Eric Francis: Mercury, and Mars, to lighten up (finally)

As the saying goes, “Aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?”

And just how did “Mercury retrograde” — a phenomenon associated with communication and transportation delays and miscues that occurs three times a year, each time for 21 days — show up in your life?

Astrologer Eric Francis offers a grand, heartstopping overview of wild gyrations in the American and global psyche during the Mercury retrograde period that finishes up today, and connects it to the stressor Mars, which just yesterday completed its emotionally disturbing pulse to each planet in the massive cardinal grand cross that sits, like a constantly exploding depth charge, behind and within each new and ongoing destabilizing global event that ratchets up both fear and awareness by the bucketfulls, daily.

Mercury almost direct, after what a retrograde

by Eric Francis

August 26, 2011

Memories of another hurricane. This astonishing image — one of my favorite news photos ever — is from page one of The New York Times of Sept. 18, 1999. It shows a very flooded, burning Bound Brook, New Jersey, a sample of the apocalyptic damage caused in the New York area by Hurricane Floyd. This happened shortly after the grand cross and total solar eclipse of Aug. 11, 1999. I was among the evacuated — and for the next eight years I traveled the world (with Planet Waves in tow) as a direct result. Now Hurricane Irene is heading up the East Coast, and we’re expecting a lot of nonstop rain.

Today is Friday, Aug. 26, 2011. Mercury, which has been retrograde since August 2, stations direct in Leo at 6:03 pm. The retrograde spanned from early Virgo back to mid-Leo. For the next couple of weeks we’re in what’s sometimes called the echo phase or shadow phase, as Mercury goes back over the degrees of the zodiac where it was just retrograde, and re-enters Virgo. This culminates with a Mercury-Chiron opposition on Sept. 10.

This was the Mercury retrograde that began with the United States coming right up to the brink of default, as the Treasury’s ability to borrow money ran out the very day of the station. Congress raised the debt ceiling just in the nick of time, but not before taking the world through a nauseating hostage situation. A few days later, the United States had its credit rating dropped by Standard & Poor’s, causing yet another wild ride on global stock markets.

Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, held a religious revival at Reliant Stadium in Houston, where he prayed for God to heal the economy, and declared his candidacy for the presidency. Many of his guest speakers believe that the world is ending, and that it’s their job to hasten the process along.

A Russian spacecraft blew up on its way to the International Space Station. Steve Jobs resigned as CEO of Apple Computer. And a rare East Coast earthquake, centered in the district of everyone’s favorite congressman, Eric Cantor, shut down the cooling systems of the North Anna nuclear power station, which had to be shut down. The quake damaged the Washington Monument and the National Cathedral, and immobilized Amtrak up the eastern seaboard. Numerous nuclear power plants declared ‘unusual events’ but remained in operation. As the retrograde winds down, Hurricane Irene is headed up the East Coast.

How has your life been?

This has been an unusual mercury retrograde in that Mars has been extremely active through the whole thing. Mars ingressed Cancer on Aug. 3, the day after Mercury stationed. This put Mars in a prominent position for several reasons — the first being that from the first degree of Cancer, it was aligned with the Aries Point, which is a kind of magnifier. Mars in Cancer can range from passionate to needy to emotionally violent, which was getting the ripple effect because those early degrees of Cancer are so powerful.

Then for the next 23 days, Mars made aspects to the planets on the cardinal cross (Uranus, Kronos and Pluto), as well as Chiron and Jupiter — finally making its last aspect in Cancer, a square to Saturn on Thursday. That gave the feeling of being backed into a corner, and the sensation of underground feelings pushing against Saturn a little like steam inside a pressure cooker. Mercury retrogrades can be mentally stressful, as rational thought has a tendency to collapse. Mars in Cancer making all those aspects added an emotionally tense dimension.

Where to from here? Forward, slowly. So slowly in fact that you start in the present, with a careful evaluation of where your life is now. Mercury will move through Leo, re-enter Virgo, and as it approaches that opposition to Chiron on Sept. 10, things will come into focus as if the lens elements in a telescope are moving into precisely the right alignment to see something you were missing. The key is to look now. Assess the changes in your life, your relationships, your work and financial circumstances; assess what you’ve learned, how you’ve grown, and what has been damaged. Mercury opposite Chiron — the final destination of this Mercury retrograde — is an image of both growth and healing, the common ground being focused awareness.

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