Mercury’s Shadow

When a planet goes Retrograde, it recrosses the same (usually fairly small) region of the Zodiac three times – once forward, then backwards, then forward again.  If there are other planets within that region – or if you have natal planets there – then they meet multiple times, often setting the stage for a Big Lesson.  We call the three meetings

  1. The Can-Opener (because something often catches us off guard and regresses us)
  2. The Exposition (because the same something recurs but more slowly so we can understand it better and respond, and
  3. The Confidence-Builder (because by the time it happens the third time, we know how to handle it).

In between the Can-Opener and the Exposition, there’s a Retrograde Station, which is likely to re-stimulate the Can-Opener experience.  And in between the Exposition and the Confidence-Builder, there’s a Direct Station, which is likely to further expose the Exposition.

The reason we don’t pay much attention to the inner planets is that we get so much practice with them that we’re all well experienced at dealing with them.  Mercury crosses every other planet once a year.  On the other hand, for example, Chiron crosses each inner planet only once every fifty years, and the outer planets less often than that (not counting the triple crossings we mentioned above).  So in this blog we mostly talk about the interactions that are rare – those between the slow-moving outer planets.

So we don’t usually make a big deal about Mercury turning Retrograde, it happens three times a year – we get lots of practice.  There’s a Can-Opener, but it’s usually not a big deal.

We’re talking about it now because it dances thrice over the North Node, and as you know, the Nodes are being Squared by Juno, and that Karmic-Gorgon-wrestling is the astrological Main Event these days.  In addition, Saturn just crossed the North Node as well – another recent Main Event, so Mercury’s dancing with Saturn too.  Since Mercury is about Awareness, and the Juno-Nodes Main Event is about what’s coming into Consciousness – aka what’s coming into Awareness, it’s timely.  And Mercury also dances with the Eclipse.

One more piece of background, the Shadow Period.  Mercury goes Retrograde on October 21 (at half past 3am PDT) at 19 degrees of Scorpio.  Then it goes backward, back to 3 of Scorpio.  If we just pay attention to the Retrograde period, we miss the Can-Opener, and in doing so we can miss a major opportunity for personal growth.  We’ve encountered the Can-Opener, we haven’t missed it in that sense, but we don’t realize that it’s part of a set, so we don’t notice the connection and what we’ve learned.

So we need to look at the whole dance, from Mercury’s first crossing of 3 Scorpio, through the Retrograde period, and beyond, till Mercury again crosses 19 Scorpio.  Astrologers call the whole shebang the Shadow Period.  So here’s the whole Mercury timetable…

  • October 1 – Mercury first crosses 3 Scorpio and enters its Shadow Period
  • October 2 – Mercury Square Juno Can-Opener 5 Scorpio
  • October 5-6 – Mercury Conjunct North Node Can-Opener (aka North Node Initiates Mercury) 9 Scorpio
  • October 8 – Mercury Conjunct Saturn Can-Opener (aka Saturn Initiates Mercury) 11 Scorpio
  • October 21 – Mercury Stationary Retrograde at 19 Scorpio
  • October 29 – Mercury Conjunct Saturn Exposition (ie, Retrograde) 14 Scorpio
  • November 1 – Mercury-Sun Conjunction 10 Scorpio
  • November 2 – Mercury Square Juno Exposition 9 Scorpio
  • November 2-3 – Mercury Conjunct North Node Exposition 8 Scorpio
  • (November 3 – Solar Eclipse 12 Scorpio)
  • November 10 – Mercury Stationary Direct 3 Scorpio
  • November 17-18 – Mercury Conjunct North Node Confidence-Builder 7 Scorpio
  • November 24 – Mercury Square Juno Confidence-Builder 16 Scorpio
  • November 25 – Mercury Conjunct Saturn Confidence-Builder 17 Scorpio
  • November 27 – Mercury leaves Shadow Period Scorpio 19

If we rotate the matrix to emphasize content rather than timing, we get…

  • Mercury Square Juno October 2, November 2, November 24
  • Mercury Conjunct North Node Oct 5-6, Nov 2-3, Nov 17-18
  • Mercury Conjunct Saturn October 8, October 29, November 25

Notice how the Juno Square and North Node Conjunction converge in time on November 2-3, while the Juno Square and the Saturn Conjunction converge on November 24-25.  Things could get complicated then, even though it’s the (relatively easy) Expositions November 2-3 and the (easier yet) Confidence-Builders November 24-25, because events will reverberate with one another.  The November 3 Solar Eclipse will emphasis to the earlier dates.

Juno Squares Saturn November 29 (17 Scorpio), but by then we’re done with the Juno-Nodes T-Squares.

Now that we’ve led you through the maze, what’s the reward?  Well, mostly it’s – if you have a journal,

  • October 29 will teach you about whatever you stumbled over around October 8 (Mercury-Saturn: New Awareness of our Priorities and Limits)
  • November 2-3 will teach you about anything that flummoxed you between October 2 and October 6 (Mercury-Juno-North Node: New Awareness of Unconscious Identity and our Mission in the Lifetime)

Give or take a day or two on the dates, as events in the “real” World, even though related to a given astrological event, are often triggered by a third party (such as the Moon).

If you don’t have a journal, then you can see why it behooves us to start paying attention when a planet crosses into its Shadow Period, rather than waiting till it turns Retrograde.  I don’t keep a daily journal per se, but I can tell from Earthquakes and Mythic New Moon that I was feeling a bit paranoid between October 2 and 6.  I’ll be delighted if by the end of November I’m Confident about not being mauled by these Gorgon-wrestling matches!

We’re busy wrestling, but it wouldn’t hurt to try to find time to see what other Shadow Periods we’re immersed in (such as Jupiter’s – Jupiter turns Retrograde November 6).

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