Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Mercury Retrograde,By Rov Tillet

Mercury Retrograde
Mercury retrograde in Taurus [Apr. 18, 2010 – May 11, 2010]At 04:06 UT (Universal Time) Sunday, April 18th, 2010, Mercury the wise communicator—and universal trickster—turns retrograde at 12°37' Taurus, in the sign of the Bull, 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 May 11, 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 May 28, 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 Taurus while the Sun is in Aries, but the Sun moves into Taurus on Apr. 20 (with Mercury still in Taurus); however, the Sun enters Gemini on May 21, whilst Mercury, having turned direct, is still gathering speed in Taurus and does not reach his home in Gemini until June 10.

Fated Events
As a rule, retrograde planets mark a period of seemingly inevitable or fated events that relate to their sphere of influence. Unresolved issues from the past tend to rear their heads. 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. For example, Mercury retrograde in Libra (relationships; tastes; harmony) awakened quite different sets of circumstances from those generated when he retrograded into Virgo (analysis; critical ability).

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 most powerful (and more likely to generate critical events of universal importance) when the planet 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.

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 on April 4, when Mercury passes the point of direct station for the first time in this cycle. This view has some justification, but I am more inclined to think that the really noticeable peculiarities begin when Mercury slows significantly, a few days before the retro station.

This 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.

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, commentators and critics, gossips and spin doctors, teachers, travellers, tricksters and thieves.

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
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.

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. For example, I have 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! Mercury Retrograde in Taurus

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 in Taurus, people with this sign prominent in their charts will be especially prone to such introspection. Taurus is a Fixed Sign, so the other Fixed Signs, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius will also receive a touch of the lash!

Mercury turns retro on April 18 at 12°37' Taurus, amidst a welter of planetary aspects, the most notable being the stressful square to Mars, which is certainly aggravating and has been since April 4. This aspect will be particularly strong on the 25th and 26th of April, when trying to get things done is frustrating. Incorrect information or directions may cause you to be too early, or too late. The wretched car may break down, or transportation delays trash your travel schedule. Buying a car or other equipment may be beset by snags. Others may say things, or use methods that provoke you. Avoid rash behaviour; make sure you understand any information you receive. No matter what the headaches, you still make measurable progress. You are likely to be more competitive or aggressive, which can help you accomplish more. Protect yourself against airborne colds and fever and take extra precautions when handling electrical equipment and volatile materials.

One aspect on this day tending to moderate the difficulties is a nice sextile between the two benefics, Venus and Jupiter. Venus is in her own sign, Taurus, which is generally favourable, especially as Mercury is there too, and Jupiter is in his own sign, Pisces, so the benefits of the aspect are strengthened. It brings social opportunities, especially in the arts, theatre and publishing. It might bring some good luck, but the impending square from the Moon to Jupiter later in the day suggests that the good fortune it brings may be rather overstated, seeming better than it really is. Still, if you are careful and act quickly, you might strike it lucky. I should point out that Venus rules Mercury during this phase, so matters connected with fashion, money, greed, feasting, love, sex and sensuality will be the flavour of the month. This said, and notwithstanding the nice aspect to Jupiter, Venus is conjunct the decidedly malefic fixed star, Caput Algol, the Gorgon's Head. The conjunction reaches full force on April 22, so expect a wild time. This unfortunate star is a pulsing binary, known for its passionate, intense and even hysterical tendencies. Always a signal that there's something deeper at work. Female sexuality runs rampant (not so bad, says JJ, my 14 year old son!) and it is also associated with extreme creativity, an expression of the Dark Side...

However, as Venus is applying to the auspicious trine aspect to Saturn (which has just retrograded back across the border into Virgo) it marks a good time to work towards long-term success, and to form substantial, long-lasting relationships based on mutual commitment and respect. The power of womankind, thanks to Algol, is magnified and yet stabilised (I hope). This aspect is at its peak on the 24th and 25th of April, so it is surrounded by quite a bit of noise and martial clamour, thanks to the Mercury/Mars square the same weekend. This reinforces the need to tread warily and be sure to pay attention to the details.

Since we are talking of Saturn, the Grim Reaper, we need to pay attention to the opposition between Saturn and Jupiter, which is stimulated during this phase and magnified by Saturn's unfortunate opposition to Uranus. Jupiter is applying to the conjunction with Uranus in Pisces, which is active during this phase, but actually hits harder during the latter half of the year (see my article on Jupiter's Transit through Pisces). Jupiter and Saturn are known to astrologers as the Great Chronocrators, or Time Lords, and their interaction marks big changes in society and in personal lives. The presence of Uranus suggests that even greater societal developments will be stimulated by this opposition, with unfortunate legislation and the collapse of structures, as indeed we have seen in recent times. These will come forward again with a vengeance as Saturn makes his final pass through Virgo over the coming months. Responsibilities, restrictions, rules and regulations wil be in direct conflict with freedom, and this situation is apt to be a key factor in blocking your progress, happiness, success, or whatever else you are after, especially if you were born in the years 1949, 1950 and 1951 or in 1978, 1979, or 1980. Resist the promise of something new and hang on to what you have, at least for the time being. It is important to realize that you will probably not be able to remove the forces that oppose you, which only leaves the option of finding a constructive way to work around them, or with them.

Mercury turns retrograde conjunct the Fixed Star Achird, a binary star, orange and violet, in the girdle of Cassiopeia, the Ethiopean Queen, the mother of Andromeda. She is said to have boasted that not only Andromeda but she herself was fairer than the Nereids, and for that reason she was bound to her chair and condemned to circle the pole head downwards as a lesson in humility. According to Ptolemy, this constellation is of the nature of Saturn and Venus. It is said to give haughtiness, boastfulness and exaggerated pride, but at the same time the power of commanding respect. It is associated by the Kabalists with the Hebrew letter Beth and the 2nd Tarot Trump, The High Priestess.

Mercury retro in Taurus, a Venus-ruled sign, is sometimes indicative of stuttering, hoarseness and other vocal disorders, as you would expect. However, symptoms of deafness; asthma and bronchitis; foot pains; arrhythmia; muscle tics and tremors can also arise. Taurus is practical and determined, pleasant, fond of the opposite sex, music, art and all intellectual and refined amusements, and Mercury here does not usually jump to conclusions or easily accept new ideas. The mind is slow to reason, but once a conclusion is reached, does not easily change; hence the retro phase can see stubborn errors with long-term consequences. Stick to practical applications, as flights of imagination are not well-favoured.

The obstinacy and stubbornness of the Bull are marked characteristics of this phase, and apply particularly to communication, travel, sales, academia and all mental pursuits. A strong desire for money, possessions and a fixed income may divert our attention from what is really happening. This position can indicate hoarseness and laryngitis from nervousness and talking for too long. Drink adequate amounts of water to offset hoarseness and proneness to asthma and bronchitis. Apple juice, buckwheat, oats and wheatgrass juice may offset the negatives somewhat (no, not necessarily all mixed together..!).

Mercury turns direct at 2° Taurus 41' on May 11th, conjunct the Fixed Star Sharatan, a violent star in the Ram's Horn. This star stimulates aggressive behaviour, yet was known by the ancient Persians as a protector—but probably the kind of protection we could do without (example: Blackwater, the massive private army still under other names providing "security" in Iraq).

Other fixed stars in Taurus are activated too, by the Mercury and Venus passage through Taurus and by the square from Mars. These are likely to see escalation in military conflict, especially by the West against Muslim forces—and probably not to the benefit of the Muslims. Let us hope that the fixed ideas threatened by Mercury retro in Taurus do not become so entrenched that they extend the conflicts and generate more useless loss of life.

All areas of communication are affected by this phase, especially in matters connected with security, structured thinking, the exposition of traditional ideas and conservative methods; women's rights and obligations and their role in society; sensual delights, displays of wealth, sexual pleasures and communications connected with such matters. 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.

Rob Tillett has been an astrologer for more than three decades.
In previous incarnations a poet, musician, magician, healer, dramatist & composer, he is the editor and publisher of Astrology on the Web and has written many articles on this website.
Rob lives in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, on the east coast of Australia.

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