Mercury Retrograde in Aquarius

Light in Heavy (1929) by Wassily Kandinsky

Mercury Retrograde in Aquarius

Every person is a half-open door
leading to a room for everyone.

— from “The Half-Finished Heaven” by Tomas Tranströmer, translated by Robert Bly

Mercury is a friend to humanity, albeit a tricky guide who enjoys sleight of hand and cunning words that catch us off guard. In astrology, when Mercury pauses in motion to change direction it’s necessary to be mindful with focused curiosity that can intuit the emerging issues that need our attention. The airy terrain of Aquarius will provide contrasting wind currents for Mercury to ride, sometimes forcing us in certain directions out of necessity, at other times opening an expansive vision that simultaneously draws from our well of memory while seeing new pathways to follow into the future.

Mercury is the most changeable planet, and when stationing retrograde shifts from its fleet footed pace when direct into intensifying stillness that calls for introspection. As Mercury begins its slow, churning backward motion it pulls us into a quality of time aligned with dissolution, purification, and regeneration. Rather than insisting on controlling outcomes to push forward, we need to surrender to the changes in storylines and meaning delivered by Mercury when retrograde. Although we may at times become disoriented by destabilizing dynamics, if we listen closely we will hear the guidance we need from Hermes and discover a gleaming gem of realization left where only we may find it.

Following the stationing of Mercury on January 30 at 26°29’ Aquarius, the star of Hermes will spend twenty-two days backtracking through the sign of the Water Bearer until stationing direct at 11°01’ Aquarius on February 20. As Mercury retraces the zodiacal terrain from eleven to twenty-seven degrees of Aquarius, it will excavate material that we need to deepen our engagement with, returning our perception to issues we need to release, rework, or reintegrate. After passing through a phase of putrefaction and purification, we may gain a rejuvenated presence and felt sense of renewal on the other side. Mercury first crossed 11°01’ Aquarius on January 15 and will not move beyond 26°29’ Aquarius until March 12, creating two months of mercurial focus in this range of your natal chart. 

In addition to changing speed and direction while retrograde, Mercury also transitions from being visible as an evening star in twilight into an invisible phase during which it comes closest to us in orbit and amplifies its impact in our life. In between the descent of Mercury into darkness and its eventual re-emergence into light as a morning star heralding sunrise, Mercury’s underworld journey demarcates a threshold we must cross into our own liminal passage of descent and internal processing. While we always need to attune and adjust to changes emerging from internal and external sources during the three weeks Mercury is retrograde, the period of Mercury retrograde in Aquarius in 2021 will be taking place during a collective time of immeasurably immense transition and liminality in global events.

During Mercury’s retrograde movement the Sun, Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn will all be gathered together with Mercury in Aquarius like a grouping of clouds whose shaping and reshaping brings new realizations of our past and new inspiration for our way forward. We are still coming to terms collectively with the systemic shifts emanating from the great conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn in Aquarius, with disruption and volatility continuing to increase in correlation with the first exact square aspect formed between Saturn in Aquarius and Uranus in Taurus on February 17. Since Aquarius is a zodiacal sign that connects the known with the unknown, as Mercury moves back to reconnect with Jupiter and Saturn we will be given the opportunity to realign and recalibrate with the rapidly developing movements, accelerated growth, and sudden collapses within societal systems that have been taking place. 

Explorador Piloto (1960) by Remedios Varo

Through a backdoor in the landscape
the magpie arrives,
black and white, bird of the death-goddess.
A blackbird flies back and forth
until the whole scene becomes a charcoal drawing,
except for the white clothes on the line:
a Palestrina choir.

The whole universe is full!

— from “Morning Bird Songs” by Tomas Tranströmer, translated by Robert Bly

The significance of Mercury, Venus, the Sun, and Jupiter all joining Saturn in its home of Aquarius cannot be overstated. Since this great gathering of wandering stars in Aquarius will also be forming a sign-based square aspect with Mars and Uranus in Taurus, we can expect it to be an especially disruptive and unstable period of Mercury retrograde. Especially during the first two weeks when Mars and Mercury will be more intensely engaged in a square aspect, we will need to navigate the stereotypical breakdowns in technology and communication emphasized in popular astrology. Yet due to Saturn being rooted in its airy home of Aquarius the entire time,  we will be able to lean on the endurance, slowly pondering analysis, and special skills in deconstruction and reconstruction possessed by the ringed star of Cronus. 

It’s further notable that Mercury is the nocturnal ruler of air signs and shares an affinity with the air element in being mobile, flexible, versatile, and facile in communication. The slow, intensified nature of Mercury when retrograde can be excellent for in-depth research, and so it can be a fruitful time for poring over reading material or penetrating deeper into learning within fields of interest. The flexibility of consciousness that Mercury brings to the potent contemplation of Saturn in Aquarius will also be beneficial in critically examining media sources as well as separating true revelation from false conspiracy on social media and elsewhere. In particular, it will be a powerful time for shedding outdated mental frameworks and thought patterns that no longer align with the changing wind of the time.

The fixed nature of Aquarius means that the changes brought into our life through the deluge of planets in Aquarius may slowly take shape in some cases but will create long lasting impact. Since Aquarius is a human sign connected with the relationship between humans with one another in our vast network of intersecting societal constructions, humanitarian concerns will take precedence. The numerous crises impacting people around the world in relation to the global pandemic as well as the collapse of formerly reliable structures means that it’s simply going to take a long time to find the needed solutions and work through the difficulties involved in reform and repair. Bring patience and willingness to persist in problem solving into the passage of Mercury retrograde, and by the end of it you will likely find new insights to apply to issues and new pathways to follow forward. 

As we continue to orient with the new era of air initiated by the recent conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn, we can utilize the three weeks of Mercury retrograde to notice synchronicities and discover revelations in connection with all forms of air symbolism. One realm will be in the use of language itself, rethinking how we use language to communicate. With the tension from Mars and Uranus to the gathering of Aquarius planets there will continue to be cultural battles over the use of language and the ways we tell our collective stories of humanity, with escalating conflict swirling like whirlwinds. In verbal conflicts of any sort, the mediation offered by Mercury retrograde is to pause, slow down, and rethink your perspective, finding ways to de-escalate discord so that a bridge between view points can be made.

Within our personal relationships, we will also have opportunities for uncovering ways to more directly express the heart of the matter through our choice in words. As the living symbolism of Aquarius involves how humans draw from sources of spirit within earthly matters, one constant intersection is in how we express the flight of our thoughts through language. As Dr. Mervat Nasser wrote in Hermopolis, “the Egyptian alphabet took the shape of birds that were seen as capable of flying high into the sky to mediate between the knowledge of heaven and earth, between god and humanity.” 

We may also gain insight through the appearance of airy omens and signs, whether they appear through images soaring through our mind when asleep or through the flight patterns of birds within our waking time in nature. Just like Owen Barfield emphasized in Saving the Appearances, rather than forming an “I-it” relationship with nature in which we desire to observe the beautiful flight of birds separate from ourselves, we can instead seek to learn what we can understand about ourselves from the sudden appearance of a Blue Heron or Peregrine Falcon along our path. There is a depth of symbolic insight accessible when Mercury is retrograde that can be more nonlinear and intuitive than linearly logical.

When possible it will be worthwhile to spend time with the muses of your creativity while Mercury is retrograde, as the gathering of planets in Aquarius making creative tension with Mars and Uranus can lead to breakthrough ideas and important brainstorms that dislodge you from a formerly stuck position. In myth the Muses were known as the daughters of Mnemosyne (memory) and Zeus (creative divine mind), and so with Jupiter and Venus both present in Aquarius with Mercury we may draw from streams of memories in the creation of new expressions and thought forms. According to Tim Addey, who drew upon the work of Plato in his book The Seven Myths of the Soul, engaging in arts and sciences requires both creative thought and “the memory of our pre-terrestial vision of the celestial realm.” To Addey, this creative process can put us in touch with a sense of morality drawn down from the spirit of stars above, a rather Aquarian process as ethics are an important ideal for Aquarius:

“The theory of reminiscence is Plato’s explanation of why we as human beings are able to recognize abstract, universal and spiritual truths, such as justice, beauty, and goodness: it is because the soul once possessed this knowledge..but forgotten when she descended into the world of matter; the soul’s activities in arts and sciences helps her remember it.”  – Tim Addey, The Seven Myths of the Soul

odilon redon pilgrim from a sublunar world

Pilgrim from a Sublunar World (1891) by Odilon Redon

. . . Oh, but just beyond that,
behind the last of the billboards, plastered with signs for “Deathless,”
that bitter beer which tastes sweet to those drinking it
as long as they have fresh distractions to chew . . . ,
just beyond those boards, just on the other side: things are real.
Children play, lovers hold each other, off in the shadows,
pensive, on the meager grass, while dogs obey nature.
The youth is drawn farther on; perhaps he’s fallen in love
with a young Lament . . . . . He pursues her, enters meadowland. She says:
“It’s a long way. We live out there . . .”

— Rainer Maria Rilke, from the Tenth Elegy of Duino Elegies translated by Edward Snow

Venus and Mercury will both be entering the underworld together within the first few days of Mercury being retrograde, meaning that both the Mercury and Venus aspects of our life will begin to enter a phase of putrefaction and decomposition. However, while Mercury will be stationing retrograde to descend from visibility as an evening star in the west at sunset, Venus will be disappearing from view as a morning star in the east at sunrise; while Mercury will be moving slowly through the zodiac backwards in between our orbit with the Sun, Venus will be moving fast and direct on the other side of the Sun from us in orbit.

Soon after disappearing under the beams of the Sun, Venus will run straight into the unsettling square aspect being formed between Saturn and Uranus. On February 5 there will be a conjunction of Venus with Saturn in Aquarius followed by square between Venus and Uranus in Taurus on February 6. As a result, the increasingly purgative phase of Mercury being retrograde that leads up to its union with the Sun on February 8 will also involve a cathartic process of Venus setting off the friction building between Saturn and Uranus. Just as Mercury will be increasingly burning off material built up from its last union with the Sun on December 19, so will Mercury also help us shed and release aspects of the issues being volatilized by Venus engaging with Saturn and Uranus. 

To dig deeper into the meaning of the aspects we need to remember that Venus will be in the home of Saturn when they unite on February 5, followed by Venus having a catalyzing encounter with Uranus who will be in the earthy home of Venus. While potentially disruptive there is also more potential for integration due to astrological reception being involved in the aspect sequence. The union of Saturn with Venus can bring a sobering view of reality, coming into contact with the confines of our circumstantial context. Yet the airy nature of Aquarius can help move with the emancipatory impulse from Uranus that can push desires to break free from present restrictions.

Fundamentally, the sequence of Venus moving from Saturn into Uranus combined with Mercury undergoing its own regenerative process of purification will create opportunities to deepen into the ways in which our values are being reshaped and reforged during a period of great collective transition. If we have been unconsciously letting go of old ideals and desires, as Mercury approaches its union with the Sun on February 8 we can begin discovering ways to embody the ways in which our values are undergoing a process of renewal and rejuvenation. Yet before full embodiment will be possible, we will need to come into greater clarity and realization of the ways in which our known understanding is transfiguring into unknown, emerging potential.

Across time the myth of Prometheus has been increasingly connected to the meaning of Uranus in astrology, perhaps most notably by Rick Tarnas. Within the Uranian themes of emancipation, innovation, invention, and rebellious individuality in the story of Prometheus, there are also lessons centered around the hubris of humanity. When we are struck by Uranus in astrology, we may ask ourselves what we have been creating with the divine gift of fire, what we most wish to bring to civilization, and what we most wish to awaken in ourselves and others. Just as Prometheus knowingly sacrificed his boundless nature to be chained to an earthly rock as punishment for delivering the gift of fire to humanity, so do we need to find ways to ground the searing visions of Uranus into our material forms with awareness of its repercussions across our world.  As Tim Addey in The Seven Myths of the Soul wrote, “The mystic’s initiation into the mysteries of Prometheus is the voluntary acceptance of the limitations of matter, not its rejection.”

Whatever innovative ideas, clarifying insights, and new desires are gathered by Venus moving across Saturn and Uranus will be brought into the conjunction that will form between Venus and Jupiter in Aquarius on February 11, the same day as the New Moon in Aquarius. While this will be a period in which to come into deeper contact with the new visions gestating within, we will first experience the reanimation of Mercury with the Sun on February 8.

Vision by Odilon Redon

Vision (1895/97) by Odilon Redon

Task: to be where I am.
Even when I’m in this solemn and absurd
role: I am still the place
where creation works on itself.

Dawn comes, the sparse tree trunks
take on color now, the frostbitten
forest flowers form a silent search party
after something that has disappeared in the dark.

But to be where I am . . . and to wait.
I am full of anxiety, obstinate, confused.
Things not yet happened are already here!
I feel that. They’re just out there:

a murmuring mass outside the barrier.
They can only slip in one by one.
They want to slip in. Why? They do
one by one. I am the turnstile.

— from “Guard Duty” by Tomas Tranströmer, translated by Robert Bly

Chthonic Cazimi

Mercury will become reanimated by its conjunction with the Sun on February 8 at 20°01′ Aquarius. 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. 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.” 

Guarding the entrance of Mercury into the heart of the Sun will be Pallas Athene, whose asteroid will unite with Mercury on February 7 and will be at 20°51′ Aquarius when Mercury unites with the Sun at 20°01′ Aquarius on February 8. The union of Pallas Athene with Mercury is the second in a three part sequence: Mercury formed its first conjunction with Pallas Athene on January 16 at 13°05′ Aquarius, and will form its third and final conjunction with Pallas Athene on March 18 at 3°25′ Pisces. With her glaring gray-eyes that penetrate with far reaching vision, Pallas Athene will be present with her sharpened spear, slithering snake, and protective aegis to foster the courage of a burning heart that can pierce through previous blockages to enliven a fuller sense of our potential.

A goddess of arts and crafts, prophecy, and warfare, Walter Burkett noted in Greek Religion that what unites Pallas Athene’s “divergent spheres of competence is not an elemental force, but the force of civilization: the just division of roles” among the populace as well as “the organizational wisdom which achieves this.” Burkert further noted that “more than any other deity Athena is always near her protégés,” declaring that “wherever difficulties disappear and the impossible becomes possible, Athena is at hand.”  In astrology, Demetra George has described Pallas Athene in Aquarius as representing “futuristic perception ” that creates “forms that will benefit generations to come,” as well as artists and others “on the forefront of the future, translating the tone of what is coming  in for the masses.” While the issues in need of addressing across society seem impossibly large, the presence of Pallas Athene with the inferior conjunction of Mercury is a sign of significant progress being possible in terms of reorganizing structures, roles, and responsibilities within societal and personal systems of all sorts.

The union of Pallas Athene with Mercury will precede the movement of Mercury from the heart of the Sun into a discordant square aspect with Mars in Taurus. Mercury will form its exact square aspect with Mars on February 10 during a dark Moon in Aquarius that will be moving through a sequence of conjunctions with Venus, Saturn, Jupiter, and Mercury as it draws its lunar cycle to a close, intensifying our feelings of transitioning in between what has been and what will be. The disruptive influence of Mars in Taurus upon the inferior conjunction of Mercury will be modulated by Pallas Athene, amplifying the penetrative visioning available as well as the inspiration for activism on behalf of social justice concerns from groups who have been marginalized in one way or another by the cultures in power.

If you experience any significant breakdowns, conflicts, or obstacles as Mars and Mercury clash, keep in mind that as soon as Mercury begins to separate from Mars it will begin applying toward a beneficial and restorative conjunction between Jupiter and Venus in Aquarius. There may be a need to come to stark terms with what isn’t working in the middle of February, but there will be celestial support available to diagnose solutions and ultimately begin moving forward again from a more solid foundation. 

The Buddha (1895) by Odilon Redon

The airy sky has taken its place leaning against the wall.
It is like a prayer to what is empty.
And what is empty turns its face to us
and whispers
“I am not empty, I am open.”

— from “Vermeer” by Tomas Tranströmer, translated by Robert Bly

A few days after the inferior conjunction of Mercury, there will be an extremely potent New Moon in Aquarius on February 11 at 23°17’ Aquarius that will involve a conjunction between Venus and Jupiter in Aquarius as well as all of the seven traditional planets and lights occupying Aquarius except for Mars. Following the New Moon in Aquarius, Mercury will form a conjunction with Venus in Aquarius on February 13 followed by a conjunction with Jupiter in Aquarius on February 14. These days following the Aquarius New Moon can be extremely fertile for creativity and coalescing greater clarity regarding the path we need to follow into the year ahead. The more we can strip away the inessential and what is ready to be shed from our life in the period leading up to these days, the more space we will have to welcome exciting new developments. 

As Mercury begins slowing down to station direct on February 20, it will become visible again in the darkness before dawn around February 16. There will be a burst of new movements and ideas for future plans at this time, as the reappearance of Mercury as a morning star to deliver a vital message will be combined with the fact that both Saturn and Jupiter will have also renewed their own visible cycles as morning stars in the days before Mercury. Yet we will have to navigate an extremely turbulent atmosphere while integrating new visions due to the first exact square aspect between Saturn and Uranus taking place on February 17. There will be rupturing in collective events creating division while sudden shifts and movements continue to reorder and rearrange systemic structures and alliances between societal structures and groups.

Some of the ways Mercury may assist in ferrying us across the volatile middle of February involves Mercury being within its own decan of ten to twenty degrees of Aquarius. Mercury will possess both decan as well as triplicity dignity as it slows down to station, giving it added potency in helping us forge links of support with relationships and resources that can help us handle being at a threshold in-between the way it’s been and the way of what’s to come. Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces ascribed the image of “Heaven and Earth” to the second face of Aquarius, noting that the “principled but fierce wisdom” found in this face “stabilizes commerce between heaven and earth” while also allowing for “the connection of the orthodox and the unorthodox, the known and the unknown,” as well as “the ideal and the practical.” 

Further adding to the instability and creative tension of the days surrounding Mercury stationing direct, Venus in Aquarius will form a catalyzing square aspect with Mars in Taurus on February 19. The waning square between Venus with Mars will necessitate adjustment and reorientation within our relational dynamics in accordance with whatever larger collective changes are taking place as well as whatever kind of internal shifting in values and needs we have been experiencing. As Mercury will be stationing direct at the same time, make the time and space needed to gather a deeper sense of how your life and desires have been reshaped. After Venus forms its square with Mars it will form a conjunction with Pallas Athene in Aquarius on February 21, helping us formulate strategies to handle any difficulties that were set off by Mars as well as gain a stronger sense of  ways we need to alter plans and goals for the future in light of however our inner values have been shifting. 

As a result of numerous destabilizing astrological aspects occurring simultaneously, it will be important to be as mindful as possible in the days surrounding the stationing direct of Mercury on February 20 at 11°01’ Aquarius. Mercury will station close to the midpoint between Jupiter and Saturn in Aquarius, giving us an opportunity to deepen in our understanding of how our life has been altered in correspondence with the great conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn that arrived at the end of 2020. Mercury will next slowly begin moving forward again as it applies toward a conjunction with Jupiter that it will not complete until March 4. As a result, we will have a couple of weeks following the stationing direct of Mercury to benefit from the star of Hermes applying toward a conjunction with Jupiter in Aquarius. Utilize this period for pushing forward with goals and generating forward momentum toward whatever ways your purpose in life has undergone a metamorphosis.

Mercury will reach its maximum elongation as a morning star and begin speeding up on March 6. The maximum elongation of Mercury demarcates the point in which Mercury will have picked up enough speed to match the steady course of the Sun again. From this day forward, Mercury will move increasingly faster as it proceeds through its morning star phase. 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.

In all, the period of Mercury retrograde in Aquarius promises to be full of ups and downs as we move through an unstable stretch of time. Although the collective changes that will be developing may feel unsettling, we could not ask for a better guide through the volatility than Hermes. Give praise to Mercury and welcome his wild wisdom into your life, as you need to allow for all of his tricks in order to receive all of his gifts. Be on the constant lookout for the windfalls of fruitful fortune that Mercury may deliver unexpectedly, while making the time to formulate long-term strategies to achieve the goals and larger visions that have been consolidating in your mind. By the time Mercury is heading direct again at the end of February, you may feel renewed with a rejuvenated excitement about what you can create and bring into form in the year ahead.

Mercury Riding Pegasus, Jardin des Tuileries, Paris

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References

Addey, Tim. (2000). The Seven Myths of the Soul. The Prometheus Trust.

Barfield, Owen. (1988). Saving the Appearances: A Study in Idolatry. Second Edition. Wesleyan University Press.

Burkert, Walter. (1985). Greek Religion. Harvard University Press. 

Caton, Gary. (2017). Hermetica Triptycha: The Mercury Elemental Year. Rubedo Press.

Coppock, Austin. (2014). 36 Faces: The History, Astrology and Magic of the Decans. Three Hands Press.

George, Demetra. (2019). Ancient Astrology in Theory and Practice: a Manual of Traditional Techniques. Rubedo Press.

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

Nasser, Mervat. (2019). The Path to the New Hermopolis: The History, Philosophy, & Future of the City of Hermes. Rubedo Press. 

Mercury Retrograde in Scorpio

psyche and cerberus bertel thorvaldsen

Psyche and Cerberus (1838) by Bertel Thorvaldsen

Mercury Retrograde in Scorpio

Call me to that one among your hours / that incessantly resists you: / beseechingly near like a dog’s face, / yet ever again turned away

just when you think to grasp it. / What’s thus withdrawn is most your own. / We are free. We were dismissed / at the very place where we expected welcome.

Afraid, we yearn for some handhold, / often too young for what is ancient / and too old for what has never been.

And yet: only just when we praise, / since, ah, we are the branch and the axe / and the nectar of ripening risk.

— Rainer Maria Rilke, Sonnets to Orpheus (Second part, 23)

On October 31 within the liminal space of twilight, with the setting Scorpio Sun descending into it’s underworld journey of night, the twinkling star of Hermes will pause to prepare for its retrograde journey backwards through the putrefying waters of Scorpio. As Mercury in its retrograde phase takes on its chthonic role of a psychopomp who guides us into and out of underworld experiences, it is fitting for its stationing to take place on the holidays for honoring and communing with ancestors and the living otherworld. Mercury is known for its dissolving and blending capacities which mediate polarities such as between the solar and lunar, the conscious and unconscious, the sacred and mundane, and so on. The dark watery climate of Scorpio will nurture and amplify the ability of Mercury retrograde to absorb atmospheric undercurrents and penetrate under the surface of dynamics to reveal what has been hidden in the root of the matter.

Although Mercury retrograde has been demonized by many, it is in fact an essential phase within the totality of Mercury’s entire solar cycle that delivers necessary messages. Rather than cursing the fate of being gripped by the cunning Hermes, it is advisable to keep an open and curious mind regarding whatever changes begin to take shape. Part of Mercury’s core purpose in astrology is to destabilize dynamics in order to loosen control, break up accumulated dross, and bring about a turning point in narrative and meaning. When Mercury is stationing retrograde, it signals that we are crossing a threshold into a passage of putrefaction and dissolution in which matters will need to be broken apart in order to bring about a process of purifying reassembly.

Mercury delights in gray areas between fixed categories of meaning, as it is a gender bending planet that moves easily between states of day and night, good and bad, reason and imagination, depending upon its surrounding influences. It is therefore pivotal that Mercury is stationing retrograde while forming a conjunction with Venus in Scorpio. The impact of Venus in Scorpio upon Mercury is complex, for while Venus brings a unifying and harmonizing influence to Mercury, their union in Scorpio means that death, decay, and decomposition will be necessary in order to fertilize and produce the fruit we can eventually savor from their conjunction. In fact, we may discover it is the difficult experiences we must persist through that ultimately brings us closer to others. As Haruki Murakami once wrote:

“One heart is not connected  to another through harmony alone. They are, instead, linked deeply through their wounds. Pain linked to pain, fragility to fragility. There is no silence without a cry of grief, no forgiveness without bloodshed, no acceptance without a passage through acute loss. That is what lies at the root of true harmony.”

— Haruki Murakami, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage 

Mercury’s fluid nature that weaves between divergent perspectives and embraces multiplicity can be helpful in dislodging us from stuck, habitual patterns when retrograde. The more we can let go of our fixed conceptions of identity, the more that we can utilize Mercury retrograde for sifting through our many inner parts in order to reintegrate fragmented aspects of ourselves. The influence of Venus upon Mercury stationing retrograde can open receptiveness to insightful ideas to be curious about and investigate as Mercury moves retrograde in the weeks ahead. In addition, the Moon will also be inciting inspiration through forming a conjunction with Jupiter in Sagittarius as Mercury stations retrograde. Pay attention to not only the events happening around October 31 when Mercury stations, but also the signs and omens that cross your path and bring premonition regarding the liminal process you are entering. It can be a particularly powerful period to intensely focus on research applied to creative output, so notice what grabs your interest in exploring to a deeper level.

Hermes Argus Bertel Thorvaldsen


Mercury about to kill Argus (1818) by Bertel Thorvaldsen

Celestial messenger, of various skill, whose pow’rful arts could watchful Argus kill:
With winged feet, ’tis thine thro’ air to course, 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.

— from the Orphic Hymn to Hermes translated by Thomas Taylor

Thine is the wand which causes sleep to fly, or lulls to slumb’rous rest the weary eye;
For Persephone thro’ Tart’rus dark and wide gave thee forever flowing souls to guide.

— from the Orphic Hymn to Chthonic Hermes translated by Thomas Taylor

Despite the unifying influence of Venus upon Mercury stationing retrograde, there will be strife and conflict to contend with since Mercury will be retrograde in a sign ruled by Mars. Moreover, Mars in Libra will be forming an intensifying square aspect with Pluto in Capricorn at the same time that Mercury stations. The square between Mars and Pluto can stoke inner drive and ambition, with a willingness to persist through obstacles or break free from constraining influences.  While Mars will be forming a harsh aspect with Pluto, however, Mercury will begin moving backward toward a harmonizing sextile aspect with Pluto once it shifts retrograde. As a result, it will be vital to listen to messages from the stationing of Mercury with regard to where we will need to alter plans to avoid unnecessary discord, versus where it will be important to lean into the difficulty and tread into uncertain ground. Mercury’s stationing can help clarify what will be worth fighting for to protect and cultivate in the weeks ahead, as well as what instead needs to be laid to rest.

Mercury retrograde under rulership of Mars wields weapons which disarm fixated viewpoints, nudging us off guard enough to deliver insight that cuts through old defense mechanisms. In myth, Mercury played the role of slayer at times, such as lulling the giant Argus to sleep in order to go in for the kill. When retrograde, the magical wand of Mercury may charm us with seeming distraction, yet eventually as we regain our bearings we can realize there was a larger purpose behind the enchantment no matter how frustrating it felt in the moment. Although Mercury retrograde in Scorpio may lead us into strife and experiences of separation, it will be worth the risk to resiliently accept and work through the difficulties in order to comprehend the message that Mercury’s sleight of hand is delivering. When it doesn’t feel possible to let go of wounds or loss, the ineffable depth of Scorpio’s waters can help dislodge feelings of grief that need to be released.

viridarium-05


from Viridarium Chymicum (1624)

Mercury’s retrograde phase occurs during the part of its orbit in which it is as close to us as possible, moving in between the orbit of our Earth and the Sun. The close proximity of Mercury intensifies its presence in mundane matters, which can be beneficial when focusing on research or writing, difficult when experiencing mental overwhelm. As Mercury shifts backwards while the Sun moves directly towards it, Mercury mutates from being a visible Evening Star into its chthonic invisible phase. Mercury will be visible in some localities as an Evening Star when it stations on October 31, but by November 4 it will definitively move into its invisible phase by getting within fifteen degrees of the Sun. As we can no longer see Mercury in the sky at this point in its cycle, Mercury symbolically takes on the role of a psychopomp guiding our soul into a liminal, underworld period of regeneration.

During the week from November 4 when Mercury disappears until November 11 when Mercury will be revivified through its conjunction with the Sun, we will experience the most intense process of putrefaction, decomposition, and release. During this week you can align with Mercury by mindfully purging whatever from the past is ready to be burned off by the fiery Sun. As Mercury gets closer and closer to the Sun during this week, it will simultaneously take on more of the hot and drying qualities of the Sun that can aid in separating us from whatever needs to be released. It can also be a powerful time of receiving imaginal inspiration that will seed ideas to nurture and work on during Mercury’s journey through darkness.

The watery landscape of Scorpio is not only a place of burial and decomposition, but also a place in which decay nourishes and feeds the growth of orchards and vineyards that can eventually produce fruit. The day after Mercury stations retrograde, Venus will enter Sagittarius on November 1 and will begin her pilgrimage to conjoin Jupiter that will occur on November 24 just after Mercury stations direct. The co-presence of Venus and Jupiter in Sagittarius during the Mercury retrograde period can be helpful in lifting vision to expansive heights whenever we feel like we are getting stuck in the quagmires of Scorpio.

It’s worth considering that while popular astrology dogma warns to not sign any contracts or begin initiatives during Mercury retrograde, it is in fact possible to sign contracts and begin enterprises that will turn out to be successful during Mercury retrograde periods. However, it is important to listen closely to your intuition, bodily senses, and synchronous signs that illuminate inner guidance.  If something about a new project or move seems off for some reason, it will be wise to investigate further before making a commitment. If all evidence points toward making a positive change in direction, there is no reason to prevent yourself from acting due to worry over Mercury being retrograde. If a decision can wait, however, clarifying insight can be received after Mercury is regenerated through its inferior conjunction with the Sun on November 11.

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Hilma af Klint (1915) The Swan, No. 10, Group IX

Mercury transit of the Sun

Will transformation. O be ravenous for the fire / in which a thing boastful with change forever eludes you; / that designing Spirit which plots earth’s flourishes, — / it loves most in the figure’s élan the moment of turning.

What shackles itself in survival already is rigidity; / does it feel itself safe in the shelter of nondescript gray? / Beware, from afar the hardest is warning the hard. / And woe–: an absent hammer is lifting!

Whoever pours forth as wellspring, Recognition greets; / and she guides him enthralled through the serene Creation / that often ends with beginning and in ending begins.

Every happy space through which they walk marveling / is child or grandchild of Separation. And the transformed Daphne, / feeling so laurel-like, wants you to change into wind.

— Rainer Maria Rilke, Sonnets to Orpheus (Second part, 12)

Mercury will be revivified and reseeded by its chthonic conjunction with the Sun on November 11 at 18º55′ Scorpio. During its inferior conjunction Mercury becomes purified and regenerated while aligned in orbit between the Earth and Sun by zodiacal degree, as close to us in orbit as it is possible for Mercury to be. During the time that Mercury is within one degree of conjunction with the Sun, even more so while Mercury is within sixteen minutes of its solar conjunction, there will be enhanced potential to experience clarifying self-reflection and reception of key insight. Old astrological texts named this moment of Mercury’s rebirth cazimi, or being in the heart of the Sun, when Mercury is seated upon the throne of the Sun and revitalized with the creative potency of our solar light.

“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

All inferior conjunctions of Mercury are not equal, however, and in fact the one on November 11 has a special quality. Due to Mercury’s union with the Sun being within a degree of the heliocentric North Node of Mercury, visually a small black form of Mercury will be able to be seen transiting across the face of the Sun during its solar alignment. This is similar to what happens during a Total Solar Eclipse in which a New Moon forms close to one of the Moon’s nodes, but the difference is that Mercury is visually too small from our perspective to eclipse the light of the Sun in blackness. This means Mercury will literally be in the heart of the Sun, making it an intensified rebirth for Mercury befitting its placement in Scorpio.

Make sure to create space for inner contemplation on November 11, for Mercury’s transit of the Sun only happens thirteen or fourteen times a century. The last time there was a Mercury transit of the Sun was in May 2016 with Mercury retrograde in Taurus conjoining the heliocentric south node of Mercury. It will not happen again until November 2032. Mercury’s chthonic cazimi aligning with its North Node will amplify penetration into inner depths to discover self realization of material that had been hidden from our awareness. Whatever inner space was cleared through emptying and shedding during the first half of Mercury’s retrograde can now be seeded with new ideas and desires to nurture in the forthcoming cycle of Mercury. Adding to the potency, Mercury will be entering its own Egyptian bounds as it enters the heart of the Sun, giving Mercury greater capacity to redirect insight into material manifestation.

Furthermore, there will also be an underlying influence of Uranus in Taurus on Mercury’s rebirth, as the waxing gibbous Moon in Taurus will be conjoining Uranus as Mercury forms its inferior conjunction with the Sun on November 11. This is especially significant since Mercury stationed retrograde in Scorpio on October 31 in the week following a New Moon in Scorpio that was opposite Uranus. The effect of Uranus on Mercury’s solar conjunction can incite unexpected events and revelations which lead to dramatic changes as the Full Moon in Taurus brings further illumination on November 12. The impact of Uranus can also manifest through forging deeper connection with allies and collaborators who share similar passions and interest in forming supportive communities, whether in person or through long distance technology.

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Hilma af Klint (1908) Group VI, Evolution, No. 9

Morning Star of Hermes

Behold the flowers, those true to the earthly, / to whom we lend fate from the edge of fate,– / yet who can say? If they regret their fading, / it is for us to be their regret.

Everything wants to float. And yet we move about like weights, / attaching ourselves to everything, in thrall to gravity; / O what wearisome teachers we are for things, / while in them eternal childhood prospers.

If someone were to take them into his inmost sleep / and sleep deeply with them–: O how light he’d emerge, / changed, to a changed day, from the mutual depth.

Or perhaps he’d stay; and they’d bloom and praise him, / the convert, become now like one of their own, / all the quiet brothers and sisters in the meadow’s wind.

— Rainer Maria Rilke, Sonnets to Orpheus (Second part, 14)

From the Full Moon in Taurus on November 12 until Mercury stations direct on November 20 at 11º55′ Scorpio, Mercury will move retrograde through its final phase of invisible darkness. During this week Mercury retrograde will form a harmonizing sextile with Saturn in Capricorn on November 13 and a flowing trine with Neptune in Pisces later on the same day. Moreover, at the end of November after Mercury stations direct and is visible again, Mercury will complete an additional trine with Neptune and sextile with Saturn. As a result, in the afterglow of the Full Moon in Taurus make space and time to imaginatively explore the insights and ideas seeded during Mercury’s chthonic cazimi to the fullest extent possible, without worry of making them fully manifest until Mercury returns to visible light. Mercury retrograde in Scorpio this year bears the gift of providing not only the imaginal support of Neptune, but the tempering and practicality of Saturn in Capricorn that will help facilitate finding ways to transfigure imaginative vision into tangible forms that can meet the needs of others in your wider community.

Mercury will finally return to visible light again as a Morning Star at the same time it stations direct on November 20. As Mercury undergoes a process of recovery from its retrograde motion, it will gain an added dose of vitality from the entrance of Mars into its watery home of Scorpio on November 19. Mars at the beginning of Scorpio is in a place of extreme strength as it is in its own home, bounds, and triplicity. It’s co-presence with Mercury stationing direct will supply ample fuel to begin moving forward with implementation of the ideas developed during Mercury’s twenty day journey retrograde. Just as it is important to pay close attention to Mercury when stationing retrograde, so it as well extremely important to be mindful when Mercury stations direct in order to receive necessary guidance.

In addition to the ingress of Mars into Scorpio brining an extra charge of resilient determination into the stationing of Mercury direct, Venus will be applying to a conjunction with Jupiter in Sagittarius and providing a fount of providential inspiration. Venus will complete its exact conjunction with Jupiter on November 24 as Mercury is finally beginning to move forward again. If you have become motivated to make dramatic changes during Mercury’s retrograde motion that also makes you fearful due to the uncertainty surrounding the outcome of following through, the union of Venus and Jupiter will provide uplifting support for taking the risk to break free from whatever restrictive influences have been holding you back. As Mercury returns to visible light in the pre-dawn sky, so may we experience ignition of an inner fire to strike out in pursuit of revivified passion and desire.

Copper alloy sculpture from Sumer (ca 3000 BC) of figure with ibex horns and raptor wings

The final phase of the Mercury retrograde process begins as Mercury reaches maximum elongation as a Morning Star, which will occur about eight days after Mercury stations direct this time around. The threshold of Mercury reaching maximum elongation as a Morning Star demarcates the stage at which Mercury returns to matching the speed of the Sun and then shifts into moving faster than the Sun as it continues to travel through its Morning Star phase. Gary Caton in his book Hermetica Triptycha compared this phase of Mercury with the rubedo stage in alchemy (Caton also compared the opening stage of Mercury retrograde to the nigredo stage, and the time following the inferior conjunction to the albedo stage of alchemy). 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 the shift into a new way of being as Mercury picks up speed and moves through its Morning Star phase.

Mercury will reach maximum elongation as a Morning Star on November 28 at seventeen degrees of Scorpio, at the same time that Neptune is stationing direct on November 27 in an exact trine aspect with Mercury. Furthermore, Mercury will reach maximum elongation as a Morning Star at the same time that it will form its third and final sextile aspect (since the middle of October) with Saturn in Capricorn on November 29. A few days later, Mercury will complete its third and final harmonizing sextile aspect with Pluto in Capricorn on December 2, the same day that Jupiter leaves its fiery home of Sagittarius in order to enter its fall in Capricorn. Finally, Mercury will leave its retrograde shadow zone and pass through the same degree where it originally stationed retrograde on December 7.

As a result, Mercury will be engaging with supportive aspects from Saturn, Neptune, and Pluto as it picks up speed and heralds the rise of the Sun with its morning light. The beginning of 2020 will be dominated astrologically by the conjunction of Saturn and Pluto on January 12, and so Mercury will be in position to help with attuning and adjusting to the larger changes in collective structures taking place. More importantly, Mercury will also be supportive in melding imaginative vision with the disciplined determination needed to fully manifest creative expression into forms that can offer solace and support to others in need of what we have to offer. As the coming astrology of 2020 suggests monumental, tectonic shifts in collective events are on the way, it will be up to each and everyone of us to claim the responsibility to do our part in cultivating our skills and talents to share with others in mutual support.

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Total Lunar Eclipse in Leo

Total Lunar Eclipse in Leo

Remedios Varo La Tejedora Roja

Total Lunar Eclipse in Leo

Hailed across media platforms as the super blood wolf moon, the Total Lunar Eclipse in Leo on January 20/21 will be a magical visual experience for those able to view it. The astrological aspects surrounding the eclipse are also intense and complex, making the media hype an intriguing instance in which mass public attention has been brought to a celestial event which truly has significant ramifications. All of the planets are direct in motion and in aspect, yet the total eclipse brings a warped and strange atmosphere for their interactions to occur within.  These aspects include Venus and Jupiter uniting in square to Neptune, Mars and Saturn in a square aspect, and Mercury moving from a conjunction with Pluto toward union with the South Node of the Moon and a square with Uranus.  The Leo Lunar Eclipse is simultaneously closing a chapter of our lives while opening a new door, as it is the final eclipse to occur in the signs of Leo and Aquarius, signs we have been experiencing eclipses within since February 2017.

The Leo Moon will be glamorously garbed in red, as the shadow cast by the earth creates the deep reddening visual effect known as a blood moon. The Sun is on the side of the South Node of the Moon, while eclipsed luna is on the side of the North Node of the Moon, indicating a confrontation with past patterns and issues necessitating a letting go into a more visceral engagement with the present. As red shadows consume the Leo Moon, our desires to pursue new opportunities will become engulfed in the shadowy realm of our aspirations, our need for recognition, validation, or acclaim. There is an opportunity here to explore the shadowy subconscious material underlying your ambitions, in particular whatever has been building since the first Lunar Eclipse in Leo that happened in February 2017.

Prior to the eclipse, the waxing Moon in Cancer conjoined its own North Node in Cancer while also applying to a catalytic square aspect with Uranus in Aries. This places Uranus at the southern bending of the lunar nodes at the time of the eclipse, amplifying the activation of unconscious material in a way that can feel extremely volatile. Moreover, Mercury is conjoining the South Node of the Moon while applying to a square with Uranus, magnifying our perception of previously hidden issues. Gaining awareness of whatever crashes through dissolving interior boundaries also brings the potential gift of Uranus for liberating us from old patterns that have been restricting us without our full realization of their impact. However, in this process of coming to terms with our past and its intersection with where we feel pulled into a future unknown, we will need to have patience and compassion, and do our best to communicate with responsible integrity. It will help to not only take the courage of Leo into this experience, but also the playful creativity that can be lit by the fires of Leo.

Total Lunar Eclipse in Leo

Remedios Varo La Despedida

Within the reddening of the Leo Lunar Eclipse, we will be experiencing the amazing timing of the two malefic planets of astrology confronting one another while the two benefic planets of astrology unite together at the same time. The change inducing square formed by Mars and Saturn can correspond with separations and severing yourself from something or someone whose time has passed, but it can also correlate with seizing determined resiliency in working through present obstacles with disciplined hard work. This is in contrast to the conjunction of Venus and Jupiter which indicates fertilization of something pleasurable and of great inner value, a stoking of desire to pursue our most expansive dream of what we can create and build together.

Yet there is also the underlying influence of Neptune in Pisces to consider within these aspects. Venus and Jupiter in Sagittarius are forming a catalytic square with Neptune, while Saturn in Capricorn is also applying to a harmonizing sextile aspect with Neptune. As a result the resolutely realistic pragmatism of Saturn in Capricorn is loosened to consider a reordering of goals bathed in imaginal vision of broader potential. While this can correlate with opening to take action on desires we previously did not allow ourselves to follow, Neptune’s influence upon Venus and Jupiter means the scythe of Saturn will also be required to clear perception of any foggy delusions out of alignment with the reality of current circumstances. We could be unrealistic about available time, space, and resources or new information could come into awareness that changes everything. If possible it will be better to refrain from initiating significant new action for now and discern next steps as things settle in the week following the eclipse.

Since Venus and Jupiter are separating from a superior trine to Mars in Aries as well as holding a superior square to Neptune, there is an emphasis upon their positivity being able to ultimately uplift us out of present predicaments. Venus having completed its trine with Mars is especially significant considering their tense relationship in the second half of 2018 in which first Mars and then Venus went through retrograde phases that led to fracturing, shedding, and rebirthing for many. We are now at a point in which it is possible to make significant progress and reparations regarding whatever breakdowns or breakthroughs came about in the past six months, especially in the realm of personal relationships that both Mars and Venus relate to. Yet in the reddening shadows of the eclipse, we may be haunted by passing fears and feelings it will be better to let pass through us.

Total Lunar Eclipse in Leo

Remedios Varo La Llamada

The transiting lunar nodes are no longer in Leo and Aquarius and will not be again until the year 2026. Since the Leo eclipse is demarcating a finale to the corresponding narrative that has been developing since the first Leo Lunar Eclipse that occurred on 10 February 2017, it will be worthwhile to reflect upon whatever has come to fruition as well as has passed away since that time. In particular, with Leo impacting the transiting North Node of the Moon, we have been given opportunities to enhance our creative actualization with life. Where have you been willing to take risks on behalf of heartfelt dreams and aspirations? What lessons have you learned in terms of going too far with excessive ambitions or need for attention? Though the lunar nodes in Cancer and Capricorn are seeding new lessons in new areas of our life, the encircling red shadows of the Leo eclipse will draw us toward a final lesson with regard to the choices we have set in motion to express our authentic nature and creativity through.

There are so many enormous societal issues causing problems around our global community, one way to access a higher potential of the aspects surrounding the eclipse is to collaborate with others who are also willing to devote effort and commitment toward shared ideals. Within the crimson cloaking of the eclipse, err on the side of choices and actions that make your blood flow more viscerally and your heart beat true. As the Leo Moon begins to wane within its full phase, it will begin applying to a grand fiery triangle with Mars in Aries and the union of Venus with Jupiter in Sagittarius. It’s an eclipse for releasing whatever is keeping you back from claiming the inner integrity to live fully according to your ideals, honoring the ancestry of those that have come before you on the path cleared by your most soulful desires.

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5 of Wands by Pamela Colman Smith

Leo 1 Decan

The Total Lunar Eclipse ripens within the first face of Leo associated with the Five of Wands card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith. A card associated with conflict and competition, there is a fitting symbolism for the blood red eclipse in the form of the dashing central figure dressed in crimson. The strife in the image suggests a need to stand ground and fight to achieve a desired position amongst external competitors, or could instead be viewed as an inner battle of different aspects of one’s personality contending for control. Austin Coppock in his book 36 Faces ascribed the image of “The Spotlight” to the first face of Leo, describing its power as focusing “a mass of attention on one point or person,” while bringing karmic consequences to the role or mask one bears in public performance for an audience. Coppock in particular noted the importance of aligning one’s public persona with one’s inner authenticity, and in this way we could view the central red figure in the image as our essential nature rising up to take control.

Saturn is the ruler of the first face of Leo in the descending rulership scheme of the decans, while the Sun is its ruler in the triplicity rulership scheme. Since Saturn in Capricorn is the ruler of the transiting South Node of the Moon in Capricorn as well as the transiting Aquarius Sun, it is vital in the wake of the Leo Lunar Eclipse to discern how well our work in the world is aligned with our inner values and authentic nature, shedding and releasing whatever aspects conflict.  The year ahead will witness Saturn slowly moving toward a union with Pluto in Capricorn that signifies massive decay, dissolution, and ultimate regeneration of innumerable societal structures and institutions. It will be up to each and every one of us to do our best to contribute toward the world we wish to create out of the destruction that will be coming in many collective fields. Rather than acting from fears of survival, the best guide for our determination moving forward will be from the courage of the heart, from the primordial light of eros felt within.

References

Coppock, Austin. (2014). 36 Faces: The History, Astrology and Magic of the Decans. Three Hands Press.