Mercury: Walking the Hot, Thin Line

Mercury: Walking the Hot, Thin Line

EVERYONE LOVES a partially cooked theory; just watch the news any night of the week. As Roberta Folt writes in this week’s fine edition of The Onion, “All it takes is a little supposition mixed with critical theorizing and you can easily stumble on a tenuous half-truth that really makes you think.”

She must be an astrologer, secretly delivering a coded message about Mercury retrograde in Sagittarius. This begins Monday, Nov. 14 and proceeds through Sunday, Dec. 4. Actually, the whole thing does not exclusively involve Mercury in Sagittarius; we are in for a little treat. Indeed, on Nov. 26, the wild and unpredictable cosmic winds of fate have dictated that Mercury shall retrograde into Scorpio, where it remains through Dec. 12, before finally re-entering Sagittarius.

Of note, the Sun itself changes signs from Scorpio to Sagittarius on Nov. 22, emphasizing the point. So we get the experience of Mercury retrograde in two different and seemingly distinct cosmic shades.

Yet when God made the zodiac, Thee did not do so willy-nilly. It was not slapped together by a substandard imitation artisan in an ill-conceived or slovenly fashion, or potchkied into being haphazardly by a nebbish cosmic baker just itching to get home and open a beer; but rather, the majestic Universe was constructed thoughtfully and designed intelligently by One Who knows. And I do not use capital letters lightly.

Therefore, there is a reason that Scorpio and Sagittarius are neighbors; and I am going to tell you that reason, if you have a few spare moments before that huge meeting. So relax a bit; get some coffee; but keep it away from your keyboard please, because if there was ever a day you risked spilling it, it is today, and I should know these things, and by the way the IT manager of your company has finally decided to take a vacation — so for now, you’re own your own.

However, before I get philosophical and pen forth one of my usual 3,750 word tomes on a minor, trivial subject such as the exceedingly rare but very pleasant Hopi-Amor sextile, I know exactly what you are thinking: is this going to be another one of those typical Mercury retrogrades that toasts the company’s new mail server (purchased exactly three months ago, hint hint), smoking over the computer center and thus setting off the alarm system and sprinklers everywhere, soaking my new leather jacket and 2006 date book, and causing the evacuation of the entire complex just as I finally got up the nerve to ask out so-and-so who was standing right by the water cooler, taking the last three years of PowerPoint presentations with it?

Well, if you’ll be patient a moment, I’ll tell you.

I have studied this particular chart for this particular Mercury retrograde since 1988, long before I was supposedly an astrologer; that’s how curious I was about it. And based on these 18 years of research, funded by Rand, I can tell you unequivocally: No. Probably not. Unlikely. I doubt it.

But you had better watch your PowerPoint shows all one last time for good measure, doing your best to memorize every word, and savor every oh-so-familiar (but once forgotten) graphic that you threw together at 7:30 in the morning before your boss got to work. Pondering sales projections from six seasons ago and organizational restructuring diagrams from 2003 will, with any luck, keep you distracted from doing something far more dangerous, such as backing up your disk drive.

Now, as for why the Almighty Creator of the Benevolent Universe stuck two signs like Scorpio and Sagittarius as neighbors, here are some clues. Yes, it is true that this phenomenon reminds me a little of Homer Simpson living next door to Archie Bunker; or I Love Lucy next to Simone de Boudoire; David Bowie next to Lawrence Welk; Jonathan Caner next to Jean Paul Satire.

Scorpio is the sign of sex, death, money, power, death, sex, power, contracts, obsessions, sex, wills, hormones, pheromones, bank loans, sexuality, corporations, obsessions, estates, the pelvis, sex and power. Everyone knows this, particularly you. Also, it should be noted that Scorpios love playing with kittens, particularly the feeling of their claws, which has nothing to do with estates, loans, etc. Sometimes playing with a kitten is just playing with a kitten.

Sagittarius, which is divided from Scorpio by one tick of the clock; one infinitesimally small imaginary thin line; is the astrological sign of spirituality, the higher self, foreign travel, airplanes in general, certain helicopters, God, Jesus, Buddha, Allah, Baba O’Reilly, Amma, meditation, mantras, the New Age, airy fairy beliefs such as gnomes, certain kinds of really weird opinions that you get away with because nobody else understands what you are saying, travel agents, ethics, philosophy, higher education, priests, nuns, mysticism and women who win arguments. Totally obvious.

You may be wondering what kind of demented cosmic scheme would have these two signs not only being next door neighbors, but in fully attached duplex two family homes, set up in mirror image with the bedrooms sharing thin adjoining walls so that everything — everything, even if you’re whispering — is loud enough to hear what’s happening on the other side. Right?

After several decades of therapy, numerous lifetimes as an occultist and military general, reading Esoteric Astrology or at least sleeping with it under my pillow, taking astrology classes personally from Barbara Hand Clow on the isle of Crete, getting the occasional email from Rob Brezsny, having been the keynote speaker at the Celebration of Sacred Sexuality in California in 1997 and having roamed here, there and other places as well, including visiting both Holland and Amsterdam, I can give you this bit of studied insight.

The reason is, it’s holy to be horny. It is sacred to be sexy. It is Sagittarian to be Scorpionic, and vice versa.

The simple truth stands tall. At least according to astrology. Sex and mysticism are neighbors. Erotic surrender of the 8th house is the path to the enlightenment of the 9th house. You can orgasm right from one space to the next.

And over the next couple of weeks, we’re going to be taking a ride in a speedy little luxury flying saucer called Mercury, zooming back and forth over the Scorpio-Sagittarius imaginary boundary, which was the approximate location things were going down the first time someone ever said, “Oh God, oh God.”

Where these two signs meet is not a linear boundary but rather a dimension intersecting with ours that opens to a very different world, where the properties of the erotic sphere of experience and those of the mystical don’t contradict, but rather manifest as the same experience.

To reach this space, we usually need to go though the material of the 8th sign/house (Scorpio) to enter this world. Scorpio represents a loss of individuality through relationship and the confrontation of what some call ‘ego death’. This can be the surrender of self into relationship and transcending the sense (usually through repeated experience) that the self is lost in the experience of relating to another.

To go beyond an 8th house model of relating is to experience love in such a way that we grow and change, but maintain awareness of an inner reality that survives the experience; that is, core self. It is core self that shows up in the 9th house (a Sagittarian reality) as what some call the ‘higher self’ or superconscious self. And true to the teachings of many esoteric schools and natural religions that pre-date Christianity, the way to the essence of spirit, treading the great wheel of life, is through the transformations of the Scorpionic world of the 8th house.

Yet the borderland between what we think of as sexual and what we think of as mystical is a cosmos of its own, and generally people leap across the line and miss the subtle threshold that joins these two supposedly opposing realities — and which spreads in every direction. Over the next four or five weeks, we will all be spending quite a bit of time there, as Mercury travels in this area and allows our minds to access it from several points of view.

So — let’s see what we learn; feel free to check in with your observations.

A minor planet is involved in this experience, Ixion. Mercury stations retrograde on the 14th in the 11th degree of Sagittarius, the exact location of this relatively newly discovered planet (Ixion) that resides close to Pluto’s orbit.

Here is my most recent commentary on Ixion, adapted from my article “Worlds Beyond Neptune”:

Ixion, a Plutino discovered in 2001 and orbiting in just over 247 years, this planet is named for a mythologized former king, a descendent of Ares and, notably, the first human to commit murder. Would-be rapist of the gods (in particular, he attempted to rape Hera), betrayer of friends (in particular, Zeus, who brought him to Olympus to help him, at which point he created his plan to rape Hera), master of ingratitude and squanderer of second chances, he’s the forefather of all Centaurs save one — Chiron, who descends from Kronos. [It has now come to light, via Melanie Reinhart that Chiron has siblings of the same genetic origin as himself — more on that soon.] Ixion suggests ‘what we are all capable of’ and points to the common thread among all forms of violence, physical or emotional. Ixion is the pattern or psychological construction which says we cannot change our inherent nature no matter what the consequences or punishment. He relates to the collective memory of ‘original sin’ (murder, not sex) and how this is recalled, perhaps subtly, in any experience of desire, transformation or passion. An issue with Ixion is projecting the idea and feeing of violence onto sexuality, a common confusion in an age when we are still learning the difference between rape and sex. The remedy for Ixion afflictions is gratitude, seeing oneself in the other, atoning for one’s betrayals with honesty, and recognizing that, at least in potential, we are all equal with equal capabilities.++

Web Site Review – Astrology Tools by Art of Web Design

Tracy Delaney, who is responsible for many of the programming innovations that have come to Planet Waves (the blogs, the world clock and others), has created an astrology tools web page at There are many astrology tools on the Internet, and because I use minor planets a lot, I’m always searching for the most useful one. Look no further.

The ephemeris (based on the Swiss Ephemeris) will give you the positions of the major planets, the Uranian points, numerous named planets beyond Neptune (such as Varuna and Sedna), all the named centaurs, and 50 asteroids. The ephemeris also lists the positions of the Galactic Core and the Great Attractor to the arc minute, as well as the position of the mighty M87 galaxy in early Libra.

The ephemeris is sortable by name, speed, degree position and other factors.

There is also an occultation and eclipse finder, an aspect finder and a new graphic chart display. The whole project is free to all users, and open source. And it’s a pleasure to use — I put it to work for the first time yesterday during astrological sessions, and because I could switch back and forth between planet name and degree location, I could find what I was looking for quickly and easy. Have fun, and happy studying.

Don’t miss our new Graphic Links Page — listed as “Friends” on the Planet Waves homepage. We will be adding to this regularly.

In Other Planetary Gnus

LUNA IS AT THE FULL on Wednesday, Nov. 16 (Tuesday in some time zones, particularly in the United States). This is the annual Taurus Full Moon, and it makes prominent aspects to several planets. First is Pallas Athene, with whom the Sun is in a close, applying conjunction at the time of the lunation. Athene is the protectress; the defender of the city, and of truth. The second is Chiron, which is trine/sextile the Full Moon. Now in its final weeks in Capricorn for our cycle of history (Chiron will return to Capricorn Jan. 16, 2052, in an exact conjunction with Juno), we are seeing a lot of Chiron in Capricorn manifesting. Note that many of the world powers that were in place at the time this transit began in late 2001 are now severely weakened, particularly US “president” George W. Bush; British Prime Minister Tony Blair; French Prime Minister Jacque Chirac, and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Their administrations are either all racked in scandal, or they have failed to demonstrate adequate leadership in a time of world confidence to maintain the confidence of their people.

Here is a bit on Pallas Athene, from the article Goddesses of Astrology.

Pallas Athene, discovered 1802, is the goddess after whom the city of Athens is named, for she is its protectress. The view of her city from her temple on the Acropolis is stunning. She was born in full armor from the head of her father, Zeus. It is interesting that she is allowed to keep her Greek rather than her Roman name in modern usage, which is rare.

Athene is the warrior-goddess, who is making a re-emergence in a number of forms in our culture. Astrologically, she represents political and negotiating skills, having been transformed into a kind of modern lawyer-like warrior (as have most of her male warrior counterparts). In one of her most alluring roles in the past 25 years, she manifested as Princess Leah in the Star Wars series, the beautiful, intelligent and gutsy, not to mention politically shrewd, leader of the rebel forces.

But her sacrifice is that in order to have her political and warrior power, she seems to surrender an element of her femininity — or so we think. She was, after all, born of a man, from his head, and born in full armor. But underneath all that armor, she is quite naked. It just may take some negotiating to get there.

On these lines, I propose that sexual negotiation skills, which are a relatively new concept for our culture, are likely to be an attribute of Athene. These are essential skills for anyone who wants to have sexual experiences that are on mutually-acceptable terms. These skills would include safe sex negotiation, arriving at a mutually acceptable definition of ‘fidelity’ in any relationship, and handling transgressions in a fair way.

Last subject: defenses. While we’re getting personal with Pallas, I have seen that subject matter involving defenses and defensiveness can be involved with this asteroid. She is, after all, an armed defender. Righteous, just and true, but when under stress or duress, defensive about it. So we can look at the placement and aspects of Pallas for some clues about this attribute of who we are and how we might apply our defenses when necessary, or when triggered.

Planet Waves by Eric Francis
Nov. 11, 2005 – Weekly Horoscope 584

Happy Birthday Scorpio! [Print Edition!] If you maintain a conscious relationship with your past, it will be easier — easier as in not more difficult — to leave the hurts and struggles you’ve been through behind you. It’s true that you don’t exactly stand on solid ground at the moment, though it’s more like you’re floating on an ocean of feeling, and that means you’re safe and dry. Remember though that whatever may have threatened your peace of mind yesterday, last year or as a child is indeed safely behind you, and you are far safer remembering your history than you are trying to forget it.

Aries (March 20-April 19)
There are two sides to every negotiation, and the process only works when both people are flexible. Too often, what appears to be the process of seeking an agreement is really one person trying to get their agenda over on the other person. From the look of your charts, you’re the one in the equation who seems to be a little stuck on something, so you might want to try loosening up the bolts and letting your bridge wiggle when the breeze comes along. Someone you’re dealing with has immense power to help you. Do what you can to wipe off your poker face and demonstrate that you can really change your mind.

Taurus (April 19-May 20)
To truly consider the veracity of anything, we need to consider the possibility that it’s actually true, if even for a moment. You may be wresting with an issue that’s so pressing that you don’t want to consider all the possibilities — but all you have to risk is a sense of balance. You are steady enough in your beliefs and firmly enough rooted in tradition to let your mind go to a potentially ‘dangerous’ place — and to note how you feel when you get there. In order to be really convinced of something, you need the whole story, not just the part that you want to be true.

Gemini (May 20-June 21)
The strange thing about potential is that when we get close to the positive side, we can fear the approach of the negative side. Using power for good always comes with the chance of hurting someone; ethical people will question their motives; many hesitate to do anything real for fear they may do something bad. You seem poised to do something entirely original in your own way. This seems eminently possible, truly within reach. You may, at the same time, have a sense of danger or darkness, or that you’re going a little too far. The planetary alignment associated with the upcoming Mercury retrograde suggests this hesitation is natural, but also that the more edgy you feel, the closer and more tangible success is.

Cancer (June 21-July 22)
Many have noted that what we specifically fear is unlikely to be the real problem. And for you at the moment, standing back would be a great exercise. There is a certain situation developing that seems anything but certain but is not really as complicated as it seems. The pressure is really emotional, and it’s actually coming from a deep desire in you or in someone else to work out and be free of the past. I suggest you ask directly, when the moment is right, how you might facilitate that. And until then, have faith in the situation and take a watch and see attitude.

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23)
I trust that recently, you’ve seen the power of taking a gentle and measured approach to life and relationships. Fortunately, your own doubts have prompted you to be cautious and to spend more time listening than making statements or allegations. Maintain this policy, because history is going to have an odd tendency to repeat itself in the next few months — but you’re the one who can be the clear-headed and sober factor in the situation that guides the story to new and more creative places. As you will see, this is often a matter of negotiating the agreements that help everyone feel safe.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22)
There is this question of what people are really capable of, and it’s a scary one. Is anyone capable of anything? Do you fear what you are capable of? Or is it that the intensity of your feelings can be frightening, a little out of control, and often very mixed up with what you went through in the past? I see some of this subject matter on the table for you. But I also see you working with it in a clear and honest way, with the wisdom of someone who has seen too much to be scared of your own shadow.

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23)
The conservative side of your nature has come home to roost, and you may suddenly feel that it’s even too big of a risk to have coffee rather than tea. I don’t think this is going to last long, and I can see that at the moment you’re brewing an entire plot or scheme that has nothing to do with safe boundaries or conventional thinking. But you need to make your move when the time is right. Meanwhile, keep counting calories and making sure your shoelaces are tied every five minutes. You’ll feel all the better when you decide you’re free enough to dare something so great, you’ll be the only person who is not surprised.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22)
You may finally be feeling better about a situation you have no power to change, and in truth may have decided that the whole thing is working to your advantage. There are certain matters you don’t want to discuss at this point, and most of them involve what you really believe about yourself and your mission in the world. Scorpio is the sign for which it’s an original thought that the less you say, the better. And for once, it’s actually true. But it’s also temporary. So enjoy it while it lasts, and spend your time coming to an ever-deeper understanding with yourself.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22)
As usual, certain plans or arrangements have been thrown into reverse, but you don’t appear to be worried. You know that plans are a rough draft or pencil sketch of reality, and that God apparently goes through a lot of erasers on the long road to manifestation. Meanwhile, you’re clearly benefiting from having a long-term view of things, such that minor fluctuations in the marketplace of life don’t need to threaten you. Notice that the world is obsessed with the short term, but rarely bothers to ask how things are now. This is definitely a luxury you can afford.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20)
You have powerful friends, and they would do anything in their power to help you — as long as you were open to that help. You may be feeling a certain hesitancy to speak up or to announce that you’re lacking something, but I suggest you set aside your pride and speak your needs clearly and directly. They are not a reflection on anything except your willingness to coexist with the human race, which you seem to do well enough even in your most successful and hassle-free moments. You may not see the benefits that others will gain in assisting you, but they do.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19)
You need to be patient with people, and patient with yourself. Everyone is going through their own challenges, and they have their fears, just like you. The advantage you have is that you know, intellectually, that your fears are your fears, and you know that you have a choice about whether they run your life. At the moment, you’re more determined than you’ve been in many moons to have that not be so. You see possibilities that other people don’t dare to dream of, and you’re pretty much convinced that you know what you’re talking about. Meanwhile, just make sure you live in a world where fear has a place. Then it will spend less time making trouble.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20)
You’re getting the hang of one of life’s most important games: hindrances are a form of guidance that enhances your creativity. You need to play this game fast now, because in truth the field of potential is a lot wider than the field of limitation — and at the moment, you have access to wherever you want to go or whatever you want to do. The timing is perfect for you to allow certain possibilities that only yesterday seemed like remote hopes or wishes to be real opportunities. You just need to keep thinking that way and dare not let your negativity get in the way of your rather momentous progress.

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