The Inferior conjunction of Mercury and the Sun on October 16, 2014 is in the sign of Libra and conjunct Venus, evoking Maat through the added atmosphere of the Goddess (Venus) and the Scales (Libra) of Balance, Law, and Justice. In Egyptian mythology, the god Thoth is associated with Mercury, and Maat is the goddess corresponding to Thoth, the beloved daughter of the sun god Ra who undertook the work of creation along with Thoth. There were only two deities who stood on either side of the boat of Ra: Thoth and Maat, and Maat’s presence was intrinsic to the daily regeneration of Ra, the Sun. Maat wore an ostrich feather in her hair, the feather a symbol of “maat,” an ineffable word that had associations with genuineness, authenticity, truth, and being “real.” This being a time of Mercury retrograde, and Mercury being the trickster transgressor of boundaries, we also want to be aware of how the additional link between Maat and concepts like righteousness and unalterable morality can trick us at times into thinking that we are in the right, when in actuality we have not deeply explored ourselves to the necessary extent to truly understand our truth.
The inferior conjunction of Mercury with the Sun is a magic moment of soul, and the center of the Mercury retrograde cycle we are experiencing from Scorpio to Libra and back to Scorpio again. This “inferior” conjunction of Mercury is like an “interior” alignment of Mercury with the Sun from our perspective on Earth, as Mercury appears to move in reverse into the Sun in between our orbit and the great light of our solar system. This is a moment in which Hermes transmits a message from Spirit to us, as Mercury’s orbit is much closer to the Sun than our orbit on Earth. We can center at this time as we release old thought patterns, making space for the arising new vision of our life. This can be a disorienting time, so the symbol of Mercury being in Libra at this time is an apt guide, as we will want to find our focal point of balance in the flow around us. This is a point of conception to generate what we will birth from our minds in the forthcoming cycle, and we want to keep in mind that Mercury at this point in its retrograde cycle is inwardly directed and more subjectively susceptible to sensing the symbols surrounding us than at other times. As Venus in Libra and Mercury in Libra are moving toward one another, only a couple degrees apart at the time of the inferior conjunction, reaching their own conjunction a day later, this is also an opportune time to center within our authentic values, releasing what is false in order to embrace our burgeoning truth.
Maat was involved in the judgment of souls, the weighing of hearts at the time of death, as the hearts of the dead were placed on a scale to be balanced with the feather of Maat. The goal was to have Maat in your heart, to balance the scales and reveal that your voice was true, genuine, and justified. Now is the time to go within our unconscious, our dream time, our place of centering, so that we can re-emerge into the bustling world from a more authentic place, acting from and speaking our truth.
The inferior conjunction of Mercury and the Sun will be in the Libra III decan, a decan associated with the 4 of Swords in tarot. In the image above created by Pamela Colman Smith for the A.E. Waite deck, we can see what looks to be a tomb with a statue of a knight in prayer, under a stained glass window of “PAX” or “peace.” This image also evokes a pilgrim in meditative silence within a protected, sacred space, and likewise it can help us find our own balance at this time if we can manage to create our own space, or journey somewhere we can find solace in silence. Since we are in a time of Mercury retrograde, we also can integrate the duality within this image, the concept of peace that necessitates the concept of conflict, the pilgrim/knight in prayer surrounded by swords. Within the balance of these dualities, we can sense how his positioning is like a re-balancing of the chakras and re-integration of our body and mind, and the sword below him is a tool to be used to cut away the false and inessential in order to reveal our essential and genuine presence that can emerge now. It also connects to the judgment of Maat at our time of death, the weighing of our heart to reveal if we lived a life in accordance with our soul or not.
In 36 Faces Austin Coppock described Libra III as a decan that “allows one to see through the eye of the storm” through equilibration of movement:
Its secret resides in the eye of the storm, calm and clear as the chaos of desire and fear whirl all about . . . The principle of justice or balance is thus applied constantly to a lop-sided world, one interaction at a time. Those who enact this formula successfully emanate an aura of order and are themselves a walking corrective . . . The power of this face is to equilibrate unbalanced forces as they are encountered, and to maintain connection to the unmoved center. It offers the formulae by which equipoise may be maintained in any circumstance- shelter in any storm. (p. 168-70)
Lastly, as we remember the connection between Libra and relationships, the Moon in Leo being conjunct Juno in Leo at the time of the inferior conjunction gives added weight to our relationships being a primal source of lessons for us now. It may be through our intimate relationships as well as our more ephemeral interactions that we come to important realizations that will help us to release old thought forms in preparation for the new. I am reminded of this passage I admire from The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami, in which the main character realizes the gap of understanding between him and his wife of over six years:
Is it possible, finally, for one human being to achieve perfect understanding of another?
We can invest enormous time and energy in serious efforts to know another person, but in the end, how close are we able to come to that person’s essence? We convince ourselves that we know the other person well, but do we really know anything important about anyone?
I started thinking seriously about such things a week after I quit my job at the law firm. Never until then- never in the whole course of my life- had I grappled with questions like this. And why not? Probably because my hands had been full just living. I had simply been too busy to think about myself. (p. 24)
No matter how busy we are, this is a time necessitating deep reflection in order to reap the reward of realization available. This does not mean it will be easy- going into the underworld realm never is, but it has always been the mythic figures consumed with great love and desire for their beloved, like Psyche, Isis, Dionysus, Orpheus, and Persephone, who survive and give birth to new vision from a new sense of self. We can make a sacred oath and contract with ourselves at this time, to clear what needs clearing and to courageously embody our deepest desires. By doing this work within and nurturing our own needs, we will be able to listen with greater clarity to the needs of others. There may be hard truths to recognize about ourselves, attachments we have clung to for years that must be let go, but in the end our lives and the lives of the people we are in relationship will be richer for our participation in this time of internal transition guided by Mercury.
Coppock, Austin. (2014). 36 Faces: The History, Astrology, and Magic of the Decans. Three Hands Press.
Murakami, Haruki. (1997). The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. Vintage.
Pinch, Geraldine. (2002). Egyptian Mythology: a guide to the gods, goddesses, and traditions of ancient Egypt. Oxford University Press.
Wallis Budge, E.A. (1960). The Book of the Dead. University Books, Inc.