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Mercury, the messenger of the gods Mercury Retrograde

Go Forward  Mercury retro in Aries & Pisces  [Mar. 12, 2012 – Apr. 4, 2012]

Mercury Retrograde 2012
Shadow Retro Station Direct Station Release
23 Pisces 51
Mon, Feb 27
6 Aries 49
Mon, Mar 12
23 Pisces 51
Wed, Apr 4
6 Aries 49
Mon, Apr 23
1 Leo 25
Tue, Jun 26
12 Leo 32
Sun, Jul 15
1 Leo 25
Sat, Aug 8
12 Leo 32
Wed, Aug 22
18 Scorpio 15
Thu, Oct 18
4 Sagittarius 14
Tue, Nov 6
18 Scorpio 15
Mon, Nov 26
4 Sagittarius 14
Fri, Dec 14

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

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.

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 Aries (leadership; risk-taking) awakens quite different sets of circumstances from those generated when he retrogrades into Pisces (intuitive; self-sacrificing; melancholy).

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.

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 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.

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. 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.

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 Aries

Aries the Ram

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.

Technical information, computers, software, international finances and the newsletters or business affairs of organizations to which you belong are likely to suffer disruption. There's little point in trying to read between the lines, for there is really nothing to find. Don't waste time looking for hidden motives in what others are doing when their actions may be perfectly innocent. People are likely to become too intense or place too much importance on a relatively innocuous idea or piece of information. Others will take your ideas or actions far more seriously than you may have intended. Valuable time can be lost, or you can jeopardize a position of personal power if you manipulate the situation (or the information and ideas you get from others) to your unfair advantage. Despite frustrating obstacles, much progress can be gained if you maintain a patient, reasonable attitude. Leave important decisions until after this phase is over.

The worst of these disruptive aspects are likely to be substantially reduced (at least in the short term), because the two benefics, Venus and Jupiter, are closely conjunct and, in the UT chart, rising conjunct the ascendant in a semi-sextile to Mercury. This is a very fortunate combination, and with Jupiter in exact trine aspect to Pluto, suggests many among us will gain a much better understanding of the value of power and control -- including how they can be attained and how they can be used. The subtleties of human interactions can be used to the advantage of the careful observer. Others will be attracted, should you exhibit an attitude of self-containment -- not aloofness nor snobbishness mind you, but an aura of self-possession and control. You can turn the tables on the past. Although there is no guarantee you will regain control of something that was lost, or change a past failure into success, you may now gain something equally valuable to make up for it.

It's an excellent period to expand an appreciation and knowledge of art, music, religion, diplomacy, and law. The beauty and knowledge gained at this time can be used to inspire others as well as yourself. The good life is apt to be extremely appealing, but we must beware of overindulgence and exaggeration, lest beauty and refinement become gaudiness and ostentation. Be willing to consider the judgment of those in a position to advise you, but be sure to get commitments in writing, for the retro phase often leads to reconsideration. This influence is a two-edged sword: encountering good fortune in one form or another, we have also to contend with the temptation to waste it.

$100,000 Gold Certificates
$100,000 Gold Certificates: Printing Money won't correct the Correction

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.

Go to Top Silver and Gold

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.

The central banks are printing money with a vengeance and seem to be determined to destroy the value of the US dollar (and the Euro) as they react to the economic situation without really thinking through the fundamentals. This inevitably creates long-term demand for silver and gold, so if you have any spare cash, buy now or suffer the consequences. The Sun rules gold and the Moon rules silver, and the trine between them is very encouraging. Note also that Venus (money; greed) and Jupiter (fortune; overconfidence) are trine Mars (action) and Pluto (transformation) in the figure, producing a powerful grand trine in Earth signs. This presents a rare opportunity, but can create overconfidence, even foolhardiness, so select your deals with discrimination -- and stick to your principles. Be sure to get the fine details right, think long-term, and get the paperwork in order.

Mercury in the 7th degree of Aries is acting in terms of Venus, so money wil be on everyone's mind. Money and fashion, that is... Mercury is actually applying to the semi-sextile aspect to Venus too, so also the semi-sextile to Jupiter, but turns retro before the aspect culminates, so the aspect is prevented. This does still reinforce the financial transactional meaning of the phase, but suggests that inevitable obstacles will arise despite the rosy appearances. I'll look at these in more detail when we examine the links to the US, EU and Wall Street charts.

The tightest major aspect in the figure is the trine from Jupiter to Pluto, supported by the close applying trine from retro Mars to Pluto and then to Jupiter forming an important pattern, as mentioned. This is strongest on the 15th, but flavours the whole phase. Financial markets will pick up and the dollar will strengthen, and matters (especially political issues) will seem to take a turn for the better, but in my view this is temporary, as news will soon come that turns out to be disappointing. The desk jockeys and other adventurers, whether in love or money (or politics) will bounce into action, for Mars creates the need to act above all. But, as I pointed out in the Mars Retrograde article, Mars is in a stressful T-square aspect with the Moon's nodes, the Dragon's Head and Tail, which are the axis of fate currently transiting Sagittarius (Dragon's Head, the north node governing life development) and Gemini (Dragon's Tail, the south node, marking karmic obligations and loss). The nodes travel retrograde and are always opposed to each other, being an axis. Mars reaches the exact T-square with the nodes in the 10th degree of Virgo on Thursday, March 15, staying in the aspect to one degree or another until the second week of May 2012. This is a seriously difficult aspect, which will see much violence and conflict in the world, and in the personal lives of those whose charts are directly affected. Some benefit can nevertheless emerge, because Mercury in Aries (ruled by Mars) and Mars in Virgo (ruled by Mercury) are in a strengthening relationship known as mutual reception. This is highly beneficial and tends to reduce the surrounding negativity.

Pegasus, the Winged Horse
Pegasus, the Winged Horse

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!

Manilius, an ancient Roman astrologer, says of Pegasus:

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.
Go to TopPolitical and Financial Turmoil
I wrote at length in the 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.
Go to Top The European Community

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 Sun and eclipse at the start of the retro phase will be square the EU's natal Pluto. This, combined with Pluto in the figure being conjunct EU natal Sun for a long time to come, demands a new beginning that completely transforms the old setup. Either that or it will become sclerotic or even disintegrate. Either way, it's a painful, demanding and drawn out process. Circumstances require willpower, stamina and a willingness to get to the bottom of things, especially as natal Pluto is in Virgo (where Mars turns retro) and in the 12th house of secrets that must come to light and be thoroughly explored. Direct confrontation, deliberate action and keen observation are the best strategies. People involved should not reveal their plans, or betray confidences. Areas most under control may be challenged, or invaded by others. Don't be your own worst enemy. A debt of honour is due.

Go to Top The U.S. and Wall Street

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!).

Iran's President Ahmadinejab
Iran's President Ahmadinejab

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?).

As Merc turns, transiting Neptune (deception; delusion) is conjunct the US natal Moon in Aquarius, fogging the communications and mental processes considerably. Transiting Uranus (disruption; catastrophe) is retrograde and conjunct the US IC, destabilising matters at home and asking for a complete, game-changing new beginning. This could be in a completely unexpected direction, as we have already discussed, and will be sooner rather than later, as Uranus stations to turn direct in this degree on Dec 10, only four days before Mercury turns direct again.

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.

Saturn (restriction) in the figure is conjunct the Street's natal Jupiter (fortune; expansion; overconfidence) and Neptune (delusion; deception; fantasy) and at the same time tightly opposed to its natal Saturn (and Moon!). When we add to this the Sun, Moon and solar eclipse taking place conjunct the Street's IC (house of beginnings and endings, domestic considerations and real property) and opposing its natal Sun/MC, there are serious grounds for concern. The Moon's nodes are moving inexorably towards this point and will reach it in September 2012, so massive changes and developments are in store for the Street, not just during this Mercury phase, either.

President Obama's chart curiously is afflicted by the Sun Moon conjunction (soon to be eclipse) in the exact opposite way to Wall Street's. The Street will have the eclipse on its IC, the house of beginnings and endings, domestic conditions and real property, while Obama will experience the eclipse on his natal MC, the midheaven, which symbolises public image, reputation and career opposing his natal Moon, suggesting domestic issues and problems with the public understanding him, especially since Uranus is right on his natal Juno (contract; covenant; woman as partner). Does not sound too good for him. A number of other factors are working against him, including Mercury retrograde in his midheaven, indicating breakdowns in communication in his career. He is also experiencing his Chiron return, so inner tensions will demand release, not that this will stop him. Of course everyone born between 1961 and 1970 with Chiron in Pisces will share his pain!

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.

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. It's a philosophical and religious phase during this period that is largely free from conventional ideas. Although Mercury is in its detriment in this sign, when favourably aspected it inclines us to be independent in our ideas and opinions, and enables us to learn best by travelling and circulating in groups and in different places. A tendency to dishonesty and lawlessness is there, thanks to corruption and twisted ambition. Nervousness and stress-related sciatica are potential afflictions, so if you are affected, you would benefit by chiropractic care and massage. 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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This page was last modified on Saturday, 12 December 2015