THE MERCURY RETROGRADE ARCHETYPE by Hilary Bond PhD © Copyright. All Rights Reserved.
This article is dedicated to my mentors who influenced my life in momentous ways. They are High Ceremonial Elder Kinenda (peace-maker) Balyarini Kulthangar of the Lardil speaking people of Kunhanhaa [Mornington Island, Queensland, Australia]; Gaboo Ted Thomas, Head Elder of the Yuin people [Wallaga Lakes, New South Wales, Australia]; Kangalida Granny Margaret, daughter of Elder Kinenda King Jimmy [Nicolson River, the Gulf of Carpentaria, Queensland, Australia]; my Dad and my Grandad and my history teacher Mrs Clarke.
MERCURY RETROGRADE ARCHETYPE: INTRODUCTION.
At present many astrologers are discussing Mercury retrograde at great length. Tonight in Eastern Australia will begin at 8:29 pm (22nd October, 2013) here in Queensland, Australia EST (-10 GMT.) Three, and sometimes four, times a year, the planet Mercury seems to be moving backwards in the sky for a period of approximately 3 weeks. “Seems” is the key word here, because no planet actually moves backwards in their orbits around the Sun. As eminent astrologer Bil Tierney (1983) states, “There are periods in the cyclic orbit of a planet when it appears to slow down, come to a halt and then reverse its orbital direction.” (p. 187.) Yet the fact that the retrograde state is in reality is an astronomical illusion created by the accelerated movement of the Earth does not discredit the psychological effect retrograde planets have upon our human personality.
Mercury is retrograde from October 21st to November 10th, 2013 at 7:11 a.m. Mercury’s shadow period begins October 1st and ends November 27th, 2013, where Mercury is stationary from 7.11 am , 10th November until November 27th, 2013. So the shadow period begins before Mercury turns retrograde, when Mercury first passes over the degree that Mercury later returns to in retrograde motion.
In this article I discuss both the archetype of Mercury and retrograde Mercury and the effect retrograde Mercury has on our personality. In this synopsis I include a discussion of Samhain as a Celtic festival and the Australian Aboriginal seasons and rituals which mark the late October –early November and the biological effects of our ability to communicate with nature at this “thin” part of the year. I also discuss the symbolism of Hermes. It has been stated throughout the Alchemical tradition that the entire basis of Alchemy is Mercury, and that without Mercury there could be no Alchemy, but for those who are fascinated by this connection I discuss an iota of this aspect of Mercury in my discussion of Mercury retrograde.
Archetypally Mercury represents the principle of one’s mind or mental functions. Thus Mercury encapsulates thinking, and the movement or exchange of ideas through speaking, writing, and other forms of communication. It governs the capacity to form concepts and communicate, to articulate, to use words and language, to analyse and comprehend, to learn, to perceive, to mediate, transport, and connect. The Mercury archetype is associated with the Greek mythic figure of Hermes, the Roman Mercury, who is the messenger of the gods.
In the Roman adaptation of the Greek pantheon, Hermes is identified with the Roman god Mercury, who, though inherited from the Etruscans, developed many similar characteristics, such as being the patron of merchants and commerce. Hermes is a Greek Olympian god, the son of Zeus and the Pleiad Maia. Hermes is a god of transitions and boundaries. He is quick, cunning, and sometimes downright devious. He moved freely between the worlds of the mortal and divine, as representative of many gods who needed help and messenger of the gods. Aesop (of the Fables) featured him in several of his fables, as ruler of the gate of prophetic dreams, as the god of athletes, of edible roots, and of hospitality. He also said that Hermes had assigned each person his share of intelligence. He was also an intercessor between mortals and the divine, and conductor of souls into the afterlife. He is protector and patron of travellers, herdsmen, thieves, orators and wit, literature and poets, athletics and sports, invention and trade. In some myths he is a trickster, and outwits other gods for his own satisfaction or the sake of humankind. Zeus sent Hermes as a teacher to humanity to teach them knowledge of and value of justice and to improve inter-personal relationships. His attributes and symbols include the herm (pile of stones at a crossroads), the rooster and the tortoise, a purse or pouch, winged sandals, winged cap, and his main symbol is the herald’s staff, the caduceus which consisted of two snakes wrapped around a winged staff.
A major aspect between Mercury and another planet tends to correlate with how one’s mental and neural processes tend to work, how one gives and receives information, and the nature of one’s education and intellectual vision. So a Mercury sextile Venus aspect as the only Mercury aspect in a person’s chart means that this person finds life without beauty, harmony, pleasant relationships, joy, love, affection, fun and art and music well-nigh impossible. At the moment with Mercury in Scorpio the vital aspects are Mercury aspecting Mars and Pluto because both these planets rule Scorpio.
For those who are new to astrology a conjunction denotes a mental emphasis, focus or intensity; the sextile of any planet with Mercury creates mental opportunities and the square creates mental tension, challenges, turning points and the possibility of accomplishments. A Mercury opposition suggests a need for balance in one’s speech and writing rather than conflict; a trine gives the possibility of flowing mental circumstances and neurological idealism and laziness and communication and the inconjunct or quincunx suggests the need for neurological and mental adjustments. A Mercury quincunx is the “I should have aspect and shows naivety and lack of perspective. Mercury sextile gives opportunities for communication and mental ease.
So what about a Mercury-Pluto aspect. Mmmm. Mercury is naturally garrulous and articulate, but Pluto wants secrecy and privacy. Rather than being manipulative and judgemental, even prejudiced a person with this aspect would do well to be thoughtful and deep in their analysis and reasoning.
What about Mercury-Mars? Wow; there is a huge need to put a great deal of energy into writing, debate, talking, reasoning, in fact any form of cerebral activity and this includes being a psychopomp.
MERCURY IN SCORPIO
But what if your natal Mercury is in Scorpio? Then you would communicate best (Mercury) when you were intensely motivated (Scorpio.) Your reasoning ability (Mercury) would be at its best in investigative areas (Scorpio.) Your most profound avenue of expression (Mercury) would be at its height in your private, quiet time (Scorpio.) In your communication (Mercury) you would be passionate (Scorpio), but if you were in a negative frame of mind when you were speaking or writing (Mercury) you could be intolerant, suspicious, overbearing and temperamental (Scorpio. )
We are aware that Mercury rules Virgo (earth) and Gemini (Air) so Mercury is in its dignity or at home in these signs, thus Mercury is its detriment or uncomfortable in Pisces and Sagittarius. How does Mercury think it the watery Mars and Pluto ruled Scorpio? Certainly this is a great position for a researcher, and work as a detective and as a healer; in chemistry, photography and it a great placement for work in big business and in secret societies and the occult. We must remember Scorpio’s animal symbol is a predatory arthropod; the scorpion which has a venomous sting and a negative position of Mercury in Scorpio has a sting to their communication, so their weakness here can be being judgemental, sarcastic, manipulative, critical, and sceptical. But the good news is that as Pluto rules Scorpio, this natal position has the ability to rise phoenix- like from its ashes and totally transform.
When Mercury goes retrograde in 22nd October, 2013, life becomes a whole new ball game for everyone, especially for those with the natal position of Mercury in Scorpio. So in this time when Mercury is transiting as a retrograde planet from 18 degrees to 2 degrees will you revive a part of yourself that was left for dead? Or will you break the spell of a state where you felt like a sleepwalker or robot? Another possibility is unravelling a personal mystery or heals from an ancient trauma. I have been doing ancestral shamanic healing whilst Mercury has been in Scorpio so unravelling 8th house ancestries mysteries and healing old family curses certainly has been a reality for me, so don’t be surprised what you come up with. Scorpio sight is thorough, so no stone is left unturned — this unfolds a deep-seated confidence, a kind of psychic stability.
THE MERCURY RETROGRADE IN ACTION
Mercury is retrograde 20% of the year. At that time it is wise move within ourselves to reassess what how we think and how our Mercury archetype actually serves us. Are we conscious or living and thinking clearly or in robot when the old neural pathways of obsessive or dysfunctional thinking have taken over? If this is so, how can we change our thinking and what needs to be upgraded, reworked, rethought, refined, decluttered in our mental habits: the approaches and behaviours in which we think about, communicate, write about and experience things.
Beware of refusing to accept this because we will unwittingly invoke the “Trickster” side of Mercury which is part of Mercury’s occupation and purpose. However, for Jung the trickster is the guide in total for the psychotherapeutic process (p. 86). When there are miscommunications, missed flights, accidents, computer and technological breakdowns we have called up the trickster. Some suggest that the Trickster reminds us that we are not in control (big theme this time around) and that a deeper design is trying to emerge into your consciousness by putting your ego-mind in the back seat for a time. For those of us who have a strong Mercury-Saturn aspect, Mercury in the tenth or Mercury in Capricorn or Aquarius this can be a bit of a slap in the face.
For me, I check with a twice daily meditation to my Sacred Garden to check with Archangel Michael, Jesus, Mother Mary or one of my other guides who put me on the right track. For those of you who don’t know what I am talking about, “The Journey to the Scared Garden: A Guide to Travelling in the Spiritual Realms” by Hank Wesselman PhD is a practical, how to book in simple language with an experiential CD to teach you how to do this journey. What he doesn’t tell you is the all-important need to spend 5 to 10 minutes of deep breathing before you start and ten minutes of yoga exercises that will move your mind from a beta brainwave of “think, think, think, think; think some more; obsess, obsess, obsess; worry, worry, worry; think, think, think ad infinitum….” to a day dreaming, meditative alpha brainwave and then into a deep state of theta consciousness where one can access the great masters and our higher states of consciousness. I will add that if you do your “Journey to the Scared Garden” just before you go to sleep you go to sleep almost instantly. The “Journey to your Sacred Garden” really helps if you wake up at some horrible hour and toss and turn for hours. If you lie on your back and do at least seven cleansing breaths and then do the mediative journey you will go into the theta state which is a sleeping and dreaming state. This is why so many people go to sleep when they mediate: the theta state, if one goes deep enough is a sleep state. So say “goodbye” to insomnia and “hello” to being aware rather than robotic.
When Mercury is moving direct, our minds tend to work on a more utilitarian level where we think of our goals and moving forward. We are assertive, well most of us are, in our decision-making and we act with little retrospection and reflection (unless you have great deal of water in your chart.) However, most people collect information intuitively, which is used and integrated during the Mercury retrograde cycle. Just as the Moon has its waning and dark stage where all of nature relaxes and assimilates to seek balance after new growth we humans and all of nature rest and assimilate of all the information that we perceive consciously and unconsciously in the Mercury retrograde stage. Like sleep it is more of an alpha and theta rhythm stage rather than an active beta brainwave stage. So in the Mercury retrograde stage our inner wisdom can be in the limelight so we can re-organize, rethink, and re-evaluate. Our minds need a rest just as nature does and this resting stage is part of the biological, natural flow of life.
The Western culture, however is made up of artificial calendars, timetables and deadlines, and unlike Indigenous cultures this rush, rush, rush culture does not allow quiet times of contemplative meditation, quiet time and re-evaluation of all that we have done and planned. This is where the Trickster appears for those who are in business and have a busy work life.
Bill Tierney in his book on “Dynamics of Aspect Analysis: New Perceptions in Astrology on pages 191-192 suggests that keywords for retrograde planets can be positive and negative. Let’s look at the positive characteristics first. Mercury archetype causes one to:
• Be meditative
• Be profound
• Have depth awareness
• Have inner strength
• Have humility
• Have universal identity
• Have self-knowledge
• Be subtle
• Be reflective
• Have spiritual power
• Be self –attuned
Natally Mercury retrograde indicates a mind that is naturally contemplative and introspective. They absorb information without being consciously aware of it. They are absent minded but have a great recall. They have a natural ability to be able to attune with the Higher self from an early age.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the Beatles guru has Mercury retrograde. So did Nostradamus, George Lucas, composer –pianist Chopin, artist Salvador Dali, Samuel Hahnemann (the inventor of homeopathy) and Howard Hughes. Steve Jobs had stationary Mercury.
So what about the keywords for the non-productive side of retrograde planets. They are:
• A lack of outer awareness
• A lack of self-identity
• Sometimes psychological problems
• Morbid self-absorption
LIVING MERCURY RETROGRADE.
This is the final Mercury retrograde for 2013 is again in a water sign, after Pisces and Cancer earlier this year. So in this time when Mercury is transiting as a retrograde planet from 18 degrees to 2 degrees will you revive a part of yourself that was forgotten? Had you had totally given up on this part of your life? For me it is my career as teacher of 5-6 year old children. I have been given an opportunity to write text books for state schools for teachers who teach that age. As I am now deaf I believed the door had been closed on my teaching career. And Mercury retrograde will be transiting my fifth house of children which is ruled by Mars in my ninth house of publishing. What an opportunity! Can you relate to such phoenix-like opportunities and grab them?
In water signs Mercury is less logical and his communication and neural processes involve feelings, vivid dreams, soul memory and the imagination. Mercury in Scorpio actually included the season of mystery, as it’ll be in play through Halloween, also known as Samhain. Samhain or Halloween falls on October 31st and this festival marks the end of autumn and ushers in winter and a period of darkness when nature stands still. Samhain is the time Dagda the god of nature takes Morrigan the goddess of psychic powers as a partner. Thus on this night the veil between our physical world and the world of spirits is thin. Blackthorn’s delicate white flowers are a sign of hope at this time. The blackthorn is respected as the cantankerous old hag, the crone aspect of the White Goddess whose thorns remind us of our negative habits and destructive beliefs which can tear us apart and grow into impenetrable this if left unchecked. We are advised to look at the many ways we can hurt ourselves and others through cruel, tactless words and think of ways to stop this.
Mercury retrograde on the highest level is, we have seen, the process of alchemy. The dead warrior on the vase above does not represent a literal dead warrior; it represents a warrior of consciousness. It represents someone who is dying mystically, psychologically, someone who is sacrificing himself, and destroying and removing all that is impure and animal in order to be reborn as something new. Mercury, Hermes is the one who facilitates that process of transformation through change.
In the Greek tradition, Hermes is the messenger of the gods, the one who conveys all the knowledge and wisdom of the gods to the other gods and to human kind, and even into hell.
“Zeus who masses the clouds made answer… turned to his dear son Hermes: ‘Hermes, you are always our messenger.’” – Homer, Odyssey (8th century B.C.)
In this respect he is similar to Thoth, the ancient Ibis headed god of wisdom. And for this reason I wrote this article; because I saw an ibis; yesterday and today.
MERCURY RETROGRADE IN ABORIGINAL AUSTRALIA
For our Northern Indigenous people the season in October-November represent organically a similar process of transformation. For our Yolgnu Australian Indigenous people who are guardians for the land in Arnhem Land the time of Mercury’s shadow period of called Rarranhdharr and Worlmamirri. Rarranhdharr is the season for September and October, the hot -dry season when the Stringybark trees are in flower and it is ceremony time. Yolgnu people recognise eight seasons derived from changing behaviours and patterns apparent in the land, flora and fauna. In the Yolgnu seasons calendar Dhuludur’ (‘the Pre-wet season’, October–November) the weather is erratic, ‘female’ thunder and lightning storms are frequent, turtles and Threadfin Salmon are hunted, and the ‘male’ thunder shrinks the waterholes. There are hot periods towards close of the dry, south-east wind season. The wind now is chiefly north-east and lightning frequent and first thunder heard. Yolgnu nomadic activities now lessen after burning of grass. The previous poisoning of fish by stunning- plants in inland waters is now changed to a concentration by evaporation. The Yolgnu fish spearing continues in estuarine and coastal waters. Rarranhdharr is a very important ceremonial time when boys become men.
The other part of the Dhuludur season is Worlmamirri which is in late October- November-December which is known as “the ‘nose of the wet season” which brings thunder in late October. This is period of maximum heat and humidity immediately before the rain season, characterised by violent thunder storms of increasing frequency. Aboriginal people stop hunting because of the wet season and move to camps near permanent water.
THE SYMBOLS OF MERCURY RETROGRADE IN SCORPIO
“Re” is one of the prefixes or Latin roots meaning “again” and “re” is very important in the time of Mercury retrograde. Recovery, review, reaction, recall, recapture, reciprocate, reclaim, recluse, recognise, recollect, reconcile, reconsider, reconstitute, recondition, recreate, recycle, recuperate, , reflect, reform, refurbish, regenerate, reincarnate, relate, remember, renaissance, renew, resurface, restore, and research are all states of being that are applicable now and with retrograde Mercury in Scorpio, this cycle can lead to resolutions of the most profound nature. An obscure and inscrutable part of your life that you gave up on can be re-solved, when someone from the past comes back into your real life or dreams. Thus at this time fate seems to play a large part and synchronicity looms large.
The retrograde of Mercury in Scorpio has a similar psychic charge to Halloween or Samhain. The veils between the physical and the spiritual is at its thinnest now and if you can find thin sacred places, such as the Callanish standing stones, remote forests, sacred wells, old cathedrals such as Chartres or scared towns such as Glastonbury you will find a mountain of information, as well as access to helpful ancestors and beloved angels. Scorpio is a water sign where planets take on intense emotionally charged feelings. So the thinness of this time could also apply to surprise meetings could bring up deeply buried feelings that you have long forgotten. Pluto rules Scorpio and Mars so courage is an issue at this time. So it could be an occasion to face any phobias, obsessions and your deepest fears? The consequence of facing these challenges could be a deep cleansing, even a liberation after you release old, repressed and unnecessary emotions, secrets or toxic behaviour.
Molly Hall in her excellent article on Mercury Retrograde in 2013 suggests: “A soul tracker follows the energy of a binding situation to its roots. An example is a family drama that pulls you in, despite your best intentions. Go deep at this retrograde, to “see” how you’re enmeshed with others. With intense dramas, any move you make brings a reaction from those you’re psychically entangled with. Bringing it to awareness, can set the real healing in motion. But oh how worth it is the journey, to recover parts of the self that have been shamed into silence. This is also the time to shake off the blinders of denial, as a persistent issue returns or review. The reward is mental knots being released, which means less to fear within your own psyche. ”
I totally agree with Molly Hall. I would call a soul tracker a shamanic practitioner and because I have some Scorpio in my chart I find shamanic healing very, very helpful.
MERCURY RETROGRADE THROUGH THE HOUSES
When Mercury retrograde transits your first house you might transform and create a new self-image. You may reconsider who you actually are. An old personality may re-emerge in new forms. It might be good to re-think a new beginning you could have been offered to you recently. You can get flashes of insight into your subconsciousness. A great time for therapy.
When Mercury retrograde transits your Second house: You might begin to feel more secure and confident if you have felt insecure. You might begin to understand your subconscious needs to hold on to things that you do or what values support your self-image. If you thought you lost some money or possessions you may find it.
Mercury retrograde in the Third house: Why have you been thinking certain things? Is there a connection to the past? You may have an understanding of thoughts you’ve had before, but in new practical applications or unusual ways to use them. It’s a good time to learn body language and lip reading and to get to know your siblings and neighbours a bit better.
Presently I have Mercury retrograde transiting my Fourth house so I can relate to this: For me I have been having ancestor shamanic journeys done by Australian shamanic practitioners Kim and Shaun Leyland so I have had a great deal of new information and a new perspective of viewing my home, family affairs, or an important events from the past. I have also had a lot of new insights into some childhood history and needs that altered my perception. Equally so because the shamanic journeys have transformed me my family has seen me differently and I have ancestral support. Interestingly I have found thin places in Australia where I can communicate with family members who have passed on. I have been doing an enormous amount of work around my house, rearranging furniture and my garden and, reconnecting with family, and doing research into your genealogy. In fact family members have telephoned me about new family information. If you have Mercury in the 4th transiting at present I suspect you will have similar occurrences.
With Mercury retrograde transiting your Fifth house you can do lots of inner child work and have fun doing childlike things. So it is a fantastic period for exploring the youthful, natural, spontaneous parts of you. It might be a great time to do creative art work or join a local drama group. It is a good time to remove any masks and be your natural self, or play. Equally so you might gain some understanding why a child or a loved one is having trouble expressing themself, or coordinating their affairs.
Mercury retrograde in the Sixth house indicates new insights into old habits, your small pets (cats and dogs and hens rather than horses), your work and health and even employees. It’s a time where you might understand old health worry be enlightened about a health problem which wasn’t diagnosed correctly. Finding new approaches to all health matters, work matters, or ways of relating to plants and animals. This time with Mercury retrograde is fantastic period for finding a new path to employment, getting information about alternative health possibilities.
Mercury retrograde in the Seventh house: This is the time to explore new ways of communicating things to others without attachment to exact forms of what is being said. Great for getting new insights into old opportunities and finding new interpretations. Find a way to communicate insights you have about yourself within your relationships, without making too much or too little of those in your past. You may get interesting insights into what makes a present or past partner tick, or see a different facet to your partner, thus creating a new understanding. Great time for revealing deep parts of yourself or your partnering dynamic to others. Could also bring up old issues in new forms.
What a house: the 8th house; the house of regeneration, taxes, ancestors, symbols, and the support you receive from others whether it be financial, moral, spiritual or physical. This is also the house of psychological regeneration, degeneration, sleep, deep research, investigation, surgery and healing. So with Mercury retrograde transiting your Eighth house you could look at a loss or death and take a new perspective on your losses. Reclaim an old power in a new form, or reclaim some idea, feeling, or thing of value you once surrendered. As this is the house of spiritual regeneration and symbols that come in dreams this is the best time for psychologically shedding old skin and shaking off the soul rubbish that holds you back from moving on.
Mercury retrograde in the Ninth house means changes in how you see your higher mind. You may wish to review your ideas on ethics, legalities, your religion or spirituality and you might also renew and interest in psychology. You may well take a reformed view of your path of Truth, life journey, or your quest. A great time to review something you learned in the past, or for going back to school or university. It may also a great time to review travel plans.
With Mercury retrograde transiting your Tenth house there is change and transformation in the way you see your profession, reputation, and your standing in the community. This could mean changes to your ego, status, fame, a promotion and a transformation in your social activities. Beware of miscommunications in the professional sector, or misunderstandings in your organisation. I would not be making any important decisions now or signing important contracts at this time.
When Mercury retrograde goes through your Eleventh house it’s time to review your capacity for social consciousness and group relationships. You will be wise to also review and if need be transform your desires and goals in life. This is also a house of step-children, foster children and adopted children as well as circumstances where you have no control. So in these areas things may change. You could reconnect with an old friend, or resolve a broken friendship. You may also realise why you desperately wanted a goal that you no longer want. A good time for getting insights into why you have joined the groups you have been involved in, even Facebook groups and what they taught you about your larger vision of humanitarianism.
When Mercury retrograde transits your Twelfth house it’s the perfect time to get rid of any self-sabotage. If Scorpio is your twelfth house ruler then find the house Mars and Pluto are in to see how your self-sabotage occurs. If it is in your seventh house you may be too aggressive or forceful in your marriage or in your partnership. If Pluto is in your seventh you may make enemies through lack of tact. If Mars is in your 8th, then do a healing on aggressive, martial ancestors or see to your tax or you could be audited. Ideally until November the 10th 2013 you will be able to finalise old grief and ghosts from your past. Maybe transforming your thinking, perception, affirmations, interpretations, meditations, or prayers to understand why things have happened in your life and be compassionate rather than judgemental about yourself and others here. Be forgiving.
I sincerely hope you have enjoyed this article and I hope it has given you a fuller understanding of Mercury retrograde as an alchemical process and an organic process similar to the twelfth house and dark of the Moon. I do hope you also gained some insights about the comparisons of Aboriginal Australian ceremony time and Samhain to Mercury Retrograde in Scorpio. It has been enjoyable for me to write.
I’d love to hear your comments on the article. Did it help you? Have you had any insights?
Happy days and joy- filled nights from
Aesop. Fables 474, 479, 520, 522, 563, 564. Quoted in God of Dreams of Omen; God of Contests, Athletics, Gymnasiums, The Games, Theoi The Project: Greek Mythology.
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Hall, Molly (2013.) Mercury Retrograde in Scorpio, 2013. http://astrology.about.com/od/MercuryRetrogradeNews/qt/Mercury-Retrograde-In-Scorpio-2013.htm
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