Tonight/tomorrow at 12:24 EDT Mercury stations direct at 11°31’ Leo, the second of three Mercury retrogrades this year. I was searching for an image of Mercury, and Freddie Mercury kept turning up. For vocal, playful Mercury in regal, dramatic Leo I thought, Why not?
Donna Cunningham writes about Mercury, “Mercury stands between Venus and the Sun in our solar system, and Mercury (communication) is the bridge between our inner selves (Sun) and other people we want to share with (Venus). Mercury always stays close to the Sun in the zodiac—it is rarely more than 27° from the Sun in our charts and is most often in the same sign and house as the Sun. However, if our thoughts are too wrapped up in ourselves, we create a barrier instead of a bridge.”
Mercury the metal is fluid: It’s the only metal to remain liquid at room temperature. Mercury the Roman god is the god of merchants, travelers and transporters of goods, and thieves and tricksters. He’s considered a boundary-keeper and bridge between upper and lower worlds, guiding souls between the two. Mercury is also associated with learning, information, siblings, and youth.
The periods during the year when Mercury goes retrograde, seeming to slow down and go backwards from our point of view, are times to be more fluid ourselves but also more deep. What do we need to retrieve that’s been lost in the day-to-day busy-ness? How have we been tricked or tricked ourselves and others? What is it we’re really meant to carry and communicate and to whom?
From March 22nd through April 15th Mercury traveled retrograde from 16°54’ to 4°46’ Aries, the first sign of the zodiac and the sign of cardinal fire. From July 26th until August 19th it traveled between 23°27’ and 11°31’ Leo, the fifth sign of the zodiac and the sign of fixed fire. From November 16th to December 6th it will travel between 13°29’ Sagittarius and 27°16’ Scorpio, moving between the 9th sign of mutable fire to the eighth of fixed water. (Dates are for EDT.)
It’s tempting to dread retrograde periods. They’re correlated with things just going wrong. We have to be more flexible than we want to while feeling more stuck than we’re used to. My birthday is happening during the last retrograde of the year, and my first reaction was, “Oh crap.” A year of Mercury retrograde in my solar return or birthday chart. Wonderful.
But what if we look at retrogrades unfolding over time? In this year alone the retrograde periods all start in fire, the element of action and creative inspiration. Of course the last thing fire signs want is to be slowed down, so retrograde periods feel frustrating. But the benefit of slowing down fire is to aim it more intentionally, to go forward more truthfully.
This retrograde period we’ve seen in the news cycle the symbolism of Leo and Mercury in the Pennsylvania Grand Jury findings about the Catholic Church. For over 70 years leaders of the Church covered up the sexual abuse of children, shifting powerful abusers to different locations and perpetuating crime and suffering. In the U.S. the special counsel probe is trying to uncover the extent of Russian influence on the 2016 election, following methods of communication and exchanges of money for clues. In both cases a slow-down and reset button is better than moving forward without reflection and bringing the truth to light. Both of these cases have gotten people enraged, fired up, but also incredibly sad, especially if the Catholic Church or the U.S. reflects a part of our identity. Where do we go from here?
For many of us, these stories are personal, and they may be propelling us to an action or change. But after we look at the world we’re a part of, what if we look even deeper into our own lives?
Where do the three retrograde periods fall in your chart? What creative spark has been born, strengthened, and now needs to expand before it can find more of a fixed course? How have redirections in your life this year moved you closer to really connecting with your true self and with others? Were there avenues you explored that turned out to be the wrong ones? Can you let them go as mirages or mistakes?
We’ve all been victims of Leo ego and power dynamics at the hands of others and this Mercury in Leo time can help us see and heal that. But if we’re human and honest we’ve probably been on both sides. It would be a missed opportunity if we just noticed the news or other people’s missteps during retrograde periods. Mercury in Leo can also reveal the times when we’ve been blowhards, abused our power, been attached to our own hurt feelings and pride. This retrograde period has made me really appreciate the people who’ve forgiven me, who saw I could do better, who didn’t let my worst behavior define me. And it helped me see who guided me through dark, dark places, keeping the shining the light for me until I could finally hold it myself.
Wishing you revelations of creativity, power, protection, play, performance, worth, truth, and love on this final day of retrograde.
Cunningham, Donna. An Astrological Guide to Self-Awareness. Moon Maven Publications, 2005.