Rob Tillett has been an astrologer for more than three decades. In previous incarnations a poet, musician, magician, healer, dramatist & composer, he is the editor and publisher of Astrology on the Web and has written many articles on this website.
Rob lives in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, on the east coast of Australia.
At 03:50 UT (Universal Time) Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011, Mercury the wise communicator—and universal trickster—turns retrograde at 1°12' Virgo in the sign of the Virgin, 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 August 26, 2011, 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 September 9th, as he passes the point where he first turned retrograde. Mercury normally turns retrograde three times a year, but last year he turned tail four times, which is unusual, and his shadow phase was still active in early January 2011. The effects of each period differ, according to the sign in which it happens (see box for Retrograde Periods in 2011).
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. It's a bit like travelling on the road watching another car beside you: when the other car slows down, or you speed up, it looks as though the other car is moving backwards. Planets are never actually retrograde or stationary, they just seem that way due to this cosmic shadow-play. Click here for some neat graphics and more on the science of retrograde planetary motion.
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, Mercury is not always in the same sign as the Sun. Mercury turns retrograde this time in Virgo while the Sun is in Leo, then moves back to Leo on the 8th to join the Sun, but the solar orb moves into Virgo on August 23 (with Mercury now back in Leo). Mercury turns direct in Leo on August 26 with the Sun still in Virgo, but Mercury remains in Leo till Sep 9, when he enters Virgo again. The Divine Messenger remains in Virgo until Sep 25.
As a rule, the planets are more emphatic during their retrograde phases, marking periods of seemingly inevitable or fated events that relate to their spheres of influence. By fated events I mean those that circumstances thrust upon us, rather than matters we have consciously decided to implement or resolve. In particular, unresolved issues from the past tend to rear their heads and demand to be dealt with.
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—although this need not mean that our responses are outside our control! By way of example, Mercury retrograde in Virgo (analysis; critical ability) awakens quite different sets of circumstances from those generated when he retrogrades into Leo (dramatic; generous; egocentric).
A retrograde period is best seen as a cycle, beginning when the 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 at its most powerful—and more likely to generate critical events of universal importance—when it is travelling slowly, and particularly when it makes a station: appearing motionless in the sky.
How conscious are you? Mercury's stations reveal much! Stations occur twice during the cycle, beginning with the
retrograde station near the start when Mercury first halts ready to hit reverse gear
and then again midway through the cycle at the direct station, when the retrograde planet slows to a stop before moving forward again.
The direct station is the most powerful and can be used for maximum benefit. It is often thought of as the psychological peak of the retro phase, rather than the end, thanks to the shadow phase.
Mercury Shadow Phases
Many astrologers consider that the "Mercury Shadow" begins between two and three weeks before the actual retro station; so the shadow phase begins this time on July 15, when Mercury passes the point of direct station for the first time in this cycle (see the date for the beginning of each shadow period in the table). Weird things often start to happen then, but the really noticeable peculiarities begin when Mercury slows significantly, a few days before the retro station.
The 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.
What does Mercury affect?
In general, Mercury rules thinking and perception, processing and disseminating information and all means of communication, commerce, education and transportation. By extension, Mercury rules people who work in these areas, especially those who work with their minds or their wits: writers and orators, consultants, commentators and critics, gossips and spin doctors, salespeople, teachers, travellers, tricksters and thieves. Mercury also has an occult side, so healing, astrology and the transmission of spiritual knowledge are also in his area.
Mercury retrograde gives rise to personal misunderstandings; flawed, disrupted, or delayed communications, negotiations and trade; glitches and breakdowns with phones, computers, cars, buses, and trains. And all of these problems usually arise because some crucial piece of information, or component, has gone astray or awry.
It is not exactly wise to make important decisions while Mercury is retrograde, since it is likely that such decisions will be clouded by misinformation, poor communication and careless thinking. Mercury is all about mental clarity and the power of the mind, so when Mercury is retrograde these intellectual characteristics tend to be less acute than usual, as the critical faculties are dimmed. Make sure you pay attention to the small print!
The Key Issue
The key issue here is one of focus. Mercury's retro phase tends to bring unforeseen changes and blockages, but the aggravation and frustration that many of us experience during these periods is often due to our own inability to roll with the punches. Is this due to our ego-fixation?
Mercury sets out to restructure our thinking processes and for many of us this is painful and frustrating. Unresolved issues from the past tend to push themselves forward. Moreover, these experiences reveal flaws in our internal organisation as well as our external planning, which can make us feel foolish and inadequate. Keep your eyes peeled; Mercury's retro period gives us the chance to find out just what has been missed!
Mercury retrograde, like any cosmic aspect, affects people differently, depending on where it hits their personal charts. Some people actually prosper under a retro Mercury, especially if Mercury is retrograde but otherwise well-aspected in their birth charts. Some people even excel in the way they play roulette under a retrograde Mercury! It is also a time when matters begun under a previous retro period will come to fruition, or completion as the case may be. Firm decisions that have been previously made when Mercury is travelling normally through the zodiac may be implemented or finalised while Mercury is retrograde without too much worry, for experience shows that this can be done without undue problems arising.
Click your sign to see how Mercury Retrograde affects you!
Mercury Retrograde in Virgo
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 this time in critical, discriminating, intellectual Virgo, people with this sign prominent in their charts will be especially prone to such introspection. Virgo is both the night-sign domicile and the exaltation of Mercury, so Mercury here is especially potent and significant. It is a Mutable Sign, so the other Mutable Signs, Gemini, Sagittarius and Pisces are also likely to experience considerable conflict between heart and head, along with a good dose of typical disruption.
Mercury turns retro at 1°12' Virgo on August 3, amidst a veritable welter of potent aspects on the day, the most notable being the tight opposition to deceptive Neptune in sensitive Pisces, which is itself in conjunction with Chiron, the wounded healer. Both Neptune and Chiron are retrograde. This aspect advises us not to attempt anything that requires logic and clear thinking, as the relevant information and ideas may be illusory, intentionally deceptive, or even quite dangerous. Trying to make the right decision or to get at the truth is barely possible. This is not the time for travel on water, photography, business transactions (especially those that involve water, drug, or oil-related products or property), or spiritual studies and activities. It's important to resist any tendency to self-pity and despair, even if personal loss or disappointment come up. It would be wise to avoid incurring debt or lending money to others during this phase, which is a time for careful deliberation and cautious behaviour.
Female Leaders In Power 2011
Other planetary aspects are also significant, for the picture of the moment sets the tone for the whole retrograde phase. The whole of this year is suffering under considerable cosmic pressure, as discussed in the previous article on Mercury Retrograde in Aries in March 2011. This time, in August, the grand cross in cardinal signs is reactivated by the presence of warlike Mars, which has just moved into the first degree of Cancer (on the mid-heaven of the UT chart), square the Moon just about to enter the first degree of Libra, and square retrograde Uranus in Aries. Mars is conjunct the death-dealing star, Menkalinan, and is applying to the opposition with retrograde Pluto at the bottom of the chart in Capricorn. So this is another cardinal cross, superimposed on the underlying one. It is further emphasized by the presence of Ceres retrograde in the first degree of Aries opposing Juno in Libra. Ceres (often highlighted in disaster charts) is conjunct the earth-shattering Fixed Star, Scheat, and is tightly opposed by the Moon in the figure. These "goddess planets" are thus part of the cross and square Mars. The square is a difficult aspect, so not a good look!
The Power of Women
Juno, the wife of Jupiter and queen of the ancient gods, is rising in Libra in the UT chart as Merc turns and within an hour is joined by the Moon, awakening these aspects, for the Moon is the cosmic trigger. We also see Venus, the planetary ruler of the chart, standing at the point of the New Moon in Leo, which occurs only days before on August 30 in the midst of the Aselli, a nebulous cluster in the first decanate of tropical Leo. This is a difficult position, especially given that Venus herself is conjunct Praesepe, an unfortunate Fixed Star known to moderns as the Beehive, M44, an open nebula on the back of the Crab. This Martial star is also known as the Manger, flanked by the Aselli, the two asses of the nativity of Jesus. Praesepe stimulates inner drive, but is reclusive, and like most nebululae is traditionally held responsible for blindness, murder, tragedy, fires, homosexuality—and violent death. Known as the soul gate, through which souls enter earthly incarnation, it is thought on a mundane level to be fortunate in business, though liable to loss and disgrace. No doubt the evils associated with this sector of the zodiac will be attenuated somewhat by the power of Venus, but since Venus is combust and afflicted, her more sensual and avaricious side is likely to present itself. The Aselli themselves are pretty horrifying and bring about massive changes in society when awakened, usually through violent catastrophe of one kind or another.
Venus is still in conjunction with the Sun in Leo as Merc turns, but this Sun/Venus conjunction is also opposed to Pallas Athene, the wise female warrior, and Vesta, the divine flame, in Aquarius. The asteroids are very active in this chart, along with the Moon, Venus and Neptune (all considered feminine influences). It seems that women and what might be described as feminine concerns will come to the forefront during this phase. This is especially notable, given that there are currently 20 female world leaders in power, a record number! Women now lead some of the most powerful countries, including Germany, India, Brazil, Australia, Argentina and a host of others. And even more if you consider the reigning queens and vice-regal governors across the world. [Here is an interesting list (offsite).]
The Angles Are Important!
The angles of an astrological chart are its most powerful points, and planets placed therein are at their strongest, for good or ill. The UT (Universal Time) chart is therefore of even more significance than usual, as this time its angles coincide almost exactly with the chart of the European Community (EU) and closely match the chart of the foundation of the United Kingdom (UK). Why is this important? Well, aside from the fact that the European Union is a massive, nuclear-armed power with a population of over 500 million (the US has 310 million) and the UK, a mighty nuclear-armed force, holds the centre of global financial power in the City of London, the EU is under heavy financial pressure as member states, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy and Ireland shudder under a mountainous debt burden that threatens the global economy. On top of that NATO (the combined military treaty partnership of Western Europe, the UK and the US) is fighting a ruinous war in Afghanistan and seems to be sinking towards a massive conflict in Libya and possibly other parts of the so-called "Arab Spring" in the Middle East and North Africa.
EU Proposes Tougher Rules
As it happens, the Moon in the UT chart is rising in the last degree of Virgo (remember, Mercury turns in Virgo), conjunct the EU ascendant, almost to the minute. This degree works in terms of Mars in the face of Mercury and definitely activates the EU chart, so the confusion and disruption so characteristic of a retrograde Mercury will have a profound effect in Europe. The karmic pressure to overcome the restrictions and difficulties inflicted by traditional authority will be intense, as shown by the conjunction of the transiting North Node with EU Saturn at the base of the chart. Moreover, Mars on the EU mid-heaven is very prominent and heavily afflicted by aspects described earlier. This is a warlike and violent configuration, where anger and ferocity are likely to prevail. Since the Sun in the UT chart is exactly conjunct disruptive Uranus in the EU chart, we can expect disaster or even catastrophe to blast out of the blue! The Sun as Merc turns is also inconjunct the EU natal Sun, which makes things even more uncomfortable (in the EU chart the Sun and Uranus are inconjunct by quincunx).
The Sun in the UT chart is also partile square the EU 8th house natal Moon, so the spirit of the Union is under a great deal of financial pressure and may crack. European leaders will find that conflict arises between what they must do and what they would rather do. Insensitive or arrogant people will make demands without realizing what the financial, emotional or other cost may be. The key, however, is not to let emotion interfere with actually getting something accomplished. No matter what dislocation they are forced to cope with, the union should hold, despite the very vocal criticism. This is backed by the conjunction of transiting Jupiter with the EU Moon, even though it is square the transiting Sun and EU Uranus, suggesting that the urge to throw (other people's) money at the problem will become overwhelming.
It's the Economy, Stupid...
What most of us are thinking about as Merc hits reverse (aside from warfare, death and destruction) is the condition of the economy. At the time of writing, the US economy is still in decline and its government is in turmoil, with the Bill to raise its "debt ceiling" having been delayed yet again. According to the BBC, Washington hit its debt ceiling in May, but has used accounting adjustments, as well as higher-than-expected tax receipts, to continue operating. International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde (a newly-appointed powerful woman indeed) has warned that if the debt ceiling is not increased there could be an impact on the US dollar. "One of the consequences could be a decline of the dollar as a reserve currency and a dent in people's confidence in the dollar," she said. Well, who would have guessed...?
Wall Street Bull
Mars (conflict; aggression) is key here. Both transiting Mars and the transiting south node (karma; loss; endings) have just crossed over the US natal Mars (in the 22nd degree of Gemini, opposed by June's powerful total Lunar Eclipse), marking legal conflict and loss through intransigent opposition (US Mars is in its seventh house, the house of open enemies). Mars in the figure has just moved into Cancer, the sign on the cusp of the US eighth house, the house of other people's money, sex, death and taxes. Ulp. So we can expect considerable conflict over same. The US Sun, Venus, Jupiter and Mercury, along with the US Part of Fortune, are all in Cancer, and this chart has Sagittarius rising, ruled by Jupiter. Mars will cross these planets over the next few weeks, creating even more turmoil. Everybody's wealth is likely to take a hit. The price of gold will skyrocket as the US dollar takes (another) dive. [NOTE:this affects us all, even here in Australia, as our monthly ad revenue paid into our account today is significantly lighter, thanks to the greenback sinking like a stone on this news. Ugh. – ed.]
As stated above, Mars in the figure is conjunct the death-dealing star, Menkalinan, and is applying to the opposition with retrograde Pluto at the bottom of the chart in Capricorn, which it reaches later in the month (when Mars is conjunct US Jupiter—warfare for gold...?). Menkalinan stimulates ruin, disgrace and violent death, especially through pleasure-seeking. Will the people rise up if the high rollers tell them to eat cake..? Mind you, Menkalinan can bring honours and is fond of country life, so head for the hills if you can. A polo prize could be yours as you gorge on all that fine dining...
Pluto in the figure is under pressure from the Grand Cross and actually opposes the US Jupiter as Merc turns. This is a long-term, unfavourable influence, which may be described as the struggle between opposing forces, a contest of wills, and no-compromise situations. Combatants in the financial and governmental arenas should know anything gained is likely to have been won at the expense of something more important that has been lost. The worst thing to have to accept now is that they will not succeed in removing the opposing forces, and that information is likely to be very misleading. No doubt they will be forced to find a constructive way to work around them (as the final deadline is rapidly approaching).
There are particular targets and situations associated with this powerful influence. Intellectual endeavours, spiritual growth, political ambitions, and economic expansion are hardly likely to prosper during this long-term phase (Pluto will be opposing US Jupiter for many months, and then opposes the US Sun for some years yet), but they are the likely areas of our struggles as we seek to attain (or regain) greater power and influence. The US and the financial superstructure has already suffered a loss of status and so will be forced to begin again. The president or his influence and status may have a negative and significantly karmic role to play in what happens at this time. Taking yourself too seriously or over-exaggerating your own importance will backfire since the focus of this influence is brutal honesty. Americans will be forced to recognize and admit their limitations. Ideas and activities concerning social or religious reform are in danger of becoming quite fanatical. Americans travelling abroad will be profoundly affected by the experience, and may have just as profound an influence on those they meet along the way—but the influence may not be a healthy one, so much care must be taken. Remain aware of the consequences. Move with wisdom and caution even if it means not moving at all. Misdeeds or mistakes made now may come back to haunt you.
In the Wall Street chart, Mercury turns in conjunction with the Street's ascendant, showing that its self-image will be thrown into turmoil, as communications suffer and equipment breaks down. Neptune opposes this point and adds to the fog of confusion. Ceres is conjunct the Street's south node, suggesting that a big loss is in the wind, perhaps through a natural disaster, or other violence. With Juno in the figure on the Street's north node, some expansion could come through powerful women and new contracts or agreements, but due to the overall pressure it is likely to be shortlived, unless they move operations overseas! Or get taken over by foreign forces. Money will always be made, but the best outcomes this time will be in foreign ventures offshore, including oil, gold, education and legal manoeuvres. Partnerships however are not to be trusted. Hidden factors at work behind the scenes are likely to be very disruptive.
The Grand Cross
As I mentioned in the March forecast, the Cardinal Grand Cross is a mighty aspect, especially when it involves the outer planets. Ceres and Juno are not normally considered "outer planets", but they do have some significance and at this time the outer planets, Saturn, Uranus and Pluto are is close orb, with Neptune and Mercury in tight aspect, though inconjunct the Cross itself. This aspect is empowered considerably by the Moon as she travels through and translates the light from Mars to Neptune, then Ceres, Mercury, Juno, Uranus, Pluto and finally to Saturn within the space of a few hours. It's a big hit! Opposing forces are likely to have a paralyzing effect. A contest of wills is to be avoided at all costs. Efforts to gain control are apt to produce the opposite effect. This is not the time to change or interfere with the status quo. Deliberately engaging in hostility is to arouse a formidable opponent you might not otherwise have had to confront. If you fear that the current circumstances are unlikely to present the means to gain the upper hand or manoeuvre situations to your advantage, you are correct. Act accordingly.
Mars in the figure is however trine to Neptune and sextile Mercury. Thank heavens for small mercies! We can use our intuition, increase our spiritual awareness, investigate dreams and the occult—and carry out as much work and physical activities as possible behind the scenes. Exactly how some task or achievement is accomplished may not be apparent, nor does it have to be. The successful result will be clear enough to make everybody happy. Arts and entertainment, sports in particular will benefit at least to some degree, especially through groups, meetings and communication, but remember my analysis of the Mercury/Neptune opposition some paragraphs back.
St Raphael, the Healing Archangel
There is also a Grand Trine from Mercury to Pluto and Jupiter, though Jupiter is at the edge of the orb of aspect. A Grand Trine, especially one involving Jupiter, is a mixed blessing, because although it seems to multiply the easy fortune associated with the benefic trine aspect, it is actually likely to make us overconfident and so less aware of the potential problems in given situations, especially in this case financial ones. Mars in the middle of this configuration energizes it, so foolhardy action is implied, which starts well but then takes on a life of its own, not necessarily one we might choose. Uh oh...
Mighty Stellar Beacon
Mercury turns in a fortunate sector of the zodiac, conjunct the Fixed Star, Megrez in the Big Dipper, the base of the tail of the Great Bear, and well within orb of the mighty stellar beacon, Regulus, the Watcher of the North, said by some to be the most benefic star in the universe!
Well this is a better look! The power of Megrez definitely assists Mercury through this difficult season, stimulating spiritual insight and creativity, but still retaining an aura of violence. The Great Bear (Ursa Major) is like Mars, according to Ptolemy. It is said to give a quiet, prudent, suspicious, mistrustful, self-controlled, patient nature, but an uneasy spirit and great anger and revengefulness when roused. By the Kabalists it is associated with the Hebrew letter Zain, according to Robson, awakening the 7th Tarot Trump The Chariot, so our aim is victory, and to be victorious we must have unwavering confidence in our cause. We must not doubt what we are setting out to achieve—and we must maintain our focus and our motivation.
The Chariot, by Virginijus Poshkus
Regulus, the Lion's Heart and the seat of the healing archangel Raphael ("God Heals"), is the most Royal Star of all, awakening nobility, ambition, alertness, great power, status and leadership, but associated with sudden downfall, accidents, and violence. It's not all good news then, which is appropriate given the current cosmic atmosphere. Regulus, whose name means "the lesser king", is the alpha star of Leo the Lion, while Leo itself means the King of Beasts. Leo is the home of the Sun, the great king of our solar system. Mercury conjunct Regulus is rarely a problem, and brings fame and gain through high position. It encourages justice and popularity, although one's generosity can be abused by opponents. In fact, the mighty can be overthrown as well as uplifted by Regulus. World leaders take note!
The healing potential for this figure is also revealed in the Finger of God aspect from Pallas Athene in unconventional Aquarius sextile Uranus in dynamic Aries with Chiron, the wounded healer, on the midpoint in psychic Pisces, conjunct the mighty Royal Star Fomalhaut, the archangel Gabriel ("Strength of God") and Watcher of the South, pointing to Mercury in Virgo, the sign of service. The Finger of God aspect points to the sensation of steadiness, special passion, deep aspiration and a strong inner drive to accomplish something very important and special. Mercury in Virgo is exalted, stimulating clear, logical, scientific thought, but his eloquence under this configuration is likely to be deceptive and misleading.
The Moon and Mercury are the symbols par excellence of the mind, and both are under pressure in intellectual, analytical Virgo at this time. Therefore conclusions that would usually be practical and to the point will be clouded by emotional turmoil. To be objective and to see things in perspective, we have to step back and view them in context. Dane Rudhyar says that when Mercury is retrograde, man's objective discriminative and analytical mental powers begin to develop. He is referring to retrograde in the natal chart I suspect, but even so, the comment is worth noting, because only with a determined effort to step back from the whirlwind will we be able to overcome the confusion and deceptive tendencies of this phase. Under this configuration everyone needs to control a tendency to be irritable, critical and selfish and to guard against drops in blood sugar, hypoglycaemia and tendency to gain weight. Be sure to drink adequate amounts of water (6-8 glasses daily) and especially a glass of water when the hunger sensation arises. This can offset those "sugar blues" and ward off excessive eating.
Mercury remains in Virgo until Aug. 8, when he shuffles back into Leo. This day is again loaded with aspects, but the general feeling is of somewhat more benefit. Even though the Grand Cross is still active and indeed intensifying in its action as Mars closes in on the square to Uranus and the opposition to Pluto outlined earlier, the Moon is applying to the fortunate trine to the Sun and Venus and the benefic sextile to Saturn. Mercury next flows forward into Virgo on September 9th, but read on for more on Mercury's stay in Leo.
Mercury Retrograde in Leo
At 09:47 hrs UT (Universal Time) on Aug. 8, Mercury steps back into Leo, the sign of the Lion. Mighty Leo is a Fixed Sign, so the other Fixed Signs—Scorpio, Aquarius and Taurus—will feel the planetary developments most keenly, along with the effects of any Fixed Stars that are active. Mercury in Leo at its best gives high ideals and aspirations, awakening a positive, strong and persevering intellect. The retro phase can stimulate a quick temper and can be outspoken even loud-mouthed. Organizing abilities tend to become disoriented, and even capable leaders are thrown into disarray by Mercury's opposition to Neptune (which has by now retrograded in to Aquarius, so is still tightly opposed). Haughtiness, pride and passionate views take centre-stage. Artists and speakers will find dramatic ways to communicate, but will be quick to refuse ideas that disagree with their own. A love of pleasure can make us fickle and inconstant, arousing a low and sensual nature. Gambling and speculation is not advised during this phase. This position can indicate back and chest pains, which would benefit from chiropractic care and regular massage.
As Mercury enters Leo, the outlook brightens somewhat, because the Moon in bold Sagittarius is forming a very nice trine aspect with the Sun and Venus in Leo, with Saturn smack in the middle in Libra (rising conjunct the ascendant in the UT chart). Saturn is exalted in Libra and the Sun is at home in Leo, so hopefully this will bring some balance to the situation and help to reign in extremism. The Moon (the homeland; the public; women; habits) is conjunct the very benefic Royal Star Antares, the heart of the Scorpion and Watcher of the West. In Judaeo-Christian symbology he stands for the archangel Oriel, or Uriel ("God is my Light"), so the angelic gates are opened, as three of the Angels of the Presence are activated astrologically in the shape of the Royal Stars in this figure. Oriel is a Prince of the Presence and like his compadres, Raphael and Gabriel, is working through the Royal Stars to reduce the stress. Only Aldebaran, the archangel Michael ("Who is like God") remains quiescent, though he was awakened by the recent solar eclipse in Gemini, so he probably still has his eyes open—after all, he is the Watcher of the East and the leader of the Hosts of Heaven, so he probably does not sleep much!
Notwithstanding, the Grand Cross is still very active, as Warrior Mars (now conjunct overconfident Propus) moves closer to the debilitating and confusing square to Uranus on the 9th, followed by the the obstructive opposition to dark Pluto on the 11th, aspects outlined in the preceding section. Again the Moon is the trigger, on the 10th being in stressful square to disruptive Uranus, followed in rapid succession by her opposition to passionate Mars, conjunction with obstructive Pluto, square to stern Saturn and quincunx to Mercury, all within the space of a few hours. Keep under cover on this day and stay out of war zones!
The Sun moves on into Virgo on the 23rd, not long before Mercury stations and turns direct in Leo on August 26. At this time Mars reaches the square to Saturn (Aug 25), once again triggered by the Moon. Typically, any difficulties and delays are likely to have been brought on by lack of preparation, planning, and organization—either on our own part or that of others. The maddening thing is that even if you are the most careful individual, you are apt to be caught just when things are in disarray—or just when you need something, it cannot be located in time. Bad timing is one of the biggest obstacles to progress. People will be inclined to physically resist or even threaten those in positions of authority—who are unlikely to take it graciously when they do. Nevertheless, the odds are that success is not out of reach, perhaps because maturity and experience dictate that we must keep on going until everything goes as it should.
Mercury turns direct again at 18° 41' Leo on Aug. 26, returning to Virgo on Sep. 9. No major Fixed Stars are active that have not already been discussed. The Sun and Venus are still in conjunction (therefore Venus is combust, a debility) but in a trine aspect to Pluto, promising that this is a good time to develop and use our own resourcefulness and ability to separate what is important from what is not. Impressive determination, recuperative power, and concentration are available, so put them to work.
The prognostications this month may seem a little gloomy once again, but the cosmic factors at work are pretty disturbing. For a cheerier outlook, read Marguerite Manning's article linked at the bottom of the page! Naturally not everyone will suffer, nor will those who are affected all be affected in the same way, as it depends where the aspects fall in their personal charts. Nevertheless, all areas of governance and control are affected by this phase, especially in matters connected with ambition, high finance, strong leaders, warfare, violence, jealousy and passion; spiritual and ideological battles will be rife—particularly the communications, routines and organizational issues connected with these. This period brings travel snafus, mail mishaps and missed appointments of all kinds. Documents can go astray. Be sure to carry a diary and refer to it often.
NOTE: The fixed stars form patterns in the heavens that are called constellations. Constellations are not the same as Signs of the Zodiac, though some of them bear the same names, because in times gone long by, the signs coincided with the constellations of the same name. This is because of the phenomenon known as the precession of the equinoxes, whereby the Vernal Point, which is always the first degree of the sign Aries in the Tropical Zodiac, moves slowly backwards with regard to the stars and constellations in the Sidereal Zodiac (thanks to the Earth's top-like "wobble" in its orbit). Signs are geometric divisions of the Zodiac; constellations are groups of stars in the heavens. The Great Bear mentioned here—and others such as Pegasus, Orion, Corvus, Ophiuchus, Andromeda etc.—are important constellations, but not signs of the Zodiac.