Mercury Retrograde and the Eclipses

Mercury enters shadow on 18th October at 19 degrees Scorpio. The Sabian symbol for the entry into the shadow, and later the degree at which he turns direct is:


KEYNOTE: The capacity to transmit transcendental knowledge.

To the individual who lives in a state of ardent and sustained faith it may become possible to become a channel for the trans-mission of a knowledge or wisdom that transcends his normal mental understanding. The mind that has learned to be silent and attentive can become attuned to the rhythm of utterances which he may not comprehend intellectually, yet which may truly manifest superhuman realizations.  Discrimination is needed here to balance the over-eagerness of faith.

At this fourth stage of the five-fold sequence of symbols we are given a hint as to man’s capacity to attune himself to sources of higher wisdom if he can be sufficiently attentive and careful in channeling a “higher Voice.” To stress here the negative element of automatism and unintelligent repetition is to use only one’s intellect. All birds in symbolism suggest spiritual faculties or forces. What is evoked is the possibility of learning from higher Intelligences. Keyword: CHANNELSHIP.

Mercury moves on into Sagittarius and then turns retrograde on 5 degrees of that sign, the Sabian symbol is:


KEYNOTE: A poised and wise approach to existence based on a clear perception of unconscious factors and their operation.

The owl has always been a symbol of wisdom, and its hooting call has evoked a rise to mysterious and hidden elements in life. The owl functions lucidly in the night aspect of existence. His eyes see what men normally fail to perceive. He represents that consciousness which is active where the processes of life normally escape the attention of the personal ego and its intellect.

This is the last of the five symbols in the forty-ninth sequence. It suggests the possibility of developing a wisdom beyond tragedy, a peace and poise beyond conflict. One might speak here of TRANSLUCIDITY.

The owl is associated with the Sabian symbol for the Mercury retrograde degree, which is interesting as owls are also associated with Lilith who features strongly in the coming eclipses

Mercury then heads back into Scorpio, but just before he does so, when he reaches the degree of the solar eclipse back in May of this year, on the same day that we get another solar eclipse, this time at 22 degrees Scorpio.  With Mercury poised on the edge of a return to Scorpio, this eclipse is revisiting some of the themes of the move of Saturn and Mercury into Scorpio at the beginning of October.

Solar eclipses block the light of the sun, giving room for other energies to become apparent and new ideas to emerge. An eclipse in Scorpio emphasises the power of the unseen, that which we don’t want to look at, the mysterious urges and forces which somehow bring both life and death. This theme is given more weight by the significant placing of Lilith and Isis-transpluto. Both Lilith and Isis-transpluto are mathematical points rather than actual objects. I have written some more about Lilith and her involvement in this series of retrogrades and eclipses here:

Behind the scenes – Lilith and Chiron

Now it seems as though Lilith is coming to the fore again as she is clearly highlighted in the charts of the upcoming eclipses that are contained within the Mercury Rx cycle – in the solar eclipse she forms part of a transformational grand cross involving Isis-transpluto, Mercury and Neptune and in the lunar eclipse she is involved in a double interlocking yod formation.

To understand the first eclipse, the solar eclipse on 13th November, it is worth having a look at Isis. Isis-transpluto is a mathematical point at which, if there were an actual object there, it would account for the irregularities in the orbits of Uranus and Pluto. As such she can be envisaged as a powerful force working in the deepest reaches of our solar system – and astrologically speaking at the deepest levels of our awareness and our ‘soular’ system.

Isis is a goddess of ancient Egypt who guards the portal of life and death as she is protector both of children and of the dead. She is also a goddess with magical powers and ability to resurrect the dead and was worshipped as the wife of the pharaoh and his assistant in navigating his way through the underworld and into the afterlife. She is also the sister and wife of Osiris, god of the underworld, and through her magic she was able to bring Osiris back to life after he was murdered and dismembered by Set.  She is a significant feature of the ‘Book of Coming Forth by Day’, one of the Egyptian Books of the Dead and which might also be called the ‘Book of Emerging Into the Light’. So Isis is a kind of intermediary and guide who can bring forth from the underworld and lead from the upper world to the afterlife.

Goddess Isis nursing her son, the God Horus – an image that lives on to the present in the form of the Madonna and child

Astrologically Isis-transpluto is about re-integration, transfiguration, transformation and resurrection – she shares many of the attributes of Pluto, with the emphasis being on guidance through these realms. Contacts with her demand that things are brought together so that they can become more than what they are alone. She makes sense of things by putting them together with other things and shows how we are not entire unto ourselves. So the first hint of what the energies of the eclipse can show us are the benefits, indeed the necessity of joining with others to give our lives meaning.

Importantly, Isis-transpluto ‘makes sense of’ the orbits of Uranus and Pluto – those two planets that are currently forming a cardinal square – and as such she shows ways in which these two energies which appear to be so much in conflict with one another can be brought together. This eclipse can show a productive side to this energy, which might be unexpected and might demand that we do something different with our lives, but it will be worth it in the long run.

Isis-transpluto is squared to Lilith and opposite Neptune – there is something dark, primal and hard to pin down about the energies around at this eclipse. Lilith is another guardian of the portal between life and death, between the manifested and unmanifested worlds; the darkening of the sun brings a focus to un-manifested aspects of our solar system and our awareness. It seems that at the time of this eclipse the division between manifest and unmanifest, conscious and unconscious, internal and external worlds is very thin and things may pass out of our lives unexpectedly just as things may come into our lives unexpectedly. This mood is heightened by Mercury making a partile square to Neptune and opposition to Lilith – the stuff of dreams comes closer to expression, the unreal can be spoken into life, or it can be snatched away with a single word – we may be very sensitive to the words of others, whether read or heard, words can express our deepest fears and our deepest hopes and all may come tumbling out at this time. Similarly others may be more sensitive than usual to things we say – and there could be unexpected consequences from things we say or hear. It is an otherworldly time – good for magicians and conjurers and those interested in tales of magic and the supernatural.

As if this collection of energies weren’t enough the energy around at this eclipse is given extra punch by Mars who is conjunct the galactic centre at the time the eclipse is exact. This is yet again a reinforcement of the unusual energy around – it’s what might be called liminal – an energy that exists on the edges of becoming and unbecoming, being and not being, neither this nor that and able to become either this or that. The galactic centre is another ‘not quite defined’ point – although it’s not really a point, it’s a huge area at the centre of our galaxy which is considered to be a super-massive black hole. Astronomically, astrologically and in many myths the world over centres relate to origins or the beginnings of things, so they relate to notions of birth and again bring us back to this sense of the energy of the eclipse being liminal – it’s an energy which is coming into being rather than fixed and visible whether as an event or thought or anything else. The galactic centre exudes an energy full of possibilities and when planets line up with it they are considered to channel that energy, bringing information, thoughts and imaginings that seem to come from elsewhere. Mars is also conjunct Lucifer the bringer of light. This seems symbolic of knowledge or ideas beginning to enter our consciousness but whether these turn out to be for the better or for the worse depends upon us and how we turn them to reality.

Prometheus, whose story in many ways resembles that of Lucifer – both were punished by the gods for trying to help humanity.

Interesting that this eclipse falls in a fixed sign, so the darkness falls on everything that seemed fixed. At the same time there is a grand cross in mutable signs, the signs of movement and change, and at the critical initial degrees of those signs signifying things just coming into being. Meanwhile Mars is also in a mutable sign and channelling the energy of all the thoughts, ideas and imaginings that come from being tuned in to the galactic centre. There is some stability in this chart though, and that comes from Saturn who is in a partile trine to Chiron and in mutual reception with Pluto – we get hints here of the most constructive outcome of these energies and they relate to healing a spiritual, mystical or poetic wound. Saturn brings some grounding and solid energy to the time and works in harmony with Chiron and Pluto to bring understanding about what the nature of this wound is and what it needs in order to heal. Judging from the messages of the retrogrades the wound concerns our ability to express our spiritual or mystical side in socially acceptable ways, the institutions which are supposed to help with that are somehow no longer helping. This eclipse should enable us to see more clearly both personally and socially to understand where the wound affects us most and what can and should be done about it.

Returning to Mercury, we can see he re-enters Scorpio just after the eclipse and then travels back to 19˚Scorpio when he turns direct just before the lunar eclipse. On the way he makes his inferior conjunction with the Sun – the conjunction which pinpoints issues to be re-thought or re-planned or re-solved in some way. This inferior conjunction takes place on the North Node and at 26 degrees Scorpio, the Sabian symbol for the conjunction reminds us of the mood of the eclipse and new things, ideas or hopes coming into being:


KEYNOTE: The ability to adjust swiftly to a new situation by tuning in to its requirements.

He who lives in harmony with nature, moving on as new needs arise, finds himself intuitively at home everywhere. He does not make demands upon life, for he has identified himself with the great rhythms of the biosphere and he functions at peace with what they produce. This is the message of the American Indian culture which European invaders so wantonly and meaninglessly destroyed nearly everywhere. Western man has lost faith in life because he wants to dominate and enslave manifestations.

This represents the first stage of the forty-eighth five-fold sequence in the cycle of experience. It brings to us a message we greatly need today — the message of peaceful adaptation to nature, and through adaptation, of EFFICIENT FUNCTIONING in all life situations.

Mercury continues retrograde until the 26th November, and while he is still on the same degree there is a lunar eclipse. This lunar eclipse looks particularly intense – if the solar eclipse was full of an odd, unworldly, liminal energy, this eclipse is full of tense, edgy energy. Lunar eclipses mean the light of the moon is darkened, so what should be a beautiful, culminating full moon becomes more like a new moon – again it can show things coming into or leaving our lives but with lunar eclipses these are likely to be things that we are emotionally attached to, or things which signify new developments in our emotional lives. As with all eclipses their energy is unpredictable, and with the moon at the apex of a yod and conjunct Lilith this unpredictability is increased. Since the Moon is at the apex of a yod then the Sun must be at the midpoint of the sextile forming the base of the yod – it’s a very similar pattern to that of the full moon back in July which I wrote about earlier and strengthens the focus on the Sun while the Moon and Lilith are hidden from the light and do their work unseen – unless we look for it:

Mercury, Venus, Jupiter and the yods

This is the penultimate eclipse that falls within the time span of the linked Mars, Venus and Jupiter retrogrades and so it makes sense to see what trigger points are being contacted (the final eclipse linking to the retrogrades is at the end of April next year and coincides with Jupiter leaving his shadow). In this eclipsed full moon Lilith is on the spot Venus was on for the July full Moon and the Moon is on the degree that marks the beginning of the Jupiter shadow so while the last eclipse hinted at the themes of this year’s retrogrades, this eclipse puts down definite markers that it is linked to the issues raised and revisited during those periods (or that should have been raised and revisited). Back in July Pluto was at 8˚ Capricorn and formed the apex of one of the yods in that full moon chart. Now he is back at 8˚ Capricorn again, and conjunct Mars, forming the base of another yod – at the base of a yod this energy can help to provide solid ground from which to develop the energy at the apex – in this case the Moon conjunct Lilith. However, if the apex energy is not fully developed, or is too aggressive then the strength of the base can simply reflect back the apex energy with the result being a whole host of projections that seem real but are in fact the product of the apex energy operating in isolation rather than in harmony with the other energies.

Forming the base of this yod along with Pluto and Mars is a pairing of Saturn and Venus – a pairing that reminds us of the trine between the two that they perfected just as Venus was leaving her shadow. At that point Saturn had himself travelled through a series of yods and so had come to understand (hopefully) the nature of his own potential, and the nature of the projections he creates if not acting in harmony with other energies. Now Saturn, teamed up with Venus, and acting in harmony with Pluto and Mars has the opportunity to use the energies in this eclipsed Moon to bring more fulfilling emotional relationships into our lives. However, the presence of Lilith warns against complacency and selfishness – if we are not careful we could simply project a whole lot of emotional energy onto loved ones and end up not being able to make a connection that is meaningful and supportive to them at all.

The other yod that is involved in this lunar eclipse chart has the Venus/Saturn pairing at the apex – if Venus and Saturn did their groundwork well during their retrograde periods this is now a time to build on that, the sextile between Uranus and Moon/Lilith forming the base of the yod – this is an unpredictable energy indeed, but Saturn paired with Venus has a lot of stability, especially in the fixed sign of Scorpio – there is a strength here that can withstand a lot of the ‘slings and arrows of outrageous fortune’.

To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them: to die, to sleep
No more; and by a sleep, to say we end
The Heart-ache, and the thousand Natural shocks
That Flesh is heir to? ‘Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die to sleep,
To sleep, perchance to Dream; Aye, there’s the rub,
For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil
(From Shakespeare’s Hamlet)

Taken as a whole, this sequence of a Mercury retrograde phase encompassing two eclipses points to the emergence of dreams, hopes and realisations that we will be challenged to bring into some real, physical or tangible form. They are not easy eclipses, and the Mercury retrograde brings a sense of going back over things, raking things up from the past, confusion and delays. There is promise in them though – the possibilities that begin to emerge from the solar eclipse can be strengthened and nurtured to bring some real, beneficial changes to our lives and the lunar eclipse can force us to ditch things that don’t work so we have more energy to focus on those things that do work – it may be painful to have to let go of some cherished dreams, but at least that way those dreams we do have left stand a chance of coming true.

A great link to part one of Hamlet by the Reduced Shakespeare Company:

A couple of good articles on the eclipses from Darkstar astrology:


8 thoughts on “Mercury Retrograde and the Eclipses

  1. Again lovely article!my dsc is 18 degrees so it stations on my dsc for a little rest before heading back to my 6th house, and then returning at the end of nov to my 7th again, going over the details. So I have marked 4th December in my calendar , when it gets to 21 Scorpio the degree of the solar eclipse.

    Loving the bard:)

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