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Nodes Change Sign 2011
Astrology and Health
All Hallows Eve
Mercury retro in Virgo and Leo [August 3, 2011 – August 26, 2011]
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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).
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...?
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: ]
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.
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!
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!
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.
This is the end of the article. Click here to read Mercury Retrograde: Above the Hype and Beyond the Spin.