Mercury conjunct Mars and my fight at the gym

Mercury and Mars came together yesterday for the second time since June. I had a fight with a guy in the gym. 

I finally had reached my annoyance threshold with this guy making loud noises while he punches and runs on the treadmill. When I asked him to stop making loud noises, he jumped off his machine, ran at me, and screamed in my face, “This is not a mother__ church! This is a GYM!” We all have different expectations of gyms, perhaps. His might be one that lets him get out all of his aggression however he wants to. Mine is a safe space for me to get fit; I deliberately chose a gym with a tagline of “No lunkheads.” Our ideas were in conflict with each other and sparked a confrontation. The management decided that his behavior crossed the line and asked him to leave. Fellow gymgoers thanked me and co-signed the incident report. I was nervous and shaky all night. 

I imagine most of us don’t find confrontations fun. Confrontations basically suck. We avoid them, unless maybe we’re in our cars or online. But what happens to unexpressed anger? What happens to stifled passion? 

Mercury and Mars will meet again in the earth sign Virgo on September 3rd, on the same degree as the sun. One interpretation is the combining of our voice and action in practical, useful ways that express the essence of who we are. That’s some assignment. The closest we’ve come recently was July 2000, when the Mercury/Mars conjunction was just a degree away from the sun. In Cancer, that correlated with building a safe, healthy, and loving emotional core, home, and family. What have been the fruits of your learning and efforts in those areas for the past 19 years? How have you come to embody and express home, healing, kindness, and family? When have you had to protect or defend the vulnerable? 

Mercury in retrograde now returning to the sign of Cancer gives us a chance to reflect on those principles and readjust if we need to.  If we’re exhausted from some effort or fight, what nourishment can we reach toward? How can we mentally recuperate? This Mercury retrograde (July 7-July 31 EDT) can be challenging because we’re compelled to move ahead in sustained action while our processing and communication functions seem slower. But how could it help our actions to process information at a more deliberate pace and weigh our words more carefully? 

We can probably all benefit from reexamining our usual approach to confrontation. I might have been brave at the gym, but I also might have put myself in unnecessary danger -- a Mars pattern of mine that stresses the heck out of everyone around me. How can I have smarter confrontations? I was annoyed by that guy, but I was probably also triggered by years of unexpressed resentment over aggressive male behavior that built up over time: From manspreading to catcalling, I’d had enough.

If you’ve had a recent conflict -- inner or outer -- have you started to process the lesson?

This Mercury retrograde and the period leading up to September 3rd I’ll be mulling this over: In the joining of the sun, Mars, and Mercury, do all three planets usually have equal say or does one tend to dominate? How can they learn to cooperate? 

We’re never stuck in one expression. If you find yourself frustrated while Mercury is in retrograde, consider it a challenge you’re up for.

But maybe be a little more thoughtful and careful than I was at the gym. Come September, you’ve got an important job to do.


Thinking Big: Mercury in Sagittarius

Mercury is entering Sagittarius today for the second time this year. The first time Mercury was in Sagittarius, October 31 – December 1st, it got stopped in its tracks by a retrograde period. (See Mercury retrograde post.)

We’re still in the Mercury retrograde shadow period, which will end on December 24th. So until then, Sagittarian optimism and joy may be a little slow-going. We may have to process a bit to get there. It might not be automatic. Some ruminating energy still shadows our ability to wish big. That can be a good thing, slowing us down enough to wish for the right things – the things that will really serve our highest nature and not just be a quick distraction.

Take advantage of this post-shadow period to spend a few minutes each day tuning within -- or simply remembering the times in your life when you felt an excited connection to your purpose. Now is a good time for us to recognize where we are on our life paths and make some sense of it all. What fits? What doesn’t? After the deep, feeling phase of Scorpio, Sagittarius adds spark and fire to our mindset, and maybe some impatience. Sit with that, too. The divine unrest of Sagittarius can be a teacher. Examine it somehow – with a loved one, in a journal, or in some other way that allows you to be safely and brutally honest.

In some way we may have become stuck. Mercury is connected to flexibility – in thought, speech, and physical movement. And Sagittarius is related to exploration. This time can help us recognize the freedom and abundance of our current situation or point the way to something better. So even if the time is frustrating, try to stay interested in what’s unraveling. And if it helps, try to picture the sound of your own name with a Sagittarian twist: Loud and exaggerated, jovial and free, infused with possibility.

Mercury stations direct

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When Mercury goes retrograde, the information it imparts has to do with the sign it’s in and the aspects it makes to other planets during the retrograde cycle. It will have a specific message for our own individual natal charts, but it will have a collective message for all of us, too.

Mercury stationed retrograde November 16th at 13°29’ Sagittarius, squaring Neptune in Pisces. Mentally, we were all in a fog about something. It stations direct today at 4:22 p.m. EST at 27°16’ Scorpio. For many of us this has been a rough one, but hopefully it also has brought all of us a little more clarity.

What informs this clarity?

During any Mercury retrograde period, insights arrive both from within ourselves and from the past in some way. Yesterday Shutterfly helpfully sent me this reminder of how incredibly cute Lyndon was. Shutterfly regularly sends me photo memories, and most of them are sweet. But it rarely sends me pictures of Lyndon’s. First. Christmas. And that’s the feeling of the end of this retrograde cycle in Scorpio. What we’re seeing or taking in through any of our senses deeply pierces our hearts in some way. Maybe we missed the learning opportunity the first time around, or we forgot it in some way that was crucial. And if the lesson is deep and powerful enough, it can take our breath away. This was a retrograde of searing truths. So if you’re in that heavy space, honor the breadth and depth of what you’ve been processing.

Mercury retrograde famously is associated with mistakes, misunderstandings, and glitches. And they can be our teachers, too – slowing us down, helping us be more intentional. This Mercury retrograde cycle I tried to pay attention to the interactions I had because of the setbacks. Who or what showed up to help me? Who or what had I not noticed until a moment of frustration or vulnerability? Which creative options did I discover out of necessity that I may want to carry forward with me?

During this retrograde period I also heard my own words or vocal tone comes back to me – for good and for bad. I heard kindness and encouragement from coworkers, a cheery sing-song from my Mom. I heard an aggravated, impatient tone in Lyndon’s voice that never used to be there. They were different illustrations of my own voice, showing me what I like about my communication and what I can still do better.

At the beginning of this retrograde period, Mercury squared Mars. And so in some way, Mars has been our teacher. Conflict and courage were part of the message of the past three weeks. As we encountered anger, aggression, will, or fear, have we drawn a boundary or forged ahead in a new, uncharted way?

Later Mercury aligned with the sun and Jupiter in Sagittarius. Part of this inward or backward retreat has been to reclaim our own faith, hope, light, and immensity. What did we forget or never notice about our own possibility and essence? Because Mercury travels so closely to the sun and retrogrades three times a year, we get this chance symbolically to see and express ourselves anew several times a year. But this sun/Mercury conjunction in Sagittarius related to the self we want to be philosophically. Our beliefs have been in the spotlight. Exploration and wisdom have been in the spotlight. And hopefully this searching period has shown us some risks we needed to take to be more true and free.

As Mercury stations direct on this day when the Sagittarius moon joins the same degree as Jupiter, it could soothe us to absorb and connect meaning to some of the wisdom we’ve personally gained during the last three weeks. Importantly, tomorrow will be a new moon and Mars and Neptune will join at the same degree. Our strength is aligned with something bigger than we are, even if we still can’t yet see the way forward.

This Mercury retrograde has come during Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights commemorating the rededication of the Temple after its desecration, and Advent, the Christian season of waiting for the arrival of Christ. And in that duality we find ourselves: Even as there’s more to prepare for and anticipate, there are victories and signs of hope, big and small, worth seeing and celebrating.

 

 

 

Where has Mercury taken you?

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.

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Cunningham, Donna. An Astrological Guide to Self-Awareness. Moon Maven Publications, 2005.

https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/pollutants/mercury-environment/about/chemical-properties.html

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Mercury-Roman-god

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercury_(mythology)

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/14/us/catholic-priests-pennsylvania-church-jury.html

 

Mercury Retrograde and Speaking from a Broken Heart

Probably most of you know that Mercury is retrograde. Your cable may have gone out, your phone or computer may be on the fritz, one of your tires may have spontaneously gone its own way on the highway…. Many of us have the 19th at around midnight EDT etched on our calendars or in our brains as a finish line we’re hobbling toward, when Mercury will station direct and we can use our appliances smoothly again. If anything in life just flows, to some extent that’s Mercury: the fleet-footed Messenger of the gods, ruling the exchange of information and the versatility of our thoughts, words, and mindset. Retrograde periods will test our flexibility. Are we on auto-pilot? Is there something we’ve failed to see or say?

Mercury is in the sign of Leo now – the Child, the Lion, the King or Queen. Leo rules the sun and the heart, the symbols of our essence and life force. Leo reminds us of our dignity and our vulnerability too. The sign of fixed fire, when it is unhealthy or perverted from its positive expression, Leo overwhelms and annihilates.

Yesterday we learned that the Catholic Church covered up the abuse of over 1,000 children in Pennsylvania.

And I feel the need to say it, because I’m Catholic, and I work at a Catholic school, and my heart is broken. The Church that has been a source of joy and inspiration for me has also always tested my inner barometer of fairness: Why were only boys allowed to be altar servers? Why were only men allowed to be priests? Why were divorced or Gay Catholics made to feel less-than? These questions kept Lang and me from baptizing our own son into the Church, even as the Church made some forward progress. There were female altar servers at our wedding, wearing headbands and trendy shoes. And of course, now there’s Pope Francis, humble, joyful, wise, and prayerful, bringing so many of us hope.

I don’t know how to process the horror and scale of the abuse that these priests perpetrated and the hierarchy covered up. But I do feel the need to denounce it, on behalf of the truly good Catholics who have raised me and continue to inspire me every day at work, and on behalf of the victims and their families. You deserved to be safe. You were violated in unimaginable, unspeakable ways. I’m on your side, and I’m so, so sorry.

Six planets are retrograde now, reflecting our need to go back before we can go forward, to redo, retrieve or repair what is outmoded, broken, or in contrast to our highest expression and calling. With three of these planets now in Capricorn, some of that will be our own history and traditions. In the rituals of Mass I first learned how to reflect, speak to, and merge with a God who loves me. In the company of truly good and holy Catholics I first learned how to see and celebrate the divine in others. And still… I need to scream from the highest mountain that what happened to these children was not, was never, will never be OK.

Before the 19th, see if you can look at or say something hard too, because your dignity matters or because someone else’s does. Discover a different way you’re being called to lead or to love.

The shock of the Aquarius moon

Today the moon is in the sign of Aquarius: the rebel, the genius, the humanitarian, the friend, the sign of fixed air. How might our hearts be healed by Aquarius today?

Well, basically if we’re overcome by anger, fear, exhaustion or “shoulds.” With three planets in Aries and three in Capricorn right now, we might feel the impetus to go forward, to move on, to do something we can be proud of. But the symbolism of Mercury retrograde puts the brakes on. And so we might turn that assertive energy inwardly if things are not happening according to our plans, thinking there’s something wrong with us. It’s tempting to think that on some level we failed or we suck, or if we don’t, other people definitely do.

Enter Aquarius. What if you’re a refreshing original and everyone else is, too? What if we can see our starts and progress from a logical, open-minded point of view? What have you built over time that’s unique or groundbreaking? What have you started that helped the group or made a safe place for someone in distress or trauma?

Today visualize, name and cherish those victories. Center yourself with conscious breaths and honor your creative outlook and your staying power. Give yourself time and space and challenge any inner messages that have become steady but might not be loving or helpful. And if you can, break free a little from your routine to let in some interesting surprises. They might help you remember the ways that you’re an interesting, fascinating, endlessly-evolving surprise, too.  

It's not that I haven't thought about you....

... I'm just keeping a low profile while Mercury is retrograde in Sagittarius -- the sign of my Mercury. I've been thinking of the centaur quality of Sagittarius -- half human, half horse -- and the necessary integration of mind/body, logic/animal instinct. For the past several months I've been writing consistently but I've paid very little attention to my body. I have a sedentary desk job, and with the extra time I've spent sitting to write when I'm home, well, that's a lot of sitting. So for the past week I've been riding the bike in the early morning instead of writing.

When I have sat down the look at the day's aspects, it's been hard to make enough of a global connection to what's going on to want to actually share something. It's more of a personal experience lately, and so I've been telling my astrological thoughts to Lyndon when I drive him to school or to Langston after we both get home from work. But I feel more careful when it comes to sharing anything more widely right now. I'm weighing my words.

At the same time, I don't want to leave anyone in the lurch. I'm still practicing astrology, and if you need a reading, please do contact me. But if I post less frequently it's because I'm trying to find the right balance between words and movement, speaking and listening, writing and paying attention.