Marcury Retrograde Awareness by Erin Sullivan

Mercury Retrogrades In 2011:

Retrograde Began:         Mar 30 2011    24°Ar21' R (Fire)
Mercury Went Direct:    Apr 23 2011    12°Ar54' D

Retrograde Began:        Aug  2  2011    01°Vi12' R (Earth)
Mercury Went Direct:   Aug 26 2011    18°Le42' D

Retrograde Begins:       Nov 24 2011    20°Sg06' R (Fire)
Mercury Goes Direct:   Dec 13 2011    03°Sg52' D

Mercury Retrogrades In 2012:

Mercury turns retrograde on 12 Mar 2012 at 06°Ari49' (Fire)
Mercury turns direct on 4 Apr 2012 at 23°Pis50'

Mercury turns retrograde on 15 Jul 2012 at 12°Leo32' (Fire)
Mercury turns direct on 8 Aug 2012 at 01°Leo25'

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Mercury turns retrograde on 6 Nov 2012 at 04°Sag18' (Fire)
Mercury turns direct on 26 Nov 2012 at 18°Sco10'

Mercury Cycles Through Every Four Months

Every four months, Mercury stations and turns retrograde, remaining so for approximately twenty-two days. The retrograde cycles occur in consecutive zodiacal order as the calendar year progresses, yet the overall cycle indicates a subtle subcycle of a gradual precession of Mercury backwards through the elements. This is because Mercury stations-retrograde in each of the signs at an earlier degree each time, gradually dropping back into the previous element. In doing so, it traverses the three signs of each element -- the trigons -- each station connecting a loose grand trine over a full cycle of three stations of Mercury in the course of thirteen months.

Mercury Retrograde: Introspection Time

The use of this cycle alerts us to the unconscious rhythms of reflection, and attunes us to our inner clock by dint of knowing where concentration and introspection are most needed. When to consider and reconsider ideas, projects, relationships and lifestyle according to one's own unique timing is the greater purpose of Mercury retrograde.

The entire cycle of elemental focus is repeated approximately every six or seven years. The cycle indicates that our entire planet, the collective, experiences retrogression according to the element, but that the individual brings it into personal focus through the lens of his or her own chart and refines the experience within the houses that contain those elements.

Marcury Retrograde Awareness by Erin SullivanMercury is a Tricky Teacher

In this way, Hermes/Mercury is a teacher. Within the subtle movements of the retrograde cycle we can learn much from this tricky god, but we too have to play the game. The retrograde cycle is part of the archetypal journey from a known place, or from a set of values which are suddenly thrown into question. Then follows the transition from that place of certainty down into the place of the unknown, where we battle with unseen or strange forces. It is in this liminal place that the wisdom of the unconscious is allowed to loosen and float to the surface giving instruction from that most intelligent source, the intuition.

When we struggle against the inevitable, or strive to alter the unavoidable timing of Mercury, we oppose the tao of existence. Therefore, understanding the principles of transiting Mercury retrograde as it moves through the elements maximizes potential within a natural rhythm. That rhythm is best expressed in a question form, and as each element in your horoscope is highlighted, a question arises that can act as a meditation guide.

Earth: What are the tangible results of my life?

(Mercury retrograde, August 2011, was in an Earth sign).

Security matters, practical concerns, and the most basic needs come to the fore in this phase.This is a time when you may find fault with your surroundings, whether this is home, job, country or your body! Do not: move, quit your job, emigrate or spend a lot of money. However, Do: look for the new opportunities and keep tabs on possibilities that could be more satisfying for you on the ego level.

On the personal level, you may find that you are being excessively self-critical. A critique is okay, but a shredding of the ego is not. You are undoubtedly needing to reassess your contact with the world of practical reality, but it is unwise to invalidate the past, which has probably done just fine up until now. Rather, look at your assets and liabilities as if they were someone else's and go over the kind of advice that you would give them. It is imperative that objectivity be maintained in this particular cycle, when Earth is being accented in your chart.

Because the Earth trigon is related to the houses that pertain to all facets of worth, including money, self-esteem, working conditions, health, and so on, contributory factors to your function as a human being in the practical world of form, it is important to become aware of the deepest value of those resources. The trigon's message is that if changes need to be made in those areas, and they are often the areas with the greatest resistance to change, then make them, or those changes will be thrust upon you. Naturally, this will affect the way you relate to your body and its needs, your job and its capacity to satisfy you, and your attitudes towards resources of all kinds, particularly financial.

Becoming more organized in the very bases of your life will, paradoxically, liberate your spontaneity. It will also alleviate any guilt you may feel about not attending to the fundamental details of life. The spirit is encased in the flesh, so attend to the flesh. This is not a particularly inspiring time, but much can be accomplished during the retrograde period that will result in very important practical returns. By concentrating on the necessities of life, you will be making more room for the perks. By dealing with the practical issues during this Earthy retrograde, you will find it easier to determine what is truly happening in your life because it will not be cluttered with unfinished business.

Fire: How can my inspiration create my future?

(Nov. 2011 retrograde, and all three Mercury retros in 2012)

When Mercury is retrograde in the Fire element you may make a lot of haphazard attempts to 'start something', a poor substitute for true inspiration. This angst about the future is necessary for creativity. Reaching a 'stuck' place in development brings pressure to bursting-point, forcing growth and allowing undeveloped potential to flow from the unconscious. It is essential to recognize that there are times when one has to go through a period of spiritual entropy to alert oneself to a need for change in creative production.

Our cultural attitude towards play is not very healthy. It is a fairly well-accepted notion that creativity and play are closely aligned. Schiller says that man is at his highest level only when he plays, when there is no conscious purpose, when the inner urge is not tempered by the 'civilizing agent' of externally imposed controls. This can be very evident in the period associated with the Fire retrograde. Your need for play, creativity and spontaneity may have been preceded by a depression, and the retrogression can be the opportunity to descend into the awareness level of the mind, with no ego consciousness; out of this will emerge true inspiration.

In her book Creation Myths, Marie Louise Von Franz deals extensively with this concept of play. She states that the unconscious intent underlying depression is to bring the consciousness down into the nigredo, into the darkness of the unconscious, in order to release the creative spirit.

When Mercury's retrograde cycle is in the Fire trigon, it may well indicate that you are going through a transition of your creative focus in an outward direction. This is highlighted during the twenty-two-day periods of retrogression. It means that you will have to relearn how to play and how that adds a dimension of creativity to your life. Creativity, more than just painting, music and the other fine arts, is a lifestyle. How do you respond to crisis, for example? With anger and resistance? Or with an increased awareness of the continual necessity to shift gears or look at life with renewed vision? A Fire retrograde will test your ability to respond to life with spontaneous energy, and to be more creative with your decisions for change.

On a practical level, your awareness of sedentary habits may provoke a fitness urge. Psychosomatic illnesses can arise that point specifically to the area of the psyche that is cramped or underactive. If you are in the artistic world, then a 'block' may be the very symptom that indicates the need for a change in technique or style. Ultimately this retrograde cycle will accent the need to experiment with new forms of being, new forms of thinking of yourself and new ways of relating to your sources of inspiration.

By assessing the houses that the Fire trigon occupies you will find some hints about the source of the restlessness. The revision of creative focus in your life over the next couple of years can drastically alter your future direction and in a way more appropriate to the new emerging you. And, for your own sake, find ways to relax and enjoy life's pleasures.

This article is excerpted with permission from the book:

Retrograde Planets: Traversing the Inner Landscape
by Erin Sullivan.

Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Red Wheel Weiser. ©2000. 2006.

Click here for more info and/or to order this book on Amazon.

About the Author

Erin Sullivan, author of the article: Mercury Retrograde Awareness - 2011-2012Erin Sullivan is an internationally renowned astrologer and author. Canadian born, she spent ten years in London where she was the Series Editor for the Contemporary Astrology series, published by Arkana-Penguin, and taught for the Centre for Psychological Astrology in London, where she remains a faculty member. She has written numerous books, of which "Saturn in Transit" and "Dynasty: The Astrology of Family Dynamics". Erin Sullivan lives and practices in Tucson, Arizona. You can contact her directly at her website