It seems Mercury retrogrades are becoming more entrenched and dramatic. It may be the pervasive nature of modern-day Mercury, which has invaded every area of our lives, with communication devices abounding and seemingly taking over. From cell phones and smart phones to tablets, laptops, notebooks, and now even watch-sized devices, not to mention the increasingly antiquated-seeming desktop computer, Mercury’s tentacles reach into every corner and venue, until we’re connected virtually 24/7, whether we want to be or not.
The recent Mercury retrograde station of May 19, 2015, in Mercury’s own sign of Gemini, provided many dramatic manifestations of the Trickster’s broad variety of rulerships, and just how crazy life can be when the winged messenger backpedals. We’ll look at a few examples form the national news, local news, and my own personal experiences.
On the national front, the station period (granting a day before and after for its most immediate effects) brought us one of the largest consumer recalls in history, for airbags on 34 million automobiles (cars being Mercury-ruled); a major oil pipeline break and spill on the California coast (linking, connecting energies or apparatus are also Mercury-ruled); the first foray into press corps waters by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (Mercury ruling the press); and the retirement of late night talk show host David Letterman (“talk” shows being also in Mercury’s bailiwick).
On the day of the station, Japanese manufacturer Takata announced a massive increase in the existing recall on their airbags, bringing the recall total to 34 million, nearly 1 in 7 cars on US roads. Some 18 million vehicles had been recalled for airbag replacement in December 2014, but the recall was expanded due to ongoing concerns about the product’s safety, with at least six deaths already linked to faulty airbag operation.
Takata is the world’s fourth largest maker of airbags, most of which are installed in Honda cars, but the recall affects dozens of models across a half dozen brands. The faulty airbags have been known to explode even with minimal impact from minor accidents, sending bits of metal like shrapnel into the driver’s and front passenger’s seating areas. The symbolism of a recall (going back into or revisiting a situation) involving a transportation vehicle is the perfect illustration of Mercury in retrograde, and the huge number of persons affected is a testament to Mercury’s increased power in its home sign.
Also on May 19, Houston-based Plains All American Pipeline Company announced a breach in one of their oil pipelines on the California coast near Santa Barbara. With typical synchronic perversity, the spill occurred adjacent to Refugio State Beach, a protected state park, and affected a wide variety of wildlife. Originally stated to be 21,000 gallons, updated estimates by the company suggest that more than 100,000 gallons of crude oil may actually have been released from the 24-inch diameter pipeline, forming a massive, nine-square-mile slick along the coast. Mercury rules plumbing and any linking, connective apparatus such as pipelines.
After feeling the heat for weeks about not granting interviews or taking questions during her nascent presidential campaign’s “listening tour”, on the day of the Mercury retrograde station Hillary Clinton finally responded to the criticism. Clinton gave an impromptu news conference while stumping in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, graciously deigning to answer half dozen questions in five minutes from the gaggle of press hangers-on following the campaign. Clinton addressed such recent controversies as the release of her State Department emails, the questionable ethics of fundraising in the Clinton Foundation, and her vote in favor of the Iraq War in 2002 (made newsworthy once more by the recent spate of Republican presidential candidates’ gaffes on this issue). Besides the obvious aptness of a news story involving the press itself on a strong Mercury day, the symbolism of Clinton’s sudden about-face on the issue of taking questions also perfectly reflects the symbolism of Mercury’s change in direction.
Hillary’s change of heart may have as much to do with her namesake asteroid’s change of direction as Mercury’s. Just a week before, asteroid Hillary turned retrograde at 8 Capricorn, signaling the potential for a major shift in the campaign. Hillary remains retrograde until August, but once it resumes forward motion, it’s full steam ahead, remaining direct through the entire campaign season until the election itself, when it forms its next retrograde station in exact trine to the Election Day Sun.
On the evening of May 20, the day after the station, legendary late night fixture David Letterman formally retired from his 33-year talk show stint. Originally following Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show” on NBC, Letterman premiered his “Late Night” show in 1982. When NBC passed him over as Carson’s replacement in 1992, Letterman switched to the earlier time slot on rival network CBS with his “Late Show with David Letterman”, directly competing with Carson’s successor, Jay Leno. The prior Mercury retrograde station in February had seen stunning reversals of circumstance for two other media legends, Brian Williams and Jon Stewart—Williams, who was suspended, and Stewart, who announced his retirement [for a full analysis of this, see my article “Mercury Station Fallout” in the April 2015 Daykeeper Journal], so another major turning point for a media figure was hardly an unprecedented development under a Mercury station.
Dave’s retirement was illustrated celestially by an exact opposition from the Sun at 29 Taurus (the 29th, or last, degree of any sign is often manifested as a point of endings) to asteroid Letterman at 29 Scorpio, bringing the day’s focus powerfully to David Letterman personally. Asteroid Letterman is also conjunct Saturn at 1 Sagittarius retrograde, a symbol of loss, limitation or ending. In addition, asteroid Davida (for David) at 20 Virgo was trine Pluto on the 15 Capricorn Ascendant for the 11:35 PM start of the final show, a fitting symbol for the man who transformed (Pluto) late night television and the talk show format in general..
On the local news scene here in Philadelphia, the station date coincided with Pennsylvania’s primary election. Mercury rules virtually every aspect of an election, from the decision-making process to the casting of the actual ballots and their tabulation. The Philadelphia mayoralty is up for grabs this November, but as a reliably Democratic town, the real action in this race occurs at the primary, when the next mayor is chosen de facto by the Democratic candidate then selected.
When the polls opened at 7 AM, the skies told the tale—with Saturn at 1 Sagittarius on the 9 Sagittarius Ascendant and Mercury at 13 Gemini on the 9 Gemini Descendant, it was clear that the vote (Mercury) for the city’s CEO (Saturn) was well-timed, whatever caveats there might be about tabulation on a Mercury station day. Despite Neptune at 9 Pisces exactly squared the Horizontal Axis, voting went smoothly, and the results were never in doubt—Jim Kenney easily beat his field of five opponents, major among whom were Anthony Williams and former DA Lynne Abraham. Kenny walked away with 56% of the vote, outstripping his nearest competitor by some 30 points.
Kenney’s victory was portrayed simply with a close square from asteroid Kenny at 0 Pisces to asteroid Victoria, named for the Roman goddess of victory, at 2 Gemini, conjoined Mars at 5 Gemini, adding energy and fight to his campaign. The Moon, representing the public, started the election day at 14 Gemini in concert with Mercury, but by the time the win had been granted to Jim Kenney at 9:03 PM, she had moved to 22 Gemini to conjoin asteroid James at 25 Gemini, clearly showing Jim Kenney as the choice of the people.
Asteroid James was also neatly ensconced in an exact sextile to asteroid Nike, named for the Greek goddess of victory, at 25 Leo, reiterating the “winner” theme. Opponent Anthony Williams was represented by asteroid Antonia, which at 5 Gemini saw Williams’ support, once equal to Kenney’s, eroded and dissolved by a conjunction with Neptune at 9 Pisces. Williams was also represented by asteroid Williams, paired with asteroid Lynn (for rival candidate Lynne Abraham) at 13 and 10 Taurus, but their weak squares to Jupiter at 15 Leo and trines to Pluto at 15 Capricorn were not enough to pull off the win, though both candidates did considerably better than the three remaining challengers in the field.
On a personal note, the Mercury station brought two stunning reversals in medical diagnosis, and a few curve balls as well. With its 13 Gemini stopping point coming up to square my natal Moon at 19 Virgo, health matters were likely to be under review for this retrograde cycle.
On Monday May 18, I had an appointment with my eye doctor; as a borderline glaucoma candidate, we’d been having these little fireside chats every three to six months for over a year and a half, so imagine my surprise and shock when I entered the office, only to find that my doctor had disappeared! Doubly Mercury-ruled, as a doctor generally and one focused (no pun intended) on sensory organs specifically, she had moved to Ohio without notifying any patients. Note here the impact of Neptune, ruling absence and disappearance, in square to the 13 Gemini Mercury from 9 Pisces, with an added potential for confusion or misdiagnosis. The station also conjoined my natal Kassandra, bringing up issues of credibility and trust, and sure enough the new doctor is of the opinion that my eyes are “just fine—nothing to worry about”, and stating I don’t need to come back for a year!
Of course, the question is, which doc is right? And my inclination, under the prevailing skies, is go to with the original diagnosis, though recently the eye pressures have been consistently in the “high normal” range.
The station day itself was a repeat of that medical “now you see it, now you don’t” prestidigitation. My primary doctor had identified what seemed to be a small ventral hernia in my abdomen, and sent me for an ultrasound. The tech at the hospital found a slight anomaly, but nothing penetrating the abdominal wall, and hence, no hernia, though I do experience a distinct “popping” sensation at times of exertion or gastric upset. The tech called in a doctor on staff to confirm, and he, too, ruled out a hernia.
Just for the halibut, I ran a chart for the 8 AM appointment when I got home, and wasn’t surprised to find Neptune on the 10 Pisces MC, creating confusion and alternate interpretations. The Vertical Axis also overlaid a natal opposition from Chiron to Pluto at 1 Pisces and 4 Virgo, reiterating health themes and bringing that opposition powerfully to the forefront of the moment. I’d also taken note of the names of the receptionist who logged me in for the procedure, and the doctor called to consult (the tech’s badge was reversed, and I could not see her name), and plugged those into the chart.
The receptionist was represented very dramatically in the moment of the appointment, appropriate for his pivotal role in getting me integrated into the day’s activity. With asteroid Christophe at 5 Pisces on the MC and the asteroid representing his last name exactly opposed from 5 Virgo on the IC, there was no mistaking his influence. The doctor who confirmed the disappearing hernia was represented by asteroid Lindsayleona at 2 Sagittarius with Saturn (authority figures) at 1 Sagittarius, and asteroid Williams at 13 Taurus exactly semisextile Mercury (doctors) and the Moon (health generally) at 13 and 15 Gemini, also square Jupiter (good outcomes) at 15 Leo and trine Pluto (ruptures like hernias) at 15 Capricorn.
All in all, some very good-sounding diagnoses, but personally, I think I’ll revisit these health issues at a less volatile time.