This is Mercury, today’s talking point, and an archetype of talking points itself. Mercury can arguably lay claim to having more written about it than not just any other planet but any other thing, being an embodiment of our capacity to develop language and communicate our thoughts. In short, the act of writing itself is an attempt to capture our awareness of what Mercury signifies. It is a splendourous journey with no end, as every notion and idea is infinite in scope and depth.
He is the mental faculty of perception and intellectual acrobatics, the curious query and the puzzlement that arises from its answer. He is contrary and incomplete. She is also the mover of minds through mental space, the Lady of the Sacred Ways and the Guardian of the Crossroads, an embodiment of journeys of all kinds, but particularly ones which move our minds, commodities or physical perceptions around – books, the media, transportation, mental wandering and trade. So Mercury influences the transmission of light through form, the sharing of information, and thereby multiplication of considerations, an unravelling of more facets to consider. It is also androgynous, neutral, a faculty that is adaptable and equally capable of both an inward and outward flow.
This capacity for both the Electric and the Magnetic poles and the ability to switch between them with ease and regularity is expressed astrologically in two primary ways, these being the appearance of Mercury as either an evening or a morning star, and its frequency of switching between direct and retrograde motion in the sky.
When Mercury is ahead of the Sun, i.e.. anticlockwise from the Sun in the chart, then Mercury is going to be potentially visible in the evening and will acquire a Magnetic charge. The flow moves in towards a centre.
When Mercury is behind the Sun, i.e. is visible clockwise from the Sun in the chart, then it will be potentially visible in the morning and will acquire an Electric charge. The flow moves outwards from a centre.
In cases where you can’t visually identify whether Mercury is ahead or behind of the Sun, check the degrees.
Mercury will also pick up a charge from the Elements of the signs, with Fire signs giving the most Electric charge and Water signs the most Magnetic. Air signs see Mercury flourish in a more neutral environment with a slight Electric bias and produces empowerment of concepts, while Mercury in an Earth sign produces a more common sense attitude as a result of a more ElectroMagnetic blend but with a slight bias to the Magnetic Fluid.
So Mercury in Aries rising in the morning is very Electric, very outgoing, while Mercury in Pisces appearing in the evening very reserved and introspective.
Back and Forth…
Added to this fundamental pattern of behaviour – and in reality an integral part of the same mechanism – are the retrograde periods of Mercury which occur 3 times pretty much every year as far as I am aware (but with Mercury, you never really know for sure…). These periods are times when the course of Mercury through the zodiac appears to reverse as the Earth and Mercury move around the Sun with Mercury inside our orbit, closer in. That’s the basic physics of why it happens, anyway; the real reason why it happens is somewhat more easy to understand –
- We can always change our minds.
- Journeys can go astray, things can get lost.
- Communication can be misunderstood.
- The more complex a thing is, the more parts there are that can break down.
- Sometimes, we need to go back, or wait.
All things have this freedom to determine their own way, to think themselves into a state of being that attracts whatever they choose to think upon, to both broadcast and attract ideas as experiences, but we do not find it runs so smoothly in practice. Sometimes, the carefully laid travel plan we have followed routinely for months is no use because the bus just doesn’t arrive that morning. Sometimes we need to revise what we have learned or deals must be re-negotiated. Further clarity needs to be provided on things that were said. Initial ideas are often superficial and must be gone over again before they make deeper sense.
The mental faculties are free – they can go wherever they please and whenever they please, rising on the imagination, but they must still deal with realities if the inspiration found on these journeys is to have meaning in the physical world. The splendours are limitless, but the integration will always be limited by perception and biology. Words are not enough to describe direct contact with the infinite wonders of the universe and never will be, whether that wonder is a beetle, a flower or the words that merely stand for them – each thing is its own centre of infinity and is at the same time infinitely deep. That a thing can be both infinitely large and infinitely small at the same time is one of this worlds favourite tricks.
Mercury likes tricks. They will tend to emerge more frequently in his retrograde period, as will various other ‘tricky’ manifestations of Mercury such as those described above. Machinery and gadgets are more inclined to act ‘tetchy’ or ‘spirited’, schedules get nerfed, people miss appointments, volcanoes blow massive clouds of ash over Europe – gremlins are loose! For writers and other word-smiths this is the time to chase the tale inside, to reflect on the arc of the plot, the motivation of the characters, the depth of the setting or the punctuation or grammar of what has already been written. Its a revision time for students, a good time to try to fix things in your memory, and in terms of initiation a time in which extra effort often needs to be made with all the mental training. You might feel like you are sliding back somehow; you aren’t, its just that sometimes it feels that way, or perhaps that sometimes we really do need to go back or slow down.
In 2013, Mercury will be retrograde three times:
- February 23rd – March 17th
- June 26th – July 20th
- October 21st – November 11th
So first of all we can say that throughout these periods we can expect some trickery from Mercury. Some news which is not what it seems, some revision of old stories, a slowdown or sluggishness in trade, transport or other external applications of Mercury. Instead, there is an empowerment of the inner realisation of Mercury rather than its externalisation – it’s time to think again, to reflect, to examine and question the theory, to open up an internal dialogue with yourself and (definitely!) a time to drift through daydreams or embark on mental voyages, but you may get pulled along by tides of significance more easily and thus lack precise control.
The periods around the days when Mercury shifts from one kind of motion to another – the dates listed above – are pressure points. Mercury is at a standstill but full of energy like a vehicle just after the emergency brakes have stopped it. Things connected with Mercury can become unstable as minds and plans waver on some kind of edge or precipice, resulting in an often unspoken mental tension, greater indecisiveness and an element of contrariness to our behaviour. It’s edgy, like a messenger being sent back with ambiguous news. Things have come to light and now they are going to be absorbed. In general, when retrograde motion starts things begin to slow down or move in reverse, and when ending retrograde motion they start to go forwards again, but altered in some way.
Let’s look at these 3 periods in closer detail, paying attention to what Mercury is doing in the sky, mainly the signs of the tropical zodiac and the stars he will retrograde through.
Into the torrent: February 23rd – March 17th
In a few days the first retrograde period will begin and last until March 17th. Mercury will be placed in tropical Pisces as an evening star, making her very Magnetic and deeply immersed in Watery processes. This is a poetic, whimsical, metaphysical Mercury capable of drawing us deep into the realms accessible through imagination. When turning retrograde in Pisces the emotional reactions of the past can resurface or dreams can recur more readily, the propensity for conscious day dreaming reaches a peak, the potential for confusion over what people are really feeling presents itself and there is an underlying emotional tone to the way people voice opinions which is not aggressive but is certainly strongly felt.
During the period she is retrograde this Mercury will swing back past first Mars, then the Sun and Venus, finally coming to a stop near Neptune, all of which are in tropical Pisces. After she passes the Sun ‘she’ will become a ‘he’, a morning star. The period in which Mercury is in the very heart of the Sun, from our perspective, is an intense period in which the power of the imagination is recharged and empowered, and this occurs globally on March 4th. After this, the Fluid nature of Mercury is essentially Electric, even though he is in tropical Pisces – the sign placement is the less fundamental influence of the two.
The Water theme is very strong with this Mercury. Seen against the backdrop of the sky this Mercury moves back into the waters being poured from the Urn of Aquarius, the Great One or Water Bearer. This is an area of the sky where inspiration, innovation and invention are poured out and bring refreshment, so Mercury is kind of taking a shower, being reinvigorated and opening minds to a more forceful flow of light. Reaching back deep into the stream he comes to rest at the lip of the urn, an omen that suggests the movement of water will again be in the news.
On the move: June 26th – July 20th
The next retrograde of Mercury, from June 26th – July 20th, occurs when Mercury is in tropical Cancer and ahead of the Sun, thus again an evening star and very Magnetic indeed. The Magnetic power of this Mercury is to build something, often a defensive structure like the shell around a crab or a protective mechanism that shelters vulnerability. It is a homely mind, private, shy and often worrisome, insecure because it instinctively senses many threats. This is a time in which we can look inwards for ideas connected with Cancer – how to preserve something, lost or forgotten memories, a sense of mothering, questions connected with family and children, etc – and find this activity being supported at the mental plane level. When Mercury passes back to meet the Sun on July 9th there will be a recharging of Cancer on the mental plane, and so the properties of Cancer can be more easily comprehended by the mind.
This time Mercury swings back past the Sun and crests down the sloping stars of Gemini, specifically the stars of the Twin named Pollux, coming to rest near his feet and the star Alhena while Mars and Jupiter join together at the feet of Castor. The significance here is of large numbers of people meeting, marching, moving or protesting. This looks like the period that can be most disruptive to travel plans, but it also looks as if people will be marching for causes and that this will be garnering bigger media attention. Whatever the global implications are people may find they need to be careful in all kinds of negotiations or agreements as they will have a tendency to be short lived or reverse once the retrograde ends.
Reality check: October 21st – November 11th
Finally we have the Mercury in Scorpio retrograde which brings with it yet more themes connected with Water and feet. Again, Mercury is Magnetic and apparent in the west each evening. As she slowly sinks lower in the sky each night from October 21st she will disappear from view and reach the core of the Sun on November 1st. At that time Saturn will also be nearby and so the start of November sees Sun, Mercury and Saturn clasped together in Scorpio. This is a powerful time to work with occult subjects and to seek a more complete and intensive understanding of what Scorpio means and signifies. This moment could be deeply perceptive of reality and deep and lasting bonds could be forged with the power of thought – here is where we can realise that, for example, in a very real sense actually worrying about the end of the world in great numbers such as happened in 2012 might actually end up causing giant rocks to fall on us unexpectedly from outer space.
Against the stars this Mercury dithers on the Scales of Libra, an area which is both a weighing place of the skies where things are held in the balance and an entrance into another world, the underworld represented by Scorpius and Antares. She turns back at the Gate of Hades, then, and flees to the Sun and Saturn, not resting in retreat until he is a morning star again and is finally seen pinned against the feet of the Great Goddess, Virgo. So again, as with the previous retrograde, he seems to be emphasising the need for things to get back on the move again, for thoughts to lead to some kind of movement, whether that is physical, astral, mental or some combination of them, but it will always be at least mental in nature.
The overall pattern of these 3 retrogrades appears in part to be that of Water and marching – Mercury is retrograde in all 3 of the Water signs (and passing through the gushing rapids of Aquarius) and so we can expect that a lot of thought will be given to Waters themes in the coming year, and that Water will be a hot topic in some way, shape or form. Likewise, he comes to rest in the gushing lip of the Urn and at the heels of first Pollux and then Isis, as if adding force that is propelling things and especially people into motion. On a global scale this infers a feeling that things in general are gathering momentum and that significant things are afoot. But will people march for the right things, the things that will really make a difference?
If you have keys in Scorpio which receive activation by Saturn or keys in Pisces which have activation by Neptune this year you will be given plenty of information as you turn them and not only that the information will be insightful and high quality. So this is an excellent year to explore these powerful Water key activations and to come out with a much deeper mental awareness of what they signify.
Keys in Earth signs and in particular keys in Taurus or Virgo may experience a higher degree of challenging information which must be integrated or debated. Contrary points of view may more frequently arise which can bring greater confusion or intense mental pressure to bear on the keys concerned. It may be that extra mental effort and discipline will be required when turning all Taurus keys and extra care not to be carried away by the imaginary when turning Virgo keys. However, there are no major activations of any of those keys this year – this information will only apply if you are using additional activators or conductors as described in the advanced stages of The 26 Keys.
For practitioners and initiates of magic this year can see a greater development of Water on the mental plane and the mental exercises can be enhanced by utilising the approach of Water – a sensitive, intuitive, psychic approach. It is a good year to work on understanding the Water dimensions of the magic soul mirror, for example. It is a year in which the overall emphasis from Mercury is simply to feel our way around ideas and the mental realm, to develop the sense of the quantity of significance being expressed in the now moment with our personal mental awareness. We are all being given extra time and opportunity to think about what we feel. It is a year in which what we think we feel may undergo a series of revisions or revisits, an emotional journey in which every person is being more frequently questioned and even interrogated about how they feel, and what they are going to do about it. By this method Mercury puts us in touch with our feelings so that we more truly know what they are and are capable of expressing them.