Retrograde Mercury in Taurus: Recurring Cycle for Goldman Sachs & Global Financial Crises

An inferior conjunction of retrograde Mercury and the Sun will occur this week, beginning a new 128-day synodic cycle. Taking place in the middle of the retrograde Mercury period, the Winged Messenger transitions from the Epimethean Evening Star (setting after the Sun) to the Promethean Morning Star (rising ahead of the Sun). Casting this horoscope for the nation’s capital, the rising degree is exactly conjunct President Obama’s natal Sun.

Sun-Mercury 2010

The following orbital diagram illustrates just where in the Sun-Mercury synodic cycle the inferior conjunction takes place:

Cycles & Phases of Mercury

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 (33 + 46), or after 125 years (79 + 46), inferior conjunctions can recur in the exact same degree of the Zodiac, or within a one-degree orb of the starting conjunction’s degree in that sign’s cycle.(1)

The following table shows the first decanate of Taurus inferior conjunctions of retrograde Mercury and the Sun over the last 125 years.

Sun Conjunct Mercury: Apr 28, 1885; 7°59′ Taurus R
Sun Conjunct Mercury: Apr 27, 1918;  6°03′ Taurus R + 33
Sun Conjunct Mercury: Apr 30, 1931; 9°06′ Taurus R + 13 = 46
Sun Conjunct Mercury: Apr 27, 1964; 7°10′ Taurus R + 33 = 79
Sun Conjunct Mercury: Apr 30, 1977; 10°13′ Taurus R + 13 = 92
Sun Conjunct Mercury: Apr 28, 2010; 8°17′ Taurus R + 33 = 125

During this current retrograde Mercury in Taurus, financial news has been dominant in the headlines. Airplane travel disruptions to and from Europe caused by the ash cloud from the volcano eruption in Iceland resulted in $2 billion in losses for the airline industry.

As Mercury was stationing retrograde, Goldman Sachs, a prominent Wall Street investment bank, was accused of securities fraud in a civil lawsuit filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission on April 16th, which claims the bank created and sold a mortgage investment that was secretly intended to fail.

Congressional hearings have looked into the failure of Lehman Brothers, the investment bank that became insolvent in September 2008 and sparked the global economic crisis. During the review of Lehman’s bankruptcy, it was pointed out that regulators failed to catch the accounting manipulation that permitted the bank to give a misleading picture of its financial status despite its being over leveraged on toxic mortgage assets.

On April 22nd, President Obama gave a speech at Cooper Union college in Manhattan, at which many prominent executives of Wall Street banks were in attendance. He asked the banking industry to support the financial regulatory reform measures being debated and voted on in the Senate this week.

This recurring cycle of Sun-Mercury inferior conjunctions in the first decanate of Taurus has a direct correspondence with the history of Goldman Sachs, and with previous global economic crises. In 1885 — 125 years ago — an inferior conjunction occurred in 7°59′ Taurus, only 18′ of arc from the Sun-Mercury conjunction of this week. That was the year when Goldman Sachs, after being founded in 1869, took its present name, Goldman Sachs & Co.

Sun-Mercury 1885

It is of interest to astrologers that Saturn is presently transiting the Uranus degree in the 1885 inferior conjunction horoscope as the SEC filed its civil fraud lawsuit against the firm.

In 1931 — 79 years ago — an inferior conjunction occurred in 9°06′ Taurus, only 49′ of arc from the Sun-Mercury conjunction of this week. Immediately after this 1931 conjunction, Creditanstalt, Austria’s largest bank, went bankrupt and caused a banking collapse in Central Europe that precipitated a global financial crisis.


The astrologer observes that Jupiter, ruling planet of international finance, although exalted, was exactly square the nodal axis in the 1931 inferior conjunction horoscope, and was also part of a Cardinal Grand Cross that included the Moon, Saturn, Uranus, and Pluto.

This present retrograde Mercury has been of the worst kind, with hundreds of thousands of airline passengers stranded for days while their flights were grounded by the Icelandic volcano and its subsequent ash cloud. True to form, retrograde Mercury in Taurus also resulted in recriminations by the airlines against European civil aviation authorities for acting too slowly and cautiously in reopening the flight paths for air travel.

Can the astrologer discern in advance which retrograde Mercury periods are going to be worse than others? Yes, but to know this one must first educate oneself about the three-part Sun-Mercury synodic cycle. This cycle has an average duration of 115-116 days.

The following table shows six consecutive 2010-11 Sun-Mercury inferior conjunctions and the duration of each individual synodic cycle:

Sun Conjunct Mercury: Jan 4, 2010; 14°19′ Capricorn R 106 days (since 9/20/09)
Sun Conjunct Mercury: Apr 28, 2010; 8°17′ Taurus R 114 days
Sun Conjunct Mercury: Sep 3, 2010; 10°55′ Virgo R 128 days, therefore 348 days /3 = 116 avg.

Sun Conjunct Mercury: Dec 20, 2010; 28°02′ Sagittarius R 108 days
Sun Conjunct Mercury: Apr 9, 2011; 19°36′ Aries R 110 days
Sun Conjunct Mercury: Aug 17, 2011; 23°49′ Leo R 130 days, therefore 348 days /3 = 116 avg.

As you can see, the synodic cycle of Mercury has a three-part pattern. The length of each synodic period is variable, increasing in length from one to the next, but when taken as a whole, the overall duration is similar, totaling 348 days for three synodic cycles in a row, with an average cycle length of 116 days each. Within this three-part cycle, the duration of retrograde Mercury also varies, as does its Zodiac degree travel while retrogressing.

These are the stations of Mercury in 2010, which show the duration of the retrograde period along with the number of degrees that Mercury travels while in retrogression:

Mercury Rx Dec 26, 2009; 21°47′ Capricorn R
Mercury Direct Jan 15, 2010; 5°33′ Capricorn D 20 days/16°
Mercury Rx Apr 18, 2010; 12°37′ Taurus R
Mercury Direct May 11, 2010; 2°39′ Taurus  D 24 days/10°
Mercury Rx Aug 20, 2010; 19°03′ Virgo R
Mercury Direct Sep 12, 2010; 5°21′  Virgo D 23 days/14°

The most problematic retrograde Mercury periods occur when the speed of Mercury is the slowest while retrogressing. (2) This happens when Mercury is retrograde for 24 days, but is only reversing 9° to 10° in the Zodiac during that period. The least problematic retrograde Mercury periods occur when the speed of Mercury is the fastest while retrogressing. This happens when Mercury is retrograde for 20 days, but is reversing 16° in the Zodiac during that period. These can be called “Shorties” (20 days = fast and not so bad) or “Longies” (24 days = slow and awful). The third category is called a “Middie” (22 or 23 days with 12° to 14° of travel while retrogressing), and these retrograde periods can go either way. (3)

If you consult the ephemeris for January of this year, you will see that when Mercury was having an easier Shortie retrograde period — (20 days from its retrograde station on December 26, 2009 until its direct station on January 15, 2010, and traveling 16° between stations from 21° Capricorn to 5° Capricorn) — that, at the inferior conjunction on January 4th, Mercury was reversing as fast as 1°21′ per day in the Zodiac while retrograde. This faster speed while retrograde is what makes Mercury less problematic while in retrogression.

On the other hand, consulting the ephemeris for this month (April 2010), while Mercury is having an awful Longie retrograde period — (24 days from its retrograde station on April 17th/18th until its direct station on May 11th, yet traveling only 10° between stations from 12° Taurus to 2° Taurus) — one observes that at the inferior conjunction on April 28th, Mercury reaches its top speed while retrograde when traveling only 0°39′ per day in the Zodiac. This slower speed is what makes Mercury more problematic while in retrogression.

The next retrograde period of Mercury from August 20th to September 12th later this year will be of the Middie category, where Mercury retrogresses for 23 days and reverses 13°- 14° in the Zodiac while retrograde. Examining the ephemeris for September, astrologers find that at the inferior conjunction on September 3rd, Mercury reaches its top speed of 0°58′ per day of Zodiac travel while retrograde. Not as fast as a Shortie, but certainly faster than a dreaded Longie, which we are currently experiencing. This is why the Middie Mercury retrogrades are a mixed bag.

In the previous table showing the six consecutive Sun-Mercury inferior conjunctions for this year and next year, one observes that the Mercury retrograde periods will transition from the Earth element into the Fire element. Your correspondent wrote about the recurrence patterns found in the synodic cycles of the Sun and Mercury, and about the different categories of retrograde Mercury, in his book, Volume V – Holographic Transits:

“Author and astrologer, Erin Sullivan, in her book, Retrograde Planets, wrote of a pattern in the Mercury cycle wherein four to six consecutive periods of retrograde Mercury fall in the same element. This sequence of retrogradation occurs opposite to the pattern of signs in the Zodiac, going from Water to Air to Earth to Fire. Her research showed that this elemental cycle of Mercury lasts a little over six years.

What the astrologer may deduce from Sullivan’s work is that the four elements can fall into two categories. In the former, Mercury consecutively retrogrades in the air and earth elements for three years, bringing a mental and deliberative climate into the collective consciousness. In the latter, successive retrogradation of Mercury in the fire and water elements for three years produces an emotional and instinctual atmosphere in the mass magnetics of human consciousness.”

One could therefore deduce that, because Mercury leaves the Earth element and enters its retrograde cycle through the Fire signs just after the November midterm elections, by the end of this year we shall enter a much more highly charged emotional and instinctual climate within the collective consciousness.

The current focus on financial regulatory reform, deficit reduction, and health insurance reform while Mercury is still in its Earth element retrograde periods of Capricorn, Taurus, and Virgo, should give way to the debate over the much more volatile legislative agenda of immigration reform and identity politics next year when retrograde Mercury cycles through the Fire signs, starting with Sagittarius, sign of foreign cultures and races.


(1) The math behind this is as follows: 79 years x 365.26 days per year = 28,855.54 days. Divide this product of days by the length of a Sun-Mercury synodic cycle: 28,855.54 days ÷ 115.88 days/cycle = 249. Thus, 249 synodic cycles of Mercury = exactly 79 years. In the longer periodicity, 394 synodic cycles of Mercury = exactly 125 years (125 x 365.26 = 45,657.5 ÷ 115.88 = 394).

(2) The most detailed research about the cycles and phases of the planet Mercury has been conducted by astrologer Michael Munkasey. Munkasey found that the more difficult retrograde Mercury periods overall are those that have the longest duration (24-day) and the least range of degree travel (± 9°). During these Mercury retrograde periods, the Winged Messenger has slowed to a maximum degree travel of 0°39′ per day between stations. It is this deceleration of degree movement that amplifies the Mercury retrograde effect.

(3) Further extrapolating from Munkasey’s observations, individuals born during the one Mercury retrograde period in three with the longest duration and the least degree movement between stations may have the most difficulty with the natal retrograde Mercury. On the other hand, where one is born during a short retrograde period with a greater degree of travel between stations, the retrograde Mercury in the nativity is perhaps more facile and can resuscitate knowledge from past lives, bringing information through into the current lifetime. This discrimination between the differing retrograde Mercury cycles can also be applied to the condition of a secondary, tertiary, or minor progressed Mercury.

Copyright 2010 by Robert Blaschke

{Editor’s note: If any readers would like the exact times for the Sun-Mercury conjunctions (or the Mercury stations in 2010) from the tables in Robert’s article, please email me, or write to me in the comments section. Robert’s article did include the GMT for those dates; I simplified the tables a bit to make it easier to read!  Mary Plumb}


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