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New York, Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012

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Mercury Retrograde Election Day:
Astrology is No Excuse
By Eric Francis

Something happens this year that's never happened before in American history: Mercury stations retrograde on the day of a presidential election.

Everyone who follows astrology has heard the term "Mercury retrograde" -- the astrological manifestation of Murphy's Law. This is an approximately three-week spell, happening three times a year, wherein Mercury appears to move backwards through the zodiac. It's a visual illusion, a little like the train next to yours appearing to move backwards because it's moving more slowly.

Mercury is actually passing between the Earth and the Sun; the visual effect is an illusion, though the real effect may involve the influence of a gigantic magnet passing interfering with all the little magnets here on Earth (particularly the one known as the brain). Anyone who has followed this phenomenon knows that when Mercury goes retrograde, things get a little weird.

This happens three times a year. I know it seems a lot more frequent than that. Lots of people say that "Mercury is always retrograde," which is not true -- but Mercury is always Mercury, which means it's tricky, and requires a combination of cleverness, skill and respect to handle, whether moving retrograde or direct.

For those who are paying attention, there's a little reward involved in a Mercury station, which I've observed many times: the truth comes out. If there is a stroke of good fortune to this chart, and this election -- that's what it is.

November 6 is a Blustery Day

The first and last days of any Mercury retrograde are usually the most challenging. Those days are called “stations,” which is short for stationary; one is the station retrograde (when the retrograde begins), and one is the station direct (when it ends). The word “station” in this context means "changes directions."

There can be considerable confusion on the day of Mercury station, and in fact for about four days on either side there's something astrologers refer to as the Mercury storm. Think of this as the change of direction rippling out in time. It's turbulent, just like a ferry pulling into the dock, with the captain putting the engines in reverse to slow the ship down.

When that happens, the water is churning in all directions. On the day of a Mercury station, that's how the mental and psychic energy feels. We get the worst, and the most interesting, manifestations of the retrograde on the days that it begins and ends -- and that happens next on Nov. 6, the day of the 2012 presidential election, when Mercury stations retrograde in early Sagittarius.

Someone on the Planet Waves research team compared all the dates of retrogrades to the dates of presidential elections, and discovered that Mercury has never before stationed retrograde on the day of a presidential election.

Planet Waves
Mercury (in green, at the center of the image) the moment it stations retrograde. It's conjunct asteroid Isis, which is about fragmentation or 'putting the pieces together'. One particular asteroid in this graphic -- Apollo -- is about lessons of the past not learned, or the same mistakes made over and over.
And it's only stationed direct on an Election Day once. Take a guess what year that was.

That was on Election Day 2000, when Al Gore won the election and George Bush took office. Remember the chaos that surrounded that election? It really was classic Mercury station material. And it's not a good precedent. Clearly, it was a terrible outcome; we ended up with a president who owed nothing to the people, because the people did not elect him. The Supreme Court elected him, in part by halting a recount. (The station direct happened in Libra, the scales -- an appropriate sign for describing judicial intervention.)

Mercury stationing retrograde on Election Day begins a long process of the retrograde (three weeks retrograde, and then three weeks when Mercury moves direct through the territory where it was during the retrograde, called the shadow phase). This begins just in the last hours of the voting process.

All of the tallying, the news reporting, the certifications and the legal challenges, will happen not just under a retrograde; most of it will happen under the influence of the station, the retrograde and the shadow phase. This means there will be questions about accuracy in all of the above areas.

What is this suggesting? We are looking at the possibility first of uncertainty about the outcome; and of irregularities that could take weeks or months to sort out, and where the truth may never be known. The results may seem to change suddenly -- and then change back. We could see an avalanche of incompetence in the work of running the elections. Where Mercury and especially Mercury retrogrades are concerned, there is always the possibility for technical failures that are poorly timed, or well timed, depending on who benefits. These events can represent things beyond anyone's control, but when there is so much at stake, it's necessary to scrutinize events and all the surrounding facts carefully.

With the retrograde happening in Sagittarius (another sign associated with the courts) there are likely to be legal challenges. My colleagues and I at Planet Waves have been analyzing this chart for a year; it seems to illustrate the meltdown of the electoral process. Arguably, it's already in a meltdown, though when Mercury stations retrograde, an overloaded system can suddenly find itself manifesting a collapse that was previously concealed.

We don't really need astrology to see this coming. Most of us are familiar with Republican efforts to block Democratic voters in many states, including purging the voter rolls, blocking early voting in Democratic counties, blocking Sunday voting in places where black people go from church straight to the polls, requiring identification that many old people, students and poor people lack, and numerous other games. These fraudulent efforts are being conducted in the name of allegedly preventing fraud; yet the only fraud we've actually seen has been in years when a Republican won, particularly 2000.

The organization Common Cause lists Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia as states vulnerable to problems. For example, there could be poll watchers whose job is really to bully people at the polls, and block them from voting. Common Cause wrote in a recent report that these are "states where races are expected to be competitive, which makes voters in those states particularly vulnerable to challenges." Quoting one Tea Party voter reform activist, we hear they want to make voting "like driving and seeing the police following you."

All these efforts conclude on a presidential Election Day -- the first in history -- where Mercury stations retrograde. It makes perfect sense, really, even if we only use astrology as an illustration of conditions pointing to a probable result. Or, many small results that lead to an avalanche. One curious thing about this chart is that Mercury is exactly conjunct asteroid Isis when it stations retrograde. You can look at this as "putting the pieces together" (such as the public figuring out what really happened) or as "how many small things it takes to make a lot."

Mutual Reception: Two Sides to One Story

There's an especially interesting factor in the chart for the retrograde, which suggests the potential for even more complications than normal. Think of it as an astrological shell game. Mercury will be in Sagittarius, and Jupiter will be in Gemini. If you know a little astrology you might recognize that Mercury will be in Jupiter's sign and Jupiter will be in Mercury's sign. That's a rare condition called mutual reception. These are powerful, and they can be very strange. There was a similar mutual reception happening, also involving Mercury, in the chart for the Sept. 11 incident.

Planet Waves
Obama and Romney are considered different candidates with different ideologies. Yet when you look at their actual records, they're not really so different; it's more like they're different expressions of the same corporate government.
Mutual reception can have several effects. One is that the planets can seem to trade places in their influence. We have to look carefully what's coming from what direction, who is projecting and who might be blaming someone with doing what they just did.

Another interpretation is that of a hostage situation. The two planets are in a sense held captive in a sign they have little in common with. This isn't necessarily a literal hostage situation, but rather one of interlocking dysfunctional ideologies, or a situation involving extreme codependency. We live with this every day, and rarely call it what it is; the problem is that this kind of involvement reflects something about our personal lives, and our inability to stand up for what we really believe in, quite often, no matter how much it matters.

A third interpretation is that this indicates a situation in which seemingly different political theories and approaches actually support one another. In an election, we're supposed to be differentiating between the candidates, but we don't usually notice the ways in which their approaches and conduct are similar, identical, or where the ideologies are codependent. An influence of this could be that whatever happened is being planned, or at least accepted, by both sides in the election.

However this may manifest, the two sides here are inextricably linked. We can see how this manifests in policies that have continuity from one administration to the other -- such as when legal and moral boundaries that are breached during Republican administrations become business as usual during Democratic administrations. Many were upset or even outraged at Guantanamo Bay, saying it represented the most oppressive conduct of the Bush/Cheney administration. Obama promised to change that, and he's left it in place. There are many examples of how this happens.

And this is described by the planets, representing the opposing forces being in one another's signs, locked in a kind of spiral they cannot get out of. Part of that spiral is the extent to which corporate money, in vast amounts, has been infused into this election, thanks to the Citizens' United ruling of 2010.

Behind the facade of ideology is the fact that "the business of America is business," and I don't mean the local ice cream shop. I mean the companies that can afford to buy elections

The Last Weeks of the Race: The International Angle

Let's look at the few weeks prior to the election, which are just as interesting as Mercury stationing retrograde. On Oct. 6, one month before the election, Mars arrives in Sagittarius. Currently, there is a power source in Sagittarius that's in part responsible for all the religious fanaticism we're seeing in the world, including the strange beliefs driving the American right wing, and its mirror image, what we call "extremist Islamists."

Planet Waves
Last year's Occupy protests emerged seemingly out of nowhere -- and spread around the world. There is the possibility for much wider-scale protests in mid-autumn. In this photo, Mashtots Park activists, part of the Occupy movement, protesting in front of the city hall of Yerevan, Armenia. Photo by Songoffall / Wikipedia.
Most people think these Koran-thumping, bomb-throwing Muslims are weird; I say that the American fundamentalist movement is far stranger. We know about their apocalyptic thinking, the notion that the world is ending and that Jesus is coming back and therefore, let's help things along and have a big for-profit, misogynistic, homophobic hate orgy.

Mars in Sagittarius (the planet of aggression in the sign of religion) is going to heat this up, and we're very likely to see numerous unusual outbursts of religious fervor in October and early November. This will be on both sides of the ideological divide. We are looking at an election where religion is the most likely factor to mobilize the base (whatever base that is), rather than (for example) the economy. The issues involving religion are the ones that evoke the deepest emotional response; voters are easily agitated on the pro-choice and anti-choice sides of the fence, and this is inherently a religious issue. We may see this pushed to a new and impressive degree.

Sagittarius is also the sign of international affairs; Mars trekking across this sign in the last weeks of the election and for the week after looks like some kind of contentious international event. In the first week of November -- right before the election -- Mars is right in the thick of the Sagittarius mix, making contact with a group of small planets that carry themes of cruelty, warfare, grief and mourning. Are we looking at some outsized terrorism event? An assassination? A 'new' war?

We are also in the midst of the 2012 aspect -- Uranus square Pluto, which spans from mid-2012 through early 2015. The charts of Iran are aligned with this aspect, and the current astrology is coming right at them. Some form of manipulated international event is likely to influence the election, with everyone standing in shock wondering how this could have happened.

If you ask me, this chart and the scenarios that surround it have as much in common with the election of 1980 as they do with the election of 2000. The 1980 election was influenced by the hostage crisis in Iran. Reagan and Bush cut a deal with the terrorists, who kept the hostages through the election and then released them just as Reagan was being sworn into office on Jan. 20, 1981. This was a facet of what became known as the Iran-Contra scandal, which finally bubbled up to the surface during Reagan's sixth year in office.

Corporations United

On one level, all of this chaos is a ruse. It's being used by people who have other agendas, those that thrive in conditions where order has been broken up into a kind of cultivated anarchy. The chart for the 2012 election is a warning to be aware of the agendas that are at play.

Planet Waves
The Supreme Court of Corporations.
As author Chris Hedges wrote after the Citizens' United decision that allowed unlimited corporate spending in elections, "Liberals, socialists, trade unionists, independent journalists and intellectuals, many of whom were once important voices in our society, have been silenced or targeted for elimination within corporate-controlled academia, the media and government."

For this reason, he says, political discourse ignores or marginalizes nearly all of the brightest thinkers. Even if they get into the media, can they count on people knowing who they are? I once watched an interview with Ramsey Clark, who was identified as a "peace activist," not as the former attorney general of the United States.

Hedges continues, "The uniformity of opinion is reinforced by the skillfully orchestrated mass emotions of nationalism and patriotism, which paints all dissidents as 'soft' or 'unpatriotic'. The 'patriotic' citizen, plagued by fear of job losses and possible terrorist attacks, unfailingly supports widespread surveillance and the militarized state. This means no questioning of the $1 trillion in defense-related spending. It means that the military and intelligence agencies are held above government, as if somehow they are not part of government.

"The most powerful instruments of state power and control are effectively removed from public discussion. We, as imperial citizens, are taught to be contemptuous of government bureaucracy, yet we stand like sheep before Homeland Security agents in airports and are mute when Congress permits our private correspondence and conversations to be monitored and archived. We endure more state control than at any time in American history."

So what are we to do? Pay attention. Yes, vote. Help bring out the vote; encourage others (especially young people) to vote and try to take at least one other person to the polls, who might not normally go. If you experience anything strange, document it.

Question what you see and hear in the media. Question your own opinions. Educate others about what you learn. Use every tool at your disposal to get the word out. Take a personal stand and refuse to believe lies, and refuse to be manipulated. Research the truth yourself, and try to figure out what's really going on. Yes, Mercury will be retrograde, and it may be hard to get to the bottom of things. But astrology is no excuse.

Note -- minor edits were made to this article on Sept. 23. The original publication date is Sept. 22, though one email edition said the 23rd; we have reverted to the original date. Second Note: Additional minor edits were made Sept. 28, including the replacement of one photo, with the Armenia protest image from Wikipedia. -- efc.

Another Note -- A revised version of this article was published on Huffington Post on Weds., Oct. 3. -- ef

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