Whilst the retrograde formally begins when Mercury starts to apparently move backwards (due to our different orbital speeds), as astrologers, we also take into account the shadow periods. The shadow period begins when Mercury by direct motion, passes over the final degree which it will later retrograde back to. The shadow period for this coming Mercury retrograde began on the 18th October when Mercury passed over 18SCO10.
The retrograde itself begins when Mercury hits 04SAG18. If you make a list of Mercury retrogrades over the years, you’ll see that it progressively moves through the signs highlighting a particular element. This year, in 2012, Mercury has been turning retrograde in the fire signs. In March it was in Aries (although Mercury moved back into Pisces for a short time). In July the retrograde took place in Leo, and now it meets the final sign of the cycle, Sagittarius. Next year, each of the Mercury retrogrades will take place entirely in water signs.
With this last fire cycle moving from Sagittarius back into Scorpio, it is as though we have to look at what we have come to believe and whether this is the truth. Sagittarius is a roaming, enthusiastic, open-armed kind of sign that wants to embrace a whole world of experience. Scorpio however is rather more closed, intimate and able to find the world in a single intense experience. Scorpio doesn’t run when the going gets tough and neither will he flinch from the brutal truth.
As Mercury moves back from Sagittarius to Scorpio – so we too take in our experience of the world to process it on a deep emotional level. Only by doing this can we truly understand what we have come to know. Mercury retrograde through fire signs asks us questions about our creativity and inspiration, our beliefs about the future. Mercury retrograde through water signs takes us deep diving into our emotions, exploring our psyche and uncovering psychological motivations born from our past experience. Sometimes what we believe to be true is actually a way of not confronting our shadows. The truth can be twisted to suit our ends.
Mercury turns retrograde in Sagittarius on the Sabian Symbol :-
An Old Owl Sits Alone On The Branch Of A Large Tree
“A wise old owl lived in an oak
The more he heard the less he spoke
The less he spoke, the more he heard
Why can’t we be like that wise old bird”
My Grandmother wrote these words in an autograph book she bought me when I was very young.
I have a peculiar affinity to owls and a great love of them. They have often appeared at important times in my life. Owls as power animal are associated with wisdom and are faithful to the Goddess Athena. Their haunting call and silent wings imbue them with magic and mystery and link them to the unconscious mind. Their wisdom is born from darkness, much like we can learn a great deal about ourselves after difficult experiences. As a sign, Sagittarius is typically connected to universities and the concept of higher learning. To learn, we must listen. This sabian suggests that something in this retrograde period may seem like a mystery to be unravelled.
On the 14th November, Mercury reaches 0 degrees Sagittarius, forming a square to Neptune in Pisces before stepping back into Scorpio on the same day. There may be a feeling that you don’t know what is truth and what are lies. You may feel a pressure to take action yet worry you don’t have all the facts. There could be intense confusion during this period where you will need to watch carefully what you say. The owl turns to regard me as I write and reminds me that sometimes all you can do is to keep listening and stay silent. Swivelling her head 180 degrees, she indicates that sometimes we have to peer into the darkness of our past for answers, even when that path is a little spooky.
On the 17th November, Mercury makes a magical connection to the North Node followed by a conjunction to the Sun. It’s time to watch for those strange synchronicities that help you along the way. This combination is rather like the owl hooting in your ear…
“This way” she says.
When Mercury makes a conjunction to the Sun during the retrograde period, he is at his closest point to earth, feeding back the mission given from the Sun. Deep in Scorpio on the wings of the owl, he brings dreams of a profound nature. Look closely at which house this conjunction occurs in and any close major aspects it makes to planets or angles. These will give you a clue as to the purpose this Mercury retrograde has for you. You can also check my post on Mercury Retrograde Through the Houses.
Be patient during this time. With Mercury itching to get back on the road, it’s easy to make mistakes between the Mercury-Sun conjunction and the station retrograde. Bide your time. Get a the full picture of your landscape first before you swoop in for the kill!
On the 26th November, Mercury stations direct on the Sabian Symbol :-
A Parrot Repeats The Conversation He Has Overheard
Negatively, ‘parroting’ is about repeating what others have said without giving thought to the opinion or argument. However parrots, as power animal are associated with language skills, intelligence and (due to their colourful plumage) healing ability. As with all birds, parrots are spirit messengers.
Dane Rhudyar says “The mind that has learned to be silent and attentive can become attuned to the rhythm of utterances which he may not comprehend intellectually, yet which may truly manifest superhuman realizations.”
To Rhudyar, this symbol carried with it the possibility of channelling the voice of higher entities who carry higher knowledge.
It seems there is a journey within this retrograde period – from knowledge to understanding, from silence to speech. Let yourself be carried on soft wings. Trust that in the darkness they will carry you to where you need to go.. Maintain your sense of wonder and mystery and keep your thoughts to yourself during the first half of the retrograde period up until the Mercury conjunction to the Sun. Remember that words have power. To name something, to speak of it, is to bring it into being.
Mercury Retrograde Dates to Remember
18th October 2012 Mercury enters shadow zone
6th November 2012 Mercury stations retrograde at 23:03 (UT) at 04SAG18.
14th November 2012 Mercury re-enters Scorpio
14th November 2012 Mercury square Neptune
17th November 2012 Mercury conjunct North Node
17th November 2012 Sun conjunct Mercury
26th November 2012 Mercury turns direct at 22:47 (UT) at 18SCO10
14th December 2012 Mercury exits shadow zone.