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Mercury Retrograde Through the Elements

Erin Sullivan Mercury RetrogradeThe planet Mercury stations retrograde in each element, Fire, Earth, Air, Water, in a sequence, every 6 years, and does so in apparent “backward”, retrogressive pattern through each element in reverse order over time . . . this next cycle of Retrograde Mercury is in the Air signs: Gemini, Libra and Aquarius.

We begin this cycle of Mercury retrograde in the element of Air and sign of Aquarius now, within 24 hours of the entry of the Sun’s ingress into Aquarius. Mercury Stations retrograde (Srx) at 17° 04’ Aquarius on Jan 21, and Stations Direct (Sd>) at 1° 19’ Aquarius on Feb 11.

Mercury is retrograde for approx. 20 days approximately four months. And this adds up to it being Retrograde in the same element every six years.

You will notice that it is very tidy, this period of Mercury Retrograde, in that for three cycles - in the course of 2015 - it will Srx and Sd> in each of the Air signs, forming a triangulation against the backdrop of the zodiac – AND in your natal horoscope in the Air houses.

When we see a ‘mutation’, a change in element with Mercury Retrograde, we begin a new cycle of our own interior exploration of the areas of your horoscope - and this year, 2015, it will retrograde/direct in three houses - all of your Air houses - in your chart.

The last time Mercury was retrograde through the Air Trigon was Dec 2007 – Jan 2009. With these remarkably elegant cycles in the solar system, we have the opportunity to use them consciously. They work, even if you don’t! So, take advantage.

Look back 6 years to that cycle, and remember what the hermetic message that threaded through your houses that are Air, and the multiple times Mercury stationed retrograde and direct. If you do this over a lifetime of cycles, you will find, as with the Venus pattern, there is a distinct theme, and a maturation of mind and ideas, experiences and responses.

This pattern shows us where we are in need of reflection, introspective focus, clarity, review, retrospection and some level of resolution will come out of this phase.

Mer D Oct 25 2014 11:17 16°Li46' D

* Mer R Jan 21 2015 07:55 17°Aq04' R * this is where we are now
Mer D Feb 11 2015 06:58 01°Aq19' D

Mer R May 18 2015 17:50 13°Ge08' R
Mer D Jun 11 2015 14:34 04°Ge34' D

Mer R Sep 17 2015 10:10 15°Li55' R
Mer D Oct 9 2015 06:58 00°Li55' D

Mercury Cycles Through Every Four Months

Every four months, Mercury stations and turns retrograde, remaining so for approximately twenty days. The retrograde cycles occur in consecutive zodiacal order as the calendar year progresses, yet the overall cycle indicates a subtle subcycle of a gradual precession of Mercury backwards through the elements.

This is because Mercury stations-retrograde in each of the signs at an earlier degree each time, gradually dropping back into the previous element. In doing so, it traverses the three signs of each element -- the trigons -- each station connecting a loose grand trine over a full cycle of three stations of Mercury in the course of thirteen months.

Mercury Retrograde: Introspection Time

The use of this cycle alerts us to the unconscious rhythms of reflection, and attunes us to our inner clock by dint of knowing where concentration and introspection are most needed. When to consider and reconsider ideas, projects, relationships and lifestyle according to one's own unique timing is the greater purpose of Mercury retrograde.

The entire cycle of elemental focus is repeated approximately every six or seven years. The cycle indicates that our entire planet, the collective, experiences retrogression according to the element, but that the individual brings it into personal focus through the lens of his or her own chart and refines the experience within the houses that contain those elements.

Mercury is a Tricky Teacher

Erin Sullivan MercuryIn this way, Hermes/Mercury is a teacher. Within the subtle movements of the retrograde cycle we can learn much from this tricky god, but we too have to play the game. The retrograde cycle is part of the archetypal journey from a known place, or from a set of values which are suddenly thrown into question.

Then follows the transition from that place of certainty down into the place of the unknown, where we battle with unseen or strange forces. It is in this liminal place that the wisdom of the unconscious is allowed to loosen and float to the surface giving instruction from that most intelligent source, the intuition.

When we struggle against the inevitable, or strive to alter the unavoidable timing of Mercury, we oppose the tao of existence. Therefore, understanding the principles of transiting Mercury retrograde as it moves through the elements maximizes potential within a natural rhythm. That rhythm is best expressed in a question form, and as each element in your horoscope is highlighted, a question arises that can act as a meditation guide.

Fire: How can my inspiration create my future?

Erin Sullivan FireWhen Mercury is retrograde in the Fire element you may make a lot of haphazard attempts to 'start something', a poor substitute for true inspiration. This angst about the future is necessary for creativity. Reaching a 'stuck' place in development brings pressure to bursting-point, forcing growth and allowing undeveloped potential to flow from the unconscious. It is essential to recognize that there are times when one has to go through a period of spiritual entropy to alert oneself to a need for change in creative production.

Western orientated cultural attitude towards play is not very healthy. It is a fairly well accepted notion that creativity and play are closely aligned. Schiller says that man is at his highest level only when he plays, when there is no conscious purpose, when the inner urge is not tempered by the 'civilizing agent' of externally imposed controls. This is most evident in the period associated with the Fire retrograde. Your need for play, creativity and spontaneity may have been preceded by a depression, and the retrogression can be the opportunity to descend into the awareness level of the mind, with no ego consciousness; out of this will emerge true inspiration.

In Creation Myths, Marie Louise Von Franz deals extensively with this concept of play. She states that the unconscious intent underlying depression is to bring the consciousness down into the nigredo, into the darkness of the unconscious, in order to release the creative spirit.

When Mercury's retrograde cycle is in the Fire trigon, it may well indicate that you are going through a transition of your creative focus in an outward direction. This is highlighted during the twenty-two-day periods of retrogression. It means that you will have to relearn how to play and how that adds a dimension of creativity to your life.

Creativity, more than just painting, music and the other fine arts, is a lifestyle. How do you respond to crisis, for example? With anger and resistance? Or with an increased awareness of the continual necessity to shift gears or look at life with renewed vision? A Fire retrograde will test your ability to respond to life with spontaneous energy, and to be more creative with your decisions for change.

On a practical level, your awareness of sedentary habits may provoke a fitness urge. Psychosomatic illnesses can arise that point specifically to the area of the psyche that is cramped or underactive. If you are in the artistic world, then a 'block' may be the very symptom that indicates the need for a change in technique or style. Ultimately this retrograde cycle will accent the need to experiment with new forms of being, new forms of thinking of yourself and new ways of relating to your sources of inspiration.

By assessing the houses that the Fire trigon occupies you will find some hints about the source of the restlessness. The revision of creative focus in your life over the next couple of years can drastically alter your future direction and in a way more appropriate to the new emerging you. And, for your own sake, find ways to relax and enjoy life's pleasures.

Earth: What are the tangible results of my life?

Erin Sullivan EarthSecurity matters, practical concerns, and the most basic needs come to the fore in this phase. This is a time when you may find fault with your surroundings, whether this is home, job, country or your body! Do not: move, quit your job, emigrate or spend a lot of money. However, Do: look for the new opportunities and keep tabs on possibilities that could be more satisfying for you on the ego level.

On a personal level, you may find that you are being excessively self-critical. A critique is okay, but a shredding of the ego is not. You are undoubtedly needing to review and reassess your contract with the world of practical reality, but it is unwise to invalidate the past, which has probably done just fine up until now. If not, then it is time to bring out the objective assessor in your mind.

One good way of dealing with “regret” is to look at your assets and liabilities as if they were someone else's and go over the kind of advice that you would give them. It is imperative that objectivity be maintained in this particular cycle, when Earth is being accented in your chart.

Because the Earth trigon is related to the houses that pertain to all facets of worth, including money, self-esteem, working conditions, health, and so on, contributory factors to your function as a human being in the practical world of form, it is important to become aware of the deepest value of those resources.

The trigon's message is that if changes need to be made in those areas, and they are often the areas with the greatest resistance to change, then make them, or those changes will be thrust upon you. Naturally, this will affect the way you relate to your body and its needs, your job and its capacity to satisfy you, and your attitudes towards resources of all kinds, particularly financial.

Becoming more organized in the very bases of your life will, paradoxically, liberate your spontaneity. It will also alleviate any guilt you may feel about not attending to the fundamental details of life. The spirit is encased in the flesh, so attend to the flesh. This is not a particularly inspiring time, but much can be accomplished during the retrograde period that will result in very important practical returns. By concentrating on the necessities of life, you will be making more room for the perks. By dealing with the practical issues during this Earthy retrograde, you will find it easier to determine what is truly happening in your life because it will not be cluttered with unfinished business.

Air: What is the meaning of relationship in my life?

Erin Sullivan AirThis am be one of the most amusing am frustrating cycles of the retrograde. The houses in which the Air trigon is located in the birthchart are where reassessment of priorities will now be focused for the duration of the long-term cycle.
The thinking function is associated with Air, and the next year and a half or two years allows opportunity to focus on the meaning of the relationship in one's life. One may find 6neself deeply absorbed in the minutiae of activities. The Air trigon retrograde cycle emphasizes the techniques that are habitually employed in managing relationships.

Although the emphasis is on how one relates, this is not a particularly emotional cycle, concentrating instead on the patterns in relationships. By paying close attention to how one creates and develops associations with people, one finds a deeper awareness of the importance of relating. Of all times, this is when acute dissatisfaction within one's social milieu can arise. The overall tone is one of assessment of one's input and returns in all matters pertaining to relationships. It may be that over the last three months relationships not b«n very clear. By airing old problems and thinking through involvements with friends, family and other associations, unconscious sources of relational stress can be relieved.

Minor irritations that coincide most often during the Air cycle are: missed appointments, lost documents, faulty machinery, broken promises, well-intentioned but misleading information, and so on. Communications, relationships with groups, partners and also siblings are all Air archetypes. The archetype can manifest in myriad ways, but will always retain its original imago: That of Air . . . and all things that can be ‘listed’ under that heading!

These are some traditional signals to let go and pay attention to a greater message. The message is likely about time management and clarity in communications. Now is the opportunity to assess priorities and productivity in any given situation; coupled with reviewing or revising your long-term goals. As Socrates said in his defense speech – his apologia – to the Athenian jury at his trial for, among other ‘crimes’, his irritating search for truth: “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

There are times, however, when any thinking person doubts even this simple profundity. And the examined life can become a nightmare of doubt. It is good to critique, but not to criticize yourself, but to work to understand what your own psyche is urging you to explore (relative to the house that the retrograde is taking place in, and in the big overall picture of all three Air sign ruled or contained houses.

It is likely that Air retrogression is the worst possible time to buy machinery such as cars, computers, any communication devices, and anything that could be regarded as a mechanical extension of one’s mind or communication network. This is an excellent time to research what you need in the way of mechanical or communication tools – and explore your needs versus your wants You can work with this, however, by negotiation, setting times for settling arrangements for after Mercury goes direct and so on.
Upon Mercury turning direct, one will find what one needs. Also, the old warning: try to avoid either contractual or tacit/verbal agreements unless you are prepared to accept a radical alternative to the original plan or even a total reversal of events upon Mercury’s direction.
This cycle is best used for clearing the decks of complications and listing long-range goals. Having done something along those lines, space should be left to receive important signals, omens and synchronicities from the most intelligent source: your own psyche.
So often, what we expect is not exactly what transpires at the end of a retrograde cycle, but more often is precisely what is needed at the time. Implementing the necessary changes usually results I fewer complications to unravel (or even regret) when Mercury turns direct.

Water: What is the quality of my life?

Erin Sullivan WaterMercury turning retrograde in Water signs is an opportunity to rethink habit patterns and emotional responses to life challenges. The ·desire to retreat is strongest when Water is the element being emphasized over the two-year period. There will be between three and six opportunities over the next couple of years to experience interior reflex responses and to comprehend them consciously
The unconscious mind constantly influences daily life; visceral responses are body-memories of the early home environment, many of which ·are pre-verbal. Mercury retrograde in Water is the best time to analyse patterns based on inherited psychological traits. The houses that contain the three Water signs will present situations in which one finds oneself needing to resist overreacting to moods, feelings and &cc-floating anxiety. Subliminal messages in the environ­ mint signal what requires attention, and often one becomes more sensitive to the psyche/soma balance. One’s psychological needs and their physiological manifestations are particularly in synchrony during the years of the Water retrogression cycle.

Dream analysis and journal writing is particularly effective over this phase. Noting the symbols that arise spontaneously from the unconscious, one can become aware of emotional issues remain unresolved. Water represents the greatest depths and also the stagnant ponds of our most sensitive, private places. One's emotional needs in relationships with others could also probably use some revising; though only through time will the complex web unfold.

Retrogression in Water signs activates the feeling function, and our ability to trust the intrinsic value assigned to our life. If this aspect of our nature has been ignored, it will now demand attention. Circumstances arise in life in relation to the house transited by Mercury that requires careful examination for their contribution to the quality of life. The last retrograde cycle of Fire did not allow for much introspection into the nature of feelings. Emotional and mental balances are challenged. Forthrightness in relationships is recommended because if one attempts to escape from emotional responsibilities during this time, they surface later with increased complications.

Out of the past may appear old associations, representing who one was in the past, provoking an evaluation of emotional growth. This is one of the best times for self-evaluation. Emotional and spiritual growth become pressing issues, though they may be disguised as practical matters. If one probes deeply enough, it becomes apparent that the source is deep within and related to the submerged past. This will be the time in a six-year period when this particular overhaul can be performed in synchronous balance with one's own inner timing.

When Mercury turns direct, these issues may be left behind for a few months, hut any unfinished business will resurface for continued work three months hence. All the Water sign houses will be focused on several times in the course of the full cycle, bringing more to the surface each time.

*Refer to “Retrograde Planets: Traversing the Inner Landscape” Erin Sullivan. RedwheelWeiser. NY. 2002.

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