I’ve always found the point at which a planet representing major energies begins apparent retrograde motion as important in terms of the ‘statement’ this seems to make about what we can expect during the retrograde period itself. The relationship to other bodies appears to speak reliably of what we will see during the symbolic (that sometimes feels literal!) withdrawal of related impetus and momentum. It’s not so much like the retrograde builds a dam holding back the energetic waters, but like a large boulder falls into the stream of a narrow, rushing river; the energy is still flowing, but is suddenly forced to find another path. Of course, a new course can feel a great deal like denial and can foster frustration at a lack of expected progress–but that’s just it, our expectations failed to take note of the subtle shift that was building. Knowing where and when a body will retrograde gives us a preview of where and in what manner that forward push may stall.
The more I do these ‘moment of retrograde charts’, the more I see the bodies as interconnected; it’s not just the turnaround of one planet, but a shift in every single relationship this body has. It tells a bit of a story; here’s the one I see for the Mercury retrograde at 15 Libra 55 at 11:10 AM Pacific time on September 17th.
Mercury is turning around in Air, asking us to review what we think, especially about relationships. But, we have a bit of a surprise if we have been thinking we’ll come up with something definitive during this period. We instead may have our attention taken away from direct scrutiny of both love and money (Merc was within one degree of perfecting a sextile to Venus). Ambitions and desires, too, will take a back seat (Merc was near conjunction with asteroid Zeus). Our ideas in these areas will change; we may feel successes or bonding with another slip away after appearing to be inevitable. We’ll be asking ourselves in all things Libra, as well as in the subjects of the House in the natal chart where the retro happens: ‘What do I think about that?’ And we may not form an answer right away–though we may get a feeling (the first body to aspect Mercury will be the Moon, by sextile). So what will occupy us?
On the surface it may appear that we are still in relationship territory, or reviewing finances or cooperative efforts, but we may actually be taking a trip into mental darkness, an exploratory into the depths that will allow not just for relationship examination but demolition, refurbishing, or complete transformation. (A square to Pluto is the first aspect retro Merc will make to another body.) It all starts because we’ll be thinking about what’s fair. We’ll be vetting and tidying up what already seems more or less as we want it, or we may see talk or thought as the big reformer in relationships and over money (Merc is in Air) but we’ll soon find that it’s really the structure of our interactions, those things we’ve ‘invested’ in, the current parameters of relationship, the restrictions and unspoken warnings and ‘Do Not Touch!’ signs that we normally negotiate and play along with which will disintegrate, reconfigure, and regenerate in an entirely new shape, with entirely new rules (Capricorn).
Look for the strongest effects, of course, in the House of the natal chart where the turnaround occurs; the matters of this House will likely be the starting point for examination and change. Though I characterized this period as one of “mental darkness”, I don’t mean depression, anger, recriminations, sadness or madness–I mean a kind of seriousness that will actually be more below the surface than it will be conscious, with the majority of the change in perception and thought happening, iceberg-like, out of our sight and awareness. The darkness will still the mind long enough for what we really desire to make itself heard.
What will be the result? Anything that doesn’t offer passion of one kind or another could be destroyed–or, current affections could be ignited into something truly exciting, as each person discovers depths in the other they’d never seen before. Shared material matters and finances might also move in the direction of passion (in the form of volatility or excitement about new ideas and plans), and our review will likely take into account alterations in aesthetics that we experimented with during Venus retro–we may decide by the end of Merc retro that that style or image or enhancement we toyed with is just what we need to build into the life, to make, for now, permanent.
‘We Are All Vessels: Vesta in the Natal Chart’ comes out tomorrow.