Timeline of Mercury’s Retro Period
Mercury will enter Virgo in late July when it will also reach its maximum elongation (visual distance from the Sun), a period of greater mental clarity when the planet appears as an Evening Star for about an hour after sunset, until mid-August.
The Retro motion will begin on August 12 with Mercury becoming Stationary on the eleventh degree of Virgo. Our Little Brother will eventually retrace his steps into Leo on September 1; only for ten days though, and only along the distance of two degrees, re-entering Virgo for good on September 10.
The possible effects of this Mercury’s Retro Period
The apparent backward motion of Mercury is not just an optical illusion but actually marks the time when the planet is at its closest to us, circling the Sun within the Earth’s own orbit. The astrological Mercury is said to rule, among other things, over the collective and individual mind, the way we process and share ideas and thoughts. When in the Fire Sign of Leo Mercury promotes creativity and passion, when in Virgo discrimination and practicality. During a retro period we are made to re-think our thinking, often having to go over-drive with the particular character of the Sign involved.
The transits of Mercury while Retrograde through Virgo (August 12 to end of August)
Mercury’s Retrogradation through Virgo, between August 12 and 30, could particularly affect people with the first twelve degrees of the Mutable Signs highlighted in their Natal Charts: Virgo, Pisces, Gemini and Sagittarius. The quality of discrimination and practicality usually indicated by Mercury in Virgo could end up driving us crazy as we get lost in minute details while missing on the big picture, a waste of time at least or, at worst, a never good enough attitude of mind that can become really paralyzing.
Of course this will not be just in the mind, but circumstances, interruptions, weird tangents, other people interference, unexpected complications may all arise at this time to try our patience.
At the time of its Retro Station on August 12, 13 (when the planet will seem stationary around the eleventh degree of Virgo, just before starting to move backward), Mercury will be very close but not yet exactly opposed to Neptune in Pisces. I feel that this opposition will compound the tendency of this Mercury Retrograde period to create confusing or even chaotic circumstances, especially in the areas of communication. Neptune in fact is more than any other planets an archetype of the often foggy and dream-like astral universe of our individual and collective psyche; the opposition between Mercury and Neptune signifying the conflict between our left brain reasoning/rational and our right brain creative/intuitive faculties. The opposition usually implies the idea of reconciling these two different attitudes, blending them into a more holistic way of thinking and communicating.
On August 27 Mercury will align with the Sun in Virgo, marking the shift between its Evening and Morning appearances. Mercury will be more easily observable as a Morning Star between September 6 and 20, when back in Virgo in direct motion.
The transits of Mercury while Retrograde through Leo (September 1 to 6)
On September 3, by then back into Leo, Mercury will align to Mars, a very active planet during this Eclipse Season (and the reason for its potential intensity), at the same time forming a positive aspect to Uranus in Aries (trine), both transits helping to flare up our imagination. Great ideas may pop up into our mind at this time. They may be more experimental than immediately viable but could eventually form a fertile ground for future accomplishments. These transits could also make us more assertive and controversial in speech and writing, with a risk of becoming somewhat forceful and autocratic, but also with great potential for inventiveness and originality.
How to make the most of this strange period during the Virgo transit?
Tuning in somehow will help to gain the insights a Mercury Retro period is ideally meant to bring. The Virgo’s aptitude of paying great attention to details, for instance, can be creative and liberating too if part of a integrated spiritual system. A good example would be the art of Feng Shui through which the precise arrangements of objects and features in our homes and work spaces can be a source of greater harmony in our lives. Learning skills that in the past seemed too demanding and complicated could also fill this period with meaningful activities: learning a new language for example, grammar and all, crafts of all kind: pottery, crocheting, knitting, typing, wood working, stained glass making, beading, ikebana, calligraphy, macrame’, embroidering etc. By putting some painstaking effort on doing something small, we may realize that the reward of mastering a skill is the skill itself, rather than the finished product.
How to make the most of this strange period during the Leo transit?
The first ten days in September Retro Mercury transiting the last two degrees of Leo could prove particularly trying for people with the last three to four degrees of Leo, Aquarius, Taurus and Scorpio highlighted in their Natal Charts. Usually creative even flamboyant Mercury in Leo when Retrograde may add a touch of obsession to our creative endeavors, helping us to go deeper in whatever we are doing but also running the risk of becoming dangerously one minded and self-centered for a while. Letting go of the usual control we try to exert on things and, in particular, on our creative efforts could make light of the many possible disruptions of a Leo Retro period. Let’s try to enjoy a little chaos, who knows what marvel of imagination, inspiration and originality it could bring?
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