The next round of Mercury appearing to go backward begins early in the morning of December 29, 2022, continuing until January 18, 2023. The reverse motion starts at 24°21’ Capricorn, descending to 8°8’ Capricorn. The entire retrograde cycle includes the “entry shadow,” when Mercury first passes through the retrograde range, from December 12, 2022 until its turning point on the 29th, and the final pass through the range (“exit shadow”) occurs from the January 18 forward-motion pivot until Mercury exits the retrograde degrees on February 7. That’s a long visit for quick Mercury in just one little portion of the zodiac circle. Capricorn is the sign of order, organization, structure, planning, goals and following the rules, any or all of which may be on your radar screen now.
If any part of your natal chart is in this area of the zodiac, Mercury will pass it three times. If you have something aspected from this range, such as in Cancer across from these degrees or in the other Earth signs, Virgo and Taurus, a third of the zodiac away, it will likewise receive a trio of hits. Usually the first contact is a wake-up call about what needs attention. The second one signals time to take action and if you do, the third one brings a conclusion or denouement. If you pay no heed to the call the first time, Mercury alerts you again at the second pass. Ignore that and you’re asking for a shove at the third hit.
ALL of the 2023 Mercury Retrograde cycles take place in signs of the Earth element, pushing us to deal again and again with practical matters in our lives (even if the retrogrades don’t touch your chart directly). There is even a certain small slice of the Earth signs that get hit every time, namely the degrees from 8° to 15°. Mercury is not the only planet emphasizing that degree area. Jupiter will make its Retrograde backtrack later in the year in the exact same slice of Taurus, 5°- 15°, where Mercury zigzags in the spring. This is rare! Jupiter enters the range in June and doesn’t exit until March 2024. The exact dates appear on Janet’s Plan-its 2023 On a Page. And if you look at the list of New and Full Moons there, you’ll spot a Lunar Eclipse on October 28 at 5° Taurus. Anyone with natal planets from 4° to 6° of any of the Fixed signs (Aquarius, Taurus, Leo and Scorpio) will have that part of the chart emphasized over and over, right until the end of 2023.
The top end of the doubly emphasized range, 15°, is significant because 15° of the Fixed signs are the degrees exactly halfway between the Equinoxes and Solstices, and they hold nearly the same power as the Equinoxes and Solstices, which are the key season-changing power points of the zodiac. Like those, the 15° Fixed positions have far-reaching influence and often bring news-worthy incidences.
Anyone with planets around 15° of the Fixed signs is also in the process of being strongly impacted by slow-moving and volatile Uranus passing through 15° of Taurus. It came close, at 14°, in the summer of 2021 (July to September) and reached 15° in 2022, in May and December, playing an important role at the Winter Solstice on December 21). It returns for a third visit in February to March of 2023. Uranus is famous for sudden, unexpected and often shocking turns of events. It certainly wants to force changes for whatever the affected planet represents in a chart. The 15° Fixed degree gets a n additional punch at the Lunar Eclipse at 14°58’ (nearly 15°) of Scorpio on May 5, 2023, during a Mercury Retrograde. Although neither Mercury nor Uranus is close to the eclipse degree, the Sun then will be about one degree from the midpoint of Mercury and Uranus, pulling their influences into the picture. This is a strong combination for fresh thinking and inventive ideas, and possibly jarring comments. The degrees of planetary turning points (“stations”) and eclipses are “sensitized” and respond when other planets pass through them. Thus when Jupiter comes to 5° and 15° Taurus, it is not only foreceful on its own, but it will bring us back to subjects that are important when Mercury is there in the spring. Similarly, the October 28 Eclipse may re-ignite topics that were highlighted earlier in the year by Mercury and Jupiter.
This Mercury Retrograde probably won’t be too difficult. It begins hand-in-hand with Venus, which it joins just 4-1/2 hours after it turns Retrograde. This sweetens the process or tunes us in to issues of fairness and balance. The repeating aspects Mercury makes with slow planets are more harmonious than discordant. Three times, Mercury is trine Uranus and sextile Neptune, stimulating the left and right hemispheres of our brains. We can benefit by using our intuition and imagination. Mercury is trine Uranus (at approximately 15° of Capricorn to Taurus) on December 17, January 8 and January 29. It’s sextile to Neptune (at 22-23° Capricorn to Pisces) on December 24, January 1-2 and February 6. The challenge comes from three squares to Chiron, December 15, January 11 and January 27 (at about 12° Capricorn to Aries). This likely requires us to heal or improve an idea, opinion, communication or document by revisiting it.
Astrologer Gary Caton has done extensive research on Mercury Retrogrades. His second book, Hermetica Triptycha: The Mercury Elemental Year, discusses the phenomenon of repetitions in a certain element, which is fairly common. A given year might have all the retrogrades in one element and the prior and next years have retrograde ranges that crisscross between two elements as the emphasis shifts. For instance, all of the 2022 Mercury Retrogrades had the higher degrees of their ranges in the Air element and the lower degrees of their ranges in Earth. After the Earth repetition in 2023, the retrogrades of 2024 will move between Earth and Fire signs, followed by primarily Fire signs in 2025, shifting to the Water element. Gary will lecture on this subject for the Astrological Society of Connecticut (on Zoom) on January 19, 2023, a day after the first Mercury Retrograde of the year ends. Non-members can attend by paying the $10 lecture fee by January 18 using the Donation button at myasc.org. A link for the Zoom will be emailed in the day(s) prior to the event.
For a better understanding of Mercury Retrograde, see my article by that name. And don’t fear Mercury Retrograde. It’s a good time to correct mistakes or deal with piled up paperwork.
During some periods, certain degrees or slices of the zodiac see a lot of action and catch our attention. We’re in such a period and the emphasized degree is a key one, the first degree of a sign that connects all people, Aquarius, related to the masses. It’s the sign opposite, and most in contrast to, Leo, the sign of royalty. The flavor of Aquarius is well expressed by the motto of the French Revolution: liberty, equality, fraternity. It imbues a humanitarian, gregarious stance, promoting common causes and no privilege for one group or person above another.
The zero degree (or first degree) of a sign (0º00’ – 0º59’) sets the impulse strongly for the sign. The symbol itself – 0 – looks like an egg! It presents seed energy. Each sign’s traits are very different from those of the adjacent signs, so the shift from one sign to the next can be notable. What exactly undergoes change depends on what celestial factors are moving through the zero degree.
First and foremost of the phenomena at 0º Aquarius in the current period is the most recent of the once-every-twenty-years Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions on 12/21/20 at 0º29’. These are the two biggest planets of our solar system and slow enough in their circuits around the zodiac that they spend sufficient time in a sign to make an impact on what’s associated with that sign. The average visit per sign is a year in Jupiter’s case and two-to-three years in Saturn’s case. The sign where they meet to start a twenty-year cycle directs the tempo and agenda for the whole period, regardless of what signs they move through during those two decades. Both planets have an association with laws, Jupiter with politics and the legislative process, Saturn with the enforcement and administration of laws. Saturn has a strong influence on business and government; Jupiter, on media and international relations. These are arenas for the application of the Aquarian approach.
More importantly, this conjunction kicked off a series of Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions in Air element signs lasting over a century. Such an elemental change is called a Great Mutation and signals big cultural movements over time. We’ve just come out of a long Earth sign era in which the material side of life took center stage. We developed and owned and benefitted by things. The Air element stresses communication and relationships, cooperation and ideas. It’s the Information Age. That already began, you say, and you are right. We had a single Air sign Jupiter-Saturn conjunction (in Libra in 1981) after more than a century of Earth sign conjunctions and before the final Earth sign conjunction (in Taurus in 2000). That two-decade Air cycle brought us PCs, the internet and cell phones. Imagine what will be invented in the coming century!
Zero degrees of Aquarius is especially important in the USA. Every four years, we inaugurate a President on January 20 when consistently the Sun, emblematic of leaders, passes through this degree. The ceremony is always in Washington, DC at noon and the Ascendant at that time and place is always in Taurus. This should help our leaders to focus on the people and put our values at the forefront. (The Ascendant, the degree rising in the east, is what you’re facing and Taurus is the sign of values.) The 12/21/20 Jupiter-Saturn conjunction was about a week after the certification of the 2020 election results. Joe Biden is the first President inaugurated since that major highlight of the degree of the Sun on Inauguration Day.
Most recently, quick Mercury passed through this degree three times in its retrograde zigzag. It was at 0º Aquarius on 1/2/22 before it went retrograde, 1/25-1/26 while retrograde, and following the retrograde on 2/14-2/15 (as I began working on this blog). The Messenger planet often is the bearer of news. I can’t say that I tracked any particular big news of an Aquarian nature on these days but I invite you to do some looking around and let me know if you find something significant.
You may hear astrologers talking excitedly about the Venus-Mars conjunction coming up on March 6 at 0º33’ Aquarius. It begins a new Venus-Mars cycle that will last almost two years until their next conjunction on 2/22/24, also in Aquarius, at 6º57’. The close proximity of their zodiac locations made me wonder if was common for a conjunction sign to repeat. In the century 1960-2059, there were sixteen conjunctions (of approximately fifty) that were sets of sign repetitions, either in pairs or trios. Only two of these are in Aquarius, now and in 2054-2056. So this seems pretty special, adding a little two-year pizzazz to the developing big twenty-year Aquarian Jupiter-Saturn cycle.
On 2/16/22 (yes, the full moon date), there was a Venus-Mars conjunction at 16º53’ Capricorn beginning a brief cycle, hardly a blip on our socio-cultural radar, only to be quickly replaced by the Aquarius vibe. Most often, there are about two years between Venus-Mars conjunctions but when they’re near one another and Venus has a retrograde cycle, it slows down and falls behind Mars, which is usually slower. Once Venus speeds up after its retrograde, it doesn’t take long to pass Mars. The two conjunctions in the duo can be almost three months apart. This one is quite close in time. An even closer one, only 9 days apart, comes up in 2029.
Venus represents social connections, affections and what we value. Mars enlivens and activates, pushing with assertiveness. Venus shows concerns for others; Mars indicates self-interest. You can also think of them as symbolizing women and men (think of Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus by John Gray). The two-year cycle with the Venus-Mars in Aquarius imprint will likely see more emphasis on (and acceptance of?) transgender and non-binary identification and issues around gender equality. (Will the Equal Rights Amendment campaign be resurrected?) Venus is affiliated with decoration, Mars with anything done using a sharp instrument, and Aquarius with unique, individual expression. Sounds like tattoos and piercing could become more mainstream or accentuated. Aquarius is the sign of friends and social circles. This cycle could see a lot more group socializing as opposed to couple-dating and bromance movies more than RomComs.
In 2023-2024, we see the zero degree of Aquarius popping up again. First, there’s a new moon close to this degree on 1/21/23 at 1º33’ and it’s part of the repeating pattern (which I call a “groove”) of new moons at 1º of successive signs for six months from the fall of 2022 to the spring of 2023. A new moon signals a beginning and the fresh energy is very potent near the beginning of a sign.
A major visitor to 0º Aquarius is Pluto, which crosses back and forth over the threshold between Capricorn and Aquarius. It will be in the 0º of Aquarius about two-and-a-half months 3/23/23 – 6/10/23, turning retrograde on 5/1/23 at 0º22’, and returning to 0º Aquarius again 1/20/24 – 2/22/24. After that, it stays in Aquarius for about 20 years. As the planet most linked to economic factors, wealth and resources, its time in the sign of equality – especially because part of it occurs during the Jupiter-Saturn-in-Aquarius cycle – will do a lot to level the playing field across the economic spectrum.
In July 2023, the Lunar Nodes are finishing their 18 months or so in the sign polarity of Taurus/Scorpio, shifting into Aries/Libra. These important intersections of the Earth-Sun and Moon-Earth orbits move backward through the zodiac. Thus the final degree they occupy in a sign is the zero degree. In 0º Taurus and Scorpio, they form a T-square to 0º Aquarius, which still resonates from the Jupiter-Saturn and Venus-Mars conjunctions and Pluto’s first transit through that degree. A T-square gives a push to make a change, which still isn’t easy because these three signs are in the Fixed Sign category. These signs have a lot of inertia – slow to bring about change but once a new direction is underway, it will persist. Individuals, companies or countries with something important in their chart at 0º of any of these Fixed Signs (as well as Leo, also in this category) will be more affected by the celestial happenings outlined here. They also have more inclination to utilize these energies.
There are a lot of opportunities from 2022 into 2024 to build on things that stem back to the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction in 2020. The Venus-Mars conjunction may seem like a little thing, just a rather ordinary get-together of two of the quicker planets. It’s not the big drumbeat of the 20-year Jupiter-Saturn conjunction. But it does plug into that energy and it tees up the stimulus from the Nodes shifting signs, the Full Moon “groove” and Pluto’s entry into Aquarius. March 6 is the perfect day to celebrate peace, love and brotherhood, and sing the Aquarius song, “Let the Sunshine In.”
For half of January 2022, Mercury will be retrograde at the same time as Venus is. Mercury is retrograde for 21 days, about half the duration of Venus’s 41-day retrograde. Such an overlap doesn’t happen every year. In fact, looking back to 2000, there were no such incidences through 2016. Beginning in 2017, it has happened 9 times in 14 years. So we can’t say this is rare but it’s also not something to which we’re accustomed.
We have a hard enough time when one or the other of these ordinarily quick planets backtracks and spends an extra long time in one small part of the zodiac. It’s doubly difficult when retrograde simultaneously. The information and communication mix-ups for which Mercury Retrograde is famous bleed into the arena of finances and relationships, which come under the purview of Venus. Are you getting the idea that January is not going to be a month where we charge ahead and make great progress?
Venus is retrograde 12/19/21 until 1/29/22. Mercury is retrograde 1/14 – 2/3/22. The two weeks they are both in reverse are from 1/14 – 1/29. And not only do their time frames overlap, the degrees where they zigzag also overlap, barely. Venus marched from 12º to 26º Capricorn before turning retrograde to repeat those degrees. Mercury descends from 10º Aquarius to 24º Capricorn before ascending through those degrees again. So that little 2-degree slice, 24º-26º Capricorn, has both Mercury and Venus passing through it three times.
This just happens to be in the neighborhood where Pluto is travelling at 25º-27º Capricorn. Both Venus and Mercury pass by Pluto three times. Venus joins Pluto on 12/11/21, 12/25/21 and 3/3/22 (this last time, Mars teams up with Venus and Pluto). Mercury gets together with Pluto on 12/30/21, 1/28/22 and 2/11/22. Pluto throws an additional monkey wrench into the works. As the planet related to banking, investments, insurance, taxes, the economy and all joint financial and shared monetary matters (while Venus relates to individual finances). With all three in Capricorn, the sign of rules, organizations, business and government, you can see the potential for big problems.
Add to this, Pluto isn’t finished with its 90º abrasion (“square” aspect in astrological lingo) with Eris, the dwarf planet of chaos and battles, known as a trouble-maker. Eris is S-L-O-W and spends a long time in any one degree. Currently, Eris is moving between 23º and 24º Aries. Pluto, which is associated with viruses and death, hit 24º Capricorn five times in 2020-2021 and its five squares with Eris correlated rather closely with waves of COVID-19. Apparently, we’re not done yet. Even though there won’t be another exact occurrence, their positions relative to one another are not far off that 90º mark and the bottom line is about the same. From early August through early November, Pluto is less than 2º from an exact square with Eris. And at the 10/25 Solar Eclipse, Mercury at 22-1/2º Libra forms a T-square with Pluto at 26º Capricorn and Eris at 24º Aries. Mercury rules the respiratory system and Libra is sign of the Air element, so the possibility exists that we might still be dealing with airborne viruses well into the fall of 2022.
Venus is square Eris 3 times, on 12/7/21, 12/30/21 and 2/26/22. These are points where partners could have disagreements or mistakes may be made in personal finances. In the midst of this, Mercury and Venus are conjunct on 12/29/21, a time around which we are reminded of our most important values and when we have a stronger chance of being tactful about any harsh realities we need to communicate.
The Venus-Eris square on 12/30/21 occurs close enough to the New Moon on 1/2/22 that it still is powerful then and impacts the following four-week lunar cycle. At the next New Moon on 2/1, Mercury sits at the 24º spot, 2 degrees from Pluto and square Eris by one degree, again a dicey indicator that affects the following four weeks. The New Moon on 3/2 finds Venus, Mars and Pluto around 27º Capricorn and all three square Eris with a leeway of 3-plus degrees from exact, still pretty darn close. Again, the following four weeks fall under their sway. So there go the first three months of the new year, a tough time for finances and relationships, and all forms of communication.
If you have planets in your chart in the range of 23º-28º of any sign, they’re being shaken up. In fact, the degree range of 24-26º has eleven key planetary phenomena happening in 2022, including the Lunar Eclipse on 5/16. Fasten your seat belt! Whatever your planet(s) indicate in your life is apt to get a lot of your attention and go through major changes this year.
You can find the dates of Venus’s and Mercury’s “stations” (turning points) and the exact degrees where they go retrograde and return to direct motion on 2022 On a Page, a free downloadable PDF at AstrologyBooth.com. You’ll also see those other occurrences at 24º-26º (be sure to read the note at the bottom about Eris).
Even though the dates when phenomena discussed are precise and are the most potent times, these influences are still strong for days before and after these dates. So stay on your toes!
Maybe you’re great at your job, maybe you’re fantastic. But can you perform at that level day in and day out? You’ve no doubt had a bad day at work. Was it so bad you had to worry for your health, your sanity, your very life? Was the whole world watching you, judging you? You’ve had pressure but not the kind that could make you crack.
Now that the “2020” Tokyo Olympics are over, we can look back with awe at another feat Simone Biles has achieved: a come back from a dark and scary place. This entailed bravery in facing her hesitations and being public about them, and selflessness in setting aside ambition to withdraw and allow her teammates to go for (and get) a team medal.
When I first saw Simone falter early in the games, I looked at her chart and wondered about the future of her gymnastic career. Astrodatabank.com has her chart with a data reliability rating of “C,” which means the original source is unknown or unverified. It’s not a strong rating but the chart seems to fit her personality and life circumstances quite well and I’m inclined to rely on it. Some of the statements I make here are not dependent on a birth time, only on her date of birth, March 14, 1997. When the “C” time comes into play, I’ll mention that.
The most recent lunar eclipse occurred a little more than two months before the Olympics. A lunar eclipse is an extra-powerful full moon that has longer lasting effects (perhaps up to six months) than a regular full moon (strong only for a few weeks), and full moons in general can signal a pinnacle, an ending or a completion. This one was exactly at the degree of Simone’s natal Pluto, a planet that often indicates a turning point or major shift. It’s also the planet of psychological depths, secrets, abuse and an all-or-nothing intensity. Pluto heralds the survivor and is famous for bounce backs, too. So I wasn’t sure it was the end for her. I had to look further. And I wanted to see why she was all of a sudden bothered by the “twisties,” a term I hadn’t heard before but that makes sense for a gymnast twisting through the air.
Simone is a Pisces sun-sign and currently the ruling planet of Pisces, Neptune, is moving slowly through its home sign. While it’s there (from 2012 to 2025), it spends about a year near any Pisces Sun person’s natal Sun degree and that will be one of the most important times of his or her life, maybe in a good way or maybe in not such a good way. This sign and planet have a lot to do with the subconscious and beliefs, and are certainly associated with dizziness. They do not represent grounded energies. Think of the fish swimming in circles in the Pisces symbol. You will not be surprised to hear that Neptune was in the important one-degree range approaching Simone’s Sun when she was bothered by the “twisties,” even though Neptune won’t reach her Sun degree exactly until next spring, visiting until winter of 2023. Who knows if she’ll re-experience the “twisties” then but one thing is for sure, it won’t be with the pressure of the Olympics!
After Simone dropped out of the team competition, it was unclear whether she would participate in the individual events. To check for her prospects, I used the monthly forecast technique called a lunar return, which is a chart cast for the time and place when the Moon returns to its natal degree and minute (fraction of a degree). This method does rely on a birth time because the Moon moves so far in a day that it travels about a degree in two hours. Using the “C” rating, her natal Moon is in Gemini, at an early degree. Without knowing her birth time, we could at least say it was either in Gemini or at a high degree of Taurus. The Moon passed through that part of the zodiac during the Olympic games, specifically on August 2. This means she began the games under the influence of a lunar return from July and then had a new influence come in before the individual event in which she did finally decide to compete. She could be expected to have a change in her outlook.
The July lunar return (set in her home gym location of Spring, Texas) shows heavy pressure, like the weight of the world, from Saturn, the planet of achievement, at the very top degree of the chart, the place of one’s role in public and reputation. Saturn was less than half a degree away from her natal Jupiter, a planet known for exposure and the potential for doing great things (as the biggest planet). Saturn’s nature is to contract or limit, so its visit to her Jupiter put a damper on her drive. In addition, Saturn wasn’t far past making its square (an abrasive connection) with Uranus, the planet of the unusual and surprises. In that chart, Uranus was in the First House, a location related to one’s physical condition and view of oneself. Maybe she didn’t feel like her usual self. Sure enough, the unusual pressure (combined with the dizzying effect of Neptune) got to her. In addition, Jupiter in the early degrees of Pisces was making a nearly exact square with her natal Moon, which could contribute to amplified emotions, especially when far from home. (The Moon shows our feelings and in friction with Jupiter, those can skyrocket. Jupiter is also the planet of foreign travel.)
In the August 2 lunar return chart, set for Tokyo, Saturn and Uranus were not as tightly in their square and Jupiter had retrograded back into Aquarius, further from its square to Simone’s Moon. Saturn was high in the sky, still showing a lot of public attention, but it wasn’t right on the top point, where it has its most potency. Instead, the planet closest to the top was Pluto, her come back friend (which, using the “C” rated birth time, was exactly rising, at the place of most personal expression, an clue she would be able to make a come back). Ceres, the dwarf planet of nurturance and support, was just two degrees from Simone’s Moon, pointing to the great support she received. The Sun and Mercury, just over a degree apart, were both across from Saturn, providing concentration and mental focus. Mercury lined up exactly opposite her natal Jupiter, an indication of lots of communication from far and wide – think of all the social media and mainstream media attention. This was her chance for redemption and for an unusual performance. Uranus was near the rising degree in the lunar return chart, echoing Uranus’s rising position in Simone’s chart relocated to (as if born in) Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where she had such success in the 2016 Olympics.
The differences in these two charts led me to think she would have a different experience in the individual medal competition than she had in the qualifying rounds, and she would do better. Indeed, she took a chance and got a medal. Although it’s bronze not gold, she says it’s the sweetest prize of all her Olympic medals. This makes that “C”-rated natal chart with Pluto rising look like it might be right. She not only survived, she rose to new heights as she brought attention to athletes’ struggles. That makes her a double winner in my book.
A guiding principle in teaching is: tell them what you’re going to teach them, teach it, review what you just taught. Repetition. By repeating something three times, it sinks in. You get the message across.
Mercury operates the same way. It goes around the sun three times for every one earth orbit. It passes between earth and the sun three times in every year, creating three retrograde cycles. And in each retrograde cycle, it makes a series of three aspects to one or more slow planets, and usually a series of three aspects to planets in any given natal chart. In this way, Mercury the Messenger gets his message across.
The three Mercury retrograde cycles in the period of a year (not necessarily a “man-made” calendar year) are often in the same element, since there are three signs in each of the four elements, and they are about a third of the sky apart. Frequently, there’s a repetition of a portion of the degree ranges in these three signs. Thus, three consecutive Mercury retrograde cycles may aspect a particular slow planet or a planet in a natal chart. Now, the message is blaring!
For instance, in 2021, the three Mercury retrograde cycles occur in Air signs.
January 15 – March 13 in Aquarius between 11 and 26 degrees (Rx 1/30 – 2/20)
May 14 – July 7 in Gemini between 16 and almost 25 degrees (Rx 5/29 – 6/22)
Sept. 6 – Nov. 2 in Libra between 10 and 25 degrees (Rx 9/27 – 10/18)
These dates cover the full time span from the entry of Mercury into the range of degrees across which it actually backtracks to its exit from the range. The time frame of reverse motion (Rx) is shorter. Note how the degrees between 16 and 24+ are covered in each cycle. If there is a slow planet traveling in that degree range in a sign affected by major aspects from Air signs, it receives three hits from Mercury three times, for a total of nine in a year – talk about repetition! Planets in Air and Fire signs qualify for such emphasis.
In some one-year periods, all the Mercury retrogrades are in the same element. On either side of this, there will be years in which the Mercury retrograde range zigzags between adjacent signs of two different elements. The next year might be all in the new element. The degree positions of the retrograde ranges shift lower in the zodiac from year to year: the retrogrades themselves retrograde.
Again, using a three-year span, we see:
2020 Mercury retrogrades in Water signs or Water signs shifting to Air signs
2021 Mercury retrogrades all in Air signs
2022 Mercury retrogrades in Air signs shifting to Earth signs
Typically, there is a slight overlap in the date ranges from one year’s Mercury retrogrades to the next. It’s usually just a few days, six or so, from the beginning of the earlier year’s span to the end of the next year’s. Here’s an example:
2020 autumn retrograde 10/13 – 11/3
2021 autumn retrograde 9/27 – 10/18 (repeating prior year’s 10/13 – 10/18)
2022 autumn retrograde 9/9 – 10/2 (repeating prior year’s 9/27 – 10/2)
Because of this overlap, you can have Mercury retrograde at two birthdays in a row, an extended period for learning and re-learning certain lessons or to make and reiterate your points.
The only slow planet traveling in 2021’s repeated Mercury retrograde sites (in an Air or Fire sign, thus receiving major aspects from the Air signs in which Mercury retrogrades) is the dwarf planet Eris at 23-24 degrees of Aries. The only possible major aspects between planets traveling in two different elements of the same polarity (such as Fire and Air both being “masculine” signs) are trines, sextiles or oppositions. (Conjunctions would occur in the same element; squares do not occur between compatible elements.) Mercury is sextile Eris in the winter and spring retrogrades of 2021 and opposite Eris in the autumn. In researching for his book on Eris’s influence in U.S. history (Yankee Doodle Discord), Thomas Canfield discovered that Eris behaves with more chaos and difficulty in the “soft” aspects, such as the sextile, and has a more positive expression in the “hard” aspects, such as the opposition. This little powerhouse planet likes to spur conflict. In mythology, Eris entered the battlefield with her brother Mars and delighted in seeing people fight, not caring which side they were on.
Eris seems to be playing a part in the current climate of conflict and divisiveness in the U.S. It’s in the process of making a series of squares to U.S. natal Mercury at 24 degrees of Cancer. Eris aspects are generally four to five years in duration and have nine or, more frequently, eleven hits. We can’t even agree on facts and information (Mercury’s turf). And we seem to keep having the same arguments over and over, a “curse” of our natal Mercury being retrograde! Eris makes eleven squares to U.S. Mercury from 2019 to 2024, covering two consecutive presidential election primary seasons. If you thought the past campaign was vicious, wait until the next one. Eris is not all bad, though. She has a great respect for truth. Perhaps the force of these squares will help shake and wake the portion of the populace suffering under delusions to see reality. Dates for the squares depend on the exact location of natal Mercury, and since it’s a quick planet and there is no definitive birth time for the U.S. on July 4, 1776, it’s not possible to pinpoint specific dates.
In addition, this year’s three Mercury Retrogrades all strongly aspect the U.S. natal Mars at 21 degrees of Gemini. The Aquarius Mercury retrograde was trine the U.S. Mars, as the Libra Mercury retrograde will be, and the Gemini Mercury retrograde is conjunct it. The June 10 solar eclipse aimed a big spotlight at U.S. Mars, too. The Moon and Sun at almost 20 degrees of Gemini were less than two degrees away from U.S. Mars and retrograde Mercury at almost 21 degrees of Gemini was about half a degree away. This fires up our ire and raises the stakes. The dates of Mercury’s conjunctions to U.S. Mars (exact times depending on which U.S. birth time is used) are 5/19-20, 6/9 and 7/3-4 – yes, right at our birthday. Having this aspect at our solar return will stretch its affects out over the coming year. Expect the heated arguments to continue.
Adding confusion to its current retrograde cycle, Mercury makes three squares to transiting Neptune (exact on 5/22, 6/5 and 7/6). Neptune is already exceptionally foggy during its twelve-year movement through the sign it rules (between 2012 and- 2025). Some characteristics of Neptune in Pisces easily seen at this time are: sensitivity to suffering, including feelings of mistreatment; focus on health care systems (and their shortcomings); secrets and people who lie or intentionally misconstrue situations or can’t tell truth from fiction, e.g., the conspiracy theories running rampant. There are positive expressions, as well, such as increased sympathy and the realization of our interconnectedness with all people and life on our planet. Faith and beliefs are under the purview of this planet/sign pair, too, and for good or ill, religious tenets are seeping their way into many aspects of our experience and discussions.
Mercury often presents the same (or similar) information or situations to us over and over until we get the message or see things from a different angle. It’s all part of Mercury as the teacher, repeating the lesson again and again.
In its orbit of just under twelve years around the Sun and circling the zodiac, Jupiter generally spends about a year in any given sign. But that’s not always a nice, neat twelve contiguous months. Jupiter’s visit to Pisces will take place in three parts! Such a mishmash seems to fit well with the Pisces symbol of fish swimming in circles. We may have a sense of trying to go in one direction, only having to switch mid-stream and later come back around to what we were aiming for.
The first part is a brief foray from May 13 through July 27, 2021, moving only two degrees into the sign before retreating back into Aquarius. Its longest stint in Pisces is from December 28, 2021 to May 10, 2022, when it moves ahead almost 9 degrees into Aries. Its final visit is October 28 to December 20, 2022.
There will be two important occurrences during Jupiter’s time in Pisces. First is the New Moon on March 2, 2022, which is less than two degrees from Jupiter, beginning a four-week cycle when all that Jupiter in Pisces signals will be highlighted and maximized. The second comes when Jupiter joins Neptune, which happens only once (not part of a triple repetition due to retrogradation), on April 12, 2022, not that that day there will be a major occurrence, but somewhere around then, significant things should be happening.
Before Neptune’s discovery in 1846, Jupiter was the ruling planet of Pisces and it’s still very strong in this sign. As the biggest planet, Jupiter expands whatever it connects with. In Pisces, it is likely to increase imagination (which can be used in a positive way or could lead to deception or misimpressions), boost creativity, add to sympathy and help for those in need, and surely in this period, we’ll be able to return to live arts and entertainment performances. Health matters, medicines and even “street drugs” are under the auspices of Pisces. We could see new cures and more acceptance of the helpful properties of cannabis. The oceans are related to Neptune and Pisces and not only do we have rising sea levels to contend with, there’s a big problem with plastics (also ruled by Neptune) in the Pacific. Neptune and Pisces are the rulers of oil and chemicals. The last time Neptune was in Pisces (1848 – 1861), the main source of energy was shifting from whale oil to petroleum. This time around (2012 – 2025), petroleum use seems poised to wane and be replaces by what? Maybe a multitude of things. This sign is famous for variety! Harnessing ocean tides would be smart.
Look to see where Pisces is in your chart and keep your eyes open for expansion and progress in that area. Pisces is associated with dreams and Jupiter wants you to dream big!
The world watched in awe in late March as a giant container ship got stuck sideways in the Suez Canal, blocking international transportation in that major artery for days. A look at what was going on astrologically might hint at when the ship would be set free.
The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) reported for that the ship became lodged at 7:40 AM on March 23 near Suez, Egypt. Remarkably, two major difficult planets were exactly on the major “angles” (directions) right then and there. As the world turns, the four directions as viewed from any particular point on our planet shift a zodiacal degree every four minutes on average (hence the need for accurate times for births or events). The angles are the most potent points in a chart. When two planets occupy angles simultaneously in a certain location, they are said to be in “paran.” This relationship is thought to be as important as an aspect and acts like an aspect, even if the planets are nowhere near the exact degree designations of the aspects. Parans can mimic a conjunction, square or opposition. In this case, the paran was similar to a square (90º, considered a very difficult interaction). At the time of the grounding, Uranus, a planet heralding quick, unpredictable and unusual events, had just risen and was within a degree of the eastern horizon, while Pluto, a planet of extremes and of big money, associated with havoc, sat atop the chart precisely at the Midheaven (the southernmost degree). They were 102º apart but interacted as if by square.
Both Uranus and Pluto are currently in signs of the Earth element, Uranus in Taurus and Pluto in Capricorn. Some people are blaming a dust storm (dirt blown around by wind). It ran aground into the canal bank, literally earth. At first, a post stated there may have been an electrical blackout on the ship (Uranus rules electricity) but that post was soon taken down and the theory was ruled out. Then it was reported that steering could have been a problem during high winds and the dust storm. Uranus also rules strong winds. Records show the ship was speeding at the time of the grounding. Speeding is often a maneuver to cope with high winds in the canal and the ship following behind the Ever Given was doing the same. Speed is related to Mars and damage to Chiron. The rising degree at the time of the lodging was exactly at the midpoint between Mars and Chiron. (A midpoint between heavenly bodies is a key blending of their influences.) Speed does look to be a factor.
The head of the SCA said ships pass frequently through the canal in high winds without incident and discounted the storm as the cause, instead theorizing some kind of technical error. Uranus rules electronics and technology, too, and is also associated with errors, including human errors. One way or another, Uranus seems to be involved.
Marine shipping insurers are bracing for a slew of claims, so determining the reason for the grounding is crucial with huge financial implications. To avoid the blocked canal, many ships went all the way around Africa to travel between Europe and Asia, adding days and cost to the journey. Insurance is ruled by Pluto and at the grounding, it was in a tense T-square pattern with Eris, the dwarf planet known for chaos, and the Moon in the sign it rules, Cancer, together associated with tides, which affect canal water levels. The process of successfully dislodging the Ever Given was assisted by a high tide.
Ships come under the auspices of Neptune. Saturn is notorious for blockages. Though these two planets were not in any aspect, the midpoint between Saturn and Neptune was at the same degree (0º Pisces) as the midpoint between Jupiter and Mercury, linking all their energies together. Jupiter rules everything international, including trade and transportation, and Mercury is related to commerce, as well. Saturn and Neptune were 40º apart, equal to the separation between Jupiter and Venus, which rules goods and valuables. Such “equal differences” are a key consideration in “symmetrical astrology,” a modern branch of the field. Jupiter shows involvement through these symmetries and midpoints even though it had no official (standard) aspects at the time of the grounding, a condition called “unaspected,” thought to mean acting as a wild card. Jupiter is in another potentially influential midpoint combination. The Jupiter-Neptune midpoint (keywords = large ship) at 6º Pisces occupies the same degree as the midpoint between Saturn and Venus (keywords = a contraction in profits). And finally, a very telling midpoint is Saturn at the midpoint of Jupiter and Pluto, three heavy-hitters pointing to restrictions (Saturn) on international (Jupiter) joint financial matters (Pluto).
At the time the ship was freed, there was type of a lucky triangle composed of three points positioned either one-fifth or two-fifths apart around the circle. The rising degree (a place in a chart that shows what’s happening at that minute in that place) was pointed to by Chiron and Pluto, which had been in a long-term quintile (one-fifth aspect) with seven occurrences from 2018 to 2021, the final one being on 3/23/21, the very day of the grounding. Their connection was still strong six days later and helped to mark the lucky moment when the tragedy ended by connecting with the rising degree.
When ship traffic resumed in the canal at 6:00 PM on March 29, Chiron (an indicator of repair and healing) was exactly on a directional angle, the western horizon. The Moon was one third of the sky (a relationship judged as favorable) from Jupiter, a signal that a tide (Moon) was cresting and therefore fortunate (Jupiter rules largeness and luck).
As with airplane crashes, an official investigation will seek to explain exactly what happened. Astrologers await their findings.
In trying to figure out what astrological correlate(s) might help explain our current difficulties – primarily the pandemic, but America’s dire political divide, as well – I thought surely Neptune must be involved somehow.
Neptune is associated with health matters and diseases, especially those caused by something invisible. One might expect the planetary ruler of virus would be Neptune but it turns out to be Pluto. Named for the Lord of the Underworld, Pluto is certainly a killer. In a previous blog, I wrote about the pandemic’s connection with an ongoing clash (by “square” 90º apart) between Pluto and Eris, the dwarf planet discovered in 2005 related to chaos and discord. Pluto is affiliated with economics and financial matters and we can see those are precarious due to the pandemic. It will take a long time to get them under control. Yes, Pluto is key and Eris seems telling. Still, I smelled Neptune in the mix.
Neptune is related to fraud, lies and deception. We hear a lot about “the big lie” of a stolen election. Ironically, those who believe it think those who don’t have been duped by a conspiracy. Racial tension reached new heights in 2020, as well. Neptune is the planet of the oppressed, the ruling planet of slavery. We have yet to heal the wounds from our “original sin” in America. Another political wedge issue. Our pledge to “one nation, indivisible” rings hollow as our social contract seems to be dissolving. Here’s Neptune again, associated with chemicals and solvents, with the process of falling apart. Another Neptune trait that has also intensified in a harmful way is fear. People, including politicians, are afraid of losing their jobs. People are afraid to run out of money. People are afraid to get the virus. Sure sounds like a lot of Neptune!
Neptune is famous for “hiding in plain sight” so I went sleuthing and my search took me to midpoints. A midpoint is just like it sounds: the middle degree halfway between two planets. It’s a potent position that joins their influences together. The movement of midpoints is not easy to follow unless you have special tables, and these might not include Eris since it’s a rather new addition to the astrological family and not all astrologers are paying attention to it. I checked the midpoint between Neptune and Eris. Sure enough, there was a “planetary picture,” the term for when one planet is at the midpoint of two others, blending the influence of all three. Beginning in the spring of 2020 and continuing off and on until early April of 2021, Chiron is within 1-1/2 degrees (the range of potency) of the Neptune-Eris midpoint. Chiron signifies a wound or weakness, as well as potential for healing. In this combination, it shows the harm of lies and the resulting discord we’re experiencing politically. It also points to our difficulties in responding to COVID-19.
Oxford Languages explains chaos theory this way: “the branch of mathematics that deals with complex systems whose behavior is highly sensitive to slight changes in conditions, so that small alterations can give rise to strikingly great consequences.” I added italics to emphasize a feature of Eris in mythology and astrology, namely matters which begin small grow and grow and become powerful. A disease that starts with just a few cases. A lie that is repeated again and again.
Looks like I found a salient factor, but we can’t conclude things will improve when the troublesome Chiron-Neptune-Eris planetary picture breaks apart in a couple months. It’s leaving a flood of calamity in its wake.
My writing group had an assignment to write a “2020 wrap-up in five sentences” and this is what came through me. I sent it to my newsletter list and now, considering the positive response and recent events, I thought I would post it here.
Like Eris, it started off small and grew and grew, seeding chaos as it went.
Like Pluto, it plowed through everything in its path, turning over the very ground, tilling, burying what was on top underneath, raising up what was below, a fertile reversal.
Like Neptune, it drowned us in tears until we were washed clean, purified, and could face our fears.
Like Saturn, it demanded we finish our business of seeing what reality really is and paying – on time – the price for the lesson.
Like Jupiter, its principles became crystal clear, the higher way there for all who have vision to see, and by following its guiding light, break free into the re-imagined future.
December 20, 2020
They are the two biggest planets in our solar system. On December 21, 2020, Jupiter will join Saturn. They do this dance every twenty years in what is called a Great Conjunction (conjunction means a coming together and “great” because they’re the biggest planets. Their cycle is the longest of the original planets, prior to the discoveries made possible by the invention of telescopes. So is this a big deal? In a word, YES!
There are two ways in which this conjunction is extraordinary. The first has to do with proximity. In their travel, planets go around the zodiac as well as up and down within a certain band-with. Not every time they reach the same point on the orbital racetrack are they at an equivalent vertical position, said to be “parallel.” Riding at the same elevation in the sky, they practically merge, appearing like one big star to the unaided eye. With magnification, Saturn will look like it is sitting atop Jupiter. That definitely does not happen every time the quicker giant planet overtakes its ringed neighbor. When I looked across more than eight centuries, from 1600 to 2420, there were only two other instances of Jupiter and Saturn appearing as one bright object, in 1623 and 2417. There were a half a dozen other times when they’re almost as close but are distinct: a trio of conjunctions in 1682-83, 1961, 2080 and 2140. Had you been alive in 1623, you probably could not have seen their merging because they were so close to the Sun they would be obscured by the Sun’s brilliance. If you’re young enough, you may live until 2080 and be able to check how close they are then (on March 14) – they wont be quite as close as this year. This is definitely the best viewing until 400 years from now. Maybe in a future incarnation you can see this very rare phenomenon again!
This article from EarthSky.org has a great explanation and helpful illustrations.
Though they travel near one another in the zodiac for several months, more often than not, when Jupiter passes Saturn in their dual-decade dance, it happens just one time. Rarely, they join in a series of three instances, spaced months apart. You might think this is not so rare if you only examined the past hundred years, when there were two triplets, in 1940-41 and 1980-81. In the same period mentioned above, there were only three other triplets, in 1682-83, 2238-39 and 2279. This conjunction is not a triple but it’s special in another way, having to do with the element of the sign where it occurs.
Jupiter-Saturn meetings strike a drumbeat for cultural changes and developments, and this one holds the promise for a whole new era. The 2020 meet-up heralds the end of almost two centuries dominated by Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions in signs of the Earth element and ushers in a period of over a century when Jupiter’s and Saturn’s paths cross in Air signs. This is part of a long-term cycling through the four elements, usually with seven pairings in an element before migrating to the next.
The Earth element is associated with material objects, practical concerns, and wealth and tangible assets. The Earth era premiered with a Jupiter-Saturn conjunction in 1802, but it was followed by a throwback to the prior era with a conjunction in the Fire element in 1821. The long stretch of Earth conjunctions began in 1841. Soon afterward, transportation progressed from steamships to railroads, then trucks and automobiles, followed by airplanes and space travel. Communication technology developed beyond books, letters and newspapers to telegraphs, telephones and satellites. In the 20-year period from the first conjunction in an Air sign in 1980 to 2000, the last conjunction in an Earth sign, we added personal computers, the internet, cell phones and the Apple watch, which was only dreamed about in 1946 in the cartoon strip Dick Tracy. The growth of banks and financial institutions and the amassing of great personal or family fortunes accompanied these other advancements. And in the process, the earth itself has been abused and trashed. And in the last Earth period from 2000 to 2020, income disparity and the wealth gap between the “top one percent” and everyone else has skyrocketed.
We’ve now moved past the Industrial Revolution and Robber Barons of the Earth period and we’re living in the Information Age. Communication and information are associated with the Air element, as are relationships. As with every element, there are three signs in Air. Gemini correlates with education, neighborhoods and community. Libra is about connections (who you know), cooperation and fairness. Aquarius is the sign of friendship, associations, humankind and humanitarianism. The long period of Air sign conjunctions will run from 2020 to 2159, with an extension for two more cycles from 2179 to 2218, after which the prominent element shifts to Water. Thus this 2020 conjunction is the turning point, and is known as a Great Mutation, a Great Conjunction that shifts to a different element. People will matter more than things.
For forty years, since my early years of studying astrology, I have been waiting for this time of Air sign Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions. Living through the period initiated by the 1980-81 conjunctions, I was upset that we weren’t making enough progress in equality and fairness, and that we weren’t following the example of the first Earth Day in 1970. Reagan was elected in 1980 and removed the solar panels Jimmy Carter had installed on the White House. Racial tensions have not calmed down. Women have not ascended to an equal status. I had and continue to have high hopes, although reality has not always lived up to the ideal. (Jupiter relates to optimism; Saturn to realism. There’s always a balancing act between them.) With the conjunction at the first degree of Aquarius, I thought this would be the true beginning of the Age of Aquarius, a time of “brotherhood.” Many people erroneously think the Age of Aquarius occurred in the hippie days of the late ‘60s when the associated song came out. Actually, it’s an astronomical phenomenon related to a cycle of more than 26,000 years, with periods of approximately 2,160 years assigned to each of the twelve zodiac constellations according to where the spring equinox occurs. (Here are two articles, one I wrote and one written by a colleague, describing the Age of Aquarius in more depth.)
I do think we’re headed toward more equality and harmony among the people of the world, but it won’t happen immediately. What I didn’t anticipate was the extreme fight a dying breed would put up. Power in the hands of (mostly) white (mostly) men won’t easily yield to the demographics of an increasingly multi-racial population. And the trend, worldwide, toward more authoritarianism caught me off-guard. Capricorn is the sign of authority and control and Pluto is the planet of big bucks and power (which go hand-in-hand in America even more so since the Citizens United decision in 2010). Pluto moved into Capricorn in 2008 in the midst of the subprime mortgage crisis and ensuing Great Recession. But that didn’t quell rising wealth inequality. And during the pandemic, the uber-rich have gotten even richer and the poor, poorer. Governments have clamped down on the populace, especially in places like Hong Kong and Chile, but we’ve seen civil rights violations by unidentified armed federal agents attacking protestors in this country, too.
The trio of Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto traveling together through most of 2020 brought international (Jupiter) virus and death (Pluto) as well as restrictions (Saturn) and widespread (Jupiter) economic (Pluto) hardship (Saturn). The concentration of these three powerhouse planets in one sign has been too much! Saturn and Pluto are usually very difficult while Jupiter normally has a reputation of being beneficial. As the biggest planet, it’s main function is to expand whatever it’s contacting. So it made the bad stuff worse. We’ll be happy this combination ends before the New Year and the three planets start to spread out by the end of January. Had the Great Conjunction been in the final degree of Capricorn, the ripple effects of this heavy energy would have continued over the next two decades. Instead, because Jupiter and Saturn beat their drum in Aquarius, we have a Great Mutation and the beginning of a New Age. And none too soon.
Think about this: Aquarius = Aqua (water) + r + i + us = the connecting force of water + R (plural of to be: we aRe), shifting from I (Individuals) to Us (Unity).