Benign Retrograde Mercury Heralds Shift into Fire Signs

A 20-Day “Shortie” with 16º of Orbital Motion Between Stations

This Friday, December 10th, we will enter the fourth Mercury retrograde period of 2010. As your correspondent wrote in his TMA This Week article of April 26th, not all retrogressions of Mercury are created equal. (1) In the 3-part Sun-Mercury synodic cycle, wherein the duration and orbital speed of the Mercury retrograde period is variable, the least problematic of these is when Mercury has its fewest number of days (20) in retrogression, and the greatest amount of orbital travel (16º) between stations. I call these “Shorties” – the faster retrograde Mercury is what renders it harmless.

Tri-wheel Ephemeris

In the above tri-wheel chart, the retrograde station of Mercury is shown in the inner wheel, the inferior conjunction of the Sun and retrograde Mercury is shown in the middle wheel, and the direct station of Mercury is in the outer wheel. The astrologer sees that Mercury will be in retrogression for 20 days, and will have orbited 16º between its stations. An ephemeris excerpt shows that during the 24-hour period from December 20th to 21st, at its inferior conjunction, Mercury’s orbital speed will reach 1º23′ per day — the maximum possible swiftness for Mercury while in retrograde motion. As a result, we should have a relatively problem-free Mercury retrograde during the holidays, and shoppers need not be worried about purchasing electronic gifts for those on their Christmas lists. (2)

This Mercury retrogression period also ushers in a new 1.5-year cycle of the inferior conjunctions of the Sun and retrograde Mercury, now falling in the fire signs of Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius. There is an overall 6-year cycle in which these inferior conjunctions rotate through the four elements, with a minimum of four, and a maximum of six, consecutive retrograde Mercury periods occurring in the four different Triplicities. (3) As with all things Mercurial, in contrast to the zodiac sequence of signs occurring in Fire, Earth, Air, and Water, in this 6-year retrograde Mercury cycle the order is reversed, with the series recurring backwards from Water to Air to Earth and then to Fire. The following table illustrates this cycle of inferior conjunctions through the four elements. (4)

Mercury stations retrograde

As you can see, it has been a little over five years since the last Sun-Mercury inferior conjunction occurred in the Fire element. We are just now concluding the 1.5-year period in which this cycle has rotated through the Earth signs, bringing with it a political focus on the national debt and the financial industry (Taurus), health insurance reform (Virgo), and a partisan debate over the role of government in society (Capricorn). Now, as this cycle enters the Fire element, identity politics will predominate (i.e., gays in the armed forces, immigration reform); along with military matters and athletes (Aries), sporting events and the welfare of children (Leo), and foreign affairs (Sagittarius).

US Sibly / Assange

With a Sagittarius inferior conjunction starting off this 1.5-year retrograde Mercury cycle through the Fire signs, foreign policy is much in the news. The United States has recently been embarrassed by the release of secret diplomatic cables to and from the State Department in Washington by the WikiLeaks web site. It is no small coincidence that the retrograde station of Pluto last April, at the time when a classified military video was released by this organization, and the upcoming retrograde station of Mercury, are both occurring in 5º Capricorn and in exact opposition to the U.S. Jupiter.

From an Interpol arrest warrant for sex crimes in Sweden, your correspondent has obtained a date of birth for Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks. (5) Casting a noon horoscope for this man, the astrologer finds that his natal Mars in 21º Aquarius is exactly conjunct the U.S. progressed Mercury, ruling planet of documents. (6) Secret matters are ruled by Neptune, and one observes that the United States has just passed through a progressed Moon-Neptune conjunction, and that the natal Pluto of Mr. Assange is in synastric conjunction with the current degree of our progressed Moon. (7) It is also significant that the U.S. Sibly progressed Ascendant is in the anaretic 30th degree of Leo; the final degree of a sign contains all of its hidden side as an era reaches completion. (8)

As your correspondent wrote in his TMA This Week article of May 17th,  the U.S. is just now entering a two-year period of unpredictability, upheaval, and rebellion brought on by the progressed Sun-Uranus square forming in the Sibly horoscope. (9) Individuals with extreme anti-government and anarchist points of view, along with possessing advanced computer skills, like Mr. Assange who has a natal Sun-Uranus square, are in a prime position to become a thorn in the side of the American government and large U.S. corporations between now and the fall of 2012.

To understand the present, it is sagacious to look backwards in time. All of life is cyclical, and recurrence patterns within the synodic cycles of the Sun and the five classical planets can be used to intelligently perceive prevailing trends and when their genesis had its origins in human history.

Sun-Mercury inferior conjunctions have a recurrence pattern, falling in the same degree area of the zodiac as part of a cycle that has durations of 13, 33, or 46 years between conjunctions. After 79 years, these inferior conjunctions can recur in the exact same degree of the zodiac. The last time that the Sun and retrograde Mercury were conjoined in 28º Sagittarius was on December 21, 1931. On that very day, the new issue of TIME featured Adolph Hitler on its cover, and the magazine contained numerous articles examining the rise of Nazism in Europe. (10)

Within this recurrence cycle’s historical connection may lie the crux of the unpredictable instability facing the United States over the next two years as it passes through its progressed Sun-Uranus square — a Cyber Nazism on the march led by determined technological anarchists from abroad who penetrate inadequate on-line firewalls, and then reveal secret government and corporate documents.

© 2010 Robert P. Blaschke

Mr. Blaschke is author of the Astrology: A Language of Life series in five books: Progressions; Sabian Aspect Orbs; A Handbook for the Self-Employed Astrologer;  Relationship Analysis; and Holographic Transits. His books and class, lecture, and workshop CDs can be found at Earthwalk Astrology


(1) TMA blog

(2) The most problematic of the three retrograde Mercury types are the “Longies” (a 24-day slow retrogression with only 9º between stations). The third category of retrograde Mercury are the “Middies” (a 22-day retrogression with ±13º between stations). These can go either way.

(3) Erin Sullivan, in her book, Retrograde Planets, wrote about this pattern in the Mercury cycle wherein four to six consecutive periods of retrograde Mercury fall in the same element. Her research had shown that this cycle of Mercury lasts a little over six years.

(4) This cycle is measured not by the signs in which Mercury stations retrograde, but rather by the sign in which its inferior conjunctions fall.

(5) Interpol

(6) Mr. Assange’s natal Mercury is also closely conjunct the U.S. Sibly Mercury; his Aquarius North Node is in the power degree of 15º fixed.

(7) His natal Pluto in exact synastric trine to the U.S. Pluto explains the ease with which WikiLeaks has acquired these secret documents.

(8) The U.S. progressed Ascendant ingress into Virgo in October 2011 ends its 38-year passage through the sign of Leo since February 1973.

(9) TMA blog

(10) The Continental Congress created the Department of Foreign Affairs on January 10, 1781. Remarkably, Mercury was in 28º Sagittarius!

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