05:01 UT (Universal Time), on Thursday, May 7th, 2009, Mercury the cosmic trickster turns retrograde at 1°44′ Gemini, in the sign of the Twins, 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 31, 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 June 14, as he passes the point where he first turned retrograde, just before Jupiter turns retrograde in Aquarius. 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 2009).
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. Planets are never actually retrograde or stationary, they just seem that way due to this cosmic shadow-play.
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, he is not always in the same sign as the Sun. This time, Mercury turns retrograde in Gemini (variety; sociability), while the Sun is in Taurus (security; material pleasures), but retrogrades into Taurus while the Sun is in Taurus. The Sun moves into Gemini while Merc is still in Taurus, but Mercury soon thereafter heads back to join the Sun in Gemini!
Go to Top 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 Gemini (variety; sociability) awakens quite different sets of circumstances from those generated when he retrogrades into Taurus (security; material pleasures).
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.
Many astrologers consider that the “Mercury Shadow” begins between two and three weeks before the actual retro station (on April 23, when Mercury passes the point of direct station for the first time in this cycle). This 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.
And it’s in my sodding sign
Mercury Retrograde in Gemini
Gemini, the Twins
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 his own sign Gemini, people with this sign prominent in their charts will be especially prone to such introspection. Gemini is a Mutable Sign, so the other Mutable Signs, Pisces, Virgo and Sagittarius will also receive a touch of the lash!
In fact, Mercury turns retrograde in conjunction with President Barack Obama’s natal Moon in Gemini, but in an excellent aspect with his natal Jupiter, Lord of Fortune. This aspect is a good thing, even if his mind is a little confused by all the pressure! His dealings with foreign powers and should prove beneficial, though he will need to watch what he says, as his concealed foes will be waiting with knives drawn. In my article on Jupiter’s 2009 transit of Aquarius we saw that that he has a six month period of grace after his inauguration. Well that period is more than half over and, despite the rhetoric, the main thing he seems to have done is to throw money at the problem. This will no doubt be a testing phase for his government.
Mercury turns retro at 1°44′ Gemini, conjunct the Fixed Star Mirfak in the constellation Perseus, which stimulates events affecting large numbers of people, especially events caused by major meteorological phenomena. Perseus is associated with showers of gold (known to science as The Perseids, a meteor shower in mid-August) so perhaps this opens the coffers of world financial hoards, probably to their sorrow. Alcyone, the central star of The Pleiades, is also activated, showing that ambition, power and glory get a trot, too. Let’s hope it’s not hubris, with all those billions of government subsidies sloshing around the palaces of the financial lords and wizards who have brought the world to its current parlous state. Perseus is given the Tarot trump of The Hanged Man, who can see what’s going on but can’t do much about it! It’s a time of sacrifice and restructuring into a completely new paradigm.
The Hanged Man
The Hanged Man
We need too to watch out for trouble through the opposite sex, for the energy of this constellation is one of feminine power – and male homosexuality! Love and money is the flavour of the month. In fact the whole sense of this period is swathed in the feminine, as Mercury moves over the Gorgon’s Head, the baleful Caput Algol, the most feared of the Fixed Stars, and turns direct in conjunction with her. Perseus, you may remember, slew Medusa (the Gorgon), then turned the sea monster, Cetus, to stone using the sight of her hideous head to do the dastardly deed. Mind you, he saved the beautiful Andromeda and so gained the kingdom and lived happily ever after, so all’s well that ends well. They say the means justifies the end, but in this phase, the means is a rough and rocky one…
Mercury retro in Gemini tempts us to leap into something new and untried, or to escape to some other place. Although Gemini is the sign of the mind and of communication, the retro period can see us swamped in a mass of detail, especially if matters that should have been completed in the past return to haunt us. An unduly fluid state of mind can lead to indecision and confusion, mainly through a breakdown in communication, or related equipment such as phones, computers, fax machines
and the like. Judgements are unclear and fickle, and it’s hard to know good value when you see it. Frustration arises in connection with information and ideas that come your way. Resist the temptation to take offence at criticism, especially if it wasn’t meant to be taken personally.
Preconceived opinions can damage business transactions and consultations of all kinds, especially with salespeople, lawyers and advisors. Be very sure to check the fine print and do not sign important contracts unless you are absolutely clear on what they entail. Any negotiations should be scrutinised, as the potential for deception is high. In particular, matters connected with literature, media, sales, draftsmanship, linguistics and music are inclined to be blocked in some way. Writers and salespeople can experience significant blocks to their energies. It’s a good time to chill out. This position can indicate proneness to repetitive stress injury to the hands and arms, carpal tunnel syndrome, etc. and we would all would benefit from regular massage.
Mercury remains in Gemini until May 13th, when he rolls back to Taurus, reawakening the Pleiades and creating blocks due to obstinacy and stubbornness, as people cling to old ideas, though musical and artistic projects can be stymied, along with the desire for a secure, sensual life of undiluted pleasure! He returns to Gemini on June 14th, but read on for more on Mercury’s stay in Taurus.