The Mysterious Case of Mercury Retrograde in Scorpio

Dear Friend and Reader:

Mercury stationed retrograde in Scorpio today at 11:41 am EDT (15:41:20 UTC). It will station direct on Nov. 20. As strongly as Mercury is associated with tricks, especially during its retrograde phases, it does in fact bestow treats as well — though it can require actively seeking that perspective, often in the form of recognizing the lessons hidden in the mischief and frustration.

Mystery figures; all photos in this piece from the 2016 Sacred and Profane festival, Peaks Island, Maine, by Amanda Painter.

I guess you could say that the blessings of Mercury sometimes arrive in disguise, wearing an inconvenient costume. You know, like that one friend who dresses up as a ‘concept’ that nobody gets, and then is bummed about having to explain it all night. (I’ve totally been guilty of that.)

Yet once you grasp the concept, you kind of have to applaud the cleverness behind it. Is Mercury too clever for its own good?

More likely we’re the ones guilty of that charge — zooming around, physically and mentally, often faster than our full awareness can keep up, and trying to fool ourselves into thinking that we’re ‘multitasking’. As you may have read before, Mercury’s retrograde phases are a good time to slow down — move slower, rein in the pace of your thoughts, take a little extra time and care with communication.

Mercury retrogrades are generally marked by a need for extra patience and diligence; you may need to work around things malfunctioning (including your own mind). Yet it’s also possible to approach them as a journey of discovery and reclamation. This one is occurring with the Sun in Scorpio, just as the veil is said to be thinnest between the worlds of the living and the dead. If you’re especially sensitive to the spirit realm, I’d be curious to hear if that’s heightened in the coming weeks.

Scorpio is also the sign of deep feelings, deep transformation and, when things don’t go well, the potential for deeply held grudges.

Illuminated jellyfish; photo by Amanda Painter.

There are suggestions in today’s chart that we’re being sent on a deep-sea recovery mission, one that could lead to the regeneration of something that has seemed (or actually was for a time) lost. Namely this comes from Mercury stationing in an exact opposition to the object Sedna in Taurus; the aspect is only two arc minutes from being precise. (If degrees of the zodiac are like minutes on a clock, arc minutes are like seconds.)

You may wish to pay particular attention today to anyone offering hints or reflections of this recovery/regeneration theme. Oppositions can manifest as interpersonal encounters; any such interaction may hold useful clues for the path of inward review you can follow for the next three weeks. Oppositions also can be felt internally, as inner conflict (personally, I think I had a dream Tuesday morning hinting at some inner meeting and regeneration).

Mercury’s station retrograde chart also describes needing to take action in response to secrets or inconvenient truths being revealed, or to beliefs around health and healing (either of those themes may relate to a group of some kind). These ideas relate to the asteroid Askalaphus in Aquarius, which Mercury is squaring.

To the other side of the chart, Mercury squares the asteroid Amor in Leo. Your understanding of what love truly is/means, or a recognition of “conditions” placed on unconditional love and compassion, might be another point of tension that spurs you to seek what would resolve it.

Whether you are able to communicate what is most personal to you — that is, questions of the paradoxical strength in vulnerability — is another theme to note. I’m seeing this in Mercury’s conjunction to Venus and the asteroid Pallas in Scorpio, a sign known for its strong emotions and tendency toward secretiveness.

What is the exoskeleton and stinger of the scorpion protecting but its incredibly soft and vulnerable insides? Yet we humans cannot achieve the intimate bonds we desire without showing our own insides in some way, and there is inherent power in standing fully in all of who we are — including the soft bits and the shamelessly passionate bits that make us nervous.

A minotaur dances behind an altar of bittersweet. Acting without all the facts and overlooking details, easy to do when Mercury is retrograde, is a key theme in the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. Photo by Amanda Painter.

Given our culture lately, being able to communicate those parts of ourselves — rationally, as Pallas suggests — might be even more valuable than ever. Perhaps there is much to be reviewed and recovered in there. Note that once it’s in apparent retrograde motion, Mercury makes a second exact conjunction to Pallas on Saturday. This seems to describe an opportunity to revise or try again any in-depth or highly charged conversations you’ve been engaged in this week.

The Sagittarius Moon cruising through the separating Ceres-Jupiter conjunction today appears to offer a little extra adventurousness should you need it. You might be surprised by just how freeing and nourishing it is to ‘go there’.

Speaking of Sagittarius: Venus is the first of our current Scorpio cluster to enter that sign. It does so tomorrow (Friday) at 4:25 pm EDT / 20:24:31 UTC.

Venus in Sagittarius should help to lighten the mood in relationships of all sorts (but especially the most intimate, passionate or emotionally fraught ones). As a natal placement, this tends to convey demonstrative friendliness, intuitiveness, sexual adventurousness, flirtatiousness and also high ideals in relationships. So while Mercury is diving inward, Venus will begin to balance that with some outward emotional expression.

As always, for the next three-plus weeks the usual Mercury retrograde hygiene applies: back up your computer; double-check emails and texts before you send them; if there’s confusion or no reply, pick up the phone and call, or knock on the person’s door; delay large purchases and important contracts. Give yourself extra time for travel, and only drive when you are driving (if your hand is on something else, your mind is, too — though even hands-free calls divert significant mental focus). Workarounds that don’t require spending a lot of extra money are your friend.

Yet no matter what goes ‘wrong’ or catches you off-guard, get curious about the mysteries of the journey. That appears to be where the most value is hiding — and the journey inside you may be the one that matters most of all.

Yours & truly,

Full chart for Mercury stationing retrograde this morning, between Venus and Pallas in Scorpio, at the upper-left. You can see the Moon tucked between Ceres and Jupiter, just above the horizontal line on the left; they’re in a trine to Eris in Aries, at the very bottom.

Planet Waves Weekly Horoscope for Oct. 31, 2019 (#1267) | By Amy Elliott

Aries (March 20-April 19) — Exercise caution during the next few weeks where matters of interpersonal trust are concerned. Mercury has just turned retrograde, so there will be a lot of uncertainty afoot, and probably some missing information. You may feel convinced that your perception is unquestionably true, though it would be wise to leave the door open in case any late-arriving facts turn up. Avoid making a definite decision for the time being. In the meantime, keep your own integrity as far beyond reproach as you can; be reliable and honest in every transaction. If nothing else, you’ll be setting a good example. — By Amy Elliott

Taurus (April 19-May 20) — Starting now, you have the chance to review thoroughly your approach to a close relationship; specifically, any concerns you might notice about developing your intimacy. For example, you may have worries around losing part of your identity, or feeling stifled. If that’s the case, knowing your own mind and figuring out where you draw the line — at least for the moment — is a useful first step. It could also be worth holding space for each of you to discuss your feelings openly. Take ownership of your emotions, and notice if you seem to project anything. Above all, avoid making assumptions; let your partner speak for themselves. — By Amy Elliott

Gemini (May 20-June 21) — As your ruler Mercury begins to retrace its steps through Scorpio, you may be asking yourself certain questions about the best use of your time. At least a significant part of you is determined to continue the path you’ve been on for a while now; yet another part of you is yearning for change, and possibly a sense of freedom and adventure. I suggest you hesitate before making any palpable alterations, and instead get to the bottom of what is driving each impulse. Be honest with yourself. Doing so will help you notice factors you may not yet be fully aware of, and perhaps find a solution that will prove satisfactory to your whole being. — By Amy Elliott

Cancer (June 21-July 22) — Though Mercury retrograde isn’t generally pegged as a time for getting creative or receiving inspiration, the chances are you will be something of an exception this time around. The fuel for your imaginative fire may well come from unusual sources — new people or occupations, for example — and the direction in which it propels you will probably be the last one you’d expect. I suggest you keep an open mind and not worry about producing anything concrete at present. Just focus on receiving the experience and letting the feelings in. You’ll know you’re on the right track if you feel unusually awake or revitalized. — By Amy Elliott

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — Part of the reason family dramas stay with us into adulthood is because when faced with them, we can be overwhelmed by memories, or fall into old habitual patterns. Yet with practice and reflection, we can gradually learn to deal with such situations as fully autonomous adults. A lot of healing is possible when we realize how much the picture has changed. You are now in a position to tackle some of this material if you wish to, and you may be surprised by how far you’ve developed. Go easy on yourself, however, and remember you don’t have to resolve everything all at once, or meet anyone else’s demands. This is just for you. — By Amy Elliott

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — During the next few weeks, your ruler Mercury will be retrograde in your 3rd house of communication. You are being called to an important dharmic mission, in which truth is your watchword. It is crucial that you hold yourself to the highest possible standard in terms of honesty and integrity. Speak only the truth; be prepared to stand by what you say, and to own your mistake if anything turns out to be inaccurate. It’ll help immensely if you pause for thought and fact-check before making an assertion, and also if you remember that it’s okay to say, “I don’t know,” or “I was wrong,” or even “I want.” — By Amy Elliott

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — You might be faced with the re-emergence of old self-doubt or self-image problems that you believed had been firmly consigned to the past. This is unlikely to be a cause for ongoing concern, however. For starters, you’ve gained a lot of strength since these worries last reared their heads, and as a consequence they will be much weaker. In addition, you have substantially more resources to draw on as a result of your increased maturity and groundedness. Psychologically you’re on your home turf, you know your own mind, and you’re more than ready to send this particular monster packing. — By Amy Elliott

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — Mercury retrograde in your own sign appears to offer a chance for you to break some real ground regarding your perception of yourself. You may be able to review elements of your history and character in a new light, and potentially from other perspectives, as if you’d accidentally overheard a conversation about you. The likely effect of this is some form of realization that opportunities you might once have considered out of your reach are actually available. These developments will probably be gradual; you may gain a little each day. Keep track of what you learn, and revisit your notes frequently. — By Amy Elliott

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — Your intuitive gifts and imagination are likely to come to the fore over the next month or so, as you explore the various abilities you contain within yourself. It’s likely you will get to see them in action; by all means keep a dream diary handy, as you may well be in for some vivid ones. Sagittarius has an unearned reputation for superficiality; in fact, in the most sacred and secret regions of your mind, you contain profound depths not quite matched by any other sign. The weeks ahead provide an opportunity for you to become more closely acquainted with these facets of yourself. — By Amy Elliott

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — There can sometimes be considerable social pressure to fall in with a specific point of view, even if you have questions or feel unable to give your unqualified agreement. Should you find yourself in this position during the next few weeks, the most favorable course is likely to be the most honest one. Don’t agree to a particular stance just because other people want you to. Instead, explain your hesitation and seek answers to anything you’re not clear on. Whether or not you reach certainty on the matter is almost beside the point; regardless, it’s more than probable that you’ll make some interesting discoveries.— By Amy Elliott

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — Circumstances relating to your work or life goals may indicate that there’s more to a particular matter than meets the eye. Take note of what’s going on around you, and if you sense you’re missing a puzzle piece, this is probably an ideal time to do some quiet digging. Given that Mercury is now retrograde, it would be wise to treat this as a pure information-gathering exercise, assume nothing, and avoid drawing any definite conclusions. Your mind at this point is a well-honed bullshit-cutting machine, though this doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily get immediate and definitive solutions. Make peace with the concept of uncertainty. — By Amy Elliott

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — What do you already know, and what do you need to know more about? This is a useful distinction to apply at any time; though in the coming weeks it’s one you may find yourself paying special attention to. An information gap is nothing to be ashamed of, especially if you see it as an opportunity to exercise your curiosity and dive in. That said, it could help you to identify situations where others may have something to offer you, and be prepared to listen respectfully. Part of the beauty of human existence is that, thanks to our unique experiences, we can all teach and learn from one another. Keep that in mind. — By Amy Elliott

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