Mercury Retrograde in Libra and Virgo

Victor Brauner, The Nuptial March of the Sorcerer

Mercury Retrograde in Libra

Mercury in astrology is known for guiding us across thresholds and making his presence known in the plot twist, sudden slip or surprising boon that changes the direction of narratives. When Mercury stations retrograde, the star of Hermes demarcates a turning point in events as well as whatever processes of development we have been experiencing. Mercury’s retrograde in Libra and Virgo in 2022 will be especially pivotal as it’s regenerative process will be centered upon the Libra Equinox with Mercury helping to bridge the change of seasons from summer to fall in the northern hemisphere, winter to spring in the southern hemisphere. Just like the time of the harvest in the northern hemisphere in which cool air begins to rebalance the excessive heat of summer, Mercury’s retrograde movement from Libra to Virgo will facilitate a separation of wheat from the chaff, stepping back from heated dynamics to gain clarity for what to deepen in cultivation versus what needs to be released or reformed.

Mercury will station retrograde on September 9, embarking upon a three-week journey in which the star of Hermes will backtrack from 8°55’ Libra until stationing direct at 24°11’ Virgo on October 2. As Mercury retraces the zodiacal terrain from twenty-four degrees of Virgo to nine degrees of Libra, personal material in need of deeper engagement will become excavated, bringing opportunities for insight that can catalyze significant growth and foster breaking out of stuck patterns. As part of the process, however, we may need to return to longstanding issues in need of release, reworking, or reintegration. After passing through a phase of putrefaction and purification that will be especially intense leading up to Mercury’s union with the Sun on the September 22 equinox, we may experience renewal on the other side as Mercury returns to forward motion in October. Mercury first crossed 24°11′ Virgo on August 20 and will not move beyond 8°55’ Libra until October 16, creating almost two months of mercurial focus in this range of your natal chart. 

Mercury will station retrograde in Libra as the Moon in Pisces will be waxing toward fullness, with the Full Moon in Pisces on September 10 applying to a conjunction with Neptune. The lunar spotlight upon Neptune at the beginning of Mercury’s retrograde passage is fitting, for Mercury’s descent through his underworld, retrograde journey will mine the underbelly of idealistic dreams to aid us in examining how to build a more solid foundation underneath the visions for creative expression and growth that have been developing. By questioning our beliefs and being willing to consider where we are misleading ourselves with illusions, by the end of Mercury’s retrograde we will be able to realize what aspects of our future visions are too idealistic and lack grounding in practical potential. Mercury will be in position to stress-test dreams due to beginning his retrograde with a prolonged opposition with Jupiter that will not become exact until September 18, and ending his retrograde by stationing direct on October 2 in range of an opposition with Neptune. In the bigger picture, Mercury’s retrograde passage will draw us into deeper exploration of whatever meaning, plans, events, and relationships have been developing in correspondence with a new cycle between Jupiter and Neptune commencing during 2022.

The conjunction between Jupiter and Neptune in Pisces on 12 April 2022 was one of the most important astrological alignments of the year, as it was both the beginning and end of another cycle within the transcendent dance between Jupiter and Neptune. Jupiter and Neptune form conjunctions every thirteen years or so, but their union in Pisces was especially potent due to it taking place in the nocturnal domicile of Jupiter with the star of Zeus receiving Neptune into its oceanic home. Unions between Jupiter and Neptune evoke the feeling of dreams coming true, yet the waves of expansive hope and inspiration that correspond with their conjunction can also be counterbalanced by experiences of disorientation and disillusionment. While Jupiter and Neptune created powerful tides during the first five months of 2022 while they were co-present in Pisces, they have remained within fifteen degrees of one another after Jupiter entered Aries on May 10. In fact, they were brought back together into a sacred marriage of intermingling influences by being contra-antiscia to one another during the first two weeks of June. Crucially, at the time of Mercury stationing retrograde on September 9 there will once again be a close contra-antiscia relationship formed by Jupiter and Neptune. Planets in contra-antiscia have their midpoint on the world axis of zero degrees of Aries (the point at which the celestial equator of Earth intersects with the ecliptic), bringing their combined influence into a powerful impact within world events.

Not only will the influence between Jupiter and Neptune be powerful within current events when Mercury stations retrograde on September 9, there is the added significance that Jupiter’s retrograde motion will eventually lead it back into Pisces on October 28 and into close proximity with Neptune. Jupiter will remain in Pisces with Neptune until 20 December 2022, creating almost two months of Jupiter and Neptune in Pisces once again rippling their tidal forces through personal and collective events. Thus the reorientation toward the meaning of the new cycle between Jupiter and Neptune we can gather through Mercury’s retrograde passage will be helpful not only in reflecting upon connections between our present circumstances with experiences and ideas that developed during the previous conjunction between Jupiter and Neptune in April, it can also provide a beneficial review of where we currently stand in relation to our creative visions so we can be better prepared to bring our dreams into material manifestation when Jupiter and Neptune combine forces in Pisces again at the end of October.

The dissolving impact of Jupiter and Neptune combined in Pisces during 2022 has been amplified in intensity due to it occurring during the same time as the shattering square aspect between Saturn in Aquarius and Uranus in Taurus that has been dismantling global systems that previously brought a sense of security to many. The influence of Jupiter and Neptune can be tricky to handle due to it washing away the stability of the familiar while simultaneously revealing the deeper truths that will endure the mists of misguided perception. Dane Rudhyar in a 1958 article described the confusion that accompanies the call from Jupiter and Neptune to take a visionary step forward, writing that many people out of fear can experience a regressive pull back toward the security of familiar institutions and beliefs rather than risk the unknown.

Yet while we are collectively traversing a period of accelerated destruction of familiar institutions and beliefs that will become even more intense during the eclipses in October and November that will accompany the return of Jupiter to sharing the sign of Pisces with Neptune, there will be increased opportunities for seeking success free from the dominant power structures instead of feeling a need to conform to them. Ultimately, Dane Rudhyar wrote that it can be the accumulation of the smaller changes with our relationships that occur in correspondence with the merging of Jupiter and Neptune that later allow for the greater revolutionary events in the wider world to materialize. Mercury’s retrograde journey that will take it from an opposition with Jupiter into an opposition with Neptune will be an ideal time for recalibration of relational dynamics and deepening into the path that will lead us into creating the life we truly desire to live rather than resigning ourselves to fitting into societal systems that are falling apart.

Mercury functions well in the airy, intellectual environment of Libra and is at his greatest strength in his earthy home and exaltation of Virgo, and so the skill Mercury possesses for recalibrating dynamics and mediating polarities will be amplified during his retrograde journey. Mercury’s initial retrograde passage in Libra will beckon re-examination through the Scales, a re-balancing that necessitates extremes, tension, polarity, counterpoints, and contrariness. The awareness we can access through Mercury retrograde can help us transcend rigid parameters of duality by swinging wildly at times between extremes of perception in a continual process of experiencing oscillating oppositions. It’s necessary to embrace being in between states and forms during periods of Mercury retrograde, and while it will be possible to bring matters into definite form, in some situations we will need to accept the flux of formlessness and fluidity, recalibrating our perceptions and decisions in accordance with changing conditions. With Mercury beginning his retrograde passage while engaging Jupiter in a tense oppositional aspect, a major theme that will initially emerge will be justice; there will be an exacerbation of tensions around injustice, while many will also be inspired to take action on behalf of social justice.

Themis and Nemesis by Nicolai Abraham Abildgaard

Once Mercury moves within fifteen degrees of the Sun on September 14, he will be considered to be invisible under the beams of the Sun by traditional definition. Mercury at this point in his solar phase takes on the role of psychopomp guiding us into interior depths with a chthonic sense of penetrating insight, yet we may find we are more effective at gathering and exchanging information away from the spotlight. Mercury retrograde periods can be excellent for in-depth research in general, but during the initial phase of Mercury’s retrograde passage we can get especially powerful results when breaking free from stuck patterns and old habits as well as when releasing ourselves from aspects of our past that need to be burned off. The closer Mercury gets to his conjunction with the Sun on September 22, the greater his capacity will be for purgation and putrefaction of the past. Since Mercury will simultaneously be picking up the influence of Jupiter leading up to their exact opposition on September 18, we will also become aware of new opportunities for growth that can emerge from the composting of past dynamics.

At the same time, issues involving fairness and balance within relational dynamics will draw our attention as there will be a catalyzing square aspect between Venus in Virgo with Mars in Gemini on September 16 at 14°23’ of each sign. Since both Venus and Mars will be occupying the domiciles of Mercury, the regenerative influence of Mercury being retrograde will facilitate a release of old relational dynamics while we simultaneously come into deeper relationship with new passions, desires, and ways of relating that feel more genuine and authentic. The waxing square between Venus and Mars links back to the previous conjunction between Venus and Mars on March 6, 2022 at 00°01’ Aquarius, another sign that there is an important connection between Mercury’s retrograde movement this month with the experiences that were taking shape in the beginning of the year.

While Venus relates to what we find beautiful, pleasurable, valuable, and distasteful, Mars represents our ability to pursue our desires, fight for our values, and separate ourselves from whatever we find intolerable or displeasing. The waxing square between Venus and Mars signifies a period for discovering the emerging desires we will want to pursue, embody, and protect, yet the new desires we wish to experience may create instability and volatility within our relationships. With Venus and Mars clashing while in both signs of Mercury, it will be important to make space for listening to our own needs within relationship and then finding ways to effectively communicate them to those we are in relationship. Even though periods of Mercury retrograde are characterized in popular astrology as signifying communication mishaps and breakdowns, the intensified presence of Mercury during its retrograde in actuality can lead to breakthrough conversations when both people are committed to engaging and working through whatever trouble is present within relational dynamics.

Mercury by Bertel Thorvaldsen

In the Heart of the Equinox

Mercury will become reanimated by its conjunction with the Sun on September 22 at 00°14′ Libra, the same day as the Libra Equinox when we experience equal day and night everywhere around the globe. The reseeding of Mercury in solar light occurs as it aligns in between the Earth and Sun by zodiacal degree, as close to us in orbit as possible for Mercury within its cycle. Known as the inferior conjunction of Mercury, it’s a moment of clarifying rebirth that can enhance realization and seed new ideas for the Mercury cycle ahead in which it will transition into becoming a visible morning star. While Mercury is within one degree of conjunction with the Sun, even more so within sixteen arc minutes of its solar conjunction, there can be empowerment for tasks associated with Mercury since it is enthroned upon the solar chariot. Older astrological texts named this moment of Mercury’s rebirth cazimi, or being in the heart of the Sun. It’s the cyclical moment when Mercury enters what Demetra George has named the “sanctum sanctorum,” or “the innermost holy chamber of the mystery initiations” found within “the protected space at the heart of the Sun.” 

The inferior conjunction of Mercury occurring on the same day as the Libra Equinox, the day of equal day and night that marks the turning of the seasons, is unusual. In mundane astrology, Libra ingress charts for when the Sun enters Libra are used to forecast the three month season that follows for events occurring in the location of the chart, and so Mercury applying to its regenerative conjunction with the Sun will be a theme that shows up in different ways and plays an important role in charts forecasting the season ahead for nations and cities. Moreover, zero degrees of Aries and Libra has been likened by some astrologers to being the nodes of the Sun, as it marks the intersection between the ecliptic (the apparent path of the Sun that defines the zodiac) with the projection of the celestial equator of the Earth; when the Sun enters Libra it is at this exact intersection en route in the northern hemisphere to descending to the nadir of its southern declination during the Winter Solstice when the Sun enters Capricorn. Mercury will be applying within thirty arc minutes of its union with the Sun when the Sun enters Libra, bringing the death and rebirth process of Mercury into world events with more intensity than normal.

Though the Libra Equinox is traditionally a day for sacred attunement and renewal, it will be especially potent this year when making sacred space for reflection and rebalancing. Allow Mercury to help guide you into insights and realizations regarding whatever has led you to the present moment in your personal journey, letting go of what needs to be released from the past while opening to new directions that may emerge to follow in the season ahead. It will be a powerful time for reseeding ideas and listening for messages and signs indicating new directions to follow in creative and intellectual pursuits.

Astarte by John Singer Sargent

Mercury Stationing Direct in Virgo

Mercury’s underworld journey will bring him into chthonic connections with Venus and Pluto once he leaves Libra and enters Virgo soon after uniting with the Sun. Mercury will backtrack into Virgo on September 23 and immediately apply toward a conjunction with Venus in Virgo that will be completed on September 26, as well as apply toward a flowing trine aspect with Pluto in Capricorn that will be completed on September 27. Both Mercury and Venus will be in the midst of underworld journeys when they meet, with one crucial difference. While Mercury will have already experienced its rebirth from its union with the Sun, Venus will still be experiencing her descent into darkness that will eventually lead her to be reanimated by a conjunction with the Sun during her superior conjunction at 29°26’ Libra on October 22, 2022. Moreover, in addition to Mercury and Venus being invisible under the beams of the Sun, the Moon will also be veiled in darkness as there will be a New Moon in Libra on September 25. The waning dark Moon will form a conjunction with Venus and Mercury on September 25 before the New Moon occurs later in the day. There will be a mysterious exchange in the heart of darkness between the Moon, Mercury, and Venus at this time that invites curiosity. If feelings become difficult or emotions spiral, keep in mind that it could be part of a larger process of release and shedding taking place.

The meeting between Venus and Mercury at 26°47’ Virgo will take place in the third decan of Virgo, a decan ruled by both Venus and Mercury. Austin Coppock in his book 36 Faces on the decans ascribed the image of “The Sarcophagus” to this decan as there are many associated images of decay in old texts. Coppock stated that the third decan of Virgo “has the power to break the pride of all created things by showing them their inevitable end,” yet through facing this inevitability “it grants far reaching sight . . . the ability to look beyond the present, seeing consequences as clearly as actions.” The potency this decan possesses for revealing what is truly valuable will be worth remembering during Mercury’s extended stay here from September 23 through October 10, but especially while Mercury and Venus are both present here from September 23 through September 29. There may be hard experiences related to whatever needs to be laid to rest from the past, but the process of putrefaction will be capable of revealing potent insights regarding the path forward.

After Mercury passes through its conjunction with Venus and trine with Pluto it will slow down in speed until stationing direct at 24’12 Virgo on October 2. Mercury’s stationing degree places it within range of an opposition with Neptune in Pisces and a trine aspect with Pluto in Capricorn. With Mercury stationing in its place of domicile and exaltation rulership, there may be volatile events and changes in direction to traverse, yet Mercury will be capable of providing a sobering analytical perspective grounded in the details we need to pay attention to.

Once Mercury is moving direct it will form its final exact trine aspect with Pluto in Capricorn on October 6, only two days before Pluto stations direct on October 8. The intensified prescence of Pluto will be picked up and transmitted by Mercury at the same time that Mercury will be reaching maximum elongation as a Morning Star on October 8. The maximum elongation of Mercury demarcates another threshold to cross, as it initiates us into the phase of Mercury speeding up as well as accelerating our capacity for integrating the many inner changes that took shape during the retrograde. Gary Caton described this solar phase of Mercury as being similar to the rubedo phase within alchemy in his book Hermetica Tryptycha. As we work to integrate the insights and changes in perspective realized during Mercury’s retrograde journey, Caton noted that we should expect to endure a phase of chaotic volatility as we make a commitment to embody a new presence of being. With Mercury forming its final trine aspect with Pluto at the same time Pluto is stationing, we can expect the sort of chaotic processes to emerge that can also give birth to exciting new forms of creative expression and presence.

Mercury will return to Libra on October 10, form its final opposition with Jupiter in Aries on October 12, and then leave its retrograde shadow zone on October 16. As Mercury continues to pick up speed this week, pay attention to how storylines shift as Mercury completes its final opposition with Jupiter. The first opposition in the series was on September 2 with Mercury moving direct, followed by the second opposition on September 18 with Mercury in the middle of its retrograde journey, and so there may be insights to be found within the arc of narratives across these dates. With Mars stationing retrograde in Gemini and Jupiter returning to Pisces at the end of October at the same time we enter a powerful eclipse season, there will be immense changes taking shape on the horizon. May the fleet footed messenger guide us into reflection, focus, and action on the matters that need our attention as we enter another period of accelerated collective and personal change.

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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.