Mercury retrograde in Scorpio is here, and boy has it kicked off with a bang. Facebook suffered a bunch of glitches this morning, France demands an explanation after finding out the NSA has been spying on its citizens, President Obama speaks about the technical wreckage of HealthCare.gov, and most tragically, two students wounded and a staffer dead at a Nevada school shooting. Mercury is staring us down without blinking, holding the reins and saying "get with it people, this shit is serious."
Mercury turned retrograde at 5:27am central time on Monday October 21st. Its retrograde station point was 18º Scorpio. As always, there's a lot more to the picture than just Mercury turning backwards in the sky. There are lessons, opportunities and invitations to higher consciousness. Much of our world is entering the down phase of rebirth and Mercury is our messenger to and from the gods, getting us oriented to the deep shifts that are and will be upon us.
After full and new moons, Mercury retrograde is the most often asked about astrological phenomenon. Whenever I'm approached by someone wondering what's in store, they are typically full of apprehension, worried they're about to step into three weeks of painful missteps and failures. There's some merit to this concern, but it's good to keep an objective awareness of what Mercury retrograde is really about.
Like any transiting planet, Mercury serves a particular function in assisting the evolution of consciousness. It wants us to remember that there is always more than one side to any situation, asking us to have an open mind and be flexible in receiving other points of view. When retrograde, Mercury is testing us, giving us a period to review our choices and, if necessary, shoving circumstances in our faces that force us to change the way we think. When communication breakdowns or crashes happen during Mercury Rx, the message is always "now isn't the time to assert your point of view — take a new look and re-evaluate your perspective." When, for example, you end up in a fender bender and find out the person you ran into is of a religious zealotry that you find offensive, Mercury may be asking you to consider how you are rigid and dogmatic yourself, and question the harsh judgments you make of others.
Mercury rules Gemini, the sign of the twins, and when retrograde it wants us to experience and understand both polarities of the sign it's transiting through. In the case of Scorpio, the polarities couldn't be more stark — life and death. But Mercury, the planet of the Tao, is also helping us learn that polarities co-emerge together, arising from the same source, thus you cannot have one without the other. Life implies death, light implies dark, masculine implies feminine, and vice versa in all cases. Moreover, while no energy or experience is ever strictly good or bad, except insofar as our perspective makes it so, having the ability to integrate polarities helps us choose a more preferable outcome. Mercury's ultimate lesson, then, is the transcendence of duality itself, which can only occur when the darkness of the mind is met, experienced, and integrated into the light of consciousness.
Mercury Rx in Scorpio helps us see that in fearing death we only create more of it, but in accepting and even celebrating it as a natural part of life we can step out of the fear in awareness of death's natural function. Power, another Scorpio keyword, is also on the table for review. The US government is getting international pressure for its power abuses (expect more of this), and we may all have that experience at a personal level. There can also be a test of commitments, contracts, and how we utilize our sexual energies. We are being asked if we're sure about what we're choosing — do you really know what you're getting into? — and reminded that change, another Scorpio keyword, can be hard work, but is a much better option than clinging to old habits for security, which only invites disaster.
The ruler of this Mercury Rx is Pluto, lord of the underworld. This puts Mercury into the domain of the Pluto/Uranus square, which is slowly but surely (and sometimes suddenly) collapsing the old systems that are degraded and corrupted. This includes governments, economies, infrastructure and other systems that support corrupted power. But while some systems are failing, better systems are on the rise. This point is accentuated by Mercury's trine to Jupiter in Cancer, which opens portals to new ideas that can nurture (Cancer) society instead of dominate (Capricorn, Pluto's current sign). In fact, this symbolism is quite powerful in that Pluto, the ruler of this Mercury, is in the sign of the patriarchy, while Jupiter is in the opposite sign of matriarchy. Thus Jupiter is at the moment the holder of solutions that can bring feminine balance to the planet.
The Mercury/Jupiter trine gives us hope, assuring us there are always solutions. It is also linking the two forms of truth indicated by Scorpio and Sagittarius (the sign Jupiter rules) through the factual form indicated by Mercury. Scorpio truth is the kind that takes no prisoners, that looks at the ravaged, ruined heart of the matter and calls out whatever bullshit is maintaining the pain. Sagittarian (Jupiter) truth is the kind that philosophers seek, to understand the cosmic underpinnings that make life work, in order to effect a real faith that grasps the unequivocal truth that everything is, was and will be, okay. But before you can be held in the loving arms of unwavering faith, you must first have all your old thought forms (Mercury) destroyed, and this can be a difficult experience.
One of Jupiter's main functions is to create opportunity for growth. Therefore, it's quite possible that within the crises we can find golden opportunities we didn't realize were right in front of us. In order for an opportunity to be actualized, however, we must first let something else go. Thus Mercury Rx can serve to eliminate (Scorpio) something from our life in order to open the door for something new and better. For many reasons it's best to go with the process than to fight it. Jupiter does not like being turned away — the next opportunity may not be as good next time around.
What sorts of opportunities may come? Integrated with the Sabian symbol for 18º Scorpio, this retrograde carries a very interesting theme of receiving insight from Spirit, or collective consciousness. The experience is of having a sudden insight into some issue that helps free you from the bonds of it. This can be a very powerful time to listen to your higher guidance, taking time to put your analytical thinking aside for a moment and take in the intuitive messages seeking to be integrated into your consciousness. Deep transformation can occur as a result of listening. From the Sabian symbols for 18º Scorpio (19º Sabian):
PHASE 229 (Scorpio 19º): A PARROT REPEATS THE CONVERSATION HE HAS OVERHEARD.
Keynote: The capacity to transmit transcendental knowledge.
This strange and humorous symbol carries quite a profound message. The parrot is us, and the message, relative to the difference between human and parrot consciousness, comes from an incomprehensible source. Yet the message is true, and with the linkage to Jupiter, itself at its degree of retrograde station, this is a great time to take heed of your higher mind.
Mercury will go direct again on November 10th, and that's when we'll have the opportunity to put into practice whatever messages we receive between now and then. For now, just listen and feel, and find the faith that can sustain you through the tearing down of old ways of thinking.