Mercury Retrograde in Leo

Mercury from Hermetic child of Sun and Moon

from Hermetic Child of Sun and Moon (1752)

Mercury Retrograde in Leo

Flower-muscle, slowly pulling open / the anemone’s vast meadow morning, / until the loud sky’s polyphonic light / comes pouring down into its womb,

muscle of infinite reception / flexed in the quiet flower star, / sometimes so overwhelmed by fullness / that the sunset’s call to rest

is scarcely able to give you back / the wide-sprung petal edges: you, / resolve and strength of how many worlds!

We violent ones, we last longer. / But when, in which of all these lives, / are we finally open and receivers?

-Rainer Maria Rilke, Sonnets to Orpheus

When Mercury stations retrograde its best to honor the stillness of the quicksilver messenger, bringing focused presence to our day and open receptivity to the multiplicity of night. Being ever watchful as Mercury stations helps direct awareness toward opportunities appearing on the horizon as well as previously unnoticed matters on the edge of disarray that need remediation. Mercury is always powerful when stationing and typically dominates the astrological discourse when it does; however, when Mercury stationed retrograde on July 26 it was overshadowed by Mars  being opposite the Sun at the heart of its retrograde phase, as well as the anticipation of a Total Lunar Eclipse in Aquarius climaxing the next day. Being in the middle of eclipses, with a partial solar eclipse in Leo coming on August 11, we can expect more than the usual amount of change in coming weeks. Mercury twinkling in the cooling of sunset, standing still by zodiacal degree, offers us the gift of potent awareness.

Of course, Mercury shifting retrograde really means that Mercury is passing in between our Earth and its orbit with the Sun. Since Mercury becomes closest to us in orbit when retrograde, the star of Hermes becomes a more dominant force to contend with amongst the daily transits. Though Mercury retrograde has taken on overly negative projections in popular culture that are false exagerrations, it is true that there is a cunning, elusive quality of Mercury that can be difficult for many to negotiate with. The star of Hermes becomes a crafty, artful leader in life when retrograde, with a wily and procreative quality that was deftly teased by Karl Kerenyi in the following passage:

With Hermes as leader in life- so the classical tradition teaches us- the world receives a special nuance, the Hermetic accent as we have become acquainted with it. This Hermetic aspect is thoroughly empirical, and it remains within the realm of a natural experience of the world. The sum total of pathways as Hermes’ playground; the accidental “falling into your lap” as the Hermetic material; its transformation through finding-thieving- the Hermetic event- into a Hermetic work of art, which is also always something of a tricky optical illusion, into wealth, love, poetry, and every sort of evasion from the restrictions and confinement imposed by laws, circumstances, destinies- how could these be mere psychic realities? They are the world and they are one world, namely, that world which Hermes opens to us.

The reality of the Hermes world proves at least the presence of a standpoint from which it is revealed; more than that, it testifies to something active that is not merely revealing itself from that standpoint, but that is ever again suddenly present and drives the world to give concrete expression to the Hermetic works of art and illusion. The source of this experience and configuration of the world … is Hermes himself. It must possess the complete Hermetic breadth, from the phallic to …  the guidance of souls, an activity that stretches even beyond life.

— Karl Kerenyi, Hermes: Guide of Souls

Though people often curse blunders, mistakes, and the falling apart of possessions linked in the mind with Mercury retrograde, its worth considering the realm opened by Mercury retrograde is not an anomaly but rather something already there, awaiting activation. Indeed, Mercury stations retrograde at least three times a year for three weeks or so, and so the guidance it offers when retrograde is intrinsic to its nature. It’s what makes Mercury, Mercury.  In fact when retrograde Mercury brings an amplified, penetrating focus to research, inner exploration, and the changing of habitual patterns.

Visually, Mercury transitions from being an Evening Star visible at sunset into an invisible phase in which it descends below the horizon, too close to the Sun to be seen. This oracular disappearance from light is called the heliacal setting of Mercury, and will occur on July 30. From this day until Mercury eventually reemerges again into visibility on August 19 as a Morning Star at dawn, Mercury will be taking on its underworld role as a guide of souls, or psychopomp. Mercury is less the fleet footed, super curious social networker in this phase, becoming more plodding, penetrative, intuitive, and facile with symbolic interpretation of the signs we encounter in life. As Marsilio Ficino wrote in Opera:

Mercury has the power to put souls to sleep or waken them with his staff; that is, in some way or another by putting himself into a certain shape, he can dull or sharpen the mind, or weaken or strengthen it, or upset or calm it.

The tricks of changing mind we can feel while Mercury is retrograde may feel frustrating, but if we can stand back and contemplate the bigger picture we will begin to sense an insight we actually needed to bring into our awareness. Dane Rudhyar in The Astrology of Transformation wrote that Mercury “gives mental formulation to the solar will,” seeking “to impersonalize and provide a conceptual foundation- a raison d’etre – for the often unclear (because emotional) urge the would-be individual experiences to live his or her own life.” With Mercury retrograde in the home of the Sun, during a time in which the Leo Sun will become partially eclipsed (August 11), and Mars retrograde will continue to deeply stir desires, the capacity of Mercury to help us discover a purpose within the tumult will be needed medicine.

crowning-39-calcinatio

from The Crowning of Nature

Though the world change swiftly / as the forms in clouds, / all perfected things fall back / to age-old ground.

Over what changes and passes, / wider and freer, / your deep song still hovers, / O god with the lyre.

Pain has not been understood, / love has not been learned,  / and what in death removes us

remains undisclosed. / Alone over the land / song hallows and heals.

-Rainer Maria Rilke, Sonnets to Orpheus

Mercury retrograde in Leo is the second of three retrograde phases in fire signs we will experience in 2018. Previously we experienced Mercury retrograde in Aries from March 22 through April 15, and later in the year Mercury will station retrograde in Sagittarius on November 16. Within a year of regenerating our relationship with the fire signs (consider what houses the fire signs occupy in your chart and related topics), the retrograde of Mercury in Leo is not only at the dead center of the process, but occurs during the most volatile period in astrology this year.  As a result, Mercury retrograde can facilitate breaking down and releasing whatever aspects of our life need clearing to create more space for new growth to take root. The purgation that can come with this Mercury retrograde is amplified due to it occurring in Leo, the sign of the upcoming eclipse as well as the sign forming a polarity to Aquarius, the sign of the recent Lunar Eclipse and the place Mars is currently retrograde in.

One of the advantages Mercury retrograde periods bring is increased capacity to look at things from a new perspective, helping us gain insight toward old issues and realize what aspects of life need support and attention.  The combined influences of Mars retrograde with eclipses makes it more likely than normal that storylines are changing dramatically, and so the extra stirring provided by Mercury retrograde brings to mind the delight Mercury takes in the twist that moves the plot in a surprising direction and creates needed change. Thomas Moore in his book about the Italian Renaissance astrologer Marsilio Ficino brilliantly summarized Ficino’s perspective toward the protean imagination intermixed by Mercury:

Mercury reveals an inner realm of things without depriving them of their concreteness… The most common mode of interpretation, in some circles the only way, is to dissect and analyze, freezing the components of an insight into brittle pieces which are then easy to manipulate. But the crafty sleight-of-hand of Mercury interprets without killing, transforming our view of one image through another…  Since interpretation consists chiefly in discovering new images among the old, the surprise Mercury brings is a new image or a new idea, a gift from the cunning god who knows how to stir the soul…

In Mercury, words are like crystals whose facets are revealed in their turning, in the various perspectives brought upon them. Whatever keeps our ideas and fantasies turning and shifting, eluding our rational grasp and defying conclusive definition, is Mercurial. When we are the deft, interpretive, eloquent secretaries of our own actions and ideas, then we are Mercury; for then we interpret our own minds.

— Thomas Moore, Planets Within: the Astrological Psychology of Marsilio Ficino

With Mercury retrograde in the fixed fire sign of Leo, opposite the sign of Aquarius where Mars is retrograde, we are journeying into the subconscious shadow of however we have been creatively self actualizing. Have we been holding back on going after what we want, or have we been taking on too much? What lies at the heart of our ambition, is it a need for attention or power? Or are we passionately in service to an ideal or message we wish to share with others, without need of extrinsic reward or recognition? What sacrifices on behalf of our ideals and community are we willing to make, and how will this impact our personal relationships? How much attention needs to be directed into our intimate relationships, personal space, and private creativity, rather than expressed through mediums into the collective?

In the end all of the challenges faced during Mercury retrograde in Leo will help us not only refine the vision we have of a healthy and fulfilling life, but begin enacting the modifications needed to rebalance whatever has been imbalanced. Whatever inauthentic patterns we have been engaging in will become obvious, opening the opportunity to separate from what we no longer want to engage, realigning in a direction resonant with our core values.

MarleneSevenBremner_Thoth_300dpi_1800pix

Transfiguration of Thoth [Squaring the Circle] by Marlene Seven Bremner (2018)

Into the Heart

Here, among the vanishing, be, in the realm of decline  ⁄  be a ringing glass that shatters even as it rings.  ⁄  Be—and know as well the terms of nonbeing,  ⁄  the infinite ground of your inmost vibration,  ⁄  so that, this once, you may wholly fulfill them.

–Rainer Maria Rilke, Sonnets to Orpheus

Mercury will be reborn through its union with the Sun on August 8 at 16º27′ Leo. At this moment of regeneration within Mercury’s synodic cycle, efforts made in contemplation can be rewarded with clarifying insight. Mercury within a degree of the Sun was described by the ancient astrologer Rhetorius the Egyptian as being in the heart of the Sun, and this became known as moment in which Mercury is seated upon the solar throne, strengthened in all things mercurial. Typically we get can get a boost with our Mercury work at this time, or powerful realizations through inner reflection, but overall this is a time to emerge with a purified perspective from all the putrefaction of mind we’ve been experiencing since Mercury stationed retrograde on July 26. This particular inferior conjunction of Mercury is especially powerful and volatile, due to it occurring in between eclipses with Uranus in Taurus stationing retrograde a day before on August 7, and Mercury applying to a square with Jupiter in Scorpio that will perfect a couple days later on August 10.

As Mercury is a mutable planet that takes on the qualities of its aspects in astrology, Mercury near the Sun in Leo likewise takes on the potent heating, drying, clarifying, and inspiring qualities of the Leo Sun. Yet the current Mercury retrograde finds it in the strange climate of eclipses occurring during the Sun’s time in Leo. More significantly, Mercury will unite with the Sun for its fiery rebirth only three days before the Sun is partially eclipsed by the Moon. The shadow that will partially fall across our great solar light is therefore transmitted directly by the quicksilver messenger, just as Mercury is at a “newborn” phase of its cycle more susceptible than normal to other influences.

Marsilio Ficino in Three Books on Life wrote that as the Moon “receives a life-giving power” from the Sun each time it forms a union, “she receives from Mercury in the same place [Mercury is always near the Sun] a force which blends her moistures,” since Mercury has “the virtue of his own transformation into all other planets and by virtue of his many revolutions.” At the time of the inferior conjunction of Mercury, the Moon will be at home in Cancer within the closing, balsamic phase of its synodic cycle.  On August 10/11 the Moon will conjoin Mercury only six hours before the Moon then partially eclipses the Sun on August 11. This brings the regenerated Mercury into deep, stirring contact with whatever hidden material is emerging from the opening and closing of the eclipse gates, including the Total Lunar Eclipse of July 27.

As Mercury moves from 17º Leo where it unites with the Sun back to 12º Leo where it stations direct on August 18, Hermes will be playing its role of alchemical mystic with pleasure, diverting and then refocusing perception on a multiplicity of images and messages to help us sort through the insights revealed by the eclipses. An extra shift coming in the wake of the Leo Eclipse on August 11 will occur when Mars retrograde transitions from Aquarius into Capricorn on August 12. Mars retrograde leaving a whole sign opposition with Mercury retrograde will not make things easy all of a sudden, but it will lower the levels of volatility to a degree. With Mars retrograde in Capricorn while Mercury finishes the final week of its retrograde, we can begin taking action in accordance with whatever insights arose with the rebirth of Mercury.

troubadour.jpg!Large

El Trovador by Remedios Varo

Mercury Stations Direct

And their feet move  /  Rhythmically, as tender  /  feet of Cretan girls  /  danced once around an  /  altar of love, crushing  /  a circle in the soft  /  smooth flowering grass

— Sappho, translated by Mary Barnard

Mercury stations direct on August 18 or 19, depending upon your time zone, at 11º32′ Leo. Not long after Mercury stations direct, we will also experience the heliacal rising of Mercury on August 19 when it becomes visible again at dawn as a Morning Star. Since ancient times in astrology this has been seen as an oracular moment of Mercury transmitting a message for us to receive. Fittingly for such an ancient spiritual context, Mercury will be stationing direct in Leo closely conjoining the North Node of Neptune.

The planetary nodes of Neptune began shifting back and forth from Cancer (North) and Capricorn (South) into Leo (North) and Aquarius (South) by the 10th century, but by the time of the 1100s they began stabilizing in Leo and Aquarius where they remain today. I was recently watching Joseph Campbell interviewed in The Power of Myth television series, and realized when he waxed poetic about the significance of the shift to the age of the troubadour that he was also speaking about the shift of the North Node of Neptune moving into Leo. Campbell said that the shift that came about in the age of the troubadour was monumental in terms of creating a human ideal for pursuing an authentic life rather than one dictated by the dogmatic authority of church, family, and culture. With the troubadours came the ideal of person to person love that continues into the modern era. Instead of conforming to the dictates of arranged marriage, the sway of the troubadours inspired the ideal of being seized by the soul’s counterpart in a romantic other. People became willing to risk literally burning in the fires of hell, as they were told they would do by authorities, in order to be with their beloved.

With Mercury stationing direct on the North Node of Neptune, the message we receive will involve an essence to embody in our creative actualization. We may feel inspired to sing a new song of heart centered inspiration. We will need to begin finding ways to work with the fecund creative potency emerging from within, integrating it into our identity and relationships. Sweetly, Venus will be at home in Libra and passing through a sextile with Mercury as our valiant messenger finally completes its underworld voyage. Moreover, not only Venus by sextile, but the Moon in Sagittarius by trine will be there to bolster reception of a new creative spirit as Mercury stations direct.

As Mercury resumes forward motion through zodiacal degrees again, Mars will begin stationing direct in Capricorn. Mercury reaches maximum elongation as a Morning Star on August 26 at 16 degrees of Leo, a point in its synodic cycle that Gary Caton in his book Hermetica Triptycha demarcated as an ending to the alchemical retrograde process of Mercury that began on July 11 when Mercury was at maximum elongation as an Evening Star at 17 degrees of Leo. Mars then stations direct two days later on August 28, and as Mars begins to generate some forward momentum, Mercury will leave the “shadow zone” of the degrees it formed its retrograde within on September 2 when it crosses over 24 degrees of Leo.

This means at the end of August we will be wrapping up both the Mercury and Mars retrograde periods, with awareness needed that we will still be dealing with the aftermath of Mars retrograde into October as it makes its way back toward the degree it originally stationed at. When we look back at these months in future years and decades, we are likely to remember it as a time of significant turning. Bear this in mind if things become overheated and rough, for you will have found new strength and realization on the other side of these transits. As a fragment of Sappho, who wrote in the 6th century B.C., still sings:

You may forget but

Let me tell you / that someone in / some future time / will think of us

-Sappho, translated by Mary Barnard

References

Barnard, Mary. (1958). Sappho: A New Translation. U of California Press.

Ficino, Marsilio. (1998). Three Books on Life: A Critical Edition and Translation with Introduction and Notes by Carol V. Kaske and John R. Clark. Tempe: Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies.

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

Moore, Thomas. (1990). The Planets Within: the Astrological Psychology of Marsilio Ficino. Lindisfarne Press.

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

Rudhyar, Dane. (1980). The Astrology of Transformation. A Quest Book.

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.