the Sun a mutual reception between Mars and Mercury will begin through Mars entering Gemini, the airy yang home of Mercury, and Mercury crossing back into Aries, the fiery yang home of Mars that forms a harmonious sextile with Gemini.  Fittingly, we can still discover Venus in the relationship formed by the signs Mercury and Mars will enter as traditionally in astrology Venus has always stood as the symbol underlying the meaning of the sextile.

Matta Being With

Being With (1946) by Roberto Matta

Mercury stations with Uranus

What constitutes the training of the hand?
I shall tell what constitutes the training of the hand.
One suspects something is wrong with transcribing signs
But the hand transcribes only the signs it has learned.
Then it is sent to the school of blots and scrawls
Till it forgets what is graceful. For even the sign of a butterfly
Is a well with coiled poisonous smoke inside.

Perhaps we should have represented him otherwise
Than in the form of a dove. A fire, yes, but that is beyond us.
For even when it consumes logs on a hearth
We search in it for eyes and hands. Let him then be green,
All blades of calamus, running on footbridges
Over meadows, with a thump of his bare feet. Or in the air
Blowing a birchbark trumpet so strongly that farther down
There tumbles from its blast a crowd of petty officials,
Their uniforms unbuttoned and their women’s combs
Flying like chips when the ax strikes.

Still it’s just too great a responsibility to lure the souls
From where they lived attentive to the idea of the hummingbird, the chair, and the star.
To imprison them within either-or: male sex, female sex,
So that they wake up in the blood of childbirth, crying.

— Czeslaw Milosz, Sentences (1963-1965)

This particular Mercury retrograde is especially jolting, catalytic, and compelling because Mercury will spend an extraordinary length of time in conjunction with Uranus in Aries.  Truly out of the ordinary, Mercury will spend over three weeks from April 20 through May 16 in range of a conjunction with Uranus in Aries.  There will two distinct phases of Mercury uniting with Uranus, the first from April 20 through May 3 when Mercury is retrograde and invisible under the beams of the Sun- during this period Mercury will unite with Uranus on April 28.   Mercury and Uranus combined brings sudden awareness that can synthesize previously fragmented strands of thought and analysis instantaneously in the flash of the moment.  In the process of being purified and regenerated from its recent union with our Sun, Mercury in this period has not taken visible form and similarly our Uranian insights and revelations may feel more unconscious and not clearly seen.

28 April 2017 looks to be a pivotal day not only because of Mercury uniting with Uranus, but also because on the same day Venus will re-enter the sign of Aries.  As Venus re-enters Aries, she moves away from her square with Saturn in Sagittarius at roughly the same time Mercury is forming a trine with Saturn (Mercury retrograde will trine Saturn exactly on April 24).  It is compelling that as we have been dealing with Saturn in square to Venus all month long, we end up with Mercury combining with Uranus in a trine to Saturn.  As a result we can receive revelatory ideas into how to make minor modifications as well as major reformations into the issues dredged up during the time of Saturn in square to Venus.  It could feel like breakthrough insights are intensifying in our subconscious, ready to burst through into our conscious awareness with blazing comprehension.

After Mercury stations direct on May 3 it will emerge in the sky above the moist dew of morning, heralding the return of solar light at sunrise as a Morning Star.  Making the atmosphere more electric, the Moon in Leo will form a fiery triangle in our sky with Mercury, Uranus, and Saturn on May 3 when Mercury stations direct, increasing the likelihood of inspirational insights entering consciousness that address whatever challenges we have been dealing with.  Mercury visible and direct will form another conjunction with Uranus on May 9 and a trine with Saturn in Sagittarius on May 11, with a Full Moon in Scorpio falling in between these aspects on May 10.  Although Mercury is not seen as having essential dignity in the third face of Aries, Mercury emerging direct as a Morning Star does resonate with the diurnal sign of the Ram that is considered to be the exaltation of our Sun.

In addition, as Mercury stations and moves direct as a Morning Star while in Aries it will be in mutual reception with Mars moving forward through Gemini, with Venus co-present at the beginning of Aries.   As Venus retraces her steps through the previous section of Aries that she moved retrograde through in February and March, there will likely be some unexpected developments to contend with.  However, Mercury united with Uranus while in trine to Saturn supports a ready mental faculty that can swiftly respond and initiate new structural supports to help stabilize whatever has become volatile.  Mercury up at the crack of dawn, crowing like a rooster, is in an invigorating position of immense curiosity and exploration that can open us to a flow of creativity in response to life.

It is noteworthy that Mercury’s retrograde phase involves stationing in the Earth element and going back to the Fire element, echoing the retrograde that took us across the threshold of 2017 that went from Capricorn to Sagittarius. In August we will experience another Mercury retrograde that goes from Virgo back into Leo.  This transition from Earth to Fire in some ways is like a foreshadowing of the movement from Fire to Earth we will enter in 2018 as Saturn will move from Sagittarius into Capricorn, and Uranus will move from Aries into Taurus.   Some of the shifting adjustments needing to be found during the current Mercury retrograde will have far reaching impact, especially considering that Mercury ends up stationing direct with Uranus.  Early warning signs of what we need to prepare for in the year ahead may enter our awareness at the same time we are finding it necessary to deal with the pressing issues of the moment.

References

Milosz, Czeslaw. (2006). Selected and Last Poems 1931 -2004. HarperCollins.

Rudhyar, Dane. (1974). An Astrological Mandala: the cycle of transformations and its 360 symbolic phases. Vintage.

Yeats, W.B. (1989). The Collected Poems revised second edition. Edited by Richard J. Finneran.  Scribner Paperback Poetry.

Mercury Retrograde in Capricorn and Sagittarius

georgia-okeeffe-grey-tree-lake-george

Grey Tree, Lake George (1925) by Georgia O’Keeffe

At the bottom of the Seine
there is gold, rusting boats, jewels, weapons…
At the bottom of the Seine
there are dead bodies…
At the bottom of the Seine
there are tears…
At the bottom of the Seine
there are flowers;
in their vase of mud
they are nourished by silt…
At the bottom of the Seine
there are the hearts
that greatly suffered for living life…
And then the rocks
and the grey beasts…
The pipes of the sewers,
blowing out poison…
The rings thrown away
by misunderstood lovers,
feet that a propeller cut off from their trunk…
And the cursed fruits of sterile wombs,
the innocent abortions that no one loved…
The vomit of the big city…
At the bottom of the Seine,
it is there…
Oh, lenient Seine where the cadavers go,
oh, bed with the sheets made from silt,
river of losses without beacon,
nor haven,
singing a lullaby to the morgue and the bridges,
welcoming the poor one,
welcoming the woman,
welcoming the drunkard,
welcoming the crazy one,
mixing theirs sobs to the sound of your blades,
and carrying their hearts among the rocks…
At the bottom of the Seine
there is gold, rusting boats, jewels, weapons…
At the bottom of the Seine
there are dead bodies…
At the bottom of the Seine
there are tears…

— Kurt Weil, “Complainte de la Seine,” translated from French by Sean Mabey

Mercury Stations Retrograde in Capricorn

In the quickening of shadows at sunset, Mercury disappears in a flash, shifting from an evening star into the invisible realm of the underworld where Hermes guides souls.  After Mercury stations retrograde and transitions from being a visible evening star into an invisible planet moving slowly in retrograde, the variable nature of Mercury transmutes into an alternate realm of perception requiring an alert intuition and a patient mind open to changes of plan and revelation of previously concealed insight.  Though Mercury retrograde carries the projection of a scapegoat in popular culture in which all mishaps and mayhem are attributed to the whims of Hermes, there is vital meaning to be found in the experience of Mercury moving retrograde through our zodiac.  Mercury retrograde periods can destabilize and force issues to the surface we may rather not deal with, but truth reveals that whatever arises for us to face during times of Mercury retrograde are necessary for us to gain awareness of and respond in a way that nurtures self-development and growth.

Mercury stations retrograde on 19 December 2016 while forming a close (but not exact) conjunction with Pluto in Capricorn.  Mercury stationing, standing still only one degree behind Pluto in the days leading up to and following its transition into retrograde motions dramatically amplifies the charge of issues that emerge to surface awareness through daily  conversations and commerce.  It is further significant that Mercury does not complete an exact conjunction with Pluto, but rather pulls back at the last moment in a tight balsamic conjunction.  Mercury pulls away from Pluto and will re-enter Sagittarius at the beginning of January 2017 where it will station direct conjoining the zodiac degrees associated with our Galactic Center.  Mercury will ultimately complete a conjunction with Pluto and begin a new cycle with Pluto on 29 January 2017, a time period in which we will be able to coalesce deeper understanding into all the various affairs that transpire in the next few weeks of Mercury retrograde.

Mercury moving back and forth in balsamic relationship with Pluto takes us deep into the bedrock of our foundational beliefs, like a miner dredging through earth in search of buried gold.  Events associated with Pluto also involve compulsive attraction in addition to subconscious triggers that repel us, and yet with reflection we can discover that both what we are drawn to as well as repulsed by holds key insight into our underlying development of meaning.  Mercury retrograde delights in fields of gray in-betweeness, and combined with Pluto any rigid black and white mental constructs one has been fixated upon may dissolve in the confrontations of thought that will come.  Though we may initially resist and defensively argue against perspectives threatening beliefs we have wound our sense of emotional security around, through reflection and an open mind the Mercury retrograde can facilitate integration of a new perspective regarding ourselves or our world that will rejuvenate our inner feelings of soulfulness and purpose, helping us discover a path forward that is more fulfilling than the one we had been previously been set to follow.

deborahturbeville

Deborah Turbeville Montova, Italy, 1978

The beginning of Mercury retrograde is intensified through its conjunction with Pluto in Capricorn, opening a subconscious portal into exploration of the constructs of time and space we apply to phenomenal reality.  Capricorn involves the maturity and responsibility cultivated through facing and dealing with natural cycles of change,  and so there is compelling synchronicity that the beginning of Mercury retrograde occurs at the time of the Capricorn Solstice, the peak period of darkness in the Northern Hemisphere and of light in the Southern Hemisphere.  Regarding Pluto in Capricorn’s relationship with natural laws of change, Jeff Green in evolutionary astrology taught that structural change comes from crystallized and outdated levels of reality that require a breakdown of collective forms to bring about growth.  Mercury retrograde in Capricorn will thereby bring opportunities to claim one’s inner authority and ability to express one’s individuality within the seismic societal shifts erupting around our planet.

We know that our societies are formed by laws, regulations, norms and taboos designed to create a stable whole, yet we sometimes forget to reflect upon how our conformity to societal norms can limit our experience of essential growth in the moment.  Mercury retrograde in Capricorn will destabilize elements of societal norms and rules, breaking open and purging numerous taboos. Like the ancient Saturnalia in which societal conventions are overturned, Mercury retrograde in Capricorn compels us to realign our conformity to societal conventions that have been blocking our authenticity. While we are able to co-create reality, if we want to make a direct impact on society we also need to discern a method of successful integration so that an audience may receive our shared values and meaning.  Within the tumult of tempestuous collective events and mutating norms, Mercury retrograde may guide us into inner awareness of modifications we need to make in all areas of our life connected to the role we are called to embody in society.

victor-brauner-the-surrealist

Victor Brauner (1947) The Surrealist

I slide my face along to the mirror
sideways, to see
that side-smile,
a pale look, tired
and sly. Hey,

who is glancing there?
Shadow-me, not with
malice but mercurially
shot with foreknowledge of
dread and sweat.

— Denise Levertov, Looking-glass

Since Mercury stations retrograde in the home of Saturn and will station direct in the home of Jupiter, its retrograde phase has intense resonance with the harmonious aspects formed between Saturn in Sagittarius with the full phase opposition between Jupiter in Libra and Uranus in Aries that will complete its first exact alignment during the Mercury retrograde.  The cycle between Jupiter and Uranus involves the nature of beliefs we are conditioned to project upon reality, as well as the process of liberating from past influences in order to find a meaningful vision of life to live from.  For ages, human beings have been developing belief systems around trying to control and regulate, in a Capricorn manner, the interactions of humans within societies and the natural world.  Yet we also hold subconscious (Uranus) memories that extend into the nomadic time period of humanity that predated the development of agricultural civilizations. This necessitates at times for our experience of the Uranus archetype to come into conflict with the myriad consensus belief systems in place focused upon the way human beings should interact with one another in society. When our vision of life fueled by the knowledge we are gaining from our personal experience (Jupiter) comes into conflict with the norms dictated by consensus belief systems (Saturn and Capricorn) we arrive at a crux in which we can feel judged and ashamed or instead individuate with self assertion in the direction of the vision being felt within.

At the same time that Mercury stations retrograde in Capricorn, Mars enters Pisces and begins its movement toward the transiting South Node of the Moon and Neptune.   On a collective level the movement of Mars across Pisces in this section will correspond with numerous eruptions of violence and trauma connected with religion, politics, and other belief systems that have been in conflict with one another for centuries.   On a personal level, this same transit brings the opportunity to go within and reflect upon our own shadow and those aspects of ourself we like to pretend are not really there, aspects often conditioned by the belief systems of our culture.  As Fyodor Dostoyevsky (born with Mercury retrograde in Sagittarius in square to his lunar nodes) wrote in The Brothers Karamazov, “what seems bad to you in yourself is purified by the very fact that you have noticed it in yourself.”  The Mercury retrograde will bring numerous opportunities for powerful self awareness that will lead us into opportunities to make choices within a presence rooted more firmly within our wholeness.  Facilitating this process will be Venus in Aquarius, as Venus will move into a harmonious sextile with Saturn in Sagittarius and Uranus in Aries, as well as a stabilizing trine with Jupiter in Libra.

If you have been reading my writing on the Mercury retrograde transits this past year, you may remember with the Taurus retrograde in May 2016 I wrote about its link with the Hathor asteroid, and that in the Virgo retrograde in September 2016 I wrote about its link with the Sekhmet asteroid.  The current Mercury retrograde in Capricorn has a link with the Isis asteroid #42, as Mercury is conjoining Isis in addition to Pluto when it stations retrograde, with Mercury at 15º03′ and Isis at 14º47′. Isis is a synthesizer of love and wisdom from our experiences, and by transit and aspect in our natal chart the Isis asteroid (#42) signifies unity, loyalty, devotion, sustaining, reassembling, resurrection, soul retrieval, healing of fragmentation, and finding wholeness of Self in relation with the Other.

The daughter of Night (Nut) and Earth (Geb), Isis has been commonly connected to the sign of Virgo in astrology, and so has connection to the transiting lunar nodes of Virgo (North Node) and Pisces (South Node). Mercury’s rulership of Virgo further connects with Isis, as both Mercury and Isis can move between the upper world and underworld and weave a web unifying seemingly disparate points of focus. Isis further links to Virgo’s polarity with Pisces, as Isis embodies the ability to integrate the detailed practical magic of Virgo with the expansive love and compassion of Pisces that flows in search of ultimate understanding.   Isis is Love, the quality of our consciousness that proves we are all connected, just like the stars above us, the minerals of our Earth below us, and our neurons and other cells inside us.  Isis weaves the web of love through times of trauma and dismemberment of our parts, our physical body parts and our etheric soul fragments, in order to bring about a healing and retrieval of our wholeness.

mercury-philosophical-italy-15th-century

A form upon the quilted
overcast, gleam, Sacre
Coeur, saltlick
to the mind’s
desire-

how shall the pulse
beat out
that measure,
under devious
moon
wander swerving

to wonder-

hands turn
what stone to uncover
feather of broken
oracle-

— Denise Levertov Threshold from O Taste and See

Mercury in Heart of the Sun

The Inferior conjunction of Mercury occurs when it forms an exact alignment in between the orbit of our Earth with our Sun, bringing Mercury retrograde and the Sun into an exact conjunction.  Called cazimi or being in the heart of the Sun, this rebirth of Mercury will occur on 28 December 2016 at a Dark Moon in Capricorn.  In fact, later on the same day that Mercury retrograde unites with our Sun, we will experience a New Moon in Capricorn. When Mercury retrograde enters the heart of our Sun, we experience a purification of Mercury and how we interpret and convey meaning in our life.  In the time leading up to Mercury’s union with the Sun, we may sense a release and death of outmoded constructs, perceptions, and habits.  As Mercury retrograde begins to slowly separate from the Sun as we next experience a New Moon in Capricorn, we will find ourselves in an opportune moment to form intentions and resolutions for the calendar year of 2017 and what we want to share and integrate into the world and our daily lives.

There are numerous powerful astrological transits occurring at the same time, such as Jupiter and Uranus in an exact opposition, with Saturn in sextile to Jupiter and in trine to Uranus.  In addition, Venus in Aquarius will be in range of harmonious aspects to Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus, and Mars in Pisces will be in between the South Node of the Moon and Neptune, conjoining both.  This is a beautiful moment for complete and utter honesty with oneself and reawakening from whatever dreams and illusions we have had about our life we now realize do not align with our current reality.  There is tremendous energy involved in all of these aspects that can be utilized to bring visionary ideals into manifestation in the material world, but to do so requires a full presence attuned to what is actually occurring rather than what we wish was occurring.  It also involves taking the responsibility intrinsic to Capricorn in every moment in how we respond to what we are receiving from life.

matta-space-travel-star-travel-1938

Roberta Matta (1938) Space Travel

Silent friend of the many distances,
feel how your every breath enlarges space.
Amid the rafters of dark belfries
let yourself peal. Whatever feeds on you

is taking strength from such fare.
Know every path through transformation.
that one experience at the core of your sorrow?
If drinking is bitter, become wine.

Now in this night of fire and excess
be magic power at your senses’ crossroads,
the meaning of their strange encounter.

And if the earthly should forget you,
say to the silent loam: I flow.
To the rushing water speak: I am.

— Rainer Maria Rilke, Sonnets to Orpheus

Mercury Stations Direct in Sagittarius

Mercury moves backward into Sagittarius on 4 January 2017, stationing direct on 8 January 2017 at 28º51′ of Sagittarius in range of a conjunction with the zodiac degrees linked to our Galactic Center.  Philip Sedgwick has written that astrological connections with the Galactic Center facilitate the release of old memories that have been inhibiting growth and development, creating an emptiness of inner space that can welcome new, invigorating emotional experiences that will spur progress in life and the reception of new insight.  Mercury will remain in Sagittarius until 12 January 2017 when it re-enters Capricorn.  Mercury stationing and then slowly moving direct in the home of Jupiter amplifies the potential of the Mercury retrograde phase to uncover a more fulfilling vision of life to embody and share.  Fascinatingly, Pluto in Capricorn is also highlighted at the time of Mercury stationing direct, as the Sun will be conjoining Pluto.  To reach the full potential of these aspects it will be necessary to take the responsibility of claiming one’s inner authority to make the choices available that support and resonate with one’s inner values.

At the time Mercury stations direct, Venus will have entered Pisces and will be conjoining the South Node of the Moon and Neptune. Venus exalted in Pisces will nurture the capacity of our sensual nature to enter the flow of life and not only envision a reality in which we may behold our soulful desires, but also alter reality to bring about manifestation of our deeply felt values.  It is also a period in which the stationing direct of Mercury may jolt us with a shock of awareness regarding illusions we had been carrying about relationships, or unveil an epiphany into an underlying relational pattern we have been unconsciously perpetuating that now needs to be let go in order to cultivate healthier, growth-oriented relationships.

Mercury will return to the zodiac degree it stationed retrograde in Capricorn around the time of a New Moon in Aquarius on 27 January 2017.   Interestingly, with regards to the previous mention of Mercury stationing in conjunction with the Isis asteroid, there will be a union of the Isis and Osiris asteroids that brings an added level of healing our wholeness on the same day.  Two days after the New Moon, Mercury will finally complete its exact conjunction with Pluto on 29 January 2017.  As Mercury begins a new cycle with Pluto as we  enter the month of February, we will be able to receive a more complete understanding of the full ramifications of events associated with the Mercury retrograde.  Through utilizing Mercury retrograde to both nurture our inner security and take the responsibility to act from our inner authority, we will be guided into understanding of how to integrate our essential vision of meaning and individuality within our greater society in a way that will make a tangible impact.

References

Arts Summary blog post about Deborah Turbeville’s photographs. (2016)

Complainte de la Seine translation.

Green, Jeff. (1985). Pluto: the evolutionary journey of the soul. Llewellyn.

Levertov, Denise. (2013). Collected Poems. New Directions.

Rilke, Rainer Maria. (2004). Sonnets to Orpheus. Translated by Edward Snow. North Point Press.

Mercury Retrograde in Virgo

Splendor Solis Mercury flask

Mercury Flask from the Splendor Solis

We know where [ Hermes ] comes from and what type of consciousness he exemplifies.  He is most likely the same dark depth of being from which we all originate.  Perhaps for this reason Hermes can so convincingly hover before us, lead us on our ways, show us golden treasures in everyone through the split-second timing which is the spirit of finding and thieving- all of this because he creates his reality out of us, or more properly through us, just as one fetches water not so much out of a well as through the well from the much deeper regions of the earth . . .  Despite the thievery and deceit and shamelessness- and this is probably the most wonderful thing about it- a divine innocence is properly suited to and inherent in it.  Hermes has nothing to do with sins and atonement.  What he brings with him from the springs of creation is precisely the “innocence of becoming.”

— Karl Kerenyi, from Hermes: Guide of Souls

Mercury Retrograde in Virgo

It’s in twilight when it comes.  The shift of hue and space arrives, transmuting sunlight into variegated shadow, enveloping life in a polychromatic caress of sensuous mood and mysterious measure.  With a flash of light Mercury descends retrograde into the darkening brilliance of sunset, disappearing into its invisible, underworld phase with a message to receive.  The sign of Virgo where Mercury stations in stillness is the nocturnal home of Hermes, the quicksilver messenger and companion of black night whose serpentine staff enchants and lulls, whose fluttering wings break open any static sleepiness of mind.  As Mercury slows down, comes to a standstill, and then turns backward in retrograde motion through the zodiac, we cross a liminal threshold that invites alterations of mental fixations and openings to manifold perspectives.

In the realm of popular culture, periods of Mercury retrograde are known as disastrous aberrations in which Mercury becomes a scapegoat for all misfortunes and mishaps.  Yet the Mercury retrograde period is a regular cyclical phenomenon that happens at least three times every year, an essential aspect of Mercury’s orbit just like the consistent blackening of the Moon in its orbit.  Unlike the astrological stereotypes, important actions can be initiated during Mercury retrograde as well as successful contracts signed.  However, during Mercury retrograde it is advisable to sustain mental alertness and be open to signs, symbols, and information in your environment that can help guide your intuition toward which actions to take or commitments to make.

Mercury retrograde is intrinsic to Mercury in astrology, a planetary archetype of contesting and contrasting.  While Mercury signifies insight and smooth communication, the lessons of Mercury do not always come from stability, as experience shows that chaos and disorientation lead to illumination and realization.  Once Mercury moves retrograde it descends from being a visible Evening Star into an invisible, subterranean guide of soul catalyzing change and growth in situations that range widely from the frustrating to the enlivening.  Flowing with Mercury retrograde involves letting go of strict control and order, opening to the wisdom coming from unexpected sources.   As the changeable nature of Mercury is found in its extremely variable speed, when Mercury slows dow to station it is important to pay attention to its aspects in the natal chart as well as to other planets by transit.  The Mercury retrograde in Virgo begins with the strange brew of Mercury stationing in a beneficial conjunction with Jupiter and Venus, at the entrance into a dramatic portal of eclipses.

Mercury stations retrograde in Virgo on 30 August 2016 at a Dark Moon two days before an annular Solar Eclipse.  In the blackness of the Balsamic Moon, Mercury will be surrounded by Venus and Jupiter with all three planets visible during the changing colors of sunset.  Since Mercury is both at home and exalted in Virgo, and surrounded on both sides by the visionary Jupiter and the pleasing Venus, Fortuna smiles upon this alignment.  Furthering fortune, at the same time Mercury stations retrograde Venus enters her own sign of Libra where she will luxuriate for the entirety of the backward motion of Mercury, increasing in brightness as an Evening Star.  However, these signs of expansive harmony coexist with Mercury stationing at the time of a potent Solar Eclipse in hard aspect to Mars, Saturn, and Neptune.  Mercury retrograde in Virgo will be the psychopomp guiding us through an eclipse season that will call for the release of old attachments and beliefs, but in the letting go a space will open for nurturing innovation.

MercuryStationRxWRIGC3

Magritte-the-cultivation-of-ideas

The Cultivation of Ideas (1928) by Renee Magritte

In ‘nature’ there’s no choice-
flowers
swing their heads in the wind, sun & moon
are as they are. But we seem
almost to have it ( not just
available death )

It’s energy; a spider’s thread: not to
‘go on living’ but to quicken, to activate: extend:
Some have it, they force it-

with work or laughter or even
the act of buying, if that’s
all they can lay hands on-

the girls crowding the stores, where light,
colour, sold dreams are- what gay
desire! It’s their festival,
ring game, wassail, mystery.

It has no grace like that of
the grass, the humble rhythms, the
falling & rising of leaf and star;
it’s barely
a constant. Like salt:
take it or leave it

The ‘hewers of wood’ & so on; every damn
craftsman has it while he’s working
but it’s not
a question of work: some
shine with it, in repose. Maybe it is
response, the will to respond- (‘reason
can give nothing at all / like
the response to desire’) maybe
a gritting of the teeth, to go
just that much further, beyond the end
beyond whatever ends to begin, to be, to defy.

–Denise Levertov, Beyond the End

Virgo is a mutable earth sign in which Mercury is exalted and comfortably at home, with all of its resources and tools at its disposal.  As a result, the tricks and wayward paths Mercury guides us through during its retrograde promise to make essential aspects of our reality illuminated even when reinforcing the obscurity of our world and the impossibility of knowing everything clearly.  Virgo is an inwardly directed and receptive place for Mercury to burrow into fertile sources of research, devise practical solutions to current predicaments, discern dietary and physical routines to fortify the body, and purify the mind from whatever heavy issues have been accumulating and weighing one down.

The year of 2016 has had the theme of Mercury being retrograde in earth signs (Mercury retrograde in Aquarius and Capricorn in January;  Mercury retrograde in Taurus in April and May),  a sequence of retrogrades that has called for us to reorient to the surrounding material world and the way we create meaning out of our senses.  Our relationship with finances and the flow of resources in our life has also been highlighted by Mercury being  retrograde in earth signs this year, and will again be significant with the God of Commerce being in its home of Virgo.  Since Mercury stations retrograde in sync with a Solar Eclipse in Virgo, and a Lunar Eclipse in Pisces follows, this retrograde in Virgo promises to be most pivotal in terms of adjusting our resources and livelihood in connection with the momentous changes of the current year.

Another theme of the three Mercury retrogrades so far this year is that each of them has had significant aspects with Mars, Jupiter, and Pluto, resulting in cathartic change in our vision of life and the manner in which we use our will-force to manifest fulfillment.  As a result of the surrounding astrological climate, Mercury’s retrograde in Virgo will bring increased emphasis to reorienting personal beliefs, opening awareness more acutely to how perception and knowledge are bound to one’s own sense of culture and existence.  Mercury retrograde in Virgo can be used to uncover how one’s beliefs have to do with whatever one is used to or not used to experiencing.  While Mercury is retrograde in Virgo situations will present themselves in a way that facilitates rearranging or releasing old conceptual thought patterns rooted in belief systems Mercury will be able to loosen.

The pull of Mercury retrograde within to know thyself on deeper levels is amplified by the inner focus of Virgo.  Since Mars and Saturn both signify separation, the beginning of the retrograde involves dealing with whatever difficult losses or challenges have come into our life in correspondence with Mars and Saturn aligning at the Heart of the Scorpion (the fixed star Antares).  Mercury stationing retrograde while surrounded by Jupiter and Venus points toward healing oneself from the vast well within, eventually coalescing what has been fragmented to return to a sense of wholeness.  The Virgo retrograde of Mercury can open newfound self knowledge from within that catalyzes defiant strength in overcoming adversity and going beyond previous limitations.

René-Magritte-The-Castle-of-the-Pyrenees-1959-The-Israel-Museum

Rene’ Magritte (1959) The Castle of the Pyrenees

Swing of the scythe
illuminated, displaced
into my book of hours, the falling
grass, gold leafed
on the uneven
left upper windowpane-

But way up on the hill
the drift of field-air around you,
the scythe singing,
and what birds you may hear.

— Denise Levertov, Down Here and up There

The final last quarter square between Saturn in Sagittarius and Neptune in Pisces  that has dominated the astrological atmosphere in the past year is a core aspect of Mercury being retrograde in Virgo.  Additionally, the overarching influence that Mars has possessed in 2016 is also mediated by Mercury, as its Virgo retrograde begins with Mars having finally moved beyond the shadow zone of the red planet’s retrograde, and finally having activated its new phase with Saturn and its last quarter square phase with Neptune.  Making these themes of Mars, Saturn, and Neptune even more extreme is that Mars and Saturn are in square to the transiting lunar nodes, Neptune is conjoining the transiting South Node of the Moon, and at the beginning of the Mercury retrograde there is a dramatic Solar Eclipse that is opposite Neptune, square to Saturn and Mars, and conjunct the transiting North Node of the Moon.  Since the Mercury retrograde begins with a Solar Eclipse, there is a deeply mysterious element to the underworld journey Hermes will guide us through that will defy full understanding until a later time of reflection.

In part the square between Saturn and Neptune is about the boundaries and structures in every dimension of life.  While Saturn and Neptune in square can reveal ironic insight and the underlying meaning in the bones of any matter, with Mercury retrograde in Virgo we will also sense how the very idea of being able to penetrate with analysis to core understanding and rationally solve all problems through ordering is a fantasy in itself.  Neptune signifies an immaterial dimension that goes beyond intellectual understanding, and so Mercury in its retrograde role will play the part of Socrates, revealing the ignorance of mental frameworks in order to initiate deeper searches for how to live a life of genuine happiness.  At the same time, the limitations and boundaries of Saturn are necessary to effectively integrate Neptune in a manner that keeps one grounded.  The Virgo retrograde of Mercury in tandem with Mars in Sagittarius can focus awareness on the details needed to keep ourselves healthy and operating at an optimal level of energy in our environment.

The sign of Virgo forms a superior square to Sagittarius, a concept that points to the purification of Virgo taking precedence during the retrograde over the hardened, heavy realities of Mars and Saturn in Sagittarius.  The tension between Mars, Saturn, and Neptune at the beginning of Mercury’s retrograde reveal us to be at the tentative beginning of a new cycle, with an old cycle that has already culminated being in its last remnants of disintegration. There has also been a Mars catalyst of activating serious determination to set targets for long range goals.  As a result, Mercury retrograde in Virgo can aid us in purifying the past through weaving elements of what has been lost together with the opening for the unknown future they have created.  Mercury in its underworld journey can guide us to places that will recover and repair wounds of the past cycle, refortifying our capacity to fully embody the present moment.

Chagall the-deer-looking-itself-in-the-water

The Deer Looking Itself in the Water by Marc Chagall

Under the harvest sun the heart
ripens on its wall;
under the heat of noon the mind
like a leaf is cool.
The angelus and the goat bell
sway across the grass;
butterflies in blue mid-air
touch and spin apart.
Any attempted dream must fall
to ruin in this light, must pass
before the mocking glance
of idle animals.
There is no need to escape
from the motionless mountain
there is no need to escape
when here the indifferent lake
accepts a nervous image,
demands no affirmation
of innocence or faith.

— Denise Levertov, Sarnen

Mercury in the Heart

When Mercury is retrograde it is passing in between the orbits of Earth and the Sun, which is what creates the illusion that it is moving backward through the zodiac from our perspective on Earth.  As a result, when Mercury retrograde conjoins the Sun during its retrograde it is in alignment with our planet as close at it ever gets.  This is the Inferior Conjunction of Mercury when Mercury is said to be cazimi, at the heart of the Sun.  This window of time in which Mercury passes within a degree of the Sun (some say it is really within 17 minutes of the Sun) is a magical moment in the synodic cycle of Mercury in which all of its significations are strengthened by the Solar Light.  It is a rebirth of the Mercury archetype in our life, as Mercury has been undergoing a purifying regeneration in the beams of the Sun while approaching the conjunction.   Mercury enters the heart of the Sun on September 12 while also being square to Mars in Sagittarius.  It comes two days after the final exact square between Saturn and Neptune and so has a lot to do with the aftermath of their upheaval.

Though the square between Mars in Sagittarius and the Mercury-Sun union is most exact, it is also significant considering the Saturn-Neptune influence that Chiron in Pisces is in range of a square to Mars and an opposition to Mercury cazimi.  Chiron functions as a bridge between the realm of Saturn and the realm of Neptune that stretches far beyond the rings of Saturn.  As a result of its retrograde movement, Mercury will also end up passing back and forth across an opposition with Chiron three different times.  Chiron’s influence fosters the purification of Virgo and the healing of wounds that can ultimately lead one to embody a higher frequency in which heavy accumulations of the psyche have been burned off.

However, with Mars forming an exact square to Mercury’s union with the Sun it means that there will be a lot of intensity, if not external conflict than internal conflict to face in any rebirth process.  Mercury at the heart of the Sun in this retrograde cycle is incredibly active and martial in force, capable of propelling oneself dramatically forward.  If instead the Mars influence on Mercury’s Inferior Conjunction leads to more of a wounding crash, than the remaining Mercury retrograde period can be utilized to begin readjusting and reorienting as needed.

MercuryCazimiVirgoWRIGC2

Vasily Kafanov mystery of fishtower

Vasily Kafanov (1998) Mystery of the Fishtower

When the white fog burns off,
the abyss of everlasting light
is revealed. The last cobwebs
of fog in the
black firtrees are flakes
of white ash in the world’s hearth.

Cold of the sea is counterpart
to this great fire. Plunging
out of the burning cold of ocean
we enter an ocean of intense
noon. Sacred salt
sparkles on our bodies.

After mist has wrapped us again
in fine wool, may the taste of salt
recall to us the great depths about us.

–Denise Levertov, The Depths

Four days after Mercury unites with the Sun, a Lunar Eclipse in Pisces will illuminate the heart of the Mercury retrograde cycle.  Once again Mars in Sagittarius holds extraordinary influence, as it forms a close square to the Lunar Eclipse.  Chiron is also highlighted once again as it will conjoin the Lunar Eclipse, echoing the extremely powerful Total Solar Eclipse in March 2016 that was also conjoining Chiron.  Mercury retrograde at this point will be moving toward a trine to Pluto and away from its square to Mars.  The Pisces Lunar Eclipse lights up the full polarity of the sign of Virgo with martial ferociousness.  In collective events, it is an ominous configuration in terms of increased violence coming from crusaders, martyrs, terrorists, and persecutors fixated on dogmatic belief systems.  The shadow side of Virgo that can involve responding to chaotic change through overexerting control or obsessing over perfectionistic ideals could come out if we are not careful.  If we can enter the flow of this eclipse, we can instead let go of control and enter the pure space of whatever the moment is asking from us.

Sekhmet temple bw

Fascinatingly, the Sekhmet archetype will be involved in this section of Mercury’s underworld journey as the Sekhmet asteroid #5381 will be conjunct both the Virgo Sun at the time of the Lunar Eclipse (at 24º Virgo) as well as conjunct Mercury’s Inferior Conjunction (at 23º Virgo).  Though some may scoff at the significance of an obscure asteroid placement in this overall astrological arrangement, I had been feeling a strong intuition connected with Sekhmet which is what led me to notice its alignment with the Mercury retrograde.  Sekhmet is an ancient lion headed goddess, primordial and fierce, whose fiery rage brings purification.  Sekhmet, Great One of Magic, Lady of Transformations, At Whose Wish the Arts were Born, Self-Contained, Opener of Ways, Satisfier of Desires, Destroyer by Fire, Devouring One, The One Who Holds Back Darkness, Lady of the Waters of Life, Great One of Healing . . . her epithets are multitudinous, her nature impossible to fully encompass in language.

Sekhmet’s presence during Mercury retrograde makes the virginal maiden of Virgo a lion headed goddess on the prowl through the desert landscapes of our dreams and inner psychic life, destroying old, obsolete, and decaying attachments with her ferocious form.  Since Mars the red planet is so emphasized at this point of the Mercury retrograde, and in fact Mars forms a square to the Sekhmet asteroid at this time, it is further compelling that red is a sacred color to Sekhmet just as red is the shade the Moon turns during a Lunar Eclipse.  Sekhmet has a message that any anger that arises in association with Mars in Sagittarius during the Mercury retrograde can be utilized to purify and burn off whatever needs to be let go and released.

Frida Roots II

Frida Kahlo (1943) Roots

The gleam of thy drenched
floors of leaf-layers! Fragrance
of death and change!
If there is only
now to live, I’ll live
the hour till doom stroke
crouched with the russet toad,
my huge human size
no more account than a bough fallen:

not upward,
searching for branch-hidden sky:
I’ll look
down into paradise.

Thy moss gardens, the deep
constellations of green, the striate
rock furred with emerald,
inscribed with gold lichen,
with scarlet!
Thy smooth
acorns in roughsurfaced
precise cups!
Thy black
horns of plenty!

–Denise Levertov: Forest Altar, September

Equinox Stationing

Mercury will station direct at the time of the Autumn Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere, the Spring Equinox in the Southern Hemisphere.  Mercury also stations in range of some powerful aspects:  a trine to Pluto in Capricorn, a square to Saturn in Sagittarius, an opposition to Neptune in Pisces, and a conjunction with the North Node of the Moon.  However, the most exact and catalytic aspect formed by Mercury as it stations is a square with the Moon, as the Moon will be in Gemini creating a Mutable Grand Cross between the Moon, Mercury, Saturn, Neptune, and the lunar nodes.  Mercury will be receiving the Moon as a result, and so this moment of Mercury stationing direct portends a bigger shift in mental framework than is typically the case when Mercury stations direct.  The aspects surrounding Mercury stationing direct in Virgo suggest it is a significant moment of mediation not only for the past Mercury retrograde cycle, but for the events of the entire year so far.

As Mercury stations direct, it shifts from being invisible to once again making an appearance during the fiery rise of the Sun as a Morning Star, a condition that to Hellenistic astrologers signified a transmission of an oracular message.  It is beautiful symbolism that Mercury stations direct at the time of the Equinox, a time of rebalancing between night and day, a season in the Northern Hemisphere in which cool dry winds begin to blow as green leaves shift to shades of auburn and gold.   My personal view of astrology is that all Mercury retrograde phases signify vital regeneration, however, this particular Mercury retrograde in Virgo appears to signify cathartic rebirth that goes beyond the norm for Mercury retrograde.  It may not feel easy at times, but as John Lennon sang “Living is easy with eyes closed / misunderstanding all you see.”  As the Sun enters the sign of the Scales as Mercury begins to move forward again as a Morning Star, our mind will recalibrate to focus with revivified heart on the desires that will bring us greater happiness and fulfillment in the season ahead.

MercuryStationDirectWRIGC1C

References

Kerenyi, Karl. (1976). Hermes: Guide of Souls. Spring.

Levertov, Denise. (2013). Collected Poems. New Directions.

Venus & Mercury Retrograde in Taurus

Venus receives Mercury Retrograde

Venus conjoins Mercury Retrograde in her own home of Taurus this Friday, May 13.  Venus unifies, harmonizes, brings us pleasure, and in the earthy, body-centered lair of Taurus, she wants to delight our bodily forms and the deepest recesses of our sensory, sensual natures.  Mercury in astrology can destabilize, contest, and create volatility in contrast to the unifying nature of Venus, yet Mercury is also the connective mediator between the world animating spirit and our bodily, material realm.  With Mercury retrograde in Taurus, with Mercury recently having passed through a purifying conjunction with the Sun while conjoining its own heliocentric South Node, Mercury is pulling us deeply within our senses to the inner source of our thoughts and discernment.  If you are lucky enough to be in love in this moment, it is an ideal transit of pure pleasure.  If you are alone or dissatisfied in relationship, this is an ideal time for Self nurturance and getting in touch with your deepest feelings and needs in relationship.  By embracing being alone and out of relationship at this time, the inner process that is supported by this transit will help magnetize a deeply resonant relationship that aligns with the uncovered inner values and needs when the time is right.

This lovely transit of Mercury retrograde uniting with Venus in Taurus is embellished by it being in an exact trine with Pluto in Capricorn, and also in range of a trine to Jupiter and the North Node of the Moon in Virgo.  Mercury during its retrograde plays the role of the Herald to Hades, and so aligned with Venus will help release resistance to whatever cathartic changes Pluto in Capricorn has been calling for in our life that we have not yet answered with full presence.  In the next few days there is a lovely opportunity to accept the underlying changes in our life that in the past has created stress, worry, and grief, and instead allow ourselves to be present and open to what has been created for us in this moment out of the destruction.

remedios varo and husband

Remedios Varo

These lovely aspects surrounding Mercury uniting with Venus in her home are happening as the Moon waxes in light, en route to an electrifyingly dynamic Full Moon next week that is aligned with the heart of the current Mars Retrograde.  Furthermore, all of this is happening within the tightening of the tension involving Saturn in Sagittarius in square to the opposition between Jupiter in Virgo and Neptune in Pisces.  With Mercury moving slowly backward in its retrograde, it will be lingering longer than normal in its embrace of Venus, and lucky Hermes is getting to enjoy the experience in the home of Venus.  Although many elements of our lives may feel scary with the degree of changes signified by the surrounding astrological transits, the commingling of Venus and Mercury now can facilitate inner access to the authentic change and growth occurring for you, rather than the collective fears of change circulating in the atmosphere now.

The ideal situation, as far as we can see, is when the ego, with a certain plasticity, obeys the central regulation of the psyche. But when it hardens and becomes autonomous, acting according to its own reasons, then there is often a neurotic constellation.  This happens not only to individuals, but also collectively, which is why we speak of collective neuroses and psychoses.  Whole groups of mankind can drift into that split situation and deviate from their basic instinctual patterns, and then disaster is close.  That is why in hero stories there is nearly always an exposition of a terrible situation . . . Whatever this terrible story is, the hero has the task of putting it right . . .

The hero, therefore, is the restorer of a healthy, conscious situation. He is the one ego that restores us to healthy, normal functioning in a situation in which all the egos of that tribe or nation are deviating from their instinctive, basic totality pattern.  It can therefore be said that the hero is an archetypal figure which presents a model of an ego functioning in accord with the Self.

—  Marie-Louise von Franz

References

von Franz, Marie-Louise. (1996). The Interpretation of Fairy Tales. Revised edition. Shambhala.

film clip from the film Alphaville: une étrange aventure de Lemmy Caution (1965) written and directed by Jean-Luc Godard.

Mercury Retrograde in Taurus

Hathor cow woman

Hathor Menat (1390–1352 B.C. Egypt)

Mercury Retrograde in Taurus

Mercury will retrograde in Taurus, the home of Venus, from April 28 through May 22.  Mercury when moving direct through the zodiac is known as a swiftly moving planet of mental connections, discernment, and expression.  Yet the protean nature of Mercury is revealed in its variable speed, as it slows down considerably during its thrice yearly retrograde phase and correspondingly shifts our perceptual perspicacity.  Despite misconceptions in popular culture, Mercury Retrograde is not a time to fear but is instead an essential aspect of Mercury and how we interpret and convey meaning from our experience in life.  During Mercury Retrograde we experience a purifying regeneration of Mercury, and as this particular retrograde occurs in Taurus, we will be immersing ourselves within our bodily realm, discovering how our senses and instincts create our reality. A wealth of supportive aspects to Mercury arise during this retrograde by Venus, Jupiter, Pluto, Chiron, and the lunar nodes, suggesting a soulful windfall can be excavated when exploring the darkness of inner recesses.

Our perception that Mercury is retrograde is rooted in the phenomenon of Mercury’s orbit around our Sun, as Mercury Retrograde always occurs when Mercury passes between our Earth and our Sun in its orbit.  This particular retrograde is very special, as the pièce de résistance is a Mercury transit of the Sun in which Mercury can be seen crossing the fiery face of our Solar Light, as close as Mercury can get to eclipsing the Sun.  As this special inferior conjunction of Mercury conjoins the heliocentric South Node of Mercury, is trine to the transiting North Node of the Moon, and occurs while Jupiter is simultaneously stationing direct in a trine to Mercury and the Sun, the heart of this Mercury Retrograde is fecund with primal potency. One theme will be an uncovering of the inner values that bring us the most alive in our sensual world and to which we can devote ourselves in order to not merely survive but thrive.

While recalibration of inner values will be a theme on a personal level, in the collective with Mercury retrograde in Taurus and forming trines with both Pluto in Capricorn and Jupiter in Virgo, Mercury’s lordship of commerce and mercantile systems will result in significant economic contracts and mergers between various key economic players enacted.  Moreover, significant revelations will come to the forefront regarding economic deals and relationships that had previously been hidden. The impact of collective economic forces on one’s personal life will depend on where one finds themselves within the rising and falling of collective fortune, but this Mercury retrograde nonetheless opens a space to reappraise your flow and organization of finances and the returns you have been receiving on your investment of energy.

On a personal level, the slow steady pace of Mercury through Taurus is opportune for patiently grounding awareness in your surrounding material manifestations and their connection with the values you have been prioritizing your life around.  It will be most fruitful to ask yourself the tough questions and be brutally honest with yourself about the values you have actually been focused upon rather than the values you enjoy talking about or pretending you live from.  Taurus is about survival, and through this retrograde Mercury can guide us into revealing what we have thought we needed for survival versus what is truly nourishing for ourselves on a soul level and requires a commitment to living from with integrity.

Hermes_Ingenui_Pio-Clementino

Hermes Ingenui (Roman copy of 5th Century B.C. Greek)

Men have made me variously keeper of the dawn, of twilight and the wind, have called me Argeiphantes, he who makes clear the sky, and Logios, the sweet-tongued one, have dubbed me trickster, the patron of gamblers and all manner of mountebanks, have appointed me the guardian of crossroads, protector of travelers, have conferred on me the grave title Psychopomps, usher of the freed souls of men to Pluto’s netherworld. For I am Hermes, son of old Zeus and Maia the cavewoman.

— John Banville, The Infinities, p. 14

Star of Hermes

Mercury was known as the Star of Hermes to the ancients who developed what we now call Hellenistic Astrology, and the innumerable significations of the mythic Hermes illuminate our understanding of the astrological Mercury:  Winged messenger of the Gods, God of crossroads, boundaries and thresholds, Guide of Souls, Shepherd of flocks, God of commerce and merchants, Prince of thieves, and the friendly trickster who reveals truths through concealing truth at times, offering unexpected fortune and loss.  When Mercury disappears at sunset with a flash of light after stationing retrograde, transitioning from being an Evening Star to becoming invisible under the purifying beams of the Sun, Mercury guides us into a subterranean realm of perception in which he plays the part of a Soul Guide.

Mercury slowly shifting retrograde, symbolically descending into the invisible underworld, marks a threshold into a liminal space of past identities and perceptual patterns altering to open awareness to vital change and a presence in sync with authentically arising inner life.  Though popular culture tells us to avoid buying anything or signing any contracts when Mercury is retrograde, it is in fact possible to initiate significant action that will not only be beneficial but deeply resonate with one’s Soul.  As Mercury retrograde redirects the functions of Mercury from outward projection to becoming inwardly receptive with our body and unconscious, it is vital to be mindful of how your intuition and inner voice is guiding you.  If the sound of a new venture is bringing inner doubt, this is the type of new endeavor to avoid.  If a new venture instead brings a harmonizing vibration that feels naturally fulfilling, if signs of synchronicity point to the new endeavor being a soulful calling, then this is exactly the type of new project or relationship whose initiation will bring a bountiful boon.

26.8.98

Hathor Mirror (1479–1425 B.C. Egypt)

Mirrors: no one who’s tried to solve you
has yet unlocked your true being.
You, openings in time, its course filled
as if with endless sieve holes.

You, perpetual spendthrifts of the empty hall-,
when dusk approaches, deep as woods . . .
And there the chandelier, like a sixteen-pointer,
leaps your unbreathable divide.

Sometimes you are full of painting.
A few seem to have passed straight into you-,
others you shyly sent away.

But the one loveliest woman will remain
before you, -till across into her untouched cheeks
the clear released Narcissus penetrates.

–Rainer Maria Rilke from Sonnets to Orpheus translated by Edward Snow

Mercury in the home of Venus

With Mercury retrograde in the home of Venus, the mirror of Aphrodite shall reflect our current state of being as well as open a portal to the potential of our Self.  Mercury retrograde periods often bring up the past for resolution, yet can also facilitate a crossing of the threshold that demarcates a new dimension of experience.  Mirroring will illuminate our inner issues most in need of reflection and resolution through the mirror of outer relationships and events, and insight into the illusion we call reality will be revealed.    Going within the etheric field of bodily senses, this Mercury Retrograde in Taurus will metamorphose and reconstruct our inner magnetism that attracts relationships to us, supporting us aligning with more soulfully supportive partners through inner work rather than outer striving.

A day after Mercury stations retrograde, Venus enters her home of Taurus where she stays for the rest of the retrograde and will give strong Venusian support to Mercury.  Hermes in myth is bound to the fertility of nature and sexuality, and similarly as Mercury retrograde pulls us inward into our corporeal senses in the domicile of Venus, desire for sensual pleasures and hedonistic delights of the flesh will arise.  Self-love and making nourishment of optimal well-being in the body through diet, exercise, and luxuriating in the scent of flowery enrapture will be a beneficial balm for whatever worrisome events occur during the Mercury Retrograde.   This Mercury retrograde in the receptive and earthy sign of Venus will viscerally reveal the myriad ways in which we find meaning through our subjective sensual faculties.

When Venus enters Taurus she immediately enters a conjunction with the asteroid Hathor (asteroid #2340), the asteroid that is named for the Lady of Heaven, Lady of Horns, Lady of All.  Hathor is the womb found in the stars, the living, fertile sky that is the source of All. Hathor embodies the triple goddess aspect of mother, lover, and daughter, but is not a goddess fixated on the needs of a partner or sustaining a relationship with an Other.  Venus uniting with Hathor in Taurus as Mercury descends into the underworld at the beginning of its retrograde amplifies the focus on the inner side of Venus that is not outwardly obsessed with relationship, revitalizing our sense of inner needs for joy.  Further fitting for Mercury retrograde, Hathor is a fructifying goddess of rebirth and regeneration, who like Hermes took part in guiding the transition of Souls into the afterlife and here points toward the needs of the Soul gaining greater prominence over the needs of the conscious personality.

Fascinatingly, Mercury stations retrograde while conjoining the asteroid Vesta in Taurus, another significator of devotedly turning focus within rather than being consumed with the needs and expectations of relationship.  Vesta is not virginal in a sexual sense, however, and heralds an opening to sacred sexuality and the reception of spirit in the senses through its union with stationing Mercury.  Nonetheless, since independence and self-reliance outside of partnership is paramount to  Vesta, the conjunction between Vesta with stationing Mercury suggests the inward pull of Hermes will destabilize any co-dependent tendencies occurring in order to help anchor perception into one’s true inner needs and desires.

Mercury also stations while conjoining the blinking, fixed star Algol.  Algol is known as the Head of Medusa and the Head of the Demon, a fixed star associated with the extremities of emotion, whether that be through a voracious sexual union, the velocity of passion poured into a creative outlet, or the intensity of outraged anger.  Again, while this aspect can go along with strong sensual immersion in sexuality, a link with Algol does not signify precedence given to the maintenance of a relationship.  Once again this is a sign of the primal needs of the Self taking precedence, and that the initial focus of this Mercury retrograde is to realign with inner needs outside the expectations of current relationship.

Paint a perfect picture
Bring to life a vision in one’s mind
The beautiful ones
Always smash the picture
Always every time

— Prince, “The Beautiful Ones” from Purple Rain

Though the demonizing of Mercury Retrograde in popular culture can go overboard with projections of negativity, there can be vexing and extremely frustrating experiences with communication and becoming overwhelmed with challenges and setbacks during the backward, trickster movement of Mercury.  With Mercury retrograde in the Fixed sign of Taurus, it is more than likely that we can become quite Bull-headed in our perspective, solidly sustaining a stubborn stance in resistance of changes that threaten our sense of inner security.  Though this Mercury Retrograde never forms a major aspect with the Mars Retrograde concurrently happening, Mercury Retrograde does station retrograde in exact polarity to the degree of Scorpio that Mars will station direct at in the end of June.  Furthermore, when Mercury stations retrograde in Taurus, its ruler Venus is at the end of Aries in the sign of Mars.  The inner fire of Mars Retrograde that burns off the inessential, combined with the Mercury Retrograde absorption into our perceptual core senses, will open stored memories in need of processing that underlie the desires we are consciously working out in the Mars Retrograde.

yaroslav forest

by Yaroslav Gerzhedovich

in time of daffodils (who know
the goal of living is to grow)
forgetting why,remember how

in time of lilacs who proclaim
the aim of waking is to dream,
remember so(forgetting seem)

in time of roses(who amaze
our now and here with paradise)
forgetting if,remember yes

in time of all sweet things beyond
whatever mind may comprehend,
remember seek(forgetting find)

and in a mystery to be
(when time from time shall set us free)
forgetting me,remember me

—e.e. cummings

Memory moves Mercury.  Indeed, Hermes in the myth of his origin enchanted Apollo with a song eulogizing Mnemosyne, Titanesss of Memory and Mother of Muses, played on the lyre he invented from a tortoise shell.  Memories held in the body, the memory of an ideal consummation sustained in the sensual folds of our mind, will rise to awareness in the retrograde rumination of Mercury. Memories allow us to revisit faded fields of passion and sorrow, and though the tactile faculties of our mind can allow the glow of a memory to override full presence in the moment, significant memories in need of processing will make themselves known during the sluggish retrograde of Mercury.  We will not be able to resist certain memories in need of replaying in our minds during this retrograde, but we can do the inner work necessary to transform the possessive side of Taurus that can become overly attached to nostalgia rather than opening to the changes underway.

The Mercurial function turned inward in the instinctual sign of Taurus will facilitate our diverse senses taking predominance in the making of meaning over our rational mind, including those sensitivities labeled psychic for want of a clearer term. Just as Mercury in alchemy conjoins the animating spirit with the earthly body, the prima materia of our full bodily presence will bring nonverbal insight into the world-creating spirit concealed in material forms.  Just as Hermes was born in a cave, just as subterranean caves were the temples of our ancestors where Spirit was received in the flesh, so will we descend to the subconscious place where tomb meets womb and where the death of the past gives rise to a reborn consciousness.

Since Mercury retrograde in Taurus is ruled by the transiting Venus, it is vital to reflect upon the significance that Venus in Taurus will be under the beams of the Sun during the retrograde, getting closer each day to her eventual union with our Solar Light.  Adam Gainsburg in his book The Light of Venus called the phase Venus is in with the Sun during the Mercury Retrograde “Immersion,” stating it is the period in the Heroine’s Journey in which “The Queen of Heaven is pulled away from the world by an inward force, and prepares to rediscover Her divine essence from within.”  As we unearth deeply held memories in the body of our essentiality, we can stop hiding our feelings and shift to a space of directly going after what we want and living from our authentic feelings.  In these ways the Mercury retrograde in the survival-focused sign of Taurus can help build greater self-reliance and resiliency.

Remedios Varo solar music

Musica Solar by Remedies Varo

Mercury in the Heart of the Sun

The REBIRTH of Mercury that occurs during its retrograde through Taurus is not your everyday Inferior Conjunction of Mercury, but rather is the legendary Transit of Mercury that only occurs about thirteen times every century.  The Transit of Mercury is similar to Mercury eclipsing our Sun, except Mercury from our perspective is far too small to come anywhere close to the blackening effect the Moon makes upon the Sun during an eclipse.  Just as the Moon has nodes, and the nodes are the zodiac degrees that mark where eclipses occur, so do all of the planets possess nodes.  The Inferior Conjunction of Mercury occurs on 9 May 2016 at 19°25′ Taurus, which is within a degree of the Heliocentric South Node of Mercury.  The last time the Transit of Mercury happened was in November 2006 when it occurred in Scorpio conjoining the North Node of Mercury, and the next time it will occur will be in November 2019 when it will also be conjoining the North Node of Mercury.

There is an interesting aspect to the Heliocentric planetary nodes in which the North Node of Mars and South Node of Mercury are both in Taurus around nineteen degrees.  With Mars retrograde occurring simultaneously, the heart of this particular Mercury Retrograde activates the full arc of the Mercury and Mars archetypes. The North Node ascent for Mars in Taurus points toward self-reliance and centering within one’s essential values, having the patience and fortitude to live from a core place of integrity rather than losing touch with one’s authenticity through external entanglements and desires.  In contrast, the South Node of Mercury being Taurus reveals inner senses, bodily instincts, sensory impressions, and memories as being the source of the Mercury archetype.  There are very supportive aspects surrounding Mercury when it enters the heart of the Sun, as it is in trine to Pluto in Capricorn, in sextile to the South Node of the Moon and Chiron in Pisces, and in trine to the North Node of the Moon and Jupiter in Virgo: open without resistance to what is arising from within and discover what Hermes has left for you.

MercuryCazimiWRIGC1

When Mercury retrograde unites with the Sun it is directly in between the orbit of Earth with the Sun, signifying a magical moment of new conception for Mercurial functions.  Once Mercury gets to be a degree away from the Sun on either side, we arrive at the potent time of cazimi in which the significations of Mercury are fortified in the purifying solar rays.  This is a beautiful time to initiate new growth or simply meditate or attune within, so plan accordingly if possible for May 9.  This particular union of Mercury with the Sun is even more auspicious because Venus in Taurus is applying toward a conjunction with Mercury when it enters the heart of the Sun, and Jupiter is also stationing direct simultaneously in the home of Mercury in range of a trine to Mercury.

Jupiter stationing direct at this time holds a thread with the previous Mercury Retrograde in Aquarius and Capricorn that occurred in January 2016, as Jupiter stationed retrograde at that time.  The Jupiter retrograde from January 8 – May 9, 2016 has brought opportunities to realign with inner, personal truth, and so this magical moment of Mercury will also illuminate our present sense of Jupiter vision and meaning.  In the collective, one omen of this period has been the death of two Mercurial Geniuses of Music and the Muses:  David Bowie and Prince.

man ray plume

Plume (1942) by Man Ray

Mercury Stations Direct

After Mercury begins to slowly retrograde away from its Inferior Conjunction with the Sun, it begins to transition into its Morning Star phase which will commence around the time that Mercury stations direct on 22 May 2016.  In between Mercury’s union with the Sun on May 9 and its stationing direct on May 22, there is a distinctly powerful timeframe around May 12 and May 13 when Venus unites with Mercury retrograde in Taurus while simultaneously forming an exact trine with Pluto in Capricorn (with Jupiter and the North Node in Virgo not too far away in Virgo to create a Grand Earth Trine).  This period will be full of important messages to decipher concerning the culminating meaning found within Mercury’s retrograde in the domicile of Venus.

When Mercury arises from the underworld with a flash of light at Dawn, the sibyls of Hermes transmit a message to receive as Mercury switches roles into that of a day-focused herald intent on clarifying goals in the light of the Sun.  With unbelievable synchronicity, Mercury stations direct on the same day that Mars enters the heart of its retrograde cycle, being exactly opposite the Sun.  Furthermore, the day before this eventful stationing day, there will be a Full Moon at the 1-2 degree of Sagittarius that hits immediately after the Sun enters Gemini, the solar home of Mercury.  All together, this means that both the Moon and Mercury are bringing indescribable levels of intensity to the meaning found in the heart of this Mars Retrograde cycle: the lesson to be learned, the message to receive, will be impossible to miss.

The period following Mercury stationing direct, when Mercury gains traction in its rousing rooster role of Morning Star, is full of the type of epic astrological aspects that demarcate defining shifts in the collective narrative.  Jupiter in Virgo and Saturn in Sagittarius form an exact last quarter square on May 26, four days after the Winged Messenger stations direct, and this last quarter square also involves Neptune in Pisces forming an opposition to Jupiter as well as a last quarter square with Saturn.  This t-square between Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune signifies an extraordinary change in collective consciousness that will be deeply felt on a personal level, and could very well provoke a sense of crisis. However, the larger message found within these aspects is a reorientation to the authentic trajectory your life can take in the next five years and beyond.  As a result, the Mercury Retrograde in Taurus serves as a vital inner recalibration to the massive change happening.

Finally, the Hathor asteroid again surfaces in prominence in the week leading up to Mercury stationing direct, conjoining the retrograde Mercury around May 16 -17, 2016.  Remembering that Hathor entered Taurus just as Mercury stationed retrograde and initially was moving along closely with Venus, it is compelling that Hathor and Mercury get closer together throughout the retrograde and finally make their exchange in the period leading up to the stationing direct.  The synchronicity of the Hathor asteroid weaving herself significantly within this potent Mercury Retrograde delights me more than words can express in this article.  No matter the grief and suffering you may be enduring at the moment in reflection of everything that has not gone the way you have desired, the presence of Hathor with this Mercury retrograde augurs that joy and exuberance can once again be embodied if you align with the movements opened up by the thrice great trickster and Psychopomp, Mercury.

He whose desire turns away from outer things, reaches the place of the soul. If he does not find the soul, the horror of emptiness will overcome him, and fear will drive him with a whip lashing time and again in a desperate endeavor and a blind desire for the hollow things of the world. He becomes a fool through his endless desire, and forgets the way of his soul, never to find her again. He will run after all things, and will seize hold of them, but he will not find his soul, since he would find her only in himself. Truly his soul lies in things and men, but the blind one seizes things and men, yet not his soul in things and men. He has no knowledge of his soul. How could he tell her apart from things and men? He could find his soul in desire itself, but not in the objects of desire. If he possessed his desire, and his desire did not possess him, he would lay a hand on his soul, since his desire is the image and expression of his soul.

–Carl Jung, from The Red Book: Liber Novus

References

Banville, John. (2009). The Infinities. Alfred A. Knopf.

cummings, e.e. (1994). Selected Poems. Liveright.

Gainsburg, Adam. (2012). The Light of Venus.  Soulsign.

Jung, Carl. (2009). The Red Book: Liber Novus. Edited by Sonu Shamdasani. Norton.

Rilke, Rainer Maria. (2004). Sonnets to Orpheus. Translated by Edward Snow. North Point Press.

Mercury Retrograde in Saturn’s Home

Dore_Raven15

Illustration for The Raven by Gustave Dore

Hermes I call, whom Fate decrees to dwell in the dire path which leads to deepest hell

O Bacchic Hermes, progeny divine of Dionysius, parent of the vine,
And of celestial Aphrodite Paphian queen, dark eye-lash’d Goddess of a lovely mien:
Who constant wand’rest thro’ the sacred feats
where hell’s dread empress, Persephone, retreats;
To wretched souls the leader of the way when Fate decrees, to regions void of day:
Thine is the wand which causes sleep to fly, or lulls to slumb’rous rest the weary eye;
For Persephone’s thro’ Tart’rus dark and wide gave thee forever flowing souls to guide.
Come, blessed pow’r the sacrifice attend, and grant our mystic works a happy end.

— Hermes Chthonian from The Orphic Hymns

Mercury Retrograde

When Mercury shifts retrograde our angelic trickster slips into his role as psychopomp, the guide of souls who can journey into the underworld and back again. On a personal level this coincides with a turn within toward awareness not as readily available when Mercury is moving direct, a process that can birth new presence and shed old habits as Mercury reemerges on the other side (Mercury will station direct on January 25 and leave the retrograde shadow zone on February 17).  Mercury retrograde is not a time to fear but rather an opening to symbolic perception that can divine messages within the darkness of our dreams as well as in the signs that appear during our sunlit daily journeying.  The Mercury retrograde that begins on January 5, 2016 initiates at the first degree of Aquarius, but spends the majority of the time in the second half of Capricorn.  Aquarius and Capricorn are both the homes of Saturn, and so this Mercury retrograde will be deeply linked with the significations we associate with that old devil, Saturn.  The link to Saturn is further intensified by Mercury crossing the South Node of Saturn while retrograde,and then returning to conjoin the South Node of Saturn again once moving direct.

Modern astrology gives the rulership of Aquarius to Uranus, and one result of this is to associate Aquarius with future-oriented, liberated forms of thought.  Yet this same meaning can be found through Aquarius being the diurnal home of Saturn, a place where Saturn detaches from the conditioned thought forms of consensus culture to develop systems of thought that break free from the constraints of the status quo.  Mercury free from other influences stationing retrograde in Aquarius would support reception of a message beyond self-centered subjectivity, in an objective and clarified mind frame detached from passions and able to rationalize feelings.  Yet instead the stationing of Mercury is painted in bold, impassioned colors by Mars in Scorpio forming an exact square at the time Mercury stations retrograde.  As Mars in Scorpio heats the emotional climate of Mercury stationing retrograde, our feelings could override our ability to be objective or communicate with restraint.  The eruption of cathartic feelings at the dawn of this retrograde will be borne by Mercury into our underworld for deep processing and purification.

The movement of Mercury from Aquarius back into Capricorn is united by both signs being the home of Saturn.  Mercury in the territory of Saturn can readily focus on systems and structures in our life, including rumination upon time and space.  Mercury stationing retrograde while bearing the water of Aquarius holds the promise of illumination that transcends our everyday conception of time, saturating our direct perception of the moment with lucidity.  As Mercury moves backward into Capricorn, goat horns protrude through the messenger’s head as the role of water bearer is released in order to invest fully into the surrounding material realm with its lusty nature.  In Capricorn, where Mercury spends the majority of its time this retrograde, Mercury shifts our focus toward achievement and ambition as well as the degree of determination and discipline that will be needed for manifestation.

In addition to entering the heart of the Sun while retrograde in Capricorn, Mercury will also form conjunctions with Pallas Athene and Pluto, and in fact will station direct conjoining Pluto.  Around the recent solstice Mercury was first conjunct Pallas Athene, and in the first week of its retrograde movement Mercury will again become conjunct with Pallas Athene in Capricorn.  Here the creative visioning of Pallas Athene combines with the symbolic perception of Mercury retrograde for penetrating perception into the structural and systematic foundations surrounding us.  In her classic Asteroid Goddesses Demetra George wrote:

Aesthetically, Pallas Athene is very strong in Capricorn representing the ability to formulate precise structures (molds) into which raw creative energy can coalesce.  Instant manifestation is often possible and can be seen as a magical process. Here, Pallas excels in the arts of architecture, drafting, and sculpture.  Capricorn’s association with time connects Pallas Athene with the art of timing- being in the right place at the right time.  Politically, this is a defender of law and order. There is a strong power drive for authority over others in political and social institutions.  The wisdom of Pallas in Capricorn is the wisdom of order- putting things in their proper sequence (p. 105).

The Sun in Capricorn is applying closely to a conjunction with Pluto in Capricorn and square to Uranus in Aries when Mercury stations retrograde, and then in the weeks ahead after Mercury passes back across the face of the Sun, Mercury will eventually come into a square with Uranus in Aries and then will station direct in conjunction with Pluto in Capricorn.  As a result, this Mercury retrograde activates and re-triggers the first quarter square between Pluto and Uranus that has been dominating our astrological landscape for the past seven years, most exactly in the past four years.  As predicted the Pluto-Uranus square has correlated with seismic shifts around our planet, and so this Mercury retrograde is profound for reflecting upon the immensity of change that has passed through our lives.  Furthermore, it’s a potent period for reorienting our plans and structures in greater harmony with the insights we receive for how our world has been altered and continues to change.

Dore_Inferno1

Illustration for Dante’s Inferno by Gustave Dore

Does it really exist, Time the Destroyer?
When, on the peaceful mountain, does it crush the fortress?
And this heart, always the gods’ possession,
when does the Demiurge pillage it?

Are we really so anxiously brittle
as Fate would have us believe?
Is childhood, so deep, so rich with promise,
in the roots- later on- stilled?

Ah, the spectre of transience,
through the guilelessly receptive
it passes like wisps of smoke.

And we, with our driving, our striving,-
the abiding Strengths assume
that the gods have some need for us.

— Rainer Maria Rilke from Sonnets to Orpheus

Mercury Stations Retrograde

Hermes is a god of boundaries, with a tradition of demarcating divisions between profane and sacred territory, between rural and urban landscapes, between the graveyards of the dead and the playgrounds of the living.  When Mercury stations retrograde, this normally swift planet gives off the appearance of putting down roots into solid stillness, and as it disappears with a flash of light at sunset there is a cosmic message transmitted.  As Mercury moves retrograde under the beams of the Sun it is not visible, and being in between our planet Earth and our fiery Sun it is symbolically considered to be journeying through our underworld.  Demetra George has connected Mercury retrograde with the work by Jungian Murray Stein on the borderline spaces we inhabit during transitions and gaps between conscious realities.  As Hermes is a god of thresholds and passages between realms, Demetra George has taught that the stationing of Mercury retrograde marks a liminal time in which we are separated from a clear sense of where we are, as Hermes guides us through a transition of an old identity dying and the emergence of a new sense of Self.

This Mercury retrograde primarily occurring in Capricorn introduces the Mercurial theme of the earth element in 2016, as the following two Mercury retrograde periods this year will also occur in the earth signs of Taurus and Virgo.  This brings to mind the unconscious symbolism of the forest as well as other oracular associations with soulful matter such as rocks, plants, and other elements of our natural world.  Capricorn is distinguished in part from the other earth signs through it being the home of Saturn, and the transiting Saturn in Sagittarius is fittingly forming some of the most significant astrological aspects during this Mercury retrograde.  Transiting Saturn being in Sagittarius colors Mercury’s time in Capricorn with a more strident, visionary vibration.  The last quarter square between Saturn in Sagittarius and Neptune in Pisces that has been an intense astrological factor over the past couple of months continues to be so during this Mercury retrograde, and in fact becomes all the more dramatic with the passage of Venus triggering their dynamic.

As Mercury stations retrograde, Venus is applying tightly to a square with Neptune, within minutes.  Venus is also four degrees away from Saturn in Sagittarius as Mercury stations, and as Mercury moves retrograde over the following week Venus will conjoin Saturn on January 8 at a Dark Moon in Capricorn.  The square between Venus and Neptune portends a crisis in our relationships, and as Venus is overcoming Neptune in the square while also approaching Saturn, the dreamy unconditional side of our feelings can be overcome by the conditions of circumstance in front of our face, what we feel are the cold hard facts of reality.  However, the square of Neptune in Pisces to Venus and Saturn combining in Sagittarius also reveals that there is a deeper and more far reaching truth to discern, such as the fact that what we are perceiving to be our reality is based more upon our current beliefs than actual reality.  While Saturn can bring up feelings of wanting to cut something off and separate, it is also true that Venus can soften up the old ringed devil for reconciliation.  At a higher potential, we can utilize these aspects during the Mercury retrograde to penetrate into our subjective feelings and perceptions and unveil a vaster conception of personal truth.

At the outset of Mercury stationing retrograde, with Mars in Scorpio in square to Mercury in Aquarius, we will want to keep in mind that disillusionment and feelings of disorientation are likely to come up in our relationships and that this amplified aspect between Mars and Mercury can erupt easily into bitter conflict.  While Mercury is in Aquarius, there is a risk that the detached side of Aquarius could combine with the fury of Mars at full force in Scorpio, resulting in explosive fights.  Yet the anger coming out in conflicts at this time has a source within, and it will be the task of this Mercury retrograde to journey within and explore the full ramifications of where these feelings are coming from.  It is important to realize that the feelings and thoughts dislodged at the beginning of this Mercury retrograde by Mars square Mercury, Venus and Saturn square Neptune among other things, is not the end of the story but merely the beginning.  Mercury will be journeying in the retrograde all the way back to unite with Pluto in Capricorn, and so there will be a vital message for us to receive about ourselves connected to the impassioned feelings provoked at the outset of this Mercury retrograde.

There is also the potential that we can rekindle passion from the Mars square in order to then harness corresponding desire to determined effort going forward.  Mercury retrograde in the home of Saturn will reward hard work and effort, and so the square from Mars to Mercury can jolt us into awareness of where we need to concentrate and work with full force.  This square between Mercury and Mars is even more intense as it is the second one to occur within the same week.  The first square in this cycle was on December 29, 2015 with Mercury at its maximum elongation as an Evening Star at 28° of Capricorn, and Mars at the same degree of Libra.  There is something hugely significant to find within this square between Mercury and Mars that will fuel our work in the year ahead.  Mars and Mercury will form their third square in the beginning of March 2016 with Mercury at the very end of Aquarius and Mars and the very end of Scorpio.  It may take until this later time a few months from now to fully come to terms with the work that will be involving this intense aspect between Mercury and Mars, and in the meantime we will need to persevere in the face of any daunting obstacles.

The other major astrological aspect occurring as Mercury stations retrograde is that a couple of days after Mercury stations retrograde, Jupiter in Virgo will also station retrograde closely conjoining the North Node of the Moon in Virgo.  There is a powerful connection here with Mercury as the conjunction between Jupiter and the North Node of the Moon is occurring in Virgo. In fact, as Mercury moves retrograde into Capricorn this connection will intensify as Mercury will be receiving Jupiter through a trine.  With Mercury in the home of Saturn, Saturn in the home of Jupiter, and Jupiter in the home of Mercury during this retrograde, despite some of the otherwise challenging aspects there also appears to be a confluence of forces supporting us finding a vision for our life that will bring us a fulfilling sense of purpose.  Jupiter moving retrograde also brings an inner visioning in terms of reorienting toward a more authentic personal truth.  Jupiter was previously retrograde in Leo between early December 2014 and early April 2015 if you want to contemplate events associated with the prior Jupiter retrograde.  Jupiter will remain retrograde until the beginning of May 2016, at which time it will station direct in range of an opposition to Neptune in Pisces and a square with Saturn in Sagittarius.

mercury passing in front of the sun

Mercury Passing in Front of the Sun by Giacomo Balla (1914)

Only he who has also raised
his lyre among shadows
may find his way back
to infinite praise.

Only he who has eaten with the dead
from their stores of poppy
will never again lose
the softest chord.

And though the pool’s reflection
often blurs before us:
Know the image.

Only in the double realm
do the voices become
eternal and mild.

–Rainer Maria Rile from Sonnets to Orpheus

Mercury into the Sun

Mercury’s inferior conjunction occurs when Mercury retrograde reaches the same zodiac degree as the Sun, and as Mercury during its retrograde is passing between our Earth and Sun, I am part of the astrological community who interprets this as being similar to a New Mercury.  This is a moment of cazimi, in which Mercury is reborn in the radiance of our solar light, regenerated and purified within the golden rays of the fiery Sun.  On a personal level, this is a moment of new conception regarding the significations of Mercury within our life, and a powerful moment within to attune to an oracular message we may receive.  In Pacific standard time, this magical Mercury moment occurs at 6:05 am on January 14, 2016, while in the Central European time zone this will occur at 3:05 pm on January 14.

Mercury and the Sun will be at 23º50′ tightly in trine with Jupiter in Virgo at 23º10′ and the true North Node of the Moon in Virgo at 23º30′.  Amazingly, the waxing crescent Moon at the moment of Mercury cazimi is at 22º30′ of Pisces, closely applying to a conjunction with the South Node of the Moon, a sextile with the Mercury and Sun conjunction, and an opposition to Jupiter in Virgo.   These aspects are remarkably suggestive of the interpretation that Dane Rudhyar gave to the Crescent Moon as fighting off the ghosts of the past, as there is an activation of past patterns of awareness at the same time we sense new choices and opportunities linked to a reborn vision of meaning.  While we may feel a pull back toward the normalcy of old patterns, we can consciously with determination propel ourselves into the unknown with faith despite the fears arising that we will not have what we need to be successful in the new direction.  The close trine between Mercury conjoining the Sun and Jupiter conjoining the North Node of the Moon indicates that we will in fact be able to access the resources we need to successfully transition in the new, unfamiliar direction.

In addition, the inferior conjunction of Mercury will be almost exactly conjunct the geocentric South Node of Saturn, and a few degrees away from a conjunction with the geocentric South Node of Pluto.  This intensifies the connection of this Mercury retrograde cycle with the full archetypal arcs of both Saturn and Pluto.  In evolutionary astrology, Jeff Green teaches that the South Nodes of Saturn and Pluto being in Capricorn symbolizes the vast shadow cast by the patriarchal paradigm that seized power from a matriarchal collective ages ago.  Mercury retrograde united with the Sun at the South Node of Saturn suggests penetrating insight into the foundation of the structural systems surrounding us will be available.  It also portends we can discern how our behavior in the moment has been conditioned by the vast history of hierarchical power structures vying for power, control, and dominance.

Finally, there are additional indications that Venus is demanding attention from us during this Mercury retrograde, and that the retrograde commencing with a tight square between Venus and Neptune is a sign that we have a deep message regarding our Venusian nature to uncover.  At the time of Mercury’s inferior conjunction, Venus in Sagittarius is separating from a trine with Uranus in Aries and applying to a square with Jupiter and the North Node of the Moon in Virgo, as well as a square with the Moon in Pisces and the South Node of the Moon.  Well, we’re always focused on Venus and looking for messages about her, right?  Nonetheless, Venus is holding aspects suggestive of being at a crossroads at the time of this Mercury inferior conjunction, and as she will be received by Jupiter it is yet another sign of the Jupiter conjunction with the North Node of the Moon in Virgo being a beacon of light leading us out of the Mercurial underworld.

Dore Gustave Inferno_Canto_1_spirit_guide

Virgil leads Dante by Gustave Dore, from the Divine Comedy

We puzzle over flower, vine-leaf, fruit.
They speak not just the language of the year.
A thing of succor rises from the dark
and its hues may gleam with the jealousy

of the dead, those who strengthen the earth.
What do we know of their share in it?
It has long been their practice to enrich
the loam with their own free marrow.

The question is: do they do it willingly? . . .
Does this fruit, a work of sullen slaves,
push through clenched to us, to their masters?

Or are they the masters, sleeping among
the roots and granting us from their profusion
this hybrid of mute strength and kisses?

— Rainer Maria Rilke from Sonnets to Orpheus

Mercury Stations Direct

Mercury ultimately will station direct on January 25, 2016 at 14º55′ of Capricorn, closely conjoining Pluto at 15º54′ of Capricorn.  As Mercury appears to stand still when stationing, this means we will have an extended period of Mercury and Pluto being a degree apart (roughly January 21 – February 1, 2016).  On January 20 when the Sun ingresses into Aquarius, Mercury retrograde will also form an exact square with Uranus in Aries, and Mercury will still be in range of a square to Uranus when it finally stations direct.  There is deep reckoning to be found in this stationing direct of Mercury, much more so than normal as it is intimately bound to the influence of the Pluto-Uranus square.  This may or may not be a pleasant time depending upon your circumstances, but there is no doubt that an aspect of your ineffable soul will be available to perceive.  Whether you are able to schedule some downtime for yourself or whether you will be forced to be engaged in numerous intense activities, there is immense catharsis found in these aspects surrounding Mercury stationing direct.  There is also a harmonious sextile formed between Mars in Scorpio with the stationing Mercury in Capricorn, suggesting that a level of resolution could be reached concerning whatever was stirred up by Mars being square to Mercury at the beginning of the retrograde.

Adding to the vast depth of this time is that Mercury will be stationing direct closely conjoining the geocentric South Node of Jupiter, and also a couple of degrees away from a conjunction with its own geocentric South Node of Mercury.  This is yet another potent activation of the Jupiter archetype during this Mercury retrograde, and points toward Jupiter taking on the role of a guiding shepherd.  As Mercury begins to move direct again as an explorative Morning Star, it will once again begin applying to a trine with Jupiter and the North Node of the Moon in Virgo.  Those who have been working hard with due diligence and determination during the Mercury retrograde will be rewarded during this final period of Jupiter in Virgo receiving Mercury in Capricorn through a trine.  By willingly descending into underworld darkness during the Mercury retrograde, we will reascend nourished by a regenerated vision of life focused upon our essential fulfillment.

References

George, Demetra with Bloch, Douglas. (1986). Asteroid Goddesses. ACS.

Rilke, Rainer Maria. (2004). Sonnets to Orpheus. Translated by Edward Snow. North Point Press.

Mercury Retrograde in Libra

Mercury retrograde in Libra

Man Ray (1931) Untitled

Mercury Retrograde in Libra

  • Mercury stations retrograde at 15°55′ Libra on September 17, 2015
  • Mercury unites with Sun at 7°07′  Libra on September 30, 2015
  • Mercury stations direct at 0°54′ Libra on October 9, 2015
  • Mercury leaves its retrograde shadow zone on October 26, 2015

The transit of Mercury retrograde in Libra beginning September 17 opens a doorway within the vivifying void of eclipses, as we will be in between the Solar Eclipse of September 13 and the Lunar Eclipse of September 27.  While Mercury retrogrades are always liminal in quality, the influence of eclipses on the commencement of this retrograde evokes entrance through a magic portal that mysteriously redefines and redirects.  Mercury stations retrograde simultaneously with two other impactful transits, as about eleven hours before Mercury stations there will be an exact opposition between Jupiter in Virgo and Neptune in Pisces, and about nine hours after Mercury stations, Saturn will ingress into Sagittarius.  Jupiter in Virgo, Neptune in Pisces, and Saturn in Sagittarius will be dominant players in the upcoming astrological atmosphere saturated with the deep shifting of Mutable signs. Our move into the preponderance of Mutable signs will create an air of adjustment to the ensuing disorientation, and so it is here that Mercury retrograde arrives.  Since this Mercury retrograde is occurring in Libra, the sign of Scales and the domicile of Venus, an atmosphere of relational recalibration will occur on both inner and outer levels.  In collective events of tension and trauma such as the refugee crisis in Europe, we will witness raised levels of rhetoric and reaction with participants coming back and forth from extreme positions of opposition.  Perhaps there is none other than Mercury more up to the task of guiding us to find a middle way of solutions in response.

The journey of Mercury around the Sun is important to pay attention to, as Mercury from our perspective on Earth never gets too far ahead of the Sun as an evening star, returning three times every year during its retrograde to reunite and regenerate within the purifying solar rays.  Karl Kerenyi in Hermes: Guide of Souls ascribed “belonging to the journey” and being “by the road” as part of the essential nature of Hermes, who is “constantly underway” in motion at all times (p. 33).  Kerenyi wrote that any “journeyer” connected with Hermes remains “at home on the road itself, the road being understood not as a connection between two definite points on the earths surface, but as a particular world” (p. 32).  When Mercury stations retrograde, it marks the time period in which Mercury disappears as an evening star with a flash of light, descending from our view into the invisibility of the underworld.  The underworld passage of Mercury retrograde is not a time to fear, but rather a world to fully enter and embrace for the treasures found within its depths.  There are already innumerable issues occurring that are creating fear, and these have nothing to do with this Mercury retrograde causing them.

Mercury is the divine messenger who weaves the golden rays of the Sun into the words and other forms of communication we express ourselves through, a soulful guide through which our consciousness discerns meaning from phenomenal reality.  The constant variation of Mercury’s synodic cycle influences how we evaluate our experiences, and so during the retrograde when Mercury symbolically descends into the underworld we can more readily access alternate forms of perception resonant with the intuitive meaning found in symbols, signs, omens, and dreams.  Mercury retrograde as a result becomes a time we can seize to turn within and ruminate on the nature of our experiences since the previous Mercury retrograde (Mercury last stationed direct at 4°34′ Gemini on June 11, 2015).  Mercury moving in a radically different motion from our perspective also coincides with radical changes in thought, and we can use this Mercurial phenomenon to directly respond to life less attached to the previous habitual patterns of mind.

This retrograde occurring entirely in the sign of Libra means that Mercury will be residing in the house of Venus, and so we will be able to take a long look at ourselves in the mirror of Aphrodite as well as use Venusian mirrors to alter our appearance to others.  It also means that as Karl Kerenyi wrote in Hermes: Guide of Souls that “meeting and finding are revelations of Hermes’ essence” (p. 43), “finding and thieving in the realm of love are also Hermetic traits” (p. 48).  Hermes was born from a secret love affair between Zeus and Maia, and as shown in the Homeric Hymn and the Odyssey, Hermes felt no shame singing about his divinely deceitful origins or loudly proclaiming that he would also love to “bed that golden Aphrodite” when she was discovered in her affair with Ares.  I am not sharing these references to suggest anyone enter into an extramarital affair during this Mercury retrograde, only that we will be overcome at times with eros and that within our impassioned embraces we will enter the magical world of Mercury:

Journeying is the best condition for loving.  The gorges over which the “volatized one” passes like a ghost can be the abysses of unbelievable love affairs-  Circe and Calypso islands and holes; they can be abysses also in the sense that there no chance exists for standing on firm ground, but only for further floating between life and death.

–Karl Kerenyi from Hermes: Guide of Souls

Mercury’s capacity to travel the extents of both the upper and underworld brings the association of being a psychopomp or guide of souls, the wily thief and shepherd who carries a golden staff that can lull others into trance states as well as startle wide awake.  During Mercury retrograde it is as if the wave of Hermes’ wand takes us into a realm of perception counter to the dominant narrative of how one’s awareness is expected to operate.  Gleaning wisdom from Mercury retrograde is like embracing the “mythological treasure” described by Peter Kingsley in his book Reality:  “the invaluable object that has been lost and misused and has to be rediscovered at all costs” (p. 21).  The gifts we can most readily receive from Mercury retrograde are not always the kind valued by consensus culture:  the illuminated thought received while watching the flight of birds or the flight of leaves falling from trees, or the mysterious meanderings of a creative process that does not provide immediate gratification or reward.

Mercury Retrograde in Libra

Revolving Doors (1926) by Man Ray

 Enantiodromia

Enantiodromia is a term from ancient Greek meaning “to run counter to,” that was unearthed in the work of Carl Jung to demonstrate his understanding that anything at an extreme state will turn into its opposite quality.  The concept of a unity found in oppositions goes at least as far back as the time of the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus, whose famous statement that no one steps in the same river twice was embedded within a philosophy of flux that saw that everything in existence contains and turns into its opposite state.  Jung brought this concept into his theories about the interplay between our conscious and unconscious, and how what we repress in our subconscious can erupt in polarity through our shadow.  There is an inherent restoration of balance to our system that results that is not unlike the astrological meaning we can find in Libra, the sign of the Scales.

In astrology Mercury has been defined clearly across centuries, yet delights in defying definitions as it has been known to identify as both masculine and feminine, nocturnal and diurnal, capable of mutating identity in acclimation to its surrounding environment. Mercury retrograde in Libra beckons a re-examination of the Scales, the concept of finding balance that necessitates extremes, tension, polarity, counterpoints, and contrariness. The awareness we can access in Mercury retrograde can help us transcend rigid parameters of duality through swinging wildly at times between extremes of perception, experiencing extremities of oppositions in a continual process of re-balancing. As this Mercury retrograde occurs during the final days of the lunar nodes being in Aries and Libra, one realm of extremes we will experience will be our desires for independence and self-empowerment in tandem with our desires for relationship and mutual sharing.  Since the Mercury retrograde begins with Jupiter in Virgo exactly opposite Neptune in Pisces, the extremes of vision we can find between Virgo and Pisces, between skepticism and inspiration, between reductionism and holism, will also come up in a process in which we will be redefining our belief system.

As Mercury stations retrograde in opposition to Uranus in Aries and in square to Pluto in Capricorn, the stationing Mercury will dig into our core and a morphing from one extreme to another could result from what was formerly repressed entering conscious awareness.  This Libra Mercury retrograde bridges Uranus and Pluto more intensely together than they have been recently, and so corresponding contrariness could involve strong impulses for liberation and emancipation in the face of judgmental shaming or oppression, or strivings for a freedom from restraints coming up with a need to take responsibility within boundaries.  The opposition between Mercury in Libra and Uranus in Aries being in square to Pluto in Capricorn creates a t-square in which the missing point is found in Cancer, which means our issues around emotional insecurity and security will be important triggers.

The influence of the North Node of the Moon being in Libra is further amplified not only because this Mercury retrograde occurs entirely in Libra, but also because at the time that Mercury stations, Juno will be in Libra conjunct the North Node of the Moon, and Black Moon Lilith will also be conjunct the North Node of the Moon. Juno here in Libra makes our desires for relationship all the more soulful and procreative, drawing feelings to work through difficulties that have arisen in the relationships that resonate with our deepest longings.  As Juno is also a protector of those abused or victimized in relationship, her meaning in combination with the fiercely independent Black Moon Lilith and the Lunar North Node means that those being victimized at extremes in relationship can experience a sudden shift that impels them to leave for good.

Black Moon Lilith also brings added meaning that aspects of our essential nature that we have formerly not integrated into our relationships will now demand attention with the swift force of enantiodromia.  In the Libra realm of balance and counterweight, Black Moon Lilith is a fascinating calculated point in space that serves as a point of balance in terms of the Moon’s orbit.  Indeed, the true node of Black Moon Lilith is even called the “oscillating” Black Moon Lilith, and by name association both the “true” and “mean” calculations of the point have taken on the mythological meaning of Lilith.  Here we find the exiled and the estranged, but like one who must runaway from one’s home environment for safety as well as to find one’s true joy, the issues of Black Moon Lilith are necessary challenges for us to face in our healing and empowerment.  If we have been coping with certain issues at an extreme of perception, the other side holding an important perspective for us to embrace will flood our awareness.

Along these lines, the beginning period of Mercury’s retrograde seems to hold a powerful moment of integration from the previous Venus retrograde, as Venus is direct while still within her retrograde shadow zone, and is receiving the stationing Mercury in Libra through a sextile.  As Mercury begins to move backward into the initial phase of its retrograde motion, Venus will continue moving forward through Leo in the degrees of its retrograde shadow zone, resurrecting the issues from this past Venus retrograde for us to readdress.  If you have important placements or aspects in the second half of Leo, this Mercury retrograde time period will be your third opportunity to experience the transit of Venus there.  The third time will be the charm in the sense that the issues needing to be addressed will now be crystal clear if you have been paying attention, and the magical thinking of Mercury retrograde could bring a new perspective to the situation previously unthought.

Mercury Inferior Conjunction in Libra

Man Ray (1922) Rayograph

Cazimi

The initial phase of the Mercury retrograde begins on September 17 and extends until September 30, 2015 when Mercury enters the heart of the Sun at its Inferior Conjunction.  The union of Mercury with the Sun during its retrograde descriptively is similar to an interior conjunction, as it is the conjunction of Mercury with the Sun that happens when Mercury is between us on Earth and our Sun.  As a result this is a powerful moment of conception, likened to a New Mercury for us to set intention with in accord. To the ancients this is the time of Mercury being cazimi or at the heart of the Sun, the moment when Mercury is reborn with purifying vivification by the rays of solar light.  When Mercury and the Sun are cazimi at eight degrees of Libra, Juno and Black Moon Lilith will also be conjunct a few degrees away- this makes themes related to Juno and Black Moon Lilith absolutely vital to a new conception of Mercury we create at this time.  There is also an opposition of Vesta in Aries to Juno and Black Moon Lilith that brings a counterpoint of wanting independent focus on needs not being met in relationships.  Vesta is also retrograde, signifying a strong inner urge of devotion operating independent of our outer relationships.  The Vesta opposition to Juno and Black Moon Lilith is further emphasized by its alignment with a Lunar Eclipse in Aries a couple of days before Mercury becomes cazimi.

Convictions, beliefs, opinions,

certainties, principles,

rules and habits have abandoned me.

I woke up naked at the edge of a civilization

which seemed to me comic and incomprehensible.

— from After by Czeslaw Milosz

The period around the Inferior Conjunction of Mercury is a time of incubation, and so it is interesting that we will be experiencing the initial return of Saturn in Sagittarius simultaneously.  Whatever house Sagittarius rules in your birth chart is important to reflect upon at this time as you will experience a sudden jolt of the associated issues arising in your life.  The jolting pace of the half human half horse Centaur found in the symbol of Sagittarius is another theme that we will need to address through Mercury retrograde in Libra, as Sagittarius thrives on swiftness and taking off in new directions.  Since Saturn in Sagittarius is ruled by a Jupiter that is in the Virgo sign of Mercury, it means that the shifting relational perspectives we experience during this Mercury retrograde are deeply rooted to the changes that will occur with Saturn re-entering the sign of Sagittarius.  We can open to the gifts of Sagittarius by opening perception to the unknown without preconceived assumptions, discerning directly in the moment as much as possible.

It was a riverside meadow, lush, from before the hay harvest,

On an immaculate day in the sun of June.

I searched for it, found it, recognized it.

Grasses and flowers grew there familiar in my childhood.

With half-closed eyelids I absorbed luminescence.

And the scent garnered me, all knowing ceased.

Suddenly I felt I was disappearing and weeping with joy.

— A Meadow by Czeslaw Milosz

A further link between this Mercury retrograde in Libra and the previous Venus retrograde in Leo is at the time that Mercury has its Inferior Conjunction with the Sun on September 30, Venus will be in range of the same degree at which it had its own Inferior Conjunction with the Sun back on August 15, 2015.  As a result this is a magic portal moment in which our new conception of Mercury arises at the same time we are re-awakened to our new conception of Venus that happened over a month ago.  As we enter this New Mercury phase we release our old thought forms in preparation for the envisioning of the new.  Any deep soul desires we have been resisting could erupt with volatility at this time, as there is an incredibly transformative astrological climate surrounding the build up to this New Mercury:  Pluto will station direct in Capricorn six days before it, and there will be a Lunar Eclipse in Aries a few days before Mercury enters the heart of the Sun.

Mercury Retrograde in Libra

Man Ray (1926) The Meeting

Oracular Meetings

“The diverse shall be no less diverse, but they shall flow and unite . . . .

they unite now.”

∼ Walt Whitman from [The Sleepers] in Leaves of Grass

Beginning October 1, Mercury will shift into the final phase of its underworld journey that lasts until October 9 when Mercury stations direct as a Morning Star.  There are a number of important astrology aspects occurring during this period, and the sign of Virgo that Mercury calls its home is highlighted.  For one, Venus will have re-entered Virgo and will only be a couple of minutes away from leaving her retrograde shadow zone at the moment Mercury stations direct.  As Mercury stations Venus will also be applying closely to a square with Saturn in Sagittarius.  This final week of Mercury’s retrograde motion thus holds a powerful ingress of Venus from the solar sign of Leo into the Mercurial sign of Virgo, a transition symbolized for many by the form of the half maiden half lioness Sphinx.  With Saturn in Sagittarius awaiting Venus here, there is a demand for us to catalyze and activate all of the changes that have been stirred up during the long Venus retrograde journey from the beginning of Virgo to the heart of Leo and back again.  As soon as Venus enters Virgo, she is welcomed by a delighted Mercury into his hermetic home.  Venus traditionally has been classified as being in its fall in Virgo, and so with Mercury already in retrograde in Libra this can be a profound falling into our inner realm for transformative realization.

In addition, there will be an opposition between Mars in Virgo and Neptune in Pisces that occurs leading up to the stationing of Mercury, bringing the boundlessness of Neptune in opposition to Mars in the home of Mercury.  Mars in Virgo utilizes Mercurial facilities to focus on the details of our surrounding environment to accomplish work.  In the Virgo capacity to refine and develop techniques and tools, Mars necessarily needs to separate this from that in order to find the necessary focus for desired growth.  In the face of Neptune, the invisible realm opens around Mars in Virgo, evoking mystical, mysterious desires and experiences.  As e.e. cummings once wrote, “love is a deeper season than reason,” and with Mercury retrograde in Libra during this Mars and Neptune opposition we will know this beyond rational comprehension in one way or another.

By the time we get to Mercury stationing direct, Mars will be further conjunct the Moon in Virgo and applying closely to a conjunction with Jupiter in Virgo.  The Moon in the sign of Mercury therefore will be bringing the spirit of Neptune opposite Mars into its conjunction with Jupiter in Virgo as Mercury stands still in the sign of the Scales.  This seems like a time of inner epiphanies such as the macrocosm the poet Walt Whitman described through the microcosm of the leaves of grass before him. With Neptune in Pisces activated so strongly with Venus, Mars, the Moon, and Jupiter all essentially in an opposite area of the zodiac, and Saturn having now entered Sagittarius to begin to initiate its pivotal last quarter square to Neptune, there is an amplified otherworldly quality to the approach of Mercury retrograde into the heart of the Sun.  This does not spell disaster for our dearest dreams, but rather asks us to open ourselves to the boundless quality of our vision as well as the pragmatic work needed for successful manifestation.  At the time of Mercury uniting with the Sun, however, it will be most effective to enjoy the timeless quality of the moment that transcends reasoned defining:

what time is it? it is by every star
a different time, and each most falsely true;
or so subhuman superminds declare

-nor all their times encompass me and you:

when are we never, but forever now
(hosts of eternity; not guests of seem)
believe me, dear, clocks have enough to do

without confusing timelessness and time.

Time cannot children, poets, lovers tell-
measure imagine, mystery, a kiss
-not though mankind would rather know than feel;

mistrusting utterly that timelessness

whose absence would make your whole life and my
(and infinite our) merely to undie

— e.e. cummings

At the time that Mercury is stationing direct, it is phasis which means in this case it makes its first appearance in our morning sky after having been invisible during the retrograde.  This means that Mercury will be emerging from “under the beams” of the Sun, which generally means it is moving beyond fifteen degrees from the Sun, and our ancients saw this re-appearance in the sky as signifying a vital message.  In a recent episode of the Hermetic Astrology Podcast, Gary Caton used the term “oracular” in tandem with the  “appearance that speaks” made by Jupiter recently emerging from under the beams of the Sun in Virgo.  Oracles have strong association with Mercury, as Hermes was given an oracle from Apollo found under the cliffs of Mount Parnassus on Delphi, driven by three sisters of Fates who feed on honey.  At this oracular phase of its retrograde journey, Mercury will no longer be invisible and will emerge with a flash of light at dawn as a Morning Star. At this moment Mercury will be closely conjunct the North Node of the Moon in Libra, in addition to Mars, the Moon, and Jupiter lined up together in Virgo. Wherever we are, whatever is happening for us at this time will be saturated with the delightful, curious, mischievous, erotic presence of Mercury, and the message transmitted being so closely aligned with the North Node of the Moon means there is an essential and necessary push forward in growth for us to experience in relationship.

Mercury in Libra

Man Ray (1931) Untitled

Morning Star

Following Mercury stationing direct on October 9, Mercury as a Morning Star will no longer be retrograde in motion but will remain in the retrograde shadow zone until October 26.  Demetra George has compared this phase of Mercury’s journey as being similar to Mercury in Gemini, in contrast to her viewpoint that Mercury’s retrograde motion makes it similar to Mercury in Pisces.  At this point Mercury goes through an identity shift that leaves the magical, symbolic, subjectively intuitive mode of the retrograde behind, and transitions into a mindset eager to learn multiple new things with a sense of adventure toward the future.  Mercury in this phase as Morning Star is the friendly, fleet footed messenger who stimulates thoughts, connections, and conversations everywhere travelled.  Mercury with a flash of light heralding sunrise appears as we wake up from the dream world, guiding our thoughts through the haze of morning toward the objectives we need to focus on in the light of day.  This Promethean role of foresight will be played with full aplomb by the clever Mercury in the weeks ahead.

During this phase of Mercury direct and beginning to gain in speed again, Venus finally moves beyond her retrograde shadow zone and glides through the sign of Virgo making a series of crucial aspects.  First, immediately following Mercury stationing direct Venus will square Saturn in Sagittarius on October 10.  Less than a week later, Venus will oppose Neptune in Pisces on October 16,  and then on October 25 when Mercury is emerging from its retrograde shadow zone, Venus will conjunct Jupiter for the third time this year in Virgo.  Meanwhile, Mars in Virgo will also conjunct Jupiter on October 16 at the same time Venus is opposing Neptune, and day by day as we approach the end of October Venus will be getting closer and closer to Mars in Virgo.

Thus as we exit the Mercury retrograde shadow zone, with Mercury direct in Libra, the passions of our relationships will continue to be stirred up as Mercury moves through the sign of Venus and Venus heads for her eventual union with Mars in the sign of Mercury on November 2, 2015 at 25 degrees of Virgo.  The combination of Jupiter, Venus, and Mars in Virgo in this period, purified from the recent retrogrades of both Venus and Mercury, will be a very different affair than the unions of Venus with Jupiter and then Mars that occurred in Leo earlier in the year.  It seems the more we let this Mercury retrograde in Libra lead us where life takes us, knowing that our travels astray will ultimately return us to center again, the more the full range of our experiences can inform this late October, early November timeframe where it appears important work can be crafted from within our mind.  This Mercury retrograde in Libra can help us discover the inner truth that will source our later works to come.

life is more true than reason will deceive
(more secret or than madness did reveal)
deeper is life than lose:higher than have
-but beauty is more each than living’s all

multiplied with infinity sans if
the mightiest meditations of mankind
cancelled are by one merely opening leaf
(beyond whose nearness there is no beyond)

or does some littler bird than eyes can learn
look up to silence and completely sing?
futures are obsolete;pasts are unborn
(here less than nothing’s more than everything)

death, as men call him, ends what they call men
-but beauty is more now than dying’s when

— e.e. cummings

References

cummings, e.e. (1994). Selected Poems. Liveright.

Kerenyi, Karl. (1976). Hermes: Guide of Souls. Spring Publications.

Kingsley, Peter. (2003). Reality. The Golden Sufi Center.

Milosz, Czeslaw. (2011). Selected and Last Poems, 1931-2004. HarperCollins.

Mercury Retrograde in Gemini

Mercury Retrograde in Gemini Dream Shifting

A Measure of Dreams (1908) by Arthur B. Davies

—When I die, I will see the lining of the world.

The other side, beyond bird, mountain, sunset.

The true meaning, ready to be decoded.

What never added up will add up,

What was incomprehensible will be comprehended.

−And if there is no lining to the world?

If a thrush on a branch is not a sign,

But just a thrush on the branch?  If night and day

Make no sense following each other?

And on this earth there is nothing except this earth?

−Even if that is so, there will remain

A word wakened by lips that perish,

A tireless messenger who runs and runs

Through interstellar fields, through the revolving galaxies,

And calls out, protests, screams.

Czeslaw Milosz (1991) MEANING

Mercury Retrograde in Gemini

On May 18, a day after a New Moon in Taurus, we enter the second of our thrice yearly Mercury retrograde spells, this one occurring in Gemini.  As the Mercury retrograde periods in 2015 all occur in Air signs, this chapter is significant for being in the mutable sign of Gemini where Mercury makes its home and lifts our minds with winds of inspired language.  Mercury retrogrades are not a time to fear, though being aware that Mercury is setting a different tempo can help us orient to how to make productive use of its potential.  When Mercury appears to move backward from our perspective during its retrograde, it is closer in orbit to us and creates the effect of moving slower.  In correspondence, we gain access to a more magical perception that can decode messages from symbolic patterns in our daily experience.  Following Mercury’s retrograde station, Mercury disappears from our view of it hovering over our horizon and moves into the underworld and the role of guiding us into pivotal inner insights of soul.  In Gemini, Mercury plays up his mischievous trickster side that unveils the folly of those taking themselves too seriously, as well as amplifies our capacity to synthesize a multiplicity of perspectives, philosophies, and observations into shared meaning and unified vision.

Muse,
sing Hermes,
son of Zeus and Maia . . .
. . . [Maia] produced her child,
the very crafty,
the super-subtle
Hermes:
thief,
cattle-rustler,
carrier of dreams,
secret agent,
prowler,
and soon to show his stuff

–from the Homeric Hymn to Hermes

Mercury is the in-between archetype capable of seeing both sides of a duality, while mediating the tension of opposites in order to unify meaning.  Mercury in Gemini has been stereotyped as scattered and distracted, yet this curious mental quality continually finds new connections between concepts superficially viewed as disparate.  Mercury is a phallic god of fertility with a fully developed femininity that can take it beyond gender categories, a networker in the upper world of matter who can descend into the underworld and guide souls toward their next incarnation.  There is a depth to Mercury retrograde that is simultaneously full of humorous and serious exploration.  No one in society can escape the tricks Mercury plays, whether they be the chief executive of a large corporation hoarding societal rewards or an alienated, unemployed drifter struggling to survive from day to day.  When Mercury strikes with his flash of light and clever grin, the joke he pulls on you holds a profound lesson to glean in meaning.

This youthfully handsome, friendly, and thievish guide, who possesses magical golden shoes that transport him over earth and sea and a magical staff with which he puts people to sleep and awakens them again- has he not all the characteristics and attributes of a seductive and lethal guide of souls, the gentle Psychopompos of the later monuments?

–Karl Kerenyi (p. 28) Hermes: Guide of Souls

During this Mercury retrograde from 14° to 5° Gemini, one of the most significant themes is the unveiling of the archetype of Neptune in Pisces.  A little over a week before stationing retrograde, Mercury in Gemini formed a square to Neptune in Pisces, and during it’s retrograde phase Mercury will square Neptune again, ultimately stationing direct in range of a square to Neptune.  The day after Mercury stations direct at 5° Gemini, Neptune will station retrograde at 10° Pisces, leading to Mercury creating a third square with a retrograde Neptune in Pisces after moving direct again. Since Neptune in Pisces represents our collective tapestry of consciousness and the unconscious, the square from Mercury in Gemini can lead us to penetrate into the connective details found in the interwoven threads of meaning within the Neptunian fabric surrounding us.  If we open ourselves to the possibility of shifting our future visions, we can experience a re-alignment that sheds what has been disillusioning and re-centers us on the dreams that are most deeply felt and authentic.

As Mercury is also a boundary marker whose presence at entryways and borders is especially illuminated during Mercury retrograde time periods, it is further significant that Saturn, the planet of boundaries, is also retrograde when Mercury shifts direction and in range of an opposition to both the Sun and Mars.  This very same sense of restriction we could feel from Saturn toward the Sun and Mars at the beginning of the Mercury retrograde is the very fuel Mercury will consume in order to stimulate our thoughts beyond previous limitations:

Archetypally, we can see in the image of Hermes a mythical statement of the psyche’s innate tendency to give definition to perceptual and mental horizons, to mark edges, to define spaces. Originally Hermes stood at the edge of known space . . . His sign marked the limit of consciousness. Beyond the boundary lies the unknown, the uncanny, the dangerous, the unconscious. When markers are created and limits set, however, curiosity and explorativeness are also excited and new spaces for exploration and discovery invite the bold and courageous traveler. If Hermes marks the boundary between conscious and unconscious, we have to realize that this boundary is always shifting and in flux; it is mercurial. Background and foreground may instantaneously reverse too, and generate new perceptions, novel insights.

Within the area of the known, containers take shape which are reserved for specific types of human activity, while beyond them lies the “other,” the foreign (even if only temporarily), the taboo, the forbidden, the unclean. Hermes standing at the boundary marks a psychological and sometimes a moral limit and calls special attention to the space being entered or left. When he first appears, he may create a new space by dividing a vast horizon into the “here” and the “beyond,” and thus he creates both consciousness and a new unconscious. His intervention in the perceptual and psychological field creates new possibilities for consciousness, also new edges and boundaries beyond which lie the mysterious “others.” When he disappears, there is a loss of identity and definition.

— Murray Stein from Hermes and the Creation of Space (1999)

Mercury Retrograde in Gemini passage

Two Trees (1875) by Odilon Redon

When I ran barefoot in our gardens by the river Niewiaza

Something was there, that I didn’t then try to name:

Everywhere, between the trunks of linden trees, on the sunny side of the lawn, on the path by the orchard.

A Presence resided, I didn’t know whose.

The air was full of it, it touched me, it held me close.

It spoke to me through the scents of grass, the flute voice of the oriole, the twitter of swallows.

Had I then been taught the names of gods, I would easily have known their faces.

But I grew up in a Catholic family, and so my surroundings were soon teeming with devils, but also with the saints of the Lord.

Yet in truth I felt their Presence, all of them, gods and demons,

As if rising within one enormous unknowable Being.

Czeslaw Milosz (2002) PRESENCE 

Once Mercury has stationed retrograde he ushers us into a darker, deeper, underworld phase of our path, a stage during which our Mercurial perceptions function most strongly with intuition and symbolic awareness of patterns perceived in our journeys by day as well as at night in our dreams.  We enter a liminal space of shifting speed that slows things down enough to take in a deeper examination of the underlying patterns we have been living from.  This is a time in which our minds can be more free than normal to take in new insight, and we can ultimately emerge from the period with a revitalized perception.  In a Mercury retrograde it matters less that you have constructed a rationally balanced argument to support your position, and matters more that you have described your perspective with poetic imagery that can strike at the hearts of your audience.

Mercury retrograde is also a time of synchronicity, and in this way we are fortunate that this Mercury retrograde in Gemini begins with the Moon applying to a conjunction with Mercury in the sign of the Twins.  The Moon uniting with Mercury at the beginning of the retrograde increases our capacity to orient ourselves to the changes that will be coinciding with the Mercury retrograde and to begin to attune to the meaning that will be taking shape for us.  There is also an expansive quality to the stationing of Mercury found in the sextile between Mercury and Jupiter in Leo, and since Jupiter in Leo is also in trine to Uranus in Aries it signifies that this coming Mercury retrograde could coincide with dramatic breakthroughs in thought that take us to a new level of thinking in whatever realm we have been exploring.  The less we can be tied and bound to rigid, fixed belief systems, and the more we can liberate ourselves from past dogmatic thinking, the better we will be able to access the potential of this Mercury retrograde that appears to be very impressive in the field of creative thought and communication.

The Sun and Mars joining Mercury in Gemini is another important theme, and at the beginning of the Mercury retrograde the Sun and Mars are in range of an opposition to Saturn retrograde in Sagittarius, with Mars separating from an opposition to Saturn and the Sun applying to an opposition with Saturn.  Mars in Gemini is full of mental activity, and it’s inquisitive nature could spark us to intellectually challenge authorities in our field of interest.  Since Saturn in Sagittarius is retrograde, we could experience a de-conditioning from belief systems that have not been authentically resonant for us through exploring exciting new sources of knowledge.  As Mars separates from it’s opposition to Saturn it will begin to form an exact square with Neptune in Pisces, and so this tension can compel us to go deeper into metaphysical study of our subject.  In particular, the combination of Mercury retrograde in Gemini uniting with Mars direct in Gemini will feed our ability to create new categories and definitions of meaning that will both expand and intensify any subject we sustain focus on.  If we are full of hubris or living in an illusion, the square between Mars in Gemini and Neptune in Pisces could result in a great Mercury retrograde joke being played on us that reveals the foolishness of our ways.

Also during the initial phase of Mercury retrograde, transiting Venus in Cancer will claim center stage by triggering the Uranus and Pluto square with an opposition to Pluto in Capricorn and a square to Uranus in Aries.  These stressful, growth-oriented aspects to Venus will give Mercury retrograde a lot of material to work with, and if you are a writer there could be incredible depth to access and process through your craft.  Venus triggering the Pluto and Uranus square will uncover our emotional needs and insecurities we have been overcompensating for in one way or another.  Significant memories could arise to process that connect back to any point within the series of seven squares between Pluto and Uranus that have been in range since 2011.  This is fortuitous in both the healing and creative realms, as memory is a fertile source from which the Mercury retrograde can weave new meaning from the release of old thought forms.  The connection between Mercury with memory and creativity can be found in the Homeric hymn to Hermes, where it is revealed that Hermes is a follower of the Titaness of memory, and mother of muses, Mnemosyne:

Suddenly [Hermes] started playing the lyre
louder, reciting a prelude-
and the sound accompanying him
was lovely-
about the immortal gods
and the dark earth,
how they were in the beginning,
and what prerogatives each one had.
And the first of the gods
that he commemorated with his song
was Mnemosyne, Mother of Muses,
for the son of Maia
was a follower of hers.

–from the Homeric Hymn to Hermes

Mercury Retrograde Inferior Conjunction

Vision (1883) by Odilon Redon

That boundless substance,

different, in any case, from

the flight of a crane, the gait of a tiger,

the underwater gambols of sperm whales.

In dreams I saw cities of gas and metal,

unceasing fabric of the mind.

Music of the spheres, music of violins and flutes.

That, which endures,

while they are born and die.

Higher than the blind energies of matter,

higher than currents running in the body

of eel, piranha, shark, so they may open

their jaws and devour their catch.

A temple full of little gods and demons,

with a vast number of nicknames and tails.

Czeslaw Milosz (2003)

The Inferior Conjunction of Mercury and the Sun in Gemini, the point of conception for a freshly synthesized vision, occurs at 9:56 am Pacific Standard Time on May 30, 2015 at nine degrees of Gemini.  Gemini is one of the mutable, double-bodied signs, perhaps through the image of the twins being the most exemplary sign of the human tendency toward dualistic thinking.  Just like the heaven of connecting with another human we consider to be a kindred spirit, soul mate, twin flame, . . . etc . . . it can be the deeply felt experience of our own personal patterns being mirrored back to us through another that sparks an epiphany of self-realization, and demonstrates how the interplay between twins can coalesce transcendent thought.  At the inferior conjunction we have a magical moment to achieve a one-pointed focus of the unity that holds duality within it, that bridges a multiplicity of meaning to a unified perspective, and that guides us into an insightful realization about our soul and associated patterns.  This is a time to meditate or surrender to Hermes the Psychopomp, as we allow the message of the moment to soak into our core and revivify our perception.

The Sabian Symbol for 9° Gemini where Mercury’s inner union with the Sun occurs is “A QUIVER FILLED WITH ARROWS,” and fittingly had a double meaning to Dane Rudhyar.  On the lower level, this symbol represents the human capacity “to extend the scope of his conquest of nature and kill enemies in order to build a larger base for the collective development of a culture and an organized society” (p. 95).  Since a quiver of arrows suggests the existence of a target to aim at, this symbol also represents the penetrating potential of the human mind to go through the target toward which it aims, destroying the obstacles on its path.  At a higher level, Rudhyar likened this symbol to the “Zen practice of archery” in which “the obstacle is the ego” (p. 95).  The unifying concept of this symbol to Rudhyar is “CONQUEST,” whether it is applied to conquering the external world or the restrictive influence of the ego on our inner world. During this Mercury retrograde, it is best to remember Rudhyar’s conjecture of conquest, as the moment our ego grabs hold of us in order to win a debate at all costs, is the moment that the staff of Hermes could suddenly strike and enfold us in a joke of which we are the punchline.  The more we can sustain a collaborative, creative air between us and those holding sharply contrasting opinions, we will be better able to avoid the pitfalls of dispute that stresses more so than enlivens.  The inspiring potential we find here is that by listening to opinions coming from drastically different perceptions to our own, we can fertilize tremendous growth of knowledge from within.

With the Sun and Mercury exactly conjunct in Gemini and in square to Neptune in Pisces, with Mars in Gemini in sextile to Jupiter in Leo and Uranus in Aries, we have a regenerating, liberating well to drink from within us even though the current events dominating the global stage are filled with instability, violence, discord, and oppression.  An image that comes to my mind in association with the strong Gemini energy of the Sun, Mercury retrograde, and Mars is that of a WITNESS to life in all of its complex depth, a witness who is then willing to serve as a messenger to inform the surrounding society about what is going on in secrecy behind the proverbial locked doors Mercury can open for us.  When we express the full story we are witnessing within and around us, we beam our light into the collective matrix and move others with the emotive, wakening wind of Mercury.

“World” can be a comprehensive idea if as an autonomous entirety it accommodates the observer as if he were moving about in the world he normally is surrounded by.  The world of the Iliad or that of the Odyssey accommodates us in this way.  Every such world, however, is at the same time a worked-out idea of the world that existed already prior to this expression of it and that lent itself to the finished expression of the idea.  There can be no “world”- even if it is the purely spiritual epiphany of an intellectually luminous god- which is not “worldly,” that is, which does not function as a space to contain the content of the revelation in a fitting way.  If a god is “idea” and “world,” he remains nonetheless in connection with the world that contains all such “worlds”; he can be only an “aspect of the world” while the world of which he is an aspect possesses such idea-aspects. Indeed, it has the ability to shine forth in its totality as idea, it possesses the light of the idea, and is itself in its own way lighted and clear . . . “Light” and “clear” in the sense of “world-like” – and therefore convincing – could also be the idea of Hermes.

— Karl Kerenyi (p. 69) Hermes:  Guide of Souls

Mercury Retrograde in Gemini stationing direct

Germination by Odilon Redon (1890-96)

To find my home in one sentence, concise, as if hammered in metal. Not to enchant anybody. Not to earn a lasting name in prosperity. An unnamed need for order, for rhythm, for form, which three words are opposed to chaos and nothingness.

Czeslaw Milosz (1981-1983)

After Mercury separates from its inner merging with the Sun, the Sun moves on to initiate a conjunction with Mars in Gemini, as Mercury begins its shifting ways again and starts to station direct. The Sun conjoining Mars in Gemini constellates images of a warrior of words, a passionate poet, an intellectual activist who refuses to collude with oppressive powers and instead expresses her voice in defiance to surrounding injustice.  The Sun-Mars conjunction in Gemini as Mercury stations direct germinates our desires with inquisitive thoughts that can reveal new meaning for us through the juxtapositions of language and philosophies we encounter.  At the same time the Sun and Mars are coming together in Gemini, Mercury is stationing direct in range of a square to Neptune that is also stationing retrograde simultaneously.  We have had four years so far to experience the meaning of Neptune in Pisces by transit, and in the first couple of weeks in June 2015 we can receive illumination of any Neptunian illusions that have been sourcing our conditioned beliefs.  As an illusion of Neptune is unveiled, in the winged steps of Mercury we will be able to experience a sharper sense of clarity and direction to follow forward.

In this final phase of the Mercury retrograde cycle in Gemini, one of the most significant transits is the ingress of Venus into the fiery, solar sign of Leo during the first week of June.  Venus in Leo ignites a creative actualization of the mental contents the Mercury retrograde has been brewing, and by the time Mercury stations direct Venus in Leo will have passed through a beautiful sextile to Mercury in Gemini.  There is a potent re-integration available at this upcoming stationing direct of Mercury at five degrees of Gemini, that can unbind and untether us from restrictive thought patterns.  This potential release can be seen in the transits of the Moon conjoining Uranus in Aries at the time of Mercury stationing direct, with the Moon-Uranus conjunction in Aries being in sextile to the Sun-Mars conjunction in Gemini and in trine to the Jupiter-Juno conjunction in Leo.  Within this magical mix of astrological aspects, Mercury will arise from the underworld at dawn and with a flash of light illuminate our waking horizon as our Morning Star again.

Hermes, draw near, and to my pray’r incline,
Angel of Jove, and Maia’s son divine;
Prefect of contest, ruler of mankind,
With heart almighty, and a prudent mind.
Celestial messenger of various skill,
Whose pow’rful arts could watchful Argus kill.
With winged feet ’tis thine thro’ air to course,
Emblems of Mercury O friend of man, and prophet of discourse;
Great life-supporter, to rejoice is thine
In arts gymnastic, and in fraud divine.
With pow’r endu’d all language to explain,
Of care the loos’ner, and the source of gain.
Whose hand contains of blameless peace the rod,
Corucian, blessed, profitable God.
Of various speech, whose aid in works we find,
Emblems of Mercury And in necessities to mortals kind.
Dire weapon of the tongue, which men revere,
Be present, Hermes, and thy suppliant hear;
Assist my works, conclude my life with peace,
Give graceful speech, and memory’s increase.

–from the Orphic Hymn translated from the Greek by Thomas Taylor (1824)

MercuryStationRetroWRIGC2A

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MercuryStationDirectWRIGC3

References

Kerenyi, Karl. (1976). Hermes: Guide of Souls. Spring Publications.

Milosz, Czeslaw. (2011). Selected and Last Poems, 1931-2004. HarperCollins.

Rudhyar, Dane. (1974). An Astrological Mandala: the cycle of transformations and its 360 symbolic phases. Vintage.

Stein, Murray. (1999).  Hermes and the Creation of Space.

Mercury Retrograde in Aquarius

moonrise

The Pond – Moonrise (1904) by Edward J. Steichen

Mercury retrograde is an inner alteration that comes to us three times a year, and our first of 2015 that begins on January 21, 2015 in Aquarius initiates a year of Mercury retrograde phases in each of the three Air signs of reflection, thoughts, and ideas.  Being afraid of Mercury retrograde is like being afraid of making a mistake, being afraid to go into the darkness of our inner realm and shadow work.  Mercury in myth is the psychopomp of Soul, the messenger who can bridge the underworld with the upper world, and guide us into our inner depths in order to help us shift our external presence and perspective.  Some of us have astrology charts that naturally resonate with Mercury retrograde times more than others, but the key is to open perception to the world of symbols, signs, omens, dreams, and what we can sense from our unconscious.  If things become disorienting or confusing, perceiving through intuition can help guide us more so than reaching for rational clarity.

Aquarius in astrology is a Fixed Air sign, and so the fluid Mercury in retrograde can help us shift some deep rooted and fixated patterns of habitual thought.  Modern astrologers look to Uranus as the ruler of Aquarius while classicists look to Saturn as the lord of the Water Bearer:  both Saturn and Uranus are at center stage now, with Uranus square Pluto and conjunct the South Node of the Moon, and Saturn freshly in Sagittarius and in square to Neptune and Mars in Pisces, as well as passing through a square with Venus during the upcoming Mercury retrograde. The sextile between Sagittarius holding Saturn and Aquarius holding Mercury retrograde unveils the potential of this Mercury retrograde to take us into the mystery of fundamental change and re-structuring of our thought process and its interplay with our expression.  Aquarius symbolizes the paradox of both conformity to an established tradition as well as complete rebellion against an established tradition, through the common purpose of breaking free from consensus conditioning.  Yet there is also the collective phenomenon that following ground breaking revolution a heavy hand of Saturn control is often re-asserted by a new power structure.  This Mercury retrograde will call us to re-examine our inter-personal relationships as well as systematic relationships, including the relationship between global, national, and local structural systems.

In the global collective, the World Economic Forum annual meeting (in ski resort Davos, Switzerland this year) commences on the day Mercury stations retrograde in Aquarius.  One issue that Aquarian activists hope will be addressed is global economic inequality, as a recent study by the charity Oxfam predicted based upon current trends that in 2016, 1% of the world’s population will own more wealth than the other 99%.  While this is a prediction that the richest 1% of the world will own more than 50% of global wealth in 2016, the Oxfam study published on January 19, 2015 revealed “that the share of the world’s wealth owned by the best-off 1% has increased from 44% in 2009 to 48% in 2014, while the least well-off 80% currently own just 5.5%.”  The inequity of wealth distribution will not be changing anytime soon, but during the retrograde cycle we can work on shifting patterns within that are connected to our relationship with wealth and how we define what it means to have wealth.  Is it simply a matter of having more money, or is it more about the quality of our life- in this way, what sort of quality do we want?

The day before Mercury stations retrograde is a New Moon at the very beginning of Aquarius, and two days before Mercury stations retrograde there is an opposition between Venus in Aquarius and Jupiter retrograde in Leo, and a conjunction and new cycle between Mars and Neptune in Pisces.  These are extremely fertile astrology aspects in which to root a Mercury retrograde phase in Aquarius, and suggest that our past values and visions will be challenged on a foundational level in order to test how much they truly align with what we can create and draw upon in our surrounding reality, as well as to what degree they nourish and catalyze us to consequently impact or inspire our community.  When Mercury stations retrograde, the Moon will be passing over Mercury in conjunction while the stationing Mercury opposes Jupiter retrograde in Leo:

MercuryRetroStationWRIGC7

Mercury and Venus have recently been glorious evening stars beautifying our twilight.  On January 14 when Mercury was at its maximum elongation, I savored a sojourn of staring at a bright Venus and Mercury aligned symmetrically in the shifting blue hues of sunset turning indigo toward the dark of night.  The recent companionship of Mercury and Venus in Aquarius has brought something into the awareness of each of us, and as Venus moves forward in the direction of Pisces while Mercury turns back to retrace Aquarian steps, there is something significant for each of us to realize.  Take the time to explore the Aquarius house of your birth chart, and any important planets or aspects you have with the first eighteen or so degrees of Aquarius to help you deepen your self-reflection.  With its stationing, Mercury will now descend from view at twilight as an evening star into our underworld, not to return again for us to view until it has stationed direct and moved forward again to become a morning star heralding our dawn.

Though Mercury and Venus were delightful to view in twilight together recently, their time together in Aquarius has most likely coincided with events that opened your emotions to sadness or pain in one way or another.  The point where Aquarian detachment can go awry is when we choose to be in denial of our sadness, distracting ourselves away from our pain to pretend like visualizing positive fantasies will take our troubles away.  It is necessary to deal with our sadness and grief by fully feeling our emotions, without denial and the distraction of coping strategies to construct an artifice of control.  Paramount at this Mercury stationing is Pluto in Capricorn exactly in square to the lunar nodes of the Moon, with Uranus in Aries conjunct the South Node of the Moon.  There is no escaping the dark night of the soul that can arise with this aspect:  if we attempt to escape from it or resist it, incoming events will reinforce the issue even more strongly than before. Yet this is the blessing of experiencing a Mercury retrograde, as Mercury is the messenger who can mediate with Pluto in our depths. While we may feel adrift, lost in a space of past attachments dissolving, remember Mercury is the trickster who facilitates our crossing of the borderline space in between significant transitions of our life.

Indeed, this Mercury retrograde is not something to complain about but instead seize for its potential to take us into the deep.  Aquarius brings a capacity to objectively analyze, and so this Mercury retrograde can be like our own inner Jungian analyst who can help us find the cause of our current issues through interpreting the symbolism of our daily experiences with dreams and other signs in our environment.  Insights will arise in the coming weeks especially if we refuse to numb or shelter ourselves from the issues and feelings demanding our attention.  This is a time period in which to take responsibility for our emotions and the way our behavior is impacting the emotions of those we are in relationship with.  With Pluto in Capricorn, this involves us having to face the countless examples of systematic oppression we encounter in our daily environment, as well as how on a personal level we can attempt to deal with our emotional vulnerabilities though seeking control of others in one way or another, or by giving our power away to others in order to have someone else take care of us.  Furthermore, with Mercury stationing opposite Black Moon Lilith and Jupiter retrograde in Leo, we may become triggered by interactions bringing up issues of past rejection, or fear that we will not be accepted or chosen for relationship due to a feeling of alienation.  Yet within the drama of our subjective inner world we can sense our personal truth struggling to find its voice, and by courageously expanding further into our essential nature we will initiate a retrograde phase that will lead us to become more authentically alive.

Relationships, our old patterns of relationship, and the new way of being we can now embody in our relationships is an overarching theme of this Mercury retrograde in Aquarius, in part because Mercury is stationing in trine to the North Node of the Moon in Libra and in sextile to the South Node of the Moon and Uranus in Aries.  Moreover, this Mercury retrograde cycle is taking us through the balsamic phase of Mars and Venus toward a new cycle of Mars and Venus that will begin on February 21, 2015 at two degrees of Aries.  This is the closing of a cycle between Mars and Venus that began on April 6, 2013 at 19°57′ of Aries.  Think back to this time period of April in 2013 and what relationships entered your life, or what was shifting in relation to external connections with others in your life.  Everything that has transpired in our relationships in these past two years, that has happened in connection with our passions, desires, and inner values, is now at a time of clearing in order to let go and release with finality what is no longer serving us and to re-seed what is in accord with our new vision for the relationships of our present and future.

black-in-deep-red-1957

Black in Deep Red (1957) by Mark Rothko

On April 6, 2013 we entered a new cycle between Mars and Venus, and since then we have gone through a Venus retrograde in Capricorn as well as a Mars retrograde in Libra while experiencing the sequence of squares between Pluto and Uranus.  In 2015 three times will be the charm with the new cycle between Mars and Venus, as we will experience three conjunctions between them before they finally settle into their new cycle. After Venus and Mars conjunct at two degrees of Aries on February 21, Venus will move forward and get beyond a semi-sextile aspect with Mars before stationing retrograde at the beginning of Virgo to move back into Leo and reunite with Mars again on August 31, 2015 at fifteen degrees of Leo.  After Venus stations direct in Leo, it will move forward again and catch up with Mars for a final conjunction and initiation of the new Mars and Venus cycle on November 2, 2015 at twenty-five degrees of Virgo.  As a result, while we will experience a new initiation and rebirth in our relationships following this Mercury retrograde, we still have a lot more to work out between Mars and Venus during this year before we finally settle into our new relationship dynamic.  With the final conjunction occurring in Virgo, there seems to be a Mercurial aspect to the incoming Mars and Venus cycle, as the three conjunctions this year will also be preceded by the three Mercury retrograde phases in each of the Air signs.

Venus begins this Mercury retrograde opposite Jupiter, then ingresses into Pisces and forward into a square with Saturn and conjunction with both Neptune and Chiron, while Mars is initiating a new cycle with Neptune at Mercury’s stationing to move forward in the direction of Chiron.  By the time Mercury stations direct, Venus and Mars will be in a balsamic conjunction in Pisces, the last sign of the zodiac and a fitting place for Mars and Venus to release their previous cycle.  While Venus is in Aquarius during the first week of the Mercury retrograde, we may have a greater capacity for detached analysis of the inner values we have gained from conforming to an external source, whether that be from the consensus culture or from a subculture rebelling against consensus values we gravitated toward out of a sense of disenchantment or frustration with the status quo.  During this time of Venus moving through the final decan of Aquarius we can sense the values we have been living from that do not truly resonate with our unique individuality, and we may perceive intimations of how we can begin to actualize a more authentic value system.  With Mercury being retrograde, mixed into this process may be perceptions from a new perspective along with rumination into memories of previous relationships and the values we took on through old relationships.

Venus in Aquarius can detach to prevent us from becoming overcome by our emotions, while Venus in Pisces is more likely to merge into our inner feelings as well as with others. Leading up to the inferior conjunction of Mercury with the Sun, Venus will ingress into Pisces and will have entered into a first quarter square with Saturn in Sagittarius and a balsamic conjunction with Neptune when the angelic messenger unites with our Sun:

Mercury-SunconjunctionWRIGC8

The inferior conjunction of Mercury with the Sun is ideal for intention setting if you can be alert to its timing.  This is a moment of conception that can signal a shift in our state of mind similar to a new moon.  Look to where 10°20′ of Aquarius is in your astrology chart by house and aspect to analyze how this impacts you specifically.  In connection with the theme of relationships, it is fascinating that the inferior conjunction of Mercury is opposite Juno retrograde in Leo.  Our passionate Juno side that can have the drive of a lioness in pursuit of creative desires has an opportunity here to integrate into our presence in community and bring a more heart-centered focus to the oftentimes cool and detached Aquarian mindset.  It could also signal a time to break from a current relationship drama in order to re-center, like Juno re-sourcing herself in her sacred bath.

The relationship theme is further emphasized by Venus being balsamic conjunct Neptune in Pisces, and in square to Saturn in Sagittarius, with Mars balsamic conjunct to Chiron in Pisces.  The Venus-Neptune and Mars-Chiron cycles ending now to begin again both go back to early 2013, when Mars and Chiron began the current cycle in Pisces in February and Venus and Neptune began their current cycle in Pisces at the beginning of March (Mercury was also retrograde in Pisces when Venus and Neptune were last conjunct).  The first quarter square from Pisces Venus to Sagittarius Saturn is coming off their conjunction in mid-November 2014 in Scorpio.  All of these aspects coinciding with Mercury’s inferior conjunction point toward illumination concerning the ideals we hold in our relationships versus the actual reality of our relationships.  The more we accept ourselves for who we actually are and not the ideal persona we want to create about ourselves, the less likely we are to project our ideals on a relationship that ultimately leads us to disillusionment because we are not taking care of our own work.  The more we live with integrity in line with our deeply felt values, the more likely we are to magnetize relationships that are aligned with our ideal path, and this inferior conjunction of Mercury is a moment to set such an intention.

There is also a paradoxical potential to these aspects that could align with great wounding as well as groundbreaking strides toward a cherished vision.  Mars aligning with Chiron could take us deeply into our wounds, and Saturn can have a very heavy hand with a Venus wanting to drift away in a Piscean illusion, all the more so with Uranus closely conjunct the South Node of the Moon and in square to Pluto at the inferior conjunction.  Uranus has to do with unexpected shattering which can be both liberating as well as traumatic, but in any event has to do with some sort of large energetic shift arriving unannounced.  Chiron is a mediator between Uranus and Saturn, and so these same aspects point to an opportunity for us to re-direct incoming energy into our work and relationships with our surrounding environment.  Chiron is a courageous and wise archetype for Mars to re-formulate our sense of will around at this time of the inferior conjunction, and we can work with him better if we bravely step into a mediating role between conflicts, be present for healing in our interactions, and if necessary make a sacrifice not out of a sense of masochism or victimization but out of authentic desire to purely serve.

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Moon Woman (1942) by Jackson Pollock

As we move away from the inferior conjunction of Mercury with the Sun toward the period of Mercury stationing direct, Venus gets closer each day to Mars in Pisces making the clearing of previous relationship patterns deeper.  This is a great couple of weeks to claim as a severing of what no longer serves us in our previous patterns of relating to others as well as our self.  Yet clearing does not mean clean cut or simply cut off, but rather this letting go could become a messy affair, a spiral-like process that brings up deeply felt emotions from old relationships we had tucked away, or feelings about a current partnership we had been ignoring or distracting ourselves from.  Pisces is a compassionate place for this release to take place, and drawing on the Piscean ideals of compassion and acceptance with ourselves and in our interactions will help us let go of old wounds and patterns we will soon realize we had been sorely needing to release.  We will also get another opportunity for relationship clearing later this year since Mars and Venus conjunct two more times before settling in for good into their new cycle, but Mars and Venus will not be in Pisces at that time.

Between Mercury’s conjunction with the Sun and Mercury stationing direct, Ceres in Capricorn also enters a balsamic clearing with Pluto in Capricorn, evoking a strong Dark Moon aspect between these rivals of myth.  In addition to it’s themes of nurturance and attachment, Ceres can show us where crisis has led us to attempt to cope through vengeful anger or the taking of control, and how through surrendering to acceptance as well as through taking assertive mediation we can reclaim our personal authority and ability to be productive.  This conjunction in Capricorn brings up both the oppressive nature of the power structure as well as our capacity to claim the authority to take action within the system to bring perpetrators of wrongdoing to justice.  In the myth, Ceres ultimately stands up for herself and forces Jupiter to make a deal with her, thereby sending Mercury into the underworld to retrieve her beloved daughter Proserpina, or Persephone.  In synchronicity with the Northern Hemisphere experience of this Mercury retrograde occurring in deep Winter, with an upcoming Solar Eclipse occurring at the Spring Equinox, this Mercury retrograde descent to the underworld has resonance with the reclaiming of a beloved to reappear in the coming rebirth of Spring.  Ceres combining with Pluto in Capricorn now suggests that instead of attempting to tear down the entire power structure, instead look to where there are aspects of the system to connect with and use to promote your personal truth.

In the Homeric hymnal version of the Demeter and Persephone myth, the Moon Goddess Hekate directs Demeter to seek counsel with Helios, the Sun God and seer, who gives Demeter the knowledge that Hades took Persephone to the underworld under the blessings of Zeus.  Similarly we will be able to receive our own lunar divination around February 3, 2015 when there will be a Full Moon in Leo at the time of the cross-quarter holy day of Imbolc.  The Full Moon will be conjunct Juno and Jupiter in Leo, in between them, with both Juno and Jupiter retrograde, once again highlighting the theme of relationships.  In line with the balsamic relationship between Mars and Venus in Pisces co-occurring at the same time, this Full Moon will bring up a significant relational issue for us to integrate when Mercury stations direct at the beginning of Aquarius in the following week:

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Mercury stations direct near the same degree of the New Moon of January 20, 2015 bridging the intentions we set at the beginning of the Mercury retrograde with it’s completion.  Mercury will station in conjunction with Vesta in Aquarius, bringing added focus, centeredness, and commitment to this stationing direct.  Vesta combined with Mercury in Aquarius could find us feeling somewhat alienated from others as we process and integrate the inner shifting that came during the retrograde phase of Mercury, and we may need to take some time for solace in solitude.  Ceres closely combined with Pluto in Capricorn in square to the lunar nodes and Uranus, with Venus conjunct Chiron in a balsamic conjunction with Mars may give us further cause for taking a break from busyness to re-center and re-intergrate.  Some of us may not be so lucky to get away from others and our daily work while Mercury is stationing, and so the focused energy of Vesta combined with Mercury will help us fulfill professional responsibilities and remain dedicated toward completing the responsibilities associated with the goals we are working toward.

“I have this strange feeling that I’m not myself anymore. It’s hard to put into words, but I guess it’s like I was fast asleep, and someone came, disassembled me, and hurriedly put me back together again. That sort of feeling.”
― Haruki Murakami, Sputnik Sweetheart

Mercury stationing direct heralds the fleet footed messenger’s return as a Morning Star welcoming our Sunrise.  While Mercury as an Evening Star is associated with the cool, reflective hindsight of Epimetheus, Mercury as a Morning Star is associated with Prometheus and a more fiery foresight that operates best consciously in daylight hours.  The Messenger at this stage is curious, inquisitive, and eager for a new adventure with a mind ready to race ahead toward the future horizon. The ability of Mercury at this time to help us re-focus on our goals in line with the changes unfolding in our life will be a great benefit, as there is plenty ahead to keep Mercury busy as in March we will experience Saturn in Sagittarius stationing retrograde, the seventh and final square between Pluto and Uranus, and a Solar Eclipse at the final degree of Pisces.

References

Demetra George:  Hermes Guardian of Thresholds