A Tale of Two Mercuries by Marcia Buchart

On August 2 Mercury, which had been at a virtual standstill for nearly a week, turned retrograde—just as the U.S. legislative arm finally agreed on a deal about raising the debt ceiling.  If you remember the Apollo’s Cattle post of May 1 2011, I dubbed a Mercury which is direct and has hurried ahead of the Sun in celestial longitude Governmental Mercury.  And what a time we’ve had in the U.S. with that Mercury!

On June 25 Mercury emerged from “under the beams” of the Sun (the King) and everyone has watched, somewhat slack-jawed, the knock-down, drag-out fight in the Congress over the debt-ceiling-budget brouhaha.  Even though an agreement of sorts seems to have been hammered out, commentators are unsure how, exactly, to evaluate it: is it a real agreement?  What really happened here?  Does it mean anything?  Who was betrayed?  Who won? Etc., etc., etc.  Not surprising, according to Rick Levine and Jeff Jawer, since as He stations, Mercury is opposing Neptune, which some astrologers feel will make the issues much harder to reach clarity on (see www.stariq.com for Jeff & Rick’s lecture held in Redmond WA).

This would seem to be Governmental Mercury Behaving Badly with a vengeance.  But if, as I argued in the earlier post, such a Mercury is essentially carrying out the King’s policy, what the heck was going on?

Let’s see if we can unpack this.

Although Mercury is only one planet, He behaves almost like two, depending on whether He’s a morning star (explorer) or evening star (governmental).  So does Venus, in astrological legend (particularly Meso-American); She shares, with Mercury, a common pattern of visibility, one very different from the Moon and the planets from Mars on out.  All the planets from Mars on out always make their first appearance after a conjunction with the Sun in the morning, visible before the dawn; the Moon, after Her conjunction always makes her first appearance in the evening, just after sunset.  What does Mercury do?  After a conjunction with the Sun, Mercury appears (when retrograde) in the morning—before dawn; then He stops, turns direct, re-conjoins the Sun and appears in the evening—after sunset; then he speeds ahead of the Sun, then stops, turns retrograde, and heads back for the next conjunction with the Sun.  He and Venus seesaw back and forth in this pattern from a visual perspective.

Well, that’s cool, you say, but what does it have to do with anything?

Simply this: the way Mercury—or any planet—behaves in the different phases of any given cycle is possibly formed by the energies in play when it last conjoined the Sun.  You can pick up hints of this philosophy when reading interpretive ideas about the Moon’s phases; the Zodiac sign in which they conjoined (the New Moon) is felt to color the whole monthly cycle.  Current astrological literature extrapolates this idea to all planetary cycles vis-à-vis each other.  For instance, the transiting Uranus-Pluto square is sometimes interpreted with reference back to the sign in which they last conjoined—Virgo—to begin their current cycle.

So: following this line of reasoning, the Mercurial hornet’s nest we’ve been dumbfounded to witness has not all that much to do with Mercury turning retrograde on August 2.  It has its roots in the energies in play during Mercury’s most recent conjunction with the Sun, which took place on June 12 at 21° Gemini 39′.

Look at the horoscope for that conjunction, set for Washington D.C: 

  • The first startling thing about this conjunction is that it doesn’t make any aspects to any other planets!  It’s operating all by itself.  Whatever transpires between the Executive and Legislative/Judicial branches feels unconnected to anything else going on and no one else can really get in effective input.  Most importantly, it isn’t connected to the Moon, the heavenly body who symbolizes the common populace in a “mundane” chart.
  • The next thing to notice is that Mercury is in Gemini, a sign He rules.  This makes Mercury powerful.  Since Mercury has more power than the Sun in Gemini, this perhaps says that the arms of the government other than executive are going to be the ones forcing policy, not the other way around.
  • The next rather delightful tidbit gave me my “Aha!” moment about the conjunction: if you could have seen it in the sky, the Sun and Mercury lay smack in between the Horns in the constellation of the Great Bull of Heaven.
Sun and Mercury in the horns of the bull (using Starlight Software-www.zyntara.com)
  •   A charging bull, at that!

 

  • All kinds of images spring to mind, don’t they?  “On the horns of a dilemma”…”taking the bull by the horns”…”between a rock and a hard place”…”when the rock falls on the egg, alas for the egg, but! if the egg falls on the rock, alas for the egg”…okay, I’ll stop.No wonder there was such a fight, especially since by July 21 Mars —always spoiling for a fight—had moved forward to the degree of the Sun-Mercury conjunction.  And Mars’ scrappy presence (“Words are weapons / Sharper than knives / Makes you wonder how the other half died”) was only intensifying…
  • …the final thing, which is exceedingly subtle (and probably only “visible” to an astrology wonk (a technical term)—guilty as charged).  The degree of this conjunction has a special relationship with the degree of the July 1 “mass molt” solar eclipse, called an antiscial relationship.  Antiscia, also known as solstice points, are like ‘mirror degrees’ arranged around the 0 Cancer-0 Capricorn solstice axis of the zodiac.  Planets in antiscial degrees don’t function as direct aspects tend to; they are not “interacting” with each other.  They more often resonate to each other, as a crystal goblet will “sing” when a note is played that matches the harmonic frequency in the glass.

 So when the eclipse occurred on the solstice point of the Sun-Mercury conjunction, and Mars joined the party three weeks later, the heat was on: molt (raise the debt ceiling) or die.

Now, Governmental Mercury is heading (staggering?) back to the King.  It will be really interesting to see what happens on August 16, 2011, when the Sun and Mercury conjoin again at 23° Leo 49′.  Because now, the Sun—who rules Leo—will have the upper hand.

Stay tuned…and be in touch  

Stealing Apollo’s Cattle & Other Fun Games to Play With Mercury

by Marcia Buchart

Ahh, Mercury:  too often the forgotten planet, except for the three times a year when he goes retrograde.  And at those times you hear the familiar buzz that reveals, not what a problem this phenomenon is, but what a problem we think it is: “…you are well-advised to delay signing a contract or launching a joint venture…Any word beginning with the word “re” applies:…revise, reconsider, recondition, review, repair, repossess.  Mechanical items break down…Carry spare parts on a road trip…Allow extra time at airports.  When shopping, keep receipts and be prepared to return your purchases.”  This kind of counsel appears to make perfect sense when we look at how the retrograde phase pattern appears in a horoscope.  You can, from this perspective, see Mercury do his back-and-forth dance vis-à-vis the Sun

Zone of Retrogradation Mercury Mountain Astrologer AprMay2011

But is this double-checking protocol the only way live out Mercury’s dance?

Another viewpoint is suggested in Howard Sasportas’s retelling of the story of how the infant Hermes (the Greek name for Mercury) stole his brother Apollo’s cattle by getting them to walk backwards in their own hoofprints, thus masking where they’d gone. 

When young Mercury revealed the trick, Zeus, his Dad was so delighted with His yet-unacknowledged son’s cleverness that he ordered Apollo to forgive his half-brother (Mercury made it easier by giving Apollo the lyre he had fashioned from a tortoise’s shell).

So: might the retrograde phase be a time when it is possible to cleverly arrange things behind the scenes?

Might one even occasionally discover that one has done things backwards, only to discover that whatever had been done actually worked?

Hmmm…if you were born under a retrograde Mercury, maybe this is a major talent!

And there is yet another way to (literally!) view Mercury’s retrograde cycle: put your charts away, put on your ancient Mesopotamian glasses, go out and look up.

Mercury is never far from the Sun and so is not easily seen; like Venus, his appearances in the sky are as morning star or evening star only; unlike Mars, he can never rise in the east, culminate overhead and set in the west.    Here is: May 1, 2011 Mercury rising before the Sun (note we use Bernadette Brady’s Starlight Program for these images)

But he represented an important Babylonian deity, Nebo (or Nabu) the Scribe of the King.

And as you watch him in the sky, you see him either advancing before the King (Sun) before dawn, following after the King (Sun) after sunset, or hanging at court with the King (when he’s invisible).   How might this visual information be used to interpret how Mercury functions in the various parts of his cycle?

Ambassador / Explorer – this is Mercury as a morning star; he rises ahead of the Sun, and has a lower degree of zodiacal longitude than the Sun.  It is as if the King said, “go out and explore / journey to this country / whatever, and report back to me what you find.”  Sometimes this kind of Mercury, in the absence of any orders, will just go out and see what can be found, sort of like Marco Polo or the Starship Enterprise.  This kind of Mercury can get into all sorts of scrapes and has to operate by his wits, often with no direct orders from “home” to guide him, and may develop a good sense of what to do and not do as a result.   When morning star Mercury is retrograde, he’s voyaging forth; when he’s in direct motion he’s heading back to court with everything he’s learned and obtained on the journey.  We are in just such a phase right now. Watch this little video of Mercury heading back to court with everything he has learned and showing the current phase for Mercury:

Prime Minister / Legislator – this is Mercury as an evening star; he sets after the Sun and has a higher degree of zodiacal longitude than the Sun.  In this case, one can imagine that the King has dispensed policy and this kind of Mercury carries it out: gathers needed information and sees that orders are executed in accordance with the royal Will.  These Mercuries operate like the branches of government; their efforts are much more under the direction of the Will than the Explorer Mercury.  The great thing about Mercury in this phase is that once one decides to accomplish a goal, one can bring all one’s mental efforts to bear on it.  When evening star Mercury is in direct motion, he is carrying out orders; when he’s in retrograde motion, he’s bringing “additional info” back to the King, to report on the success of the effort.

King’s Councilor / Jester – this is invisible Mercury, too close to the Sun to be seen.  This is like the councilor at the king’s side as He moves through His court, conferring with Him and giving his assessments into the King’s ear; he might also be the Jester who can get away with lampooning the King as long as He does so in His presence.  In this phase one might be able to be a very successful “power beside the throne” and wield a great deal of power as a result.  This ability to work closely and well with authority is an additional plus; when Mercury is in this phase, people in power will listen to you!

And the next time you read the astrological press fulminating over the perils of the next Mercury retrograde cycle, try taking another look.

In response to Susan’s comment~

If you have your own chart, you can look for yourself at your Mercury-Sun placement.

1. If your Mercury is in a lower degree of zodiac longitude than your Sun (my Mercury is at 3 Capricorn, my Sun at 26 Capricorn) or is in the sign preceding the Sun, AND is at least 15 degrees away from the Sun, you have Explorer Mercury.

2. If your Mercury is in a higher degree of zodiac longitude than your Sun (imagine that the positions of the Sun and Mercury from the earlier example are reversed) you have a Governmental Mercury.

3. BUT–if in either position, your Mercury is less than 8 degrees away from your Sun, your Mercury is Invisible.   

Where is your Mercury?

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