Superior Conjunction of Mercury in Aquarius
On 29 January 2019 Mercury unites with the Sun at 9º55’ Aquarius, known as the superior conjunction of Mercury in which the star of Hermes is purified and regenerated in the heart of the Sun. It is known as the “superior” conjunction because Mercury is moving direct and fast on the far side of the Sun from our Earth in orbit, the same place in orbit the “superior” planets Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter also conjoin the Sun. There is debate amongst astrologers whether or not the superior conjunction is the actual beginning of the entire synodic cycle of Mercury, or if instead the beginning is the inferior conjunction when Mercury is retrograde. Those who prefer the superior conjunction in part use the symbolism of it being a more celestial solar union, that on the far side of the Sun the star of Hermes is experiencing a heavenly communion that seeds its twilight appearance as an Evening Star. In contrast, the inferior conjunction of Mercury when retrograde is more earthy and chthonic, an epiphany in the underworld that seeds the heliacal rising of Mercury as a Morning Star.
No matter your viewpoint regarding which one is the beginning of the total cycle (I feel it’s the inferior conjunction), it is important to realize that both solar unions of Mercury are rebirth moments for Mercury, and so the superior conjunction happening today is a reanimation and revivification of Mercury. The term “cazimi” is a Latin transliteration of Arabic meaning “as if in the heart,” described by Rhetorius of Egypt back in the 6th or 7th century with the Greek term enkardios, meaning “in the heart.” Though Rhetorius defined the boundary of being cazimi as within one degree of the Sun, later medieval astrologers such as Guido Bonatti tightened it to being within sixteen minutes of orb. When Mercury disappears from visibility under the beams of the Sun around fifteen degrees its significations begin to be consumed by the Sun, similar to the lightheadedness we feel once inside the heat of a sauna or hot spring. Moreover, Mercury’s purifying process becomes even more intense once it is “combust” within nine degrees of its solar union.
For the past couple of weeks, Mercury has been direct in motion and fast in speed, but due to being combust it could have felt like a clouding of our capacity to clarify meaning, like having a rush of too many ideas to find a focused center. As Mercury enters the heart of the Sun (one degree on either side), however, it is like Mercury is satisfyingly seated upon the solar throne, like the star of Hermes is holding the reins of solar steeds within the chariot of Helios. As the significations of Mercury become strengthened on the day of its solar union, so can we coalesce important insights and envision the path to follow into the unknown, rejuvenating our perceptual field.
“The protected space at the heart of the Sun is the sanctum sanctorum, the innermost holy chamber of the mystery initiations.”
— Demetra George, Ancient Astrology
The superior conjunction of Mercury in Aquarius will facilitate gaining greater clarity over whatever material was stirred up by the Solar Eclipse in Capricorn and Lunar Eclipse in Leo that occurred within the past month. A waning crescent Moon in Sagittarius is applying to Mercury and the Sun in Aquarius through a harmonizing sextile, increasing receptiveness to integrating core lessons and sifting through what needs to be let go. In addition, the celestial cazimi of Mercury in Aquarius is occurring at the same degree that Mars stationed retrograde in Aquarius seven months ago and as a result could also coincide with revelations related to whatever was volatilized by the backward march of Mars. It will be worthwhile to reflect upon the meaning of the Aquarius house in your natal chart as well as the aspects made by ten degrees of the Water Bearer. Fortunately, Mercury in Aquarius enjoys deep contemplation and united with the Sun can help promote greater objectivity in reflection.
Interestingly, since the superior conjunction of Mercury is at 9º55’ Aquarius it is on the threshold of crossing from the first to the second decan of Aquarius. There is a bridging quality to this solar union of Mercury in Aquarius befitting the crossing of a border between known and unknown territory. As we approach the close of an eclipse season, Mercury in Aquarius will help with the necessary process of stripping away old beliefs and identities, fortifying our ability to follow the inner guidance of our heart and mysterious inner knowing. In addition, the superior conjunction of Mercury in Aquarius is also bridging the Mercury retrograde in Sagittarius that occurred last November with the upcoming Mercury retrograde in Pisces that will happen next March. Since both of these Mercury retrograde phases are centered around tension between Jupiter in Sagittarius and Neptune in Pisces, the union of Mercury with the Sun in Aquarius can ideally help us dissolve away any illusions or delusions attached to our imaginal visions.
After Mercury in Aquarius separates from its union with the Sun it will begin applying to a sextile aspect with Jupiter in Sagittarius. Since the Aquarius superior conjunction is occurring at the midpoint of two Mercury retrograde phases centered around Jupiter and Neptune, Mercury in Aquarius can help us receive an insightful message regarding the last quarter square phase occurring between Jupiter and Neptune throughout 2019. Dane Rudhyar wrote that the Jupiter and Neptune cycle points toward essential steps to take in transforming “our traditional social sense,” explaining it can not only bring “a new awareness of what human relationship can mean,” but also that “it is the accumulation of these small changes which at last allows the great revolutionary events to happen.” It may be hard at times to feel positive about changes in human relationships given the gross amounts of discord occurring in current events, yet it is exactly at such a time that each individual choice to make a change for the better can begin to swing the tide.
The Mercury retrograde in Sagittarius and Scorpio that occurred last November involved Mercury stationing in a square aspect with Neptune and then regenerating in the heart of the Sun while also conjoining Jupiter. During the upcoming Mercury retrograde in Pisces that will begin on March 6, Mercury will station retrograde within range of a square with Jupiter and then ultimately station direct while conjoining Neptune in Pisces. This means that Mercury will end up making three conjunctions with Neptune in Pisces as well as three square aspects with Jupiter in Sagittarius. Due to the approaching Mercury retrograde in Pisces, we can know that on the horizon we will be taken into an underworld journey leading us to question the inner sources of our vision. Normally we are only aware of the surface manifestations of our subconscious soul, swimming, surfing, or sailing atop the waves, occasionally taking a deep dive into the underwater of our unconscious. The Mercury retrograde in Pisces coming in March will plunge us deeper into the imaginal ground underlying Neptune’s oceanic field.
Whether we ultimately experience a deepening of the current vision coalescing now during the Mercury retrograde in March, or instead realize we need to radically change directions, the important thing for now is to focus on whatever is speaking to our authentic nature. Sometimes we need to be drawn toward a goal not so much to achieve the goal we set out to achieve, but to instead learn an essential lesson that then leads us to create a more important new goal. Now that we are coming to the close of a tumultuous period of eclipses, we can reconsider what values are most worthwhile for us to prioritize, reformulating a more essential integrity to embody.
Interestingly, the sabian symbol for the degree of Mercury’s superior conjunction is “A MAN WHO HAD FOR A TIME BECOME THE EMBODIMENT OF A POPULAR IDEAL IS MADE TO REALIZE THAT AS A PERSON HE IS NOT THIS IDEAL.” This symbol works well for the solar conjunction of Mercury in Aquarius can burn off old identities, especially with regard to separating our essential self from the roles and ideals we have taken on within the collective.
Mercury forms a six pointed, hexagonal star within its synodic cycle with the sun, a fitting symbol for its nature of bringing together the above and below (the upward pointing triangle formed by superior conjunctions; the downward pointing triangle formed by inferior conjunctions). Gary Caton in his book Hermetica Triptycha showed the elemental aspect of this hexagon, as Mercury has a pattern of often forming the downward pointing triangle in one astrological element, while the upward pointing triangle occurs in another. While the Mercury retrograde phases occurred in Fire signs from the end of 2017 through 2018, this year we transition into the Mercury retrogrades primarily occurring in water signs of Pisces in March, Cancer in July (though in July the stationing retrograde of Mercury will be at the beginning of Leo before moving back into Cancer), and Scorpio in November 2019. The Mercury retrograde phases will continue to occur in the Water signs of Pisces, Cancer, and Scorpio until the end of 2020, and so it will be helpful to reflect upon what houses you have in Water signs in your natal chart and what sort of mercurial changes could occur therein.
What phase are we in now within this six pointed star? As Mercury begins to separate from the Aquarius Sun on January 30 it will experience another purifying period of being invisible under the beams of the Sun as we work on integrating whatever new insights and presence have emerged. Mercury will make an oracular appearance as an Evening Star around February 16, becoming visible in twilight, glimmering on the western horizon. In the week surrounding Mercury’s reappearance, it’s likely you will gain much more clarity regarding the ideas beginning to formulate in your mind during the superior conjunction, and there will also be pivotal announcements in current events. Interestingly, astronomers have stated that February will be the best evening sky appearances for viewing Mercury in all of 2019; perhaps in correlation it will also be especially illuminating within our mind. This will be an auspicious time to be engaged in all things mercurial, from writing about new ideas to translating ancient ones into new understanding. Mercury will then reach maximum elongation on February 26 at 27º Pisces, which will be the best time to view Mercury in twilight. This date also marks a deepening into the alchemical Mercury retrograde process, with Mercury ultimately stationing retrograde on March 6 at 29º38’ Pisces.
Caton, Gary. (2017). Hermetica Triptycha: The Mercury Elemental Year. Rubedo Press.
George, Demetra. (2019). Ancient Astrology in Theory and Practice: a Manual of Traditional Techniques. Rubedo Press.
Rudhyar, Dane. (1958). The Jupiter-Neptune Cycle. Horoscope Magazine.
Rudhyar, Dane. (1973). An Astrological Mandala: the cycle of transformations and its 360 symbolic phases.