Nodes Change Sign 2011
Astrology and Health
At 10:30 UT (Universal Time) Monday, October 21st, 2013, Mercury the wise communicator — and universal trickster — turns retrograde at 18°23' 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 November 10th, 2013, 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 27th, 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 2013).
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, however, Merc turns in Scorpio while the Sun is in Libra, but the solar orb moves into Scorpio on November 23rd (with Mercury still in Scorpio). Mercury turns direct in Scorpio on Nov 10th with the Sun still in Scorpio, but Mercury remains in Scorpio till December 5th, with the Sun in Sagittarius.
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 October 1, 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. 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 the slinky 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, Aquarius, Taurus and Leo are also likely to experience considerable conflict between heart and head, along with a good dose of typical disruption.
Mercury turns retro at 18°23' Scorpio on October 21st, with the Sun still in Libra (a Venus-ruled sign) and the Moon in Taurus (the other Venus-ruled sign), not long after the Full Moon in Aries (an annular Lunar Eclipse) on the 18th. This sounds promising, but the influence of Venus (finances; relationships; sexuality) is weakened by the fact that she is in Sagittarius, the sign of Mercury's detriment, making no major aspect to any of the visible planets. Moreover, the Moon is diminished by the Lunar Eclipse and exactly opposes Mercury just before the turn. The Moon is exalted in Taurus in the figure, so is stronger than Mercury, indicating that fluctuating emotions will overrule the intellect. Moreover, the Moon in the figure is tightly conjunct Caput Algol, the Demon Star, so there are horrors lurching toward Bethlehem to be unleashed in the cosmos.
Mercury in Scorpio is normally shrewd and penetrating, combined with a quick wit and a sharp, sarcastic tongue. However, when Merc is retrograde, the cosmic disposition becomes bold and stubborn, inclining people to be headstrong and difficult to get along with. Knowledge and information are associated with power and secrecy. We stubbornly cling to our opinions, no matter what the evidence to the contrary — unless of course some secret society, or behind-the-scenes deals are in play. Mercury in Scorpio is skeptical, but attracted to mysticism and the occult. During this phase people tend to be more quarrelsome, skeptical and cynical, supporting opposing views and often sarcastic. Be careful, because the intrigue and fascination of the opposite sex may be completely misconstrued.
Mercury turns this time in conjunction with stern Saturn, not far from the Dragon's Head (karmic life path). While Mercury is retrograde, travel, education, communications, science, research and wise counselling are regularly thrown into disarray, but this time around, matters Mercurial will be even more restricted by the arthritic influence of Saturn.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
As Mercury turns, Uranus (Aries 09°50') 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."
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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is the end of the article. Click here to read Mercury Retrograde: Above the Hype and Beyond the Spin.