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Mercury, the messenger of the gods Mercury Retrograde

Go Forward  Mercury retro in Scorpio & Libra  [Oct. 4, 2014 – Oct. 25, 2014]

Mercury Retrograde 2014
Shadow Retro Station Direct Station Release
18 Aqu 10
Wed, Jan 22
3 Pisces 20
Thu, Feb 6
18 Aqu 10
Fri, Feb 28
3 Pisces 20
Thu, Mar 20
24 Gem 23
Fri, May 23
3 Can 09
Sat, Jun 7
24 Gem 23
Wed, Jul 1
3 Can 09
Wed, Jul 16
16 Libra 49
Sun, Sep 14
2 Scorpio 19
Sat, Oct 4
16 Libra 49
Sun, Oct 25
2 Scorpio 19
Mon, Nov 10

Rules: Gemini & Virgo
Exalted: Virgo
Detriment: Sagittarius & Pisces
Fall: Pisces
Exalted Degree: 15 Virgo

At 17:04 UT (Universal Time) Saturday, October 4th, 2014, Mercury the wise communicator — and universal trickster — turns retrograde at 2°19' Scorpio in the sign of the Scorpion, sending appointments, communications, travel, mail and the www into a general snarlup! The retro period begins some days before the actual turning point (as Mercury slows) and lasts for three weeks or so, until October 25th, 2014, when the Winged Messenger reaches his direct station. At this time he halts and begins his return to direct motion through the zodiac.

Everything finally straightens out on November 10th, as he passes the point where he first turned retrograde. Mercury normally turns retrograde three times a year, but the effects of each period differ, according to the sign in which it happens (see box for Retrograde Periods in 2014).

A planet is described as retrograde when it appears to be moving backwards through the zodiac. According to modern science, this traditional concept arises in the illusory planetary motion created by the orbital rotation of the earth with relation to other planets in our solar system. It's a bit like travelling on the road watching another car beside you: when the other car slows down, or you speed up, it looks as though the other car is moving backwards. Planets are never actually retrograde or stationary, they just seem that way due to this cosmic shadow-play. Click here for some neat graphics and more on the science of retrograde planetary motion.

Retrograde periods, although often problematic for us earthlings, are not particularly uncommon. Each planet retrogrades, except the Sun and Moon. Although a powerful astrological influence, Mercury is quite a small planet that travels at a relatively fast speed through the zodiac. Despite being the closest planet in our solar system to the Sun, Mercury is not always in the same sign as the Sun. This time, Merc turns in Scorpio while the Sun is in Libra, but the solar orb moves into Scorpio on October 23rd (with Mercury back in Libra). Mercury turns direct in Libra on October 25th with the Sun in Scorpio, but Mercury remains in Libra till November 8th, with the Sun still tracking through Scorpio.

Go to Top Fated Events

As a rule, the planets are more emphatic during their retrograde phases, marking periods of seemingly inevitable or fated events that relate to their spheres of influence. By fated events I mean those that circumstances thrust upon us, rather than matters we have consciously decided to implement or resolve. In particular, unresolved issues from the past tend to rear their heads and demand to be dealt with.

Retro phases present us with a series of events over which we seem to have little or no conscious control, relating especially to the sign in which the retrogradation occurs—although this need not mean that our responses are outside our control! By way of example, Mercury retrograde in Scorpio (passionate, intense, self-absorbed) awakens quite different sets of circumstances from those generated when he retrogrades into Libra (charming, artistic, relationship-oriented).

A retrograde period is best seen as a cycle, beginning when the planet begins to slow to a halt before travelling backwards through the zodiac, and ending when it returns to the point where it first paused. However, during the cycle, a planet's energy is at its most powerful—and more likely to generate critical events of universal importance—when it is travelling slowly, particularly when it makes a station: appearing motionless in the sky.

How conscious are you? Mercury's stations reveal much! Stations occur twice during the cycle, beginning with the

  1. retrograde station near the start when Mercury first halts ready to hit reverse gear
  2. and then again midway through the cycle at the direct station, when the retrograde planet slows to a stop before moving forward again.

The direct station is the most powerful and can be used for maximum benefit. It is often thought of as the psychological peak of the retro phase, rather than the end, thanks to the shadow phase.

Go to Top Mercury Shadow Phases

Many astrologers consider that the "Mercury Shadow" begins between two and three weeks before the actual retro station; so the shadow phase begins this time on September 14, when Mercury passes the point of direct station for the first time in this cycle (see the date for the beginning of each shadow period in the table). Weird things often start to happen then, but the really noticeable peculiarities begin when Mercury slows significantly, a few days before the retro station.

The Mercury Shadow extends to the return date, something under three weeks after the direct station. Bear this in mind, because experience shows that the effects of the retro period are still marked during the shadow phase. Some of the most characteristic annoyances often occur just after Mercury makes the direct station, while he is crawling forward before picking up speed.

Go to Top What does Mercury affect?

In general, Mercury rules thinking and perception, processing and disseminating information and all means of communication, commerce, education and transportation. By extension, Mercury rules people who work in these areas, especially those who work with their minds or their wits: writers and orators, consultants, commentators and critics, gossips and spin doctors, salespeople, teachers, travellers, tricksters and thieves. Mercury also has an occult side, so healing, astrology and the transmission of spiritual knowledge are also in his area.

Mercury retrograde gives rise to personal misunderstandings; flawed, disrupted, or delayed communications, negotiations and trade; glitches and breakdowns with phones, computers, cars, buses, and trains. And all of these problems usually arise because some crucial piece of information, or component, has gone astray or awry.

It is not exactly wise to make important decisions while Mercury is retrograde, since it is likely that such decisions will be clouded by misinformation, poor communication and careless thinking. Mercury is all about mental clarity and the power of the mind, so when Mercury is retrograde these intellectual characteristics tend to be less acute than usual, as the critical faculties are dimmed. Make sure you pay attention to the small print!

Go to Top The Key Issue

The key issue here is one of focus. Mercury's retro phase tends to bring unforeseen changes and blockages, but the aggravation and frustration that many of us experience during these periods is often due to our own inability to roll with the punches. Is this due to our ego-fixation?

Mercury sets out to restructure our thinking processes and for many of us this is painful and frustrating. Unresolved issues from the past tend to push themselves forward. Moreover, these experiences reveal flaws in our internal organisation as well as our external planning, which can make us feel foolish and inadequate. Keep your eyes peeled; Mercury's retro period gives us the chance to find out just what has been missed!

Mercury retrograde, like any cosmic aspect, affects people differently, depending on where it hits their personal charts. Some people actually prosper under a retro Mercury, especially if Mercury is retrograde but otherwise well-aspected in their birth charts. It is also a time when matters begun under a previous retro period will come to fruition, or completion as the case may be. Firm decisions that have been previously made when Mercury is travelling normally through the zodiac may be implemented or finalised while Mercury is retrograde without too much worry, for experience shows that this can be done without undue problems arising.

Go to Top Mercury Retrograde in Scorpio

Scorpio, the Scorpion

When Mercury is retrograde, everyone's thinking is more introspective; we tend to think about issues and concerns that relate to the sign involved. With Mercury retrograde this time in the intense, calculating sign of the Scorpion, people with this sign prominent in their charts will be especially prone to such introspection. Scorpio is a Fixed Sign, so the other Fixed Signs, Taurus, Leo and Aquarius, are also likely to experience considerable conflict between heart and head, along with a good dose of typical disruption.

Mercury turns retro at 2°19' Scorpio on October 4th, with the Sun still in Libra (a Venus-ruled sign) in a good aspect to the Moon in Aquarius (a Saturn-ruled sign) opposing Saturn in Scorpio. The Moon is strongly placed, exalted in her own Face in Taurus in the figure, in the Terms of Mercury, indicating that the emotions and the intellect are at least moderately attuned. Moon is further strengthened by a beneficial trine to sensual Venus and a lovely sextile aspect to fortunate Jupiter on the mid-heaven. Unfortunately the Moon in the figure, being in a pretty tight T-square aspect with Sun and Saturn, has the big guns of the planetary array lined up against her. Conflict therefore arises between what we must do and what we would rather do. Insensitive or arrogant people make demands without realizing what the financial, emotional or other cost may be to us. The key, however, is not to let our feelings interfere with actually getting something done. No matter what dislocation you are forced to cope with, you are likely to be successful because of it rather than in spite of it. Under this influence people will be unusually sensitive to criticism, even if it is constructive criticism from those who have their best interests at heart.

Thanks to stern Saturn, this is a time when hard work, organization, and planning will stand us in good stead, although, should we not have previously conducted our affairs so, we may now wish that we had. You may not be in control of the events and circumstances that occur under this influence, but you will nevertheless be called upon to measure up, to take a responsible position in some way. Life may be, or seem to be, more somber than usual. Timing is off and we are more easily discouraged by problems we may usually regard as minor annoyances. The answer is to forge ahead. Forget instant gratification. Wait for the rewards or real enjoyment to come later.

Mercury Retrograde Feb 2014
Mercury Retro in Scorpio, Oct 2014
Click to Enlarge Image

Venus, which rules the Moon, is at the bottom of the chart, conjunct dark Pluto and opposed to Jupiter on the mid-heaven. However, Venus is trine the Moon, a brilliant and favourable aspect, and is also in Terms of Mercury, suggesting that style is expressed through clever and ambitious intellectual pursuits. This influence is just the thing for enhancing your physical appearance, beautifying your home, or anything to do with art, music, or design. The capacity for humour and enjoyment is increased. You could well be at your most attractive and sociable best! It is an excellent period to dine socially with others, especially if you entertain them in your home.

Venus opposes Jupiter, however, so the otherwise excellent influence might be subject to a somewhat gaudy expression, accompanied by extravagance and overconfidence. Resist the urge to overspend on social-climbing and self-serving gestures, and beware of those who do. Power and success are seductive traps during this period. These things can also be grossly mismanaged or overrated. People and situations that promise greater personal influence or an opportunity to manipulate something to your own advantage are to be avoided. You will probably not be able to remove the forces that oppose your power and influence, or that stand in the way. This only leaves you the option of finding a constructive way to work around them or with them. This is not a favourable time for matters that involve inheritance, taxes, insurance, and debt.

Venus conjunct Pluto in the figure awakens an urge to gain control over social events, or perhaps you are forced by circumstances to take complete charge. Either way, it is an excellent time to plan an event so that it proceeds as smoothly as possible. Under this influence charm has great powers. There is danger, however, that idle flattery can be interpreted as a serious overture. Since there is no telling whether you will be the one that engages in such flattery or the one that misinterprets its intent, remain aware of the possibility of being on either side. This is a period for the understanding of strategy in manipulating the control and outcome of situations, especially in situations where the demands of social groups or diplomatic purposes must be well served. Artistic endeavors can be as controlled as they are powerful in their impact.

Go to Top Dreamy... Psychic... Or Unrealistic and Overly Spiritual?

Mercury in Pisces has a certain psychic faculty, one which is not so much intuitive as imaginative. Mental processes are entwined with emotions, so we will find it hard to separate our ideas and opinions from passion and idealism during this phase. Therefore this is a rather fickle position, as people's mental orientation is inclined to be unstable, unrealistic and overly spiritual. Thanks to the Moon's affliction by Saturn and the Sun, many of us will feel rather gloomy, subject to constant worry -- and a desire for alcoholic drinks! This position can also indicate nervousness and stress, if not unfounded fears and paranoia from working or living in a hostile environment. Be resiliant. Happiness is a choice. Seek out work where privacy and dignity is offered and maintained.

Psychic Powers In The News
Clairvoyant or Psychic Abilities in the News

Mercury turns this time in conjunction with nebulous Neptune, in a good aspect to Jupiter, and to the Dragon's Head and Tail (karmic life path). These are positive influences, favouring dreamers with vivid imaginations. Clairvoyant or psychic abilities will be in the news and secrets are sure to come out. This position is often secretive, prophetic, or even telepathic; it endows particular talent for magnetic healing. While Mercury is retrograde, travel, education, communications, science, research and wise counselling are regularly thrown into disarray, but this time around, we should resist a tendency to self-righteousness and egotism.

Mercury and Neptune in the figure are conjunct two powerful Fixed Stars, the inventive Sadalmelik and the highly potent Fomalhaut. Both of these stars are fortunate and of a Mercurial nature, thus encouraging poetic and magical (i.e., rhythmic and structured) speech. Sadalmelik "The Lucky One of the King" leans to the occult power and structured success of Saturn, with Fomalhaut "The Watcher of the South" inclined to express the financial and magical power of Venus, ancient goddess of love and beauty. Fomalhaut is a Royal Star of Persia, used in magical workings and associated with great and lasting honours, fame, the occult and religious faith. It is a bringer of good tidings. In occult myth, Fomalhaut is known as the Archangel Gabriel, the divine messenger and strength of God. Gabriel is believed to carry good (and bad) news from God, having brought it to Daniel (Old Testament), the"biters and reprobates" among the Nephilim and to Azazel (Book of Enoch), Zecharias and Mary (announcing the birth of John Baptist and Jesus respectively in the New Testament) and to Mohammed, the prophets and to Abraham in the Quran and the Hadith of Islam. Fomalhaut is also and more anciently worshipped by the Persians, Arabs and indeed by the Greeks (in the Mysteries of Demeter at Eleusis). Fomalhaut was the first star discovered to possess an exoplanet and has been described by modern astronomers as the "Eye of Sauron", due to its being surrounded by a massive cloud of cosmic dust. Quite a star!

Now both of these cosmic thrillers have their downsides. In the case of Sadalmelik it brings persecution, sudden destruction, and the death penalty; when in conjunction with Mercury, it is said by Robson to favour occult interests and research, with success through friends and in large ompanies, but threatens loss through servants (i.e., employees and subordinates). Fomalhaut is even more threatening, said by Ptolemy to be very fortunate and powerful and yet to cause "malevolence of sublime scope and character". It brings change from a material to a spiritual form of expression, but when conjunct Mercury and Neptune also brings losses and disappointments, even imprisonment, through slander. Secrets will come to light. Domestic difficulties threaten, and secret enemies are active. However, victims might benefit through a narrow escape!

Go to Top A Truly Fearsome Aspect

Mars the Warrior in the figure is also quite angry with the Moon, for he governs Scorpio, whence cold Saturn opposes the Moon in Taurus; forms a nasty inconjunct aspect to the Moon from Venus-ruled Libra, the sign of his detriment; and is already slowing towards his retro phase in Libra, which commences on March 1. A truly fearsome aspect will culminate in mid-April, a Grand Cross in Cardinal Signs, featuring Mars in Libra opposing Uranus in Aries, square to Jupiter in Cancer opposing Pluto in Capricorn. This aspect has been horvering over the sublunary realms for many months now, with signally horrible effects on the world as anyone can see from consulting the newscasters. I have discussed the nasties inherent in the cosmic patterns in previous articles, so to avoid repeating myself, I urge you to read the previous Mercury Retrograde article on this site, and follow the links back to 2010 or even earlier.

Mars also sits in Terms of Mercury, which bodes well in airy, intellectual Libra, but unfortunately is inconjunct Moon by an ill-feeling quincunx aspect and sorrowful Saturn by semi-sextile. The quincunx is an aspect of 150, creating stress, unhappiness and sorrow, where relevant matters seem to be somehow out of joint. The semi-sextiile is an aspect of 30, thought by many modern astrologers to be mildly benefic, but these aspects were considered very unfortunate by the ancients, owing to the condition known as Aversion. Warrior Mars governs Scorpio, where Mercury turns, and in this phase Mars is placed in Virgo, a Mercury-ruled sign. This puts Mercury and Mars into the benefic relationship astrologers call Mutual Reception, suggesting that the normally cool, intellectual Mercury will be more passionate and aggressive than usual in this phase, but that the negative features of this period should be somewhat relieved and overcome through taking considered action. Mars should also be more discriminating and less prone to impulsive action, but Virgo is the sign governing the military, so we can expect there to be confused approaches to warfare and military action during this retro phase.

The Gorgon Medusa
The Gorgon Medusa

Mars, the energy of action, passion and the soaring urge to battle, spawn and procreate, is opposed to deceptive Neptune in Pisces, confusing the military priorities even further. When we see that the Moon, conjunct Algol at the turn, is applying to the T-square to Mars and Neptune and will reach it within hours, the stress of the configuration intensifies.

Caput Algol, also known as The Demon's Head, is a truly malefic fixed star in the 27th degree of Taurus that is noted for its horrific effects when stimulated by cosmic forces. In mythology, Perseus severed the Gorgon Medusa's head, which had the power of turning whatever gazed upon it to stone, using it to kill the sea monster, saving the maiden Andromeda. The Moon stands for our emotional personality and family relationships, especially with women, but in situations like this it also stands for the common people, the general public. We should remember that with regard to the fixed stars, the planets act like transformers, stepping down and focusing the stellar energies into a voltage that will not blast our souls into oblivion, but will be useful to power our development. However, Algol is noted for awakening primitive female sexuality — so watch out guys! — but is also associated with murder, violence, and mass catastrophe. Strangulation and beheading, combined with danger to throat and neck are other cheery effects. Under this influence, people become passionate, intense, even hysterical. It is a pulsating, eclipsing double-star also associated with extreme creativity — an expression of the Dark Side. Don't lose your head!

Consequently, we should be prepared to confront opinions and ideas that diametrically oppose our feelings. A change of heart can bring things to a halt. Situations block the path of our progress at every turn, literally or figuratively. Efforts are apt to come to nothing, or at least not accomplish the purpose for which they were intended. Do not invest your time and efforts in new activities or vague, disorganized projects. Charitable acts can be misguided. Work methods are inept, inefficient, or incorrect. Water sports pose the risk of danger, as do fishing trips, ocean cruises, and work that involves photography, gas, oil, and explosive or corrosive chemicals. It is not the time to try new medication, or take anaesthetics, alcohol, and drugs. Illusion and deception are constant threats. This influence has a strong potential for surprise attack, so we should be alert but not paranoid.

Go to Top The Hound of Hell

Mercury's other major aspect in the figure is a close trine to an exalted Jupiter, but this is prevented from culminating until the end of November, due to Mercury turning retrograde before the aspect culminates. Mercury is a speedy planet, but Jupiter is slow and majestic, so Merc has time to spin back, then forward again, eventually catching up on Nov 28. Therefore it spreads its light over the phase, which is good, because it needs something! So we can say that ideas, especially from educators, communicators, the ruling classes and their mouthpiece the media, are inclined toward the dramatic and grandiose, but they do have their place in the scheme of things at this time.

What they should resist, however, is overconfidence and being too far out of touch with reality and practicality. Favourable outcomes are possible in such areas as religious or political activities, court decisions, publishing, advertising, long-distance travel, cultural pursuits, and dealings with those of another race or culture. The main thing will be for us to recognise propaganda when we hear it and not allow ourselves to be taken in by promises that seem too good to be true.

Cerberus, Hound of Hell
Cerberus, Hound of Hell

In the preceding Mercury retro phase in June 2013, Mercury turned in conjunction with Pollux, β (beta) Geminorum, the Immortal Twin and Heartless Judge. This time Jupiter is tightly conjunct his alpha brother Castor, the Mortal Twin, a bright binary in the constellation of the Twins. Castor, α (alpha) Geminorum, is a star of Mercury, awakening sudden fame or loss, distinction and a keen mind, but associated with violence and mischief. Jupiter is acting in terms of Mercury and Mercury is acting in terms of Jupiter, so this is another mutual reception, but I would be surprised if the mind of Castor is greatly sharpened. More likely inclined to mischief.

Adriano Carelli in The 360 Degrees of the Zodiac declares that the degree in which Mercury turns is symbolised by Cerberus, guardian of the doorway to the Underworld. Cerberus is a fearsome dragon with three dog-like heads, but is more often known as the Hound of Hell. Carelli has quite a lot to say about this unfortunate degree, but I will be brief. Cerberus is watchful and wary, but has no real courage, hoping that his angry barks will strike fear into our hearts. Thus he is more a warrior with words than weapons, but when attacked and fully aroused will fight viciously. This spiteful and treacherous character is a scourge with a heart of stone. The infamous Italian dictator Benito Mussolini had this degree on his ascendant, in exact trine to his Jupiter in Cancer. So we see Mussolini reflected in this aspect in the figure. On top of that, our favourite fascist warlord had his natal nodal axis in exact conjunction with the nodal axis of the figure. Bluster and warmongering will be the flavour of the month!

Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini, Fascist Dictator

The underlying tensions that form the basis of the period (and indeed the year) come from the tight partile square between Pluto (obstruction; transformation) in Capricorn (ambition; status quo; tradition) and Uranus (disruption; disintegration) in Aries (leadership; breaking new ground), exact to the minute on November 1. This aspect marks a powerful epoch in human existence on this planet and takes us back to the early 1930's, when the societal disruptions under the previous cycle of Uranus/Pluto squares saw the Great Depression, the overthrow of the old social contract in a revolutionary new world order, with the rise of Adolf Hitler (German Nazi Party), Benito Mussolini (Italian Fascist party), Josef Stalin (Russian Communist party), Mao Tse Tung (Chinese Communist party) and their murderous, revolutionary, totalitarian regimes, to name just the most infamous among many. This unleashing of the dark powers led to the Second World War, a truly fearsome bloodbath culminating in the firebombing and nuclear annihilation of hundreds of thousands of people in Japan, and complete restructuring of the political, spiritual and economic world.

Mussolini regarded the war against Britain and France as a life-or-death struggle between opposing ideologies — Fascism and "the Masonic, democratic, capitalist world" — describing the war as "the struggle of the fertile and young people against the sterile people moving to the sunset; it is the struggle between two centuries and two ideas", and as a "logical development of our Revolution". from Wikipedia

Since so few of us were alive in those days, it's valuable to look back at the mid 1960's, when Uranus and Pluto were in conjunction. It was a time of massive disruption and huge social reorientation, when nihilism, existentialism, revolution, youth culture, rock music, psychedelic drugs, sexual liberation, feminism and fanaticism reigned, as the New Wave of Modernism sought to transform society at any cost.

Love Is All You Need
The Beatles: Love Is All You Need

The wave of freedom swept up vast swathes of the youth of the world, united in opposition to the Viet Nam War. We followed the quest for freedom and revolution and eventually personal evolution through Eastern religion and self-discovery. It was of course also a time of great creativity and freedom, when what remained of the European Colonial regimes disintegrated and many new countries took their places as liberated agents in the world.

So today, we see social, religious, economic and political upheavals every day on our screens and in the media. We have our own Great Depression, a.k.a. the Global Financial Crisis of 2008. We have our own uprisings, most noticeably in the so-called Arab Spring in the Muslim World and the rise of populist movements in the West, such as the right-wing "Tea Party" and the anarchic "Anonymous" and "Occupy Wall Street". This Uranus/Pluto square is a stronger cosmic stress than the conjunction or the 1960's and it has yet to work itself out, because the aspect lasts to one degree or another until mid 2015.

The Fixed Stars too are ominous in this chart. I shall briefly address the issues in particular awoken by the fact that Uranus, Lord of Misrule, is retrograde approaching the partile square to Pluto, Lord of the Underworld, on November 1, reflecting a similar aspect in the 1930's, one of the periods of greatest upheaval in modern times. This stressful aspect has been underlying a significant part of the year and will remain active until 2015.

The Fool
The Fool

As Mercury turns, Uranus (Aries 0950') is conjunct the Garnet Star, Erakis, at the head of Cepheus, the mythic Ethiopian King, father of Andromeda. This king sacrificed his daughter by chaining her to a rock where a sea dragon could devour her as punishment for her mother's vainglory and hubris. Fortunately, Andromeda was saved by Perseus, who slew the sea monster. Erakis is a beautiful, deep red star, of the nature of Saturn and Jupiter, but for all that, is variable and so traditionally suspect. A harbinger of tragedy, this conjunction calls for transformation through cruel and severe trials. Bloody death and dramatic displays also threaten. Cepheus is associated by the Kabalists with the Hebrew letter Shin and the 22nd Tarot Trump, "The Fool."

Uranus is square Pluto, which is conjunct Facies, perhaps the most dreaded star other than Algol (slain in myth by the very same Perseus who rescued Andromeda). Located near the face of the Archer, Facies is a nebula of the nature of Sun and Mars. Facies is known for engendering blindness, and is associated with violent death, sickness, accidents and broken limbs. To give you an idea, Reeva Steenkamp, the lovely young model allegedly murdered by blade-runner Oscar Pistorius, had Moon conjunct Facies, and had previously broken her back in a fall from a horse. Facies is also known for leadership, and loves war, being fond of combative energies; adventure, risk-taking and glamour. Earthquakes are associated with Facies.

There are several more cosmic connections I could discuss in this regard, but this is supposed to be an article, not a book! The direction the world is taking is the journey of the butterfly emerging from its worn out cocoon into the new light and air of a new dawn. This Mercury Retrograde phase will pull out a lot of old stuff that needs to be cleansed and done away with, especially at the end of October and the beginning of November. It's all or nothing, folks. The grub is being transformed as we speak...

Go to Top The Middle East, China and the Demise of the Petro-Dollar

I have written at length in previous Mercury Retrograde articles about the weaknesses and need for restructuring of the Eurozone and the US economy and political structure. Many of the important cosmic factors outlined are still at work, shaking the foundations of the political and financial world as we have known it. This will remain a problem for quite a while into the future and it's well worth looking back over this material to see where we are heading.

Demise of the PetroDollar
The Demise of the Petro-Dollar

As often noted, the phase of transformation now underway is by no means complete and will remain fluid at least until mid 2015. Notwithstanding, one major piece in the jigsaw puzzle has been put into place in the past month, more or less at the New Moon in Virgo on Sep 6. This is the agreement between Russia and China to trade oil in the Chinese currency (the yuan, a.k.a. renminbi) instead of in US dollars. Moreover, others have also been putting bi-lateral trading in the yuan in place, notably Australia and Japan, along with some 20 other countries.

Oil sales since the "Nixon shock" of August 15, 1971, when the US under Nixon broke the Bretton-Woods gold standard (the convertibility of the paper dollar into actual gold), have been held by treaty with Saudi and other oil producers in US dollars only. This meant that every country other than the US had to buy US dollars in order to buy oil. The US had only to print more dollars. This system of "Petro-Dollars" saw the "fiat" dollar, already the world reserve currency, financing the US consumer juggernaut. The so-called Axis of Evil (Iraq, Iran and North Korea) had something in common back in 2003 (other than nasty habits): they all planned to use the Euro in place of the US dollar for oil trading. This was sufficiently bad news for the US hegemony that it led to the invasion and destruction of Iraq, costing trillions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives.

Note that neither Germany nor France (nor indeed Spain, Italy and the majority of eurozone countries) became members of the so-called "Coalition of the Willing" in the Iraq War, and not because there was any love lost between them and Saddam Hussein's regime. No, it was in fact because they between them had a massive stack of Euros and, should Saddam's plan have come to fruition, would no longer have needed to buy oil in expensive US dollars.

Chinese Currency
China Flashes Its Cash!

The situation post GFC 2008 is that there are still trillions and trillions of US dollars sloshing around the world at the touch of a button, and that the holders of US debt, mainly in China, are becoming increasingly apprehensive as the US policy of "quantitative easing" (read printing vast amounts of US dollars) combined with almost zero interest rates is rapidly devaluing the dollar with regard to many other major currencies. And as the US approaches self-sufficiency in oil production through new discoveries and efficiencies, the purchase by the US of foreign oil diminishes rapidly. The Euro also has major problems of its own, and as China becomes the world's largest manufacturer and indeed market, so the inclination towards bilateral deals and trading oil in renminbi (yuan) receives a considerable incentive vis-a-vis the petrodollar. This will inevitably lead to a restructuring of world markets and governmental institutions, along with a massive shock to the US economy.

Go to Top Iran and Syria

I have also addressed the Syrian problem in previous articles discussing the chart of Bashar al-Assad, Syria's president, but he seems to have weathered the storm for now, as the ominous swarm of Celestials in his 12th house of sorrows leading to bellicose threats from the US following the previous retro phase, has moved on, opening the door for him to pacify the West with his agreement to destroy his stock of chemical weapons.

Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin, President of Russian Federation

Vladimir Putin, president of Russia, has taken an active hand in this. Who would have thought that Putin, ex KGB agent, would have been a dab hand at conflict resolution? Only an astrologer, for Putin has a strong satellitium in socially adept Libra, including Sun, Saturn, Neptune and Mercury, receiving a helpful trine aspect from his Moon in Gemini. It is in his 12th house of secretive action behind the scenes (at one stage he was a spy!), but he does have his ruling Venus rising in Scorpio, so he's no pushover.

Putin however is entering a phase of severe stress, for the Moon's nodal axis, having passed over his natal Venus along with stern Saturn in recent weeks, is shortly to cross his natal Ascendant/Descendant, showing that his entire life is likely to be completely turned around from December/January on. Mercury turns opposing his natal Jupiter, creating confusion and delays, especially in dealings with religious and cultural matters connected with foreign countries (Sunni extremists versus the rest in Syria?) and his leadership role. Transiting Saturn has been hovering around, crushing his natal Venus in recent months as his relationships become fraught with seriousness. Alliances and joint ventures are especially vulnerable (Syria's situation, including the oil pipeline, for example). There can be no doubt about his serious intentions, as well as his allegiances. He will to stick to tradition or whatever methods he knows best, but his diplomatic gestures are likely to be self-serving.

Bashar al-Assad's chart — and so his life — is still highly stimulated, though not quite as dangerously as in recent months. The Moon's nodes in his chart are also signalling a massive change of life and career, as they are approaching the conjunction with his mid-heaven, the marker of career and public position. This conjunction will begin to take effect next year, in March/April 2014, while Mars is retrograde. Spooky for him, and for Syria. He will change his career and domestic circumstances around that time, probably relocating if he survives.

Syrian Soldier
Bashar al-Assad Surveys The Destruction

Still, as Mercury turns, Warrior Mars in the figure is conjunct his natal Mercury in Virgo, so the war isn't going away soon, despite what he might think (deceptive Neptune opposes his natal Mercury too). The Sun in the figure is conjunct his natal Venus in Libra, so at least he will feel better and his social life will improve. He has a close conjunction of Mars and Neptune in Scorpio in his natal chart and Mercury, the Trickster, turns in conjunction with these two. Not only that but transiting Saturn is tightly conjunct his natal Mars. He must stick to his guns and work within the official framework. Though progress seems tediously slow, what he will actually accomplish in the end will be substantial.

As leader of Syria, he must maintain a firm determination to succeed, no matter what the pace. His male relationships and alliances may be restricted or even broken off at this time. However, if a commitment is made to preserve these associations, then stronger and more lasting bonds can result. We have seen this with Russia and Iran, of which more later. The seriousness and frustrations that slow him down and block his resolve can be turned to a constructive purpose. More organization and focus are needed to build a solid, structured foundation for the success he needs. The problem for him is that Mercury turning conjunct natal Neptune makes it hard to grasp the true meaning or accuracy of the information he receives. Trying to get to the bottom of the situation may end in confusion, raising more questions than it answers.

Unfortunately, Mercury when in reverse gear tends to throw a spanner in the works, especially regarding communication. Bellicose remarks around the end of the month and the beginning of November will create a very volatile situation, as the generational square aspect between Uranus (sudden catastrophe) and Pluto (obstruction) will be exact. Bashar al-Assad was born in 1965, on September 11(!) under the previous massive interaction of Uranus and Pluto, mentioned in earlier paragraphs. This conjunction in his natal chart, the same one that brought the political and cultural upheavals of the mid-Sixties, will be activated in mid-November by transiting Mars, to add to his woes.

The chart of the Assad Regime (Nov 13, 1970) has Scorpio on the ascendant, and Leo on the mid-heaven. These are the two key angles of any chart, but especially a political one. It is curious that of the other charts we have been considering, those of Vladimir Putin and Hassan Rouhani also have Scorpio rising and Leo mid-heaven, with Rouhani's chart's angles tightly conjunct those of the Assad Regime. The planetary configurations are therefore affecting them in a similar way and may awaken in them a strong sympathy.

The Beginning Is Near
Anonymous: The Beginning Is Near

Perhaps the most significant development here is the change of leadership in Iran. The new president, Hassan Rouhani, has replaced the belligerent former leader, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, following the election on 14th June 2013, taking office on August 3. He appears to be more reasonable than his predecessor, but Rouhani, according to the Israeli PM Netanyahu, is a "wolf in sheep's clothing", as opposed to Ahmadinejad who was a "wolf in wolf's clothing". My contacts in Iran say that already the situation has improved there, so we shall see what the stars say.

Rouhani is a Scorpio with Moon in Pisces, very emotional but very controlled. Mercury turns in tight conjunction with his natal Sun, so this phase should have a notable effect on him (and so his country, which he symbolizes as leader). He also has his natal Mercury conjunct the Moon's south node in Scorpio; so, because the transiting north node is conjunct this point, he is undergoing the stressful experience known as the counter-nodal return. In astrology, the Moon's nodes (the Dragon's Head and Tail) are not planets in the strict astronomical sense, but rather sensitive points on the ecliptic, where the pathway of the Moon crosses the course of the Sun. They are traditionally considered "soulless" and so are markers of fate rather than conscious destiny.

Mars in the figure is conjunct Rouhani's natal Saturn. This presages a tricky period in which he will be pressured to make speedy progress, but obstacles in his path keep slowing him down. Some of the obstacles are likely to be those he has brought upon himself. A more positive view is that he will focus on becoming more structured and organized. After all, it's a big thing to start running a country which is effectively under siege by sanctions and threats. Rouhani will be more willing to plan things carefully, and to give greater credence to wisdom and experience before he acts, or allows others to act. Saturn in the figure is applying to the conjunction with his natal Sun, becoming exact in the last couple of weeks of December 2013, so over this whole phase he will feel increasing pressure from behind the scenes to prove himself. He may become resentful and antagonistic, but hopefully will remain reasonable and not be thrown off key by disruptive forces in his environment.

Go to Top The Outlook for the West

The Great Fixation in the US and indeed much of the world as I am considering this phase is the threatening financial default of the US government when it reaches its "Debt Ceiling" on October 17, just one day before a potent Lunar Eclipse and less than a week before Mercury turns. The US has already been in a a state of insecurity and inconvenience since Oct 1, when Congress missed the deadline to pass the budget. This meant that all "non-essential" services have been closed and thousands of government workers and officials have been placed on furlough. The looming default would be much more serious (even though the situation is already grave).

The Debt Ceiling
The Debt Ceiling

The outlook for this day is reasonable, given the overall outlook. Without going into too much detail, as my recent illness has set me back considerably, it seems that matters will fall easily into place, suggesting that the issue will be resolved, at least for the time being. Venus (money; harmony) is very well aspected by the Moon — and the horary is pretty conclusive. The downside is that Mars (action) opposing Neptune (delusion; deception) on the day suggests that efforts are likely to come to nothing and that the potential for surprise attack is high. I do not think the raising of the ceiling will help the American people in the long run. It will however stave off a looming catastrophe. The American people need to take control of their government and their financial system, and soon! That is why there is a crisis. It's out of control! So it's a hard one to pick, but I am going for compromise, despite the rhetoric in a hostile environment. My natural optimism, perhaps...

Wall Street's chart is highly stimulated. Mercury turns on the day of the Wall Street's New Moon for the year, right smack on its mid-heaven, and conjunct Algol! Venus is applying to the trine to the Street's natal Moon which will be exact and fired up by the Moon in dramatic Leo on the weekend of Oct 26. Mercury will oppose the Street's Venus to one degree or another over the first three weeks of November, when matters to do with interpersonal relations, the environment, and planning social events are likely to be frustrating and exceedingly difficult. Things just won’t seem to come together. Opinions differ widely and no one is in a mood to be tactful or of a mind to make an effort to please. Conflict and lack of cooperation arise. Disagreement concerning common goals and other matters plague the efforts of joint ventures, business transactions, counselling sessions, contractual negotiations, and legal matters.

Mars is conjunct the Street's Virgo ascendant as Merc turns, urging an aggressive push. The NYSE's natal Mars is also in Virgo — and the partile conjunction will occur over the weekend of the 16th Nov. Extremely active, potentially chaotic, circumstances will descend, especially connected with the military — and things associated with males and male activities. This very energetic, highly aggressive influence creates intense activity. All the players will be going for broke! A new two-year cycle of energy begins for the Street, one in which they will initiate new directions and new ventures.

This may be followed by possible losses overseas and in women's products, beauty, apparel, and art, because the Dragon's Tail is applying to NYSE Venus, which it meets in December. Remember, Venus turns retrograde at the Solstice on December 21.

President Obama's chart is under pressure. As Merc turns, the Moon (the public) in the figure squares his natal Uranus (disruption) and his nodal axis (fate), promising unforeseen ructions with an aura of inevitability surrounding them. Mars in the figure is conjunct his natal Pluto. Intense and purposeful situations will inspire him to be much more forceful than usual. However interaction with others can cause him to become deeply jealous and vengeful, perhaps with truly perilous results; and so Mr President, it would not be wise to confront or provoke a hostile situation. Positive uses for this influence include rejuvenating aspects of his life; bringing out his hidden talents; finding new uses for old things; assessing and investing assets of all kinds; and conducting research and investigation, especially concerning the mysteries of science and nature.

Transiting Jupiter (rulers) in the figure opposes his natal Saturn (ordinary people). Responsibilities, restrictions, rules and regulations are in direct conflict with freedom. This opposition will be a key factor in blocking any progress, happiness, or success. He cannot count on maturity or experience to lead the way, and if he does, his authority will be challenged. A promising situation may tempt him to circumvent the rules or get around restrictions, but this is unlikely to work. He will refuse to bend the rules, and due to a sense of responsibility may miss a valuable opportunity. Let's hope he resists the promise of something new and hangs on to what is already in hand, at least for the time being. He will probably not be able to remove the forces that oppose him, which only leaves him (and the US) the option of finding a constructive way to work around them... or with them.

Venus, however, is in the 7th house of his Washington chart, so that means he will go on a charm offensive, using his considerable social skills to win over his opponents. Let us wish him well, for the fate of us all hangs in the balance, with the exact square between Uranus and Pluto culminating on November 1, 2013.

Go to Top The European Scorpion

This is a really significant phase of transition for Europe. It's a very scorpionic moment! Mercury turns in Scorpio, conjunct Saturn and the Dragon's Head. Mars and Pluto are poised, ready to strike! The Moon's nodal axis, the Dragon's Head and Tail, by transit has reached the point at which it originated in the European Community chart (Brussels, 1.1.1958). This is known as the nodal return: a sort of jumping off point that happens every eighteen and a half years or so. Unfortunately for the Europeans, the Dragon's Tail (Moon's south node) in the chart is conjunct Europe's natal Moon, which itself is disruptively square to its natal Uranus, so it's a spooky leap into the unknown, fraught with loss and domestic disorder.

European Scorpion
The European Scorpion, about to Strike

Worse in some ways is the fact that Saturn in the figure opposes Europe's natal Moon, and is also conjunct the community's Dragon's Head, or north node. Saturn has a chilling and very restrictive influence, so a sense of negativity surrounds the people of Europe during this phase. Perhaps the best way to put it might that the atmosphere feels devoid of nurture — an absence of physical nourishment and a sense of pessimism. Emotional deprivation and loss at this time is karmically linked to the past. As a result of past neglect or abuse, close relationships are seriously threatened, or even severed under this pitiless influence.

Family responsibilities and financial burdens may be overwhelming for those affected. The people would not be wise to expect any appreciation for their past, or present, efforts. Desires are thwarted. Whatever is gained will only come at an extremely high price; a price they may come to regret paying.

There is a good side however. The Sun and Moon, the cosmic power sources, are in a beautiful trine aspect in Europe's natal chart, adding great strength and determination. As Merc turns, the Sun in the figure is clasped to the bosom of Europe's natal Jupiter. Increased optimism and generosity pop up, as the dice seem to roll right. Even though current circumstances are more than troublesome, something positive will emerge despite the difficulty. A spiritual awareness increases, giving inner strength and inspiration for comfort and support. Prospects rise for cultural events, artistic projects, long distance travel, or activities which expand the intellectual horizons. New experiences are in the air.

Other important aspects restate the transformative power at work here. Pluto (obstruction; transformation; regeneration) is active deep down there in his underworld kingdom. The Dark Lord is wrapping his influence around Europe's natal Sun, so his slow but irresistible dance propels the community into an entirely new direction. It brings a courageous new slant to the way the EC perceives itself, urging the construction of a new and more potent image to present to the world. The shedding of the chrysalis is not an easy process and is fraught with problems (as we saw with the Uranus/Pluto square in an earlier section), but there is massive commitment and determination at work, so we will see Europe solving its own problems, even if this means a more isolationist approach for a year or two.

Mars in the figure is conjunct natal Pluto, adding intensity and purpose, supporting research and investigation, especially into concealed issues. The Warrior Planet is trine the EC Sun too, so this energy can be put to useful ends by the authorities. Hopefully this will not include battle forays into Syria and Iran! We must remember that this is a few months that are subject to strange reversals and weird phenomena. Not only is Mercury retrograde, but in December, Venus turns retrograde, followed in March 2014 by Mars turning retrograde at the end of a subsequent Merc retro phase.

Mercury remains retrograde in Scorpio until Nov 10, 2013, and the shadow phase lasts until Nov 27. Mercury finds his direct station in the 3rd degree of the Scorpion. Naturally not everyone will suffer, nor will those who are affected all be affected in the same way, as it depends where the aspects fall in their personal charts. Mercury's transit of Scorpio has some effect on what used to be called the secret parts, awakening pains in the bladder, menstrual pains and genital disorders. Be sure to attend to rheumatism, backache, pains in the arms and shoulders, along with bowel disorders. Other problems may be carelessness and forgetfulness; but also arrhythmia, stuttering, hoarseness and deafness. This period brings travel snafus, mail mishaps and missed appointments of all kinds. Documents can go astray. Be sure to carry a diary and refer to it often.


Go Forward This is the end of the article. Click here to read Mercury Retrograde: Above the Hype and Beyond the Spin.




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