• Mercury rides into Sagittarius, goes OOB and retrograde….

    Here we are again on the brink of another Mercury retrograde period, the third and final one of this year.

    Mercury will enter the optimistic sign of Sagittarius on the 31st October, slip back into Scorpio for 12 days during the retrograde period (lasting from 16th November to 6th December) and will also be out-of-bounds (OOB)***from 3rd to 20th November.

    The retrograde period starts at 13°28’ Sagittarius (antiscion 16°32’ Capricorn) and will end at 27° 17’ Scorpio (antiscion 2°43’ Aquarius).

    Mercury begins his retrograde period with a square to Neptune (also retrograde) in Pisces at 13°. Will our thoughts and plans get even more confused? Will we try to pull the wool over someone’s eyes? Will we find ourselves believing in something unreal? Or…will we be able to control our fantasies and enjoy a greater sensitivity and awareness of the more subtle aspects of our thought processes and put them to good use once the retrograde is over?

    Mercury in Sagittarius is playful and best suits his prankster fame, I also see it as a “foot in the mouth” position, Sagittarius loves the truth and Mercury here often blurts it out in a very tactless fashion. Mercury is also prone to preaching here too but it’s also an excellent placement for travelling and intellectual discourse. The retrograde and the OOB condition could give extra versatility to our thought processes as we use this period for re-thinking, re-doing and re-inventing our future plans. Mercury retrograde in a Fire sign could bring up questions such as “How can I use my inspiration to create my future?”

    When the planet backtracks into Scorpio (reaching only the later degrees of the sign) thoughts get more focussed and often persistent if not obsessive. The Scorpio Mercury loves intrigue and if those thoughts do come out then they could be whispered rather than voiced loudly. Mercury retrograde in a Water sign could provoke questions such as “What is the emotional quality of my life?”

    When Mercury stations retrograde it appears in the sky as an evening star, a week or so after it stations direct it appears as a morning star.

    Astrologer Erin Sullivan, who has contributed majorly to our knowledge of the retrograde planets, cites David Peat and his book “Synchronicity” when describing the period during which Mercury is direct as a cycle of attention whilst retrograde Mercury imposes a cycle of awareness. According to Sullivan, Mercury retrograde is thus an excellent teaching device if we acknowledge that something significant is calling for awareness and that something important will emerge from the unconscious regarding the house placement of natal Mercury and the house where it is transiting as well as the houses the planets rules.

    A Mercury retrograde period is also an excellent time for doing some research about any mechanical or technological devices we might need to purchase so that we will have gathered all the information we need when the planets starts its forward motion once again and we’ll be in a good position to find exactly what we’re looking for.

    Many astrologers view a Mercury retrograde period as a time when communications of all types (telephone calls, emails, transport problems etc.) might go askew but it is also a good time to catch up on old correspondence or to go over previous plans to make sure they’re workable. However, it may not be a good idea to sign contracts or binding documents during a Mercury retrograde period or to book travel tickets because there could be some hindrance or complication in these tasks.

    Mercury rules the signs of Gemini (opposite Sagittarius) and Virgo (square Sagittarius) so these will be particularly affected by the retrograde motion as will any planets you might have in your third house which is traditionally associated with Mercury as well.

    A little bit of history:

    Mercury in the Greek myth is associated with Hermes and he held an amazing number of roles here; thief, storyteller (aka liar), trickster, magician, craftsman, messenger of the gods, the god of boundaries, commerce, merchants, words and language among the many. He was the only god who had permission to travel freely between the Underworld and the heights of Olympus.

    Mercury is so versatile that he can take on any of the archetypes represented by the other planets too and in this way he is also good at making deals or compromises and the house placement of Mercury in your chart will show where you’re good at this also.

    The Sabian symbol for Mercury’s Retrograde station at 14° Sagittarius: “The great Pyramid and the Sphinx.” Indicating the enduring power of occult knowledge and of its quasi-divine custodians, “Seed-Men” of a previous cycle of existence.

    For the Direct Station at 28° Scorpio: “The King of the Fairies approaching his domain.” Indicating the capacity in man to recognise and to pay homage to an integrating Principle at the core of all existence.

    “There is no shame in not knowing; the shame lies in not finding out.”  Russian proverb

    Are you ready for this retrograde?



    McEvers J., (1989), Planets, ‘Mercury’ by Erin Sullivan, pp 80-119, Llewellyn Publications, St Paul, MN, USA, cited Peats D. F. (1987), “Synchronicity”, Chapter B, Bantam Books

    **Rudhyar D. (1974) “An Astrological Mandala: the cycles of transformations and its 360 symbolic phases”. pp 208, 218, Vintage Books Edition, Random House Inc., New York, USA

    *** What does it mean for a planet to be OOB? When we cast an astrological chart we use a precise locality (birth place) on the earth and from this observation point we take note of the position of the planets in the sky at the time of birth and this enables us to calculate the angles that the planets form to the given locality. Another point of reference however is the celestial equator (which is the terrestrial equator elongated into space). When planets travel beyond 23°27’ either side of the celestial equator, be it North or South, they are referred to as “out of bounds”.

    Image: myskypie2018