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Mercury Retrograde 2010
Shadow Retro StationDirect StationRelease
5 Capricorn 35
Wed, Dec 9, 09
21 Capricorn 46
Sat, Dec 26, 09
5 Capricorn 35
Fri, Jan 15, 10
21 Capricorn 46
Thu, Feb 4, 10
2 Taurus 41
Sun, Apr 4
12 Taurus 37
Sun, Apr 18
2 Taurus 41
Tue, May 11
12 Taurus 37
Fri, May 28
5 Virgo 26
Sun, Aug 1
19 Virgo 01
Fri, Aug 20
5 Virgo 26
Sun, Sep 12
19 Virgo 01
Mon, Sep 27
19 Sagittarius 37
Mon, Nov 22
5 Capricorn 54
Fri, Dec 10
19 Sagittarius 37
Thu, Dec 30
5 Capricorn 54
Tue, Jan 18, 11

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

Mercury, Divine Messenger
Mercury, the Divine Messenger

Mercury, the messenger of the gods Mercury Retrograde

Go Forward  Mercury retro in Capricorn & Sagittarius  [Dec. 10, 2010 – Dec. 30, 2010]

At 12:05 UT (Universal Time) Friday, December 10th, 2010, Mercury the wise communicator—and universal trickster—turns retrograde at 5°54' Capricorn, in the sign of the Sea-Goat, sending communications, travel, appointments, 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 December 30, 2010, 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 January 18th, as he passes the point where he first turned retrograde. Mercury normally turns retrograde three times a year, but this year he turns tail four times, which is unusual. The effects of each period differ, according to the sign in which it happens (see box for Retrograde Periods in 2010).

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. Mercury turns retrograde this time in Capricorn while the Sun is in Sagittarius, but the Sun moves into Capricorn at the solstice on Dec. 21 (with Mercury having moved back to Sagittarius). Mercury turns direct in Sagittarius on Dec. 30 with the Sun still in Capricorn, but Mercury remains in Sagittarius till Jan. 18.

Go to Top Fated Events

As a rule, 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 Capricorn (ambition; loyalty) awakens quite different sets of circumstances from those generated when he retrogrades into Sagittarius (freedom; independence).

A retrograde period is best seen as a cycle, beginning when a 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 the planet is travelling slowly, and particularly when it makes a station: appearing motionless in the sky.

These stationary periods occur near the beginning of the cycle (when the planet first halts as it prepares to move backwards) and midway through the cycle when the retrograde planet slows to a stop before moving forward again. The direct station (when the planet halts before moving forward again) is the most powerful and can be used for maximum benefit.

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 November 22, 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 period of "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. I have even heard of some who excel in the way they play roulette under a retrograde Mercury! 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.

Aries | Taurus | Gemini | Cancer | Leo | Virgo | Libra | Scorpio | Sagittarius | Capricorn | Aquarius | Pisces
Click your sign to see how Mercury Retrograde affects you!
Go to Top Mercury Retrograde in Capricorn
Capricorn, the Sea-Goat

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 ambitious, organisational Capricorn, people with this sign prominent in their charts will be especially prone to such introspection. Capricorn is a Cardinal Sign, so the other Cardinal Signs, Aries, Cancer and Libra are also likely to experience considerable conflict between heart and head, along with a good dose of typical disruption.

Mercury turns retro at 5°54' Capricorn on December 10, in a favoured segment of the zodiac, (the terms and triplicity of Venus, and the face of Jupiter) at a time when Venus, goddess of love, beauty and money, is receiving a lucky partile sextile aspect from Mercury. Thoughts turn to words of love, then. This will no doubt affect the retro phase for the better, but it will need to, as Mercury is also turning conjunct dark Pluto, lord of transformation, and macho Mars, the mighty Warrior. Sandwiched between Mars and Pluto lies the Dragon's Head, the Moon's north node, the sign of cosmic expansion and karmic patterns of growth. That's a powerful stellium in the beginning of Capricorn, which Mercury will activate over the ensuing week.

Cerberus by Paula Schricker
Cerberus, by Paula Schricker

Pluto's movement into Capricorn has truly turned the world inside out in the past couple of years, and this potent conjunction will have a signal effect, particularly on the revelation of hidden forces of control, discipline and power. Conspiracy buffs, take note! Strategies, information and ideas all focus on power and how to hang on to it—and how to gain it! Research, investigation, psychoanalysis, renovation, finance and property assessment are issues to watch. Mars in the conjunction will add an element of recklessness, even violence to the mix, for the Warrior planet is thoroughly instinctive and loves nothing more than action. News or other information is likely to motivate us to take physical action, especially in the political sphere. Plans and methods will be put into action, and ideas turned into physical reality. This is also signalled by the influence of Venus in Scorpio, disposed by Mars and Pluto to heat the emotions to boiling point, stimulating jealousy and the desire for revenge.

The idea that plans and methods will be activated is also signalled by the trine from the Moon to Saturn as Merc turns, favouring self-reliant, serious, sober and systematic dealings with the public and the common people, rather than the ego-driven fantasies of charismatic leaders. Success will come through tact and diplomacy, not head-on attacks, or warfare. Patience and persistence will reap rewards through established or inherited businesses or institutions. The benefit of this aspect is increased, as the Moon is conjunct the fortunate and idealistic Fixed Star Alnair (Saturn, the ruler of Capricorn, is zodiacally conjunct Merga, a very faint, though fortunate star, but Merga is far from the ecliptic, so gives only minor benefit in itself. It may be valuable for ministers of state, and those concerned with social projects, economists, high officials, architects etc).

Under the retro phase, we need to pay strict attention to instructions on how to achieve any physical task or goal, operate machinery, or get to a particular location. Should a practical need for travel arise, be sure you have correct arrangements, tickets, accommodation, car serviced, etc. Check the paperwork. Business transactions lean to the sale or purchase of a vehicle, computers, communications or sports equipment. Education, military service, hair cutting, dental work, or surgery are likely to be under consideration, and close attention should be paid to the timing and details.

Intense and purposeful situations also require close attention, as they arise under this phase. Projects require more than your usual patience and concentration. People can be deeply jealous and vengeful under these aspects, perhaps with truly perilous results; resist any temptation to confront or provoke a hostile situation. Positive approaches include rejuvenating aspects of your life: bringing out your 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.

Go to Top Fixed Stars

Often the connection with the Fixed Stars can throw an interesting slant on any planetary influence, and again this one is no exception. Mercury turns in exact conjunction with the Fixed Star Kaus Australis, which gives him swift movement and strengthens the intellect. Let's hope our brains are not scrambled by Pluto and Mars! Pluto in the figure is conjunct Kaus Medeus, which Mercury hits on Tuesday 13th and Wednesday 14th, just as Mars also hits this spot. Ulp. This is a problematic conjunction which, whilst it is favourable for ceremonial activities, warns of danger from earthquakes, natural disasters, and political conflict. Mars in the figure is still conjunct the gloomy stars Spiculum and Alnasl, which signify eye trouble, depression and morbid religious action, with no concern for human life. Gosh. Stay out of war zones! That includes night clubs...

The Tower

The Dragon's Head (Moon's north node) acts as a sort of karmic amplifier, especially as it is conjunct Mars and Pluto, intensifing their influence in the figure. It is also conjunct the very fortunate star, Polis, but this may amplify success in warlike manoeuvres, for it is traditionally favourable for generals and leaders in their efforts to dominate. As the Dragon's Tail, the south node, opposes this point, we need to see if there is a counteracting influence. There's two ways of looking at it. Firstly, US President Barack Obama has his Venus closely conjunct this point, but exactly opposing Mars in the figure. This means he may be able to play the peacemaker, but that his passions will be easily roused and it will be hard for him to make headway in negotiations. His advisers are likely to press for action and his natal Mars in Virgo (inclining him to organised force, the military) is under pressure. Secondly, the south node is conjunct the unfortunate saturnine star, Propus, creating overconfidence and even violence through forces over which he has little control, despite any concern for humanitarian outcomes. The nodes of course also affect other leaders, so we sense considerable tension in the air.

As Mercury turns retrograde, the Sun is in Sagittarius, conjunct Sabik, a second magnitude star in the leg of the Serpent Bearer (Serpentarius, a.k.a. Ophiuchus). According to Robson, this causes wastefulness, lost energy, perverted morals—and success in evil deeds. He also says that it is associated by the Kabalists with the Hebrew letter Oin and the 16th Tarot Trump The Lightning Struck Tower. Not a good look. The Tower warns of drastic change which lies outside our control, a cosmic course-correction. It is applying to the square to Jupiter, whose bravado is exact on the 16th and 17th. This will be a difficult couple of days, for if the lightning is going to strike it will do so as the two stars in the Scorpion's sting, Lesath and Shaula, are simultaneously activated. The stinger holds poison, but also a potential for healing (through homoeopathy..?), as danger, desperation, immorality and malevolence, connected with acid poisons holds sway. It is said to aid victory in sieges, bringing the destruction of seafarers and captives; it is associated with exorcism, mesmerism—and spiritual pressure towards enlightenment. It's time to release old identities, karmic binding rods. At least in the end we will all benefit, but the process may be painful.

Jupiter is conjunct disruptive Uranus in the figure, while at the same time being opposed to the asteroid Juno. Jupiter and Juno in mythology were the king and queen of the gods, though Jupiter was often unfaithful. In the UT chart, Jupiter is rising and Juno is setting in a T-square aspect from asteroid Pallas Athene (Minerva to the Romans). This suggests conflict between partners, due to faulty information and alienation due to abusive relationships. Misdirected intellect and religious extremism lie at the heart of the problem. Both Jupiter (fortune; expansion; healing; masculine power) and Juno (woman as partner; ideal mate; divorce; contracts; trust; jealousy) are conjunct fortunate stars, but Pallas is on the mid-heaven and conjunct the difficult star Aculeus, pressurising the situation and pulling marital conflict into the public arena. It will take all of Athena's wisdom to overcome this little stoush!

Laughter Yoga
Laughter Yoga

Mercury in Capricorn, a Saturn-ruled sign, encourages a critical, penetrating and somewhat suspicious mind, favouring those with a thoughtful and diplomatic disposition. This transit favours spies and detectives, having the ability to foster out secrets. It gives a love of science, particularly chemistry, but scientists in this field will need to be particularly careful with their results and accompanying paperwork. This phase can awaken a tendency to be miserly, cruel, malicious or spiteful. People will feel more insecure, which may come out as miserliness, under the excuse of keeping a little something "saved for a rainy day". Under this transit our imaginations can be restricted to the pragmatic and material world. Skin problems and psoriasis are likely to be exacerbated by nervous tension and stress. It will be hard to relax, so therapies that lighten the spirit, like Laughter Yoga, will help your emotional and physical health. You could also benefit from chiropractic care and regular massage, but be sure not to miss the appointment, or turn up at the wrong doctor!

Rheumatism and lameness, especially about the knees and back; bowel disorders and constipation due to worry and melancholy; skin disease, psoriasis; nervous indigestion and flatulence; all these are brought forward with the planetary emphasis on Capricorn, so be sure to relax and seek treatment should such symptoms appear; they often reveal that your immune system may be compromised.

Mercury remains in Capricorn until Dec. 18, when he slips back into Sagittarius. This is a day of remarkable tension and potential for misunderstanding, thanks to the plethora of difficult aspects. It's a stressful period leading up to the Full Moon at the solstice on Dec. 21. Mercury next flows forward into Capricorn on January 13th, but read on for more on Mercury's stay in Sagittarius.

The Emperor
Go to Top Mercury Retrograde in Sagittarius
Sagittarius, the Archer

At 14:54 hrs UT (Universal Time) on Dec. 18, Mercury retreats into Sagittarius, the sign of the Archer. Philosophical Sagittarius, the detriment of Mercury, is a Mutable Sign, so the other Mutable Signs—Pisces, Gemini and Virgo—will feel the planetary developments most keenly, along with the effects of any Fixed Stars that are active. Mercury in Sagittarius marks at its best a noble mind and also a love of nature and animals. The Archer tends to hold very independent ideas and opinions, and learns best by travelling and circulating in groups, or in distant places. Under the retro stage, those of limited intelligence gain the upper hand and there is a tendency to dishonesty and lawlessness. Scandal tends to dog the crooked character or politician, and mental strain can make us our own worst enemy. Speaking without thinking can create substantial problems. This position can indicate nervousness and stress-related sciatica. Chiropractic care and massage are recommended.

Although Merc has just chuffed back to Sagittarius, the Sun, always moving forward, enters Capricorn at the solstice on December 21, just after a powerful and potentially chaotic Full Moon in the last degree of Gemini, which is also a lunar eclipse. This promises to be a difficult eclipse due to a plethora of problematic planetary aspects—including Moon opposing Mercury—and conjunctions of both the Sun and Moon with very unfortunate stars (Sun conjunct Sinistra, the left hand of the Serpent Bearer; Moon conjunct Betelgeuse and Menkalinan, which has just tipped over into Cancer, due to precession. [This is not yet shown on the Fixed Stars page, which is being revised to allow for the 8 minutes of precession in the past 10 years. It will be on line in its new format ASAP. Fixed stars do not move across the ecliptic like planets, but they do change their places very slowly in the tropical zodiac due to the phenomenon of precession.] This is the movement of the tropical zodiac against the background of the sidereal zodiac—for more about precession, see Stars and Signs).

Challenging aspects on this day include the Moon squaring Jupiter and Uranus (sudden and grandiose posturing, domestic troubles, reckless expenditure) while opposing the Sun, Mercury and Pluto (mental confusion, conflict between partners, struggles for dominance, associated with unpleasant conditions creating anxiety, worry and sorrow). Only hours later we see Mercury square Jupiter (frustration, exaggeration, missed details) and the Moon opposing Mars (travel accidents; passionate ourbursts; sexual promiscuity) followed by a square to Saturn (depressing conditions, fretting, worry; trouble with authorities and old people), but this is a heavy duty period that will soon be passed by, thank heavens! Before Christmas, hopefully...!

Christmas Day and Boxing Day have their share of difficult aspects (as always), but some surprisingly pleasant and fortunate benefits will be associated. Remember who's coming to dinner—and don't mislay anyone's present, or there could be embarrassing red faces all round. Drive safely on the roads as there will be dopes at the wheel who are dangerous from driving whilst intoxicated, and while distracted and over-excited.

Mercury turns direct at 19°38' of Sagittarius on December 30th, conjunct the Fixed Star Maasym in the arm of Hercules. According to Ptolemy it is like Mercury and said to give strength of character, tenacity, fixity of purpose, an ardent nature and dangerous passions. By the Kabalists the constellation Hercules is associated with the Hebrew letter Daleth and the fourth Tarot Trump The Emperor. The Emperor represents authority and virility, and has gained wisdom through experience. He has survived the battle, and if we have built our goals upon solid foundations, once Mercury returns to full speed, we should attain our desires.

All areas of governance and control are affected by this phase, especially in matters connected with ambition, strong leaders, loyalty, jealousy and passion; travel, spiritual guidance, higher education, cultural pursuits, publishing, conflict between partners and with in-laws—particularly the communications, routines and organizational issues connected with these. 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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