Athena's Web Weekly Column

Week of Aug 13th - Aug 19th,  2004

Mercury Retrograde

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  Mercury has just begun the period of its retrograde motion. Beyond the Sun Sign, this is probably one of the most famous, or, according to some, the most infamous of the astrological periods. Many laypersons, with only a smattering of knowledge about astrology, will nod knowingly, raising their eyebrows with a combined look of alarm and concern and declare, "Mercury is retrograde."

Mercury and the Sun

Mercury and the Sun

  Mythologically, Mercury is the buddy of the Sun, and indeed, he never travels very far from his side. Homer declared that Mercury flew "as quick as thought", and while this is an accurate description (we can mentally travel to the most distant galaxies merely by thinking about them), the orbital period of Mercury is also quite quick, traversing through a sign of the zodiac in just three weeks. But then, lest Mercury leave his bronzed buddy behind, he seems to slow down, pivot, and reverse his motion as seen from the Earth, turning back toward the sun and 'diving' into his glare, only to emerge on the other side, in the early morning twilight, then reversing himself once again to race ahead of the Sun and start the process all over again.

  On the 9th of August, Mercury pivoted at 8 degrees and 46 minutes of the sign Virgo, and will seem to reverse its motion until September 2nd, when at 25 degrees and 44 minutes of Leo, it once again changes direction and begins its 'forward' motion.


The Winged Messenger

  Mercury first crossed the 25th degree of Leo on July 21st, and will come back to 8 degrees of Virgo on Sept. 16th, which means that for a little over seven weeks this changeable planet is rocking back and forth over these degrees, spending extra time here and reviewing with great scrutiny whatever planets of your chart happen to be within those positions. The planet that normally takes three weeks to whip through 30 degrees of the zodiac now takes seven weeks to focus on 13. On August 23rd, Mercury will conjunct the Sun as its retrograde motion brings it closest to his big brother as they pass each other moving in opposite directions.

  The astrological influence of Mercury retrograde often states that this is a time of review. Our winged footed messenger rules communications of all forms, whether verbal, electronic, written or even thought. While Mercury is direct (it's normal motion), our plans generally move forward and things move in a manner in which we 'think' they will, unless of course it makes a hard aspect to another planet and we must grapple with the situation. When Mercury goes retrograde, our forward progress is impeded. Plans, contracts, communications and the mails tend to reverse or derail. People change their minds, our nervous systems are abuzz (especially at the retrograde pivot), supplies are no longer available (or at least we don't seem to be able to get a hold of them), people are out of town or our equipment decides that you haven't been paying enough attention to it lately and translates this need through repairs or realignment.

  Mercury represents the logical mind; he is the Wayfinder. It is what we see, discern or rationalize. We form logical decisions based upon the outcome of this process. When Mercury is retrograde, circumstances outside of our awareness enter the picture and force us to rethink our plans or directions.