Nodes Change Sign 2011
Astrology and Health
At 07:49 UT (Universal Time) Monday, March 12th, 2012, Mercury the wise communicator — and universal trickster — turns retrograde at 6°49' Aries in the sign of the Ram, 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 April 4, 2012, 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 April 23rd, 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 2012).
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 Aries while the Sun is in Pisces, then moves back to Pisces on March 23rd, but the solar orb moves into Aries on March 20th (with Mercury by then back in Pisces). Mercury turns direct in Pisces on April 4 with the Sun still in Aries, but Mercury remains in Pisces till April 16, when he enters Aries again. The Divine Messenger remains in Aries until May 9.
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.
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, and particularly when it makes a station: appearing motionless in the sky.
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.
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 February 27, 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.
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!
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 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. Some people even 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.
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 dynamic, risk-taking Aries, people with this sign prominent in their charts will be especially prone to such introspection. Aries is a Cardinal Sign, so the other Cardinals, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn are also likely to experience considerable conflict between heart and head, along with a good dose of typical disruption.
Mercury turns retro at 6°49' Aries on March 12, with the Sun in Pisces and the Moon in Scorpio (a Mars-ruled sign), not long after the Full Moon in Virgo (a Mercury-ruled sign) on the 8th. This is interesting because mighty Mars, the planetary ruler of Aries and Scorpio, is currently retrograde in Virgo, a relatively rare cosmic occurrence. So Mars rules Mercury in the figure, suggesting that Mercury will be more active than usual in this phase. This is emphasized by the fact that Mercury turns in conjunction with disruptive Uranus in Aries and square to obstructive Pluto in Capricorn (where Mars is exalted). Communications, ideas and methods have more to do with the outer environment than with personal problems or goals. Though they can of course filter down to a more personal application later, the primary issues do involve larger societal issues and activities. Our personal communications, information and travel at this time may be considered unique, nontraditional, or out of sync with everything or everyone else. Mercury retrograde always sees disruptions and breakdowns in transportation, usually through completely unexpected events and situation. If you must travel at this time, be sure to keep your tickets and schedules secure and safe.
Great potential benefits can arise through relationships and social interactions with others. Do not give in to physical laziness or take too much for granted, thus failing to take advantage of the contacts that are made. Enhanced enjoyment of female friendships is likely. If this period finds you lacking in the things you most desire, you may be too willing to sacrifice long-term relationships or other values for what may be a short-term gain. Do not overestimate the true nature of relationships that come along, believing they are more promising than they actually are. Wisdom, maturity, and prudence are needed to extract the pleasures and good fortune that come your way without being trapped by them.
The valuable potential benefits of Venus applying to the conjunction with Jupiter in the figure are emphasized by the fortunate trine aspect between the Sun and Moon on the day. Precious metals have been falling in value as we write, but my contacts in the industry advise that this is no more than a temporary correction and that the fundamentals of silver, gold, platinum and the rest are highly favoured, with the lower price presenting an excellent opportunity to purchase in view of the impending surge in precious metal prices. Silver and gold are significantly undervalued.
However, let us not fall into a false sense of security. Mercury in warlike Aries has no other significant aspects, although the wily Messenger does turn conjunct the Fixed Star, Algenib, in the wingtip of swift Pegasus, which endows ambition and vanity, combined with enthusiasm, intuition and bad judgment. Algenib (according to Ptolemy) is a star of Mercury and Mars, which is quite apposite. The Sun in the figure is also in the wing of Pegasus, conjunct Markab (alpha pegasi), but in the sign Pisces. Interestingly, Mercury stations on this very star on Wednesday April 4, as he turns direct at the end of the retro period, so Markab seems to overshadow the whole proceedings in a way. Markab has been deemed the Star of Sorrow by the ancients and is known for violence, disgrace and ruin; literary, legal problems, accidents; cuts, stabs and surgery, as befitting a star of Mercury and Mars. It can when well-aspected bring honours and riches (as it also has been deemed a star of Venus as well as Mars and Mercury), but more than likely gained through warlike tactics, or occult knowledge. Will we all get rich? Some of us, perhaps: those who follow my advice to buy silver or gold and hang on to it for a while!
Pegasus the winged Horse will appear and gallop aloft in the heavens. It will bring forth people endowed with swiftness of movement and limbs alert to perform every task. One man will cause his horse to wheel round in caracoles, and proudly mounted on its back he will wage war from on high; horseman and soldier in one... Who more swiftly could fly back from the ends of the earth as messenger or with light foot to the earth's ends make his way? He will also heal a horse's wounds with the sap of common plants, and will know the herbs which bring aid to an animal's limbs and those which grow for the use of man.previous Mercury Retrograde article about the weaknesses and need for restructuring of the Eurozone and the US economy and political structure. Many of the important cosmic factors outlined in that article are still at work, shaking the foundations of the political and financial world as we have known it. It's well worth looking back over this material to see where we are heading. It's also revealing to view the effects of the concurrent Mars retrograde phase, which we are enduring at the same time.
The phase of transformation that is now underway is by no means complete.
The Mercury retro phase will see major reorientations in the European Community, for Mercury turns conjunct the EU's natal Saturn in Sagittarius. For the EU and its peoples, information and methods will purport to be pragmatic and practical, but appearances may be deceiving. The Sun and subsequent eclipse will be conjunct Mars, so reckless steps that breach tradition are likely to be regretted.
Information and communications will be restricted or limited by circumstances. The ability to understand the ideas in play may also be lacking during this phase, especially as technical failures in communications and travel fall typically into disarray, thanks to the retro confusion. Contacts and travel during this period tend to be more related to business or for serious pursuits—and organization and preparation, or the lack of it, can become big issues. We should prepare ourselves for travel breakdowns, or unavoidable delays (strikes, natural disasters etc) as the Christmas rush approaches. Be sure to have a Plan B...
The US is still experiencing its Saturn Return, as I explained in the March 2011 article. Fortunately, the worst of this is over, though it still remains a debilitating problem for Americans until late 2012, when Saturn leaves Libra to enter Scorpio. During this phase, transiting Saturn in the figure is square the nation's Part of Fortune (material wellbeing; wealth) and is applying to the stressful square aspect with America's natal Pluto (in the Silby chart), which becomes partile (exact) just as Mercury turns direct. Saturn's debilitating and restrictive effects tend to become more noticeable just after the aspects culminate—rather than in the lead up as is the case with the inner planets. The US seems very concerned now with its leadership issues, but it has plenty of other problems, especially in the areas of finances, debt and self-worth. Too much intensity during this phase—or contrivance to manipulate—can hamper progress in these areas. Psychological factors may block attempts to clearly analyze matters at hand. Americans must learn that getting around the frustrations is possible by slowing down and allowing themselves valuable time to gain what cannot be accomplished by immediate open confrontation (especially in Iran!).
I mention Iran because there is a problem there with "weapons of mass destruction" (sound familiar?) and it's a long way away from the US. The stroppy and aggressive attitude of the Iranian leadership makes them an ideal scapegoat for US leaders trying to deflect attention away from more pressing domestic issues. Israel's attitude does not help, either. This is significant because Warrior Mars is in picky Virgo as Mercury turns (upsetting communications and frying thinking) in warlike and thoughtless Sagittarius. Virgo governs the 9th house of foreign affairs in the US chart and Mars will stirring trouble there until mid-2012 thanks to a retrograde phase of his own, starting in January. This suggests mistaken foreign adventurism, based on faulty intelligence (sound familiar?).
Mars in the figure is rising conjunct the Virgo ascendant on the Wall Street chart of May 17, 1792 as Mercury turns retrograde. This inclines traders to be fierce and take risks. This could prove to be a big problem for them (and for the financial world) as Mars turns retrograde in Virgo conjunct Wall Street's natal Mars in January. Moreover, transiting Uranus (disruption) is exactly conjunct the Street's natal Dragon's Tail (the Moon's south node — harbinger of loss and karma) in its house of other people's money, death, taxes and psychological manipulation—not to mention occult power! Phew.
Mercury remains retrograde in Sagittarius until December 14, 2011, and the shadow phase lasts until January 1, 2012. Mercury finds his direct station in the 4th degree of the sign, conjunct the eclipse point and the fixed star Yed Posterior, also on the hand of the Serpent Bearer. This star is a bit nastier than its brother (Yed Prior), being known as an evil influence, "the Man of Death", being wasteful and subject to unseen dangers, leading up as it does to the cosmic peculiarities that we will be experiencing in months to come.
This is the end of the article. Click here to read Mercury Retrograde: Above the Hype and Beyond the Spin.