by Boots Hart, CAP

Friday, July 30, 2010

Mercury Retrograde: Into the Shadow


Tomorrow July 31st, Mercury crosses 5 Virgo, entering what's known as the "shadow" of it's upcoming retrograde.

Mind you, this isn't anything nefarious. It's not like Mercury is doing anything 'shadowy.' All that's meant by the term is that in crossing 5 Virgo, Mercury is beginning to traverse degrees which during retrograde, it will then again back over. And once it goes direct again on September 12th, these degrees will again be hit in forward (direct) motion.

The whole of this cycle not ending until September 28th, marked above as the date when Mercury exits it's shadow and moves on.

So what does this mean in general and to you? As any planet enters its shadow of upcoming retrograde (and remember, all celestial objects except the Sun, Moon, fixed stars and galactics do this celestial dance step)...any time this occurs we enter a 'zone' where things already 'on the table' are what will be worked out during the whole of the cycle.

As we discussed earlier this week when Mercury entered Virgo, there are different 'style's to how people cope. Apart from that, the general lore of direct-versus-retrograde motion is that during direct motion we experience and learn from 'input' and external events. During retrograde we build on what we've learned, consolidate gains, cut losses and otherwise do some mental/personal housekeeping.

In this case, as Mercury goes sliding into its shadow, there's some...celestial 'noise' going on. Call it a bit of cosmic bickering. 

The symbolism here is Mars (direct), Saturn (direct) and Black Hole M87 in early Libra, all opposing a retrograde Aries quartet of Jupiter, Lust, Uranus and Hebe (plus ill-favored Scheat in late Pisces). This is a picture of 'conflicting interests' either in your head, maybe in your schedule or your can be about you and other people in your world, some personal relationship or something you're trying to achieve.

Whatever it is, it needs time in which to consider parameters, information and options. Virgo representing the linkage between the desire and the 'achieving of the thing' questions now swirl around am I doing the right thing? or maybe is what I'm doing really going to get me where I want to go? In some cases you will have to cope with "oppositional forces" which are presenting you with critiques or important choices.

During the last week before retrograde, typically feelings of urgency about. The rule is to differentiate between what's on track to finish naturally (easily) and what you feel pressured to rush and take care of.

Rushing isn't good. But things which may come to fruition (climax, completion) during this time because you've reached the end of a process? Well, bravo! Go ahead - take care of the thing and be done with it. 

Things may be emotional as station/retrograde nears, but that isn't necessarily bad. And please - don't do or not do because retrograde is coming: the ONLY question is whether your ducks are in a line. Don't worry about what others may or may not do - or when they're going to do it. Astrologers get lots of questions on this score  (yours truly included); for some reason people think all of life is/should come to a halt during retrogrades.

But nothing of the sort is remotely true! Take Mercury's a great time for catching up on paperwork. Or phone calls. It's fabulous for doing research or a fine-tooth edit. It's a fine time for conversations which may clarify your thinking.

Put simply, Mercury's retrograde periods (like that of any other planet, asteroid, TNO or what not) can be incredibly productive. It's all in how you use it.

So just be aware. All retrogrades ask us to do is take note of what we might in our rush run on by. Retrogrades ask us to explore the broader and richer potentials in life.

We all tend to focus narrowly. We all tend to see too much simply in black-or-white. And because we do, along comes the conceptual shadow of a retrograde, adding metaphorical and metaphysical shadows...and thus depth. During retrograde cycles our life takes on context and texture.

They give us a bit of pause in the action so that we can accept, absorb...then move on to excel in this thing we call life.


  1. I like the description of a retrograde as a Celestial dance step! And thanks for the more contextual look at retrogrades. I'm afraid I was one of the "let's not do that - there's a Retrograde, y'know" types. This provides much more clarity on how to approach the Big R.

  2. I think that's pretty much the point - retrogrades are not so much a "big deal" as a shift in direction one's energy should go. The planet is always there; the planet always has the same mass (give or take a pound or two, most likely). It's speed of motion along its orbit around the Sun doesn't change.

    And that's the thing to glean here: a retrograde is ONLY 'retrogradation' because the relative speed of individual planets around the Sun as seen from here on Earth causes them to LOOK like they're 'falling behind' or backing up.

    So the MAGNITUDE of any given planet's affect as an object in/moving through space doesn't change. It's our point of view which changes - or is frustrated when we refuse to change. If under retrogrades we look within for stimulation, and aim the representative energy towards growth instead of out in the world (looking for results there) all is reasonably calm.

    This is why people with planets in retrograde at birth tend to have an easier time with some things - they have an 'inborn' tendency/ability to work internally. Retrogrades of that planet will only 'deepen' that.

    This isn't to say it's all peaches and cream... a retrograde planet in a natal chart CAN indicate a weakness (depending on a half dozen other brands of factors). And if it's a weakness, that weakness will be exacerbated when that planet goes retrograde. But someone who owns a personal planet retrograde, I believe there is something to be said for simply following the patterns. If you were born to have this 'internal cycle' then that's who you are.

    How this all manifests given any given planetary symbol (natal or in transit) - that's really the difference, which is why we the astrologers of the world continue to try to keep people informed about retrogrades.

    And it must be working - where I live I actually hear TV news anchors talk about Mercury retrograde.

    I also know doctors (in several disciplines) who say they see a greater influx of patients under retrogrades which appear to strongly correlate to their medical discipline and the 'rash' of problems reported.

    The universe is an interesting place. Certainly not easy to live in or sometimes with, but interesting, nonetheless!