The Astrology Podcast
Transcript of Episode 276, titled:
Mercury Retrograde and What it Means in Astrology
With Chris Brennan and guest Jessica Lanyadoo
Episode originally released on October 25, 2020
Note: This is a transcript of a spoken word podcast. If possible, we encourage you to listen to the audio or video version, since they include inflections that may not translate well when written out. Our transcripts are created by human transcribers, and the text may contain errors and differences from the spoken audio. If you find any errors then please send them to us by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Transcribed by Andrea Johnson
Transcription released January 10th, 2021
Copyright © 2021 TheAstrologyPodcast.com
CHRIS BRENNAN: Hi, my name is Chris Brennan, and you’re listening to The Astrology Podcast. In this episode, I’m going to be talking with Jessica Lanyadoo about Mercury retrograde and what it means in the context of astrology.
This is Episode 276. We’re recording on Thursday, October 22, 2020, starting at 2:57 PM, in Denver, Colorado. And I think that’s a full hour after we were supposed to start because we’re having Mercury retrograde issues right now.
Welcome back to the show, Jessica.
JESSICA LANYADOO: Thank you so much. Two things. First thing, what an accomplishment; that’s a lot of fucking episodes.
CB: Thank you.
JL: You’re welcome. I know it’s a lot of effort and work and all those things. And also, we are the embodiment of the very transit we are meant to talk about. We have had almost all of the things that could go wrong with the Mercury retrograde.
CB: Yeah, have happened basically. So in keeping with our topic, we’re recording this during a Mercury retrograde for those who discover this episode at some point in the future, when this retrograde is just a historical footnote about the one that led up to the US election and whatever the hell takes place on November 3, 2020.
So in keeping with that, we’re going to do a whole episode just talking about what Mercury retrograde means, introducing the concept, talking about, also, perhaps what it doesn’t mean or how it’s sometimes overplayed, and basically just doing a deep dive into this topic.
So, Jessica, for those that don’t know, is the host of the always fabulous, Ghost of a Podcast. How many episodes are you up to at this point?
JL: 152 or 153; I can’t remember.
CB: Wow, okay.
JL: Yeah, thank you.
CB: You’re getting up there; you’re cranking them out as well. And more recently, you are currently heading up a project that you’ve been promoting over the past few months called Zodiac the Vote, where you’re trying to help get out the vote amongst astrologers and astrology enthusiasts, right?
JL: Yeah, that’s right, and also, to give a little bit more of the why. I mean, what’s so beautiful about astrology is that we have this ability–oh, look at you! Sharing is caring, thank you.
JL: So there’s like two major things we’re doing here–one is we have astrologers writing about things that are relevant to social and political issues. And, of course, we have cute astrology swag because I feel like a cute astrology shirt is worth a lot. And then–look at you, look at you sharing screens like a pro. And then the other thing is we created the Mercury Retrograde Voter Survival Guide, which is such a valuable resource, in my view.
So I teamed up with this woman, Lindsay Scola, who’s a political strategist who worked for a decade with Obama and–after he became President–with his administration. And so, she’s just amazing, and she and I kind of teamed up in this really exciting way to create this resource. And it’s downloadable; it’s clickable, the thing that you’re seeing on your screen. So it can go with you to the polls, and it has even things like the phone number to call if you see voter intimidation at the polls.
We tried to make something really comprehensive because we know—we, as in you and me–that with both Mercury and Mars retrograde for this election, in this political climate, as we lead up to that Pluto return of the United States, while we have all these outer planets in Capricorn–we can keep on listing–there’s a lot of cause for concern; and we can wring our hands in fear, or we can mobilize and create actionable tools.
And I feel like, as an astrologer, we’re well-poised to create actionable tools for people because we don’t just know what’s happening, we know what’s coming, so it’s like a special thing. So anyways, I’m really excited about Zodiac the Vote. I’m really proud of it.
CB: Yeah, well forewarned is forearmed. And since we see some stuff coming up and since Mercury goes in 20-year cycles, we know the last time there was a retrograde leading up to the election was 20 years ago during the 2000 election, where everything just went crazy. And it was evenly-split between candidates, and it wasn’t resolved until like six weeks later by the Supreme Court. So astrologers are kind of anticipating something, so it’s good that you’re trying to do something proactive.
And I think that shows a little bit of how astrologers actually deal with Mercury retrograde in practice, which is that you don’t just not do anything. You just try to roll with it and be as proactive as you can, and doing that within the context of the vote seems really smart.
JL: Thank you, I think so too. And I think it’s also a great way for people to see that astrology is not just about doomsday predictions. It’s about being like, “Oh, if this is the energy I’m working with then how do I need to adjust my behavior?” or “How do i need to adjust my attitude?” And I think the risk of using astrology without common sense is that you forget that.
You go into this mode of like, “Oh, no! I need a job, but it says don’t do job interviews during Mercury retrograde. I guess I’ll suffer.” It’s like, no, you just make sure that you buttoned your pants after you went to the bathroom, and you make sure there’s no food in your teeth, and then you go to the job interview. You just be extra careful.
So there’s so much to say about that, but I will say, personally–and I’m curious about you–Ido all of the things that you’re technically not supposed to do during a Mercury retrograde. I do all of them. I mean, I’m usually careful and when I can avoid them I do, but I do the things. How about you?
CB: Yeah, I usually do it and just try to roll with it and understand that the process is going to take longer, or there’s going to be more delays, or it’s going to be more annoying sometimes. But sometimes, in doing that, you end up creating something better than maybe you would have if there wasn’t some sort of struggle in some sense.
JL: Yeah, I totally agree. I think retrogrades are always an opportunity. We’re talking about Mercury retrograde, but Mars is also retrograde, which is more rare. And I think a really important part of this Mercury retrograde, it’s hard to talk about it, for me, without talking about the Mars retrograde because nothing exists in isolation, right?
JL: It’s just that people know, non-astrologers know more about Mercury retrograde than Mars retrograde.
CB: Yeah. All right…
JL: But I think it’s really—oh, sorry, what were you going to say?
CB: maybe we should pause that and do that later. I want to just tell people the url, which is ZodiacTheVote.com, or you can also find it on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook under Zodiac the Vote as well. So I wanted to plug that right at the beginning.
JL: Thank you.
CB: Let’s transition into setting up this topic like we normally would when talking about Mercury, as if this is somebody’s first time being exposed to this concept and what it is and why it matters, and then let’s talk about the current one a little bit later once we set that up.
CB: So square one is the planet Mercury. What is the planet Mercury in astrology and what does it mean to you?
JL: I am so excited to be talking to you about this because I have so much respect for your astrology, and you and I use astrology practically, in terms of utility, differently. So I’m actually really excited about getting to talk to you about this. What is Mercury? I mean, we can do the list. Let’s do the list.
JL: But then I’m excited to actually pull out a little shovel and dig because I have so much to say about Mercury. But Mercury is what you say; it’s how you listen. It’s your attitudes; it’s your beliefs. It’s your friends and pals and colleagues. Mercury is all about the platonic side of connection and interconnection. That’s my quick list. What’s yours?
CB: Yeah, very similar. Mercury signifies communication, travel, media, technology. In Greek mythology, Mercury was the messenger of the gods. But astronomically, I always find it interesting that Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun, and to the extent that the Sun represents in ancient astrology knowing or truly knowing something at some core level, Mercury is the go-between and the planet that has to transmit the concept of knowing something to the rest of the planets. So it serves this important role, sort of transactional, or communicating or transferring something–basically, that which connects and transmits at the broadest level.
JL: That’s really interesting. I like that. What I have come to theorize since social media and pocket computers, which we think of those as a huge part of our lives–it is a huge part of my life—but it’s also a really new thing for humans. And what you’re saying reinforces it, but what I’ve come to believe is that Mercury, more and more, is holding the space of the ego differently than Mars, because Mars technically governs the ego.
But because we are constantly communicating and being talked at and communicated to, there’s this way that our identity–which is the Sun–our description of ourselves, our stories about ourselves, what we tell people of ourselves, I think they’re becoming more intertwined because of the change in society. And so, when I look at Mercury, I am looking at it from more of a psychological or psychodynamic perspective as a greater extension of the ego than it’s ever been. I don’t think that that is historically true, but I think it is currently true.
And so, as you’re framing it, it kind of makes sense. It’s directly connected to identity–the Sun–your sense of self, but it’s the story you tell about it. It’s not just what it is; it’s your story, which is complicated.
CB: And in a natal chart, if we’re talking about it purely in terms of a person’s birth chart–what Mercury signifies in in your birth chart or my birth chart–one of the analogies I sometimes use—not analogies, but one of the ways that you could describe it sometimes is how a person communicates and how they express themselves oftentimes verbally; but it can also be in writing or what have you.
And sometimes, that’s kind of in alignment with the rest of their chart or with their Sun; and so, their Sun gets expressed through their Mercury. But sometimes, when there’s something going on with the Mercury, a person could have an inability or could have obstacles communicating something that’s inside of them, but it doesn’t necessarily reflect that there’s not something intelligent inside of them; but sometimes, they have an inability to transfer that to the outside world as efficiently as somebody else might.
Let’s say somebody has a speech impediment, for example. That might show up if something’s going on with Mercury. Let’s say it’s conjunct Saturn or opposed by Saturn; Joe Biden, for example, grew up with a stutter. So that was something he had to work through eventually, but it was describing something about his communication style and something that he overcame eventually.
CB: How do you feel about that in terms of communication style being described by Mercury? Do you feel like that’s true?
CB: In what ways have you seen that work out in people’s charts?
JL: Yeah, absolutely. What I really believe–and this is something that, again, I didn’t believe at first as an astrologer, but after many years of consulting–is that verbal communication and listening skills are tightly-connected more than we really talk about in society in general. So there’s your thoughts, then there’s the organization of your thoughts, and then there’s the ability or confidence to express what you’re thinking.
I know a lot of people who write the most beautiful words, but they can’t verbally speak them; and that’s oftentimes around self-esteem or about self-editing or self-censure, which is related to any kind of Mercury-Saturn aspects, so I definitely think that’s the case. But the untold story underneath that is listening, whether we’re talking about listening to the self and trusting what you hear and what you perceive, or listening to others; those are all mercurial things, and I think that they’re directly related to our ability to verbalize or to write, because I kind of see them as different versions of the same thing.
But, yeah, I think I warned you right before we started recording that I am one fidgety jerk. I’ve worked so hard to be not fidgety, and this is as little fidgety as I ever get; I’m just constantly moving. I have Mercury in Aquarius in the 1st house, and it’s squared by Uranus at the top of my chart. My chart is basically like, “Don’t sit still. Don’t stop thinking. Don’t stop talking. Keep on going.” You know what I mean?
It’s like, for me, as an astrologer, when I started to learn about my kind of mercurial nature, it taught me how to listen; it revealed to me that I wasn’t naturally good at listening because I was jumping ahead in that very Aquarian-Uranian way. And so, I do see it as a really important part of the conversation that often gets left out when astrologers unpack Mercury, so I’m going to keep on bringing it up.
CB: Yeah, I like that.
CB: So not just giving verbally, or communication, but also, listening and how you receive information. So you’ve got Mercury in Aquarius square Uranus. I’ve got Mercury in Scorpio conjunct Saturn; that sort of characterizes my investigative style with astrology. But also, you have a much more entertaining, quick, kind of on-the-ball communication style, which I appreciate. Mine is a little bit more slow, a little bit more plodding, a little bit more boring, some might say, some some listeners might say.
CB: But maybe what I like about you is we balance each other out nicely.
JL: Thank you very much. I feel like a living Muppet; sometimes I feel like a Fraggle. You know what I mean? I know who I am. I am not going to judge me. But here’s the interesting thing–again, to everyone who’s just listening to us, we had a full hour of talking before this was recorded, so we talked about a lot of things.
But I feel like there’s also a way that Mercury in Scorpio–especially because it’s touching Saturn–it gives you a gravitas, not just in your capacity to listen. Although that Mercury-Saturn gives a deep penetrating capacity to listen, it also can give you a gravitas on what you say, which I think is also in your voice.
Your actual vocal presentation, it’s a very strong, deep presentation, and I think that gravitas, other people respond to it. And some people might respond negatively or positively, but they respond to the Saturnian-ness of it or the depth of the Scorpio, right? And i think that this is where it’s not just about how others are listening, or how we listen, it’s about understanding that.
Because my Mercury in Aquarius is squared by Uranus, it makes me kind of a living Muppet in some ways. People might be like, “Oh, she’s being silly,” or “Oh, I don’t have to take that seriously,” or “Oh, I can’t fucking listen to her because she talks so fast. I don’t know what she’s saying.” Yes, I’ve heard that a lot.
CB: Or they’re like, “Oh, I like this because it’s quick and she gets to the point and doesn’t bore me, and is interesting and keeps it moving.”
JL: Thank you. Thank you for giving me the positives. I was going deep, triple-Capricorn on your ass. Okay, sorry about that. But you see what I’m saying? How other people hear us, it’s about their charts, but it’s also about our charts, because how somebody is going to hear a Saturnian Mercury is different than a Uranian Mercury, and there are pros and cons for all of it.
Whatever your chart is, other people are going to respond to that chart and listen to you in part because of how your Mercury functions, and in part because of how their Mercury functions. And this is where we get to the heart of astrology, the heart of the human condition, the heart of Mercury, which is interconnection. Our Mercuries don’t exist in a vacuum. Our capacity to speak, listen, understand, conceptualize, research–these things are very personal, but they’re also very public; they’re relational, and so, they’re dynamic in that way. And I think that’s something about Mercury that I love about Mercury.
I wonder, do you think therapy is related to Mercury, like talk therapy?
CB: Yeah, I mean, that would make a lot of sense. Didn’t they used to call it ‘the talking cure’ or something like that?
JL: Yeah. Analyst is another term for it, which is pure Mercury. It’s something that I think about a lot because the part of why people go to therapy is to be listened to. It’s not just to get something off your chest, but to have someone listen without judgment.
JL: Again, there’s this way that I want astrology students and astrology practitioners to really be thinking about how people listen in part because–as a consulting astrologer meeting with clients–understanding your clients’ Mercury is in part understanding what they can hear. As a triple-Capricorn myself, I used to just do two-hour-long readings, and I would load people with just data, data, truth, reality, homework, all that kind of stuff. And then I eventually realized people are just stumbling out of here; they’re not getting enough value out of the experience because I’ve given them more than they can process.
And so, you don’t have to give it all away; you want to think about what’s impactful for your client. And I don’t know if I’m running off too far in a direction, but it’s something that is really important with Mercury, to think about what people can hear as much as what you want to say, because they’re not always the same thing.
CB: Yeah, that’s a really good point. And it makes me think of–you mentioning consultations– that traditionally in ancient astrology, they used to associate astrologers with Mercury and said that astrology and astrologers were signified by Mercury, because Mercury also signifies translators. And when you hear one language and then you process it, then you retell it to somebody else in another language. And astrologers play a similar intermediary role in looking at charts and then interpreting them, and then attempting to convey that information to clients or to other people in some way.
JL: I love that, yes. And that’s such a good description of what astrologers do. We do translate a language, don’t we? It’s almost like translating a language that only occurs in poetry that needs interpretation. Because it’s not linear–even if you’re practicing very linear forms of astrology–because it’s interpretive, its very nature is like, “Wait, what does this poem mean? What does this stanza mean? What is this role?” There are creative roles as well as kind of more linear, Saturnian rules within our craft, and I think that throws some people off when they want there to be an answer.
JL: There often isn’t one.
CB: It involves symbolism and the interpretation of symbolism. And that symbolism, while it has a range of meaning, there’s still an interpretive function to it rather than something that’s just 1+1=2. There’s certainly a math element of it in astrology, which is the ephemeris and the astronomical positions, but astrology is the interpretation of astronomical positions and what they mean in people’s lives.
So that becomes relevant as we transition into our topic, which is Mercury retrograde. So we’ve talked about Mercury–let’s talk about what a retrograde is. So part of the setup for this is that Mercury is actually, interestingly, the fastest-moving planet in astrology or in the solar system besides the Moon, which is treated as a planet. But let’s say, aside from the Moon, Mercury is the fastest-moving planet. It can move upwards of like 2° a day at its fastest through the zodiac, right?
JL: I actually didn’t–this is not my strength. So that sounds right, but I wouldn’t say that because I don’t know.
CB: So it can move pretty fast when it’s direct in motion, and especially when it’s really close to the Sun. However, unlike the Moon, Mercury occasionally, every few months, will do this weird thing–if you’re watching it in the night sky–where it will start to slow down and move really slowly.
And then, eventually, it will do a U-turn, and it will turn around and start moving backwards in the sky or backwards in the zodiac against the order of the signs of the zodiac. So normally, it moves forward through the signs, through Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, but every few months, it starts moving backwards where it goes Cancer, Gemini Taurus, Aries or what have you. So that’s fundamentally what a retrograde is; it’s a planet moving backwards in the order of the signs rather than forwards for a period of time, right?
JL: Yeah, well done. I always struggle to describe it effectively. I think the Astro Twins wrote something to the effect of it’s like when you’re driving on the freeway, and you’re driving at the same pace as a car, and then they start going slower than you. And it seems like they’re moving backwards, but they’re actually just moving slower; it’s like their pace changes. And I think that’s a really accessible way of thinking about it if you’re not a spatial processor, which I’m not, so i like that description. But yeah, that’s exactly right.
And it is worth noting that Mercury itself goes retrograde two to three times a year, every year. And so, Mercury retrogrades are a normal, appropriate, healthy function of Mercury. That’s how Mercury functions; it includes consistent retrogrades, and I think that that’s the thing that, a lot of times, people don’t fully get about Mercury. They’re like, “Oh, no, it’s turning on us again,” but it’s just Mercury being Mercury. Mercury’s a trickster. This is what Mercury does; Mercury fucks shit up. And I think that’s part of what we need to embrace about Mercury.
CB: Yeah, definitely, that it’s a normal thing; it happens three times a year. And that’s one of the reasons why it’s become a concept that made its way outside of the astrological community; it happens so often that astrologers end up talking about it three times a year. And so, it’s a concept that found its way into the general consciousness outside of your zodiac sign; most people at this point have heard of Mercury retrograde in some form or another.
JL: Yeah. Also, because it’s one of those–oh, I’m blanking on the word. It’s objectively happening. It’s evidential–that’s the word I was looking for. It’s one of those evidential things where because we use technology all the time, when Mercury goes retrograde, it’s like clockwork. Apple’s like, “Here’s an update for you. It’ll ruin your computer, but here’s an update for you.” We see things objectively get wonky, like the five different tries we had to do for recording the podcast, right? It’s just classic Mercury retrograde.
And because it’s so trackable, people can experience it and notate it. I think also that’s part of what popularizes awareness of it. Because people are like, “Oh, here it goes again. I can tell you I’m already noticing it.”
CB: Yeah, definitely. So here’s a little diagram. This is from a calendar that Paula Belluomini and I made that shows where the planet started at the beginning of 2020, and then what signs of the zodiac they went through and where they ended up by the end of the year. So Mercury, here, of course, we can see is the fastest planet; so it’s in the inner cycle. And it started out in Sagittarius and then it started moving through the signs of the zodiac through Sagittarius, then through Capricorn, then through Aquarius.
But eventually, early this year—I think it was in March or February–Mercury made it into Pisces. And then it slowed down and did this little U-turn, and then it moved backwards, retrograde in Pisces, until it moved back into Aquarius. Then it stationed direct and turned around again and started its forward movement again through Aquarius, Pisces, Aries, Taurus and so on and so forth. But over the course of the year, we can see it did three of these little loops during the course of 2020, first through Pisces then Gemini, and then eventually now through Scorpio.
JL: Oh, I love this calendar. And as a person with really weak spatial intelligence that way, I love that you walked me through it, because I’m like, “Oh, it makes perfect sense.” At first, I was like, “What are these squiggles? What do they mean?” But they mean retrograde.
CB: Yeah, exactly. It’s kind of a hard concept to conceptualize initially, but it’s good to get it down so that you know visually at least what it looks like. So here’s the zoomed-in…
JL: Oh, I love this.
CB: …zoomed-in version of the same thing, just showing the current retrograde in Scorpio, how Mercury got up to about–what did it get to? 11° of Scorpio?
CB: And then it did this U-turn and then it went retrograde for three weeks, which we’re now almost but not quite halfway through. And then, eventually, in November, it will turn around again, do another U-turn in Libra and then start moving forward again and direct in motion.
JL: And this graphic that you’ve created–so helpful–it also, to me, makes me feel like we need to talk about the shadow…
CB: Yeah, that’s another…
JL: …because the people need to know. Oh, is that a separate topic? Should we do that separate?
CB: No, we should do it. This is a perfect time to do it.
JL: I think it’s perfect. I think it was Lisa Stardust who popularized it. Maybe she didn’t create it. maybe I just learned it from her, the term ‘retroshade’, which I like so much better than shadow.
CB: I’ve been hearing this for the first time over the past few days, and I saw you use it–I saw one other person on Twitter mention it–and i really like it.
JL: It’s great.
CB: So retroshade.
JL: Retroshade, it’s perfect. I mean, listen, I’m not a grammar police person, but nothing bothers me more than someone saying Mercury is in retrograde. I don’t want to hear it. I don’t want to read it. It is the most annoying grammatical error, and it is so Mercury retrograde to have such a basic grammatical error be so popularized.
So, to me, retroshade is the opposite of that. It’s like a really fun wordplay situation that actually means something and is accurate. So down with ‘Mercury in retrograde’, up with the retroshade.
CB: Okay, so don’t say ‘in retrograde’, just say ‘Mercury is retrograde‘ or ‘Mercury is direct’, which is what it is when it’s not retrograde?
CB: So shadow periods. So there’s three phases in the Mercury retrograde cycle itself, but if you break it down, there’s actually five phases. So let me pull the diagram up again for that, because that might be a good time to show that. One moment. So here’s another little diagram. So Mercury, the retrograde…
JL: Look at you.
CB: …is right here in the middle. So Mercury goes retrograde when it does the first U-turn, and it turns from moving direct to moving retrograde and moving backwards; and that period of Mercury moving backwards for three weeks is the Mercury retrograde itself. And then, eventually, that ends when Mercury does another U-turn; it stations direct and begins moving forward again.
But starting in the 1980s–I tried to research this at one point and what I was able to figure out and what most of the older astrologers told me is that the first astrologer who coined the phrase was an astrologer named Roxana Muise. She coined this concept of the ‘shadow period’, which is the period leading up to the retrograde, which is the pre-Mercury retrograde shadow period, where it starts moving through the ° that it will later come back to during the course of the retrograde, the beginning of the shadow period.
And then once Mercury stations direct, there’s a period of time after it stations direct where it’s coming out of the retrograde and it’s still retracing the steps until it leaves the point that it originally went retrograde at, and that’s the post-retrograde shadow period. That sounds really complicated. I’m not sure if I’m mangling that.
JL: No, I don’t think you are at all. The way I always think of it–which I feel like you’re more technical than me, so you know tell me if I’m wrong—Mercury, when it’s in its retroshade, it’s pre-retrograde retroshade, to popularize the term. What it’s doing is it’s slowing down. You start to see evidence of its movement being less giddy-up-oriented–I warned you this wouldn’t be technical–and then it goes retrograde, where it appears to be moving backwards; it moves backwards through the zodiacal °. And then when it hits its post-retroshade, basically, it’s retracing its steps through the zodiacal °. And so, the retroshade is over when it moves beyond the degree it was when the retrograde began.
CB: Yes, exactly.
CB: I like that. That’s perfect.
JL: Thank you very much.
CB: To visualize this–even though this is becoming a lost concept, unfortunately–there’s this thing that astrologers used to use called an ephemeris.
JL: Squeeze me. People don’t use the ephemeris anymore? Can I just say, for the record, never leave home without it. I have an ephemeris in almost every room of my home.
CB: Every room? Yeah, because you never know when you’re going to need one, and you just need to start reaching…
JL: I need one all the time.
JL: I just feel like I need to look at the ephemeris right now. Excuse me, no. Get an ephemeris. The internet does not give you everything. Buy books, guys.
CB: Books from a bookstore, which for some of our younger listeners, unfortunately, we have to define as well–which is a place that you go to where you can purchase books in physical format.
JL: You know what? Everybody needs a fucking book. Okay, one more thing. This is very Mercury though, for me to be like here’s a book. You don’t just need a book. You need a book from a local bookstore that’s like your ‘woo’ witchy, esoteric bookstore, and then you get the bookmark. Let’s talk about the bookmark. It marks the book; it also marks the time in your life when you bought it. I bought this in Montreal, 1992. That’s right, same bookmark.
And then what I do—yeah, I’m going there, watch me–I’d use a book and then I use my bookmark to look at the date
CB: I like that.
JL: That’s what you’re supposed to do with an ephemeris. It’s a way of focusing yourself and using physical tools, real material tools to look at astrology. I can’t say enough about my love of an ephemeris.
CB: Do you mark your ephemeris? Are you a no-mark astrologer?
JL: No marks.
CB: No marks, okay.
JL: No marks in my ephemeris. My ephemeris, to me, no, never.
JL: I would never–sacrosanct. Thank you for that word. Yes, never. I have pieces of paper in my ephemeris that I’ve written on and I’ve stuck in there.
JL: But I wouldn’t write on the ephemeris because, well, that would be doing something ephemeral in an ephemeris, and that’s just not for me.
CB: I understand. Nice play on words. I like that.
JL: Thank you. Do you write in your ephemeris?
CB: I don’t want to admit that now, but yeah. But the positive thing about it is now I have, going back 20 years now, old ephemerises where I was like, “And then I’m going to have this transit of Pluto in the year 2020.” And it’s really funny and interesting to see what I was looking forward to or what I was having trepidation about much earlier in my studies.
And it’s sometimes just a good way to go through and see–here’s an image, for example, of an ephemeris. And this is digital, but some of my ephemerises will kind of look like this, where I’ll take a highlighter and highlight certain dates when certain things might happen.
JL: Honestly, I’m embarrassed almost to say it literally never even occurred to me that someone would mark up their ephemeris.
CB: Oh, no.
JL: I know it’s weird, but I’m not a person who writes in books in general. I like to write in day planners and in journals, but I have a weird, uptight thing about it. I think also because I’ve done so many client consultations, it would be distracting to look at anything related to me while I was in a client consultation. I’ll often pull out an ephemeris during a client consultation either about the client and their chart or somebody else’s chart or something that happened like 20 years ago to them or whatever. So it literally is blowing my mind that it never even occurred to me to do that. How did I never even think of that?
CB: Yeah, I mean, there’s different ways to do it, and it’s a little easier sometimes if you go to astro.com. You can get a printable ephemeris for a year, and so, you can print it out and mark it up and it doesn’t really matter, but there’s different ways to do it. One way you can do it is by highlighting where it’s hitting something important in your chart by °; so you know, that degree range is important. Another one, what I’m sort of demonstrating here, is just using an ephemeris to identify the shadow periods.
CB: So if we look at an ephemeris here, we see that in October of 2020, around the 13th-14th of October, Mercury, in the Mercury column, turned retrograde, and it turned retrograde at 11° of Scorpio. Then for the next three weeks, it moved backwards. So instead of moving forward through the ° like 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Scorpio, it started moving downwards.
So it went from 11°, to 9°, to 8°, to 7° of Scorpio. Eventually, it goes back into Libra, and then, eventually, it stations direct three weeks later around the 3rd of November at 25° of Libra. So that gives us two sensitive °–one of them is where the degree that Mercury stationed retrograde at, at 11 Scorpio, the other sensitive degree is the one that it stations direct at, at 25 Libra.
JL: May I ask a question about that?
CB: Yeah, go ahead.
JL: Okay. Do you like how I raised my hand, for those watching? So I noticed you’re saying 25°, but it’s 25’55 minutes. I personally would call it the 26th degree; you call it a 25. I would even say that at 11’40”, when it went retrograde, 40 is right around where I start to round up, not consistently; I’m a little inconsistent about that. But I’m curious about how you engage with that. You called it 25. Was that an accident, or is that actually how you see it?
CB: I mean, there’s a difference between ordinal numbers or something like that, which I often mix up. So I usually do just say 25 in this instance, since it’s at 25 Libra. But you’re right that it’s basically 26, because it’s 25’ 55”. So it’s basically 26 °, or you could say the 26th degree yeah
JL: Yeah, that’s right. And I’m really glad to pick this apart with you because I think it’s really important for people to hear that both of us are very competent and experienced astrologers, and there’s different ways of doing it.
JL: And also, there’s like an evolution of our own process as practitioners of how we even engage with something as fundamental as notating a degree.
JL: This is why astrology is the divine navel.
CB: Because everybody’s self-taught. And sometimes, you’re using the same materials–but you’re sitting with them for years on your own–and sometimes, people develop funny, idiosyncrasies due to that.
I remember the first time I met an astrologer was a few years into my study, and I was, in casual conversation, very excited to meet this guy at a metaphysical bookstore in Denver. And I started talking about my Chiron placement, which I referred to as ‘kiron’, and he stopped the conversation. He was like, “Hold on a second. What did you just say?”
JL: You’re like, “I’ve never spoken it aloud before.”
CB: Yeah, exactly. That was my first time meeting another astrologer. So sometimes, that happens when you meet with other astrologers, but that’s why it’s good because sometimes there’s this give-and-take that happens, and I think that’s always been the case historically. If you go back a thousand years, anytime you put two astrologers in the same room together, they start talking and sharing techniques, and you can see it influence the history of astrology as soon as different astrologers from different places interact.
JL: Yeah, absolutely. To that end, let me say two things–one is we are having such a meta time because we’re talking about Mercury, which is talking about talking, and talking about ideas, and talking about ideas of Mercury. Part of my brain is just like, “Are you noticing this?” because it’s just so meta.
JL: The other thing is I’m dialing it back to something we were just talking about really briefly. Hold, please. Okay. When I was first taught astrology, I was taught by a Jungian astrologer. Actually, I learned at a college level in the mid-1990s or the early 1990s, I guess it was.
CB: In Montreal?
JL: In Montreal, Quebec. I went to a place called New School, which was part of Dawson College, and so, the main school was just a regular college. And this teacher taught Jungian psychology, and then he was also an astrologer privately.
So in the New School, where I went, he taught astrology from a Jungian perspective, and that was my first formal study, and I was like 17-18 when I first started learning. But what he taught me–this is on topic for Mercury, I promise–was that there’s power in the symbols, and that learning how to write with a pen or a pencil the symbols was part of the magic of astrology.
And so, what i learned to do–instead of the highlighting of the ephemeris, because, of course, he was a Capricorn with a Scorpio rising, so he was like this deep, intense, penetrative, like “These are the rules, follow the rules,” and I loved it–is I write out my transits. And you can see I have highlighter and all that kind of crap.
I write out my transits and all of the dates of them and whatever notes I need on paper, in part, because I was trained with this idea that the very process of writing astrological statements is an energetic power. It’s a way of engaging with astrology; it’s the spiritual side of Mercury.
JL: So I would also say to people who are like, “I can’t afford to buy an ephemeris,” or “I don’t like books; I’m mad at books,” or whatever, if that’s what you want to do, writing things out, having a like a place that is dedicated for you to write out your transits, your natal aspects, your astrological musings is a form of–it’s kind the wrong word for it–prayer to astrology. It’s bringing energy and attention to astrology, which is a very mercurial process, but it’s worth saying since we’re talking about this stuff.
CB: Yeah, totally. Because, also, you’ve got to learn how to write your glyphs.
CB: And that, in it of itself, is bringing material form to the language of astrology by learning how to write the language of Mercury trine Neptune, and then writing down the date or what have you.
CB: That’s super crucial.
JL: It is crucial. And I feel like a lot of times when people are learning off of the internet, blog posts, meme astrology, all this kind of stuff, when you lose the layer of being able to read the language and write the language, you are losing out on comprehension. And Mercury teaches us that is true–that there are many layers of comprehension–and being able to read and speak in a language is one.
I can speak certain languages a little bit, but I can’t necessarily read them, and that shows in how I speak them. And so, I think that this is true with astrology as well, which is kind of to your point about us being translators, right? We have to be able to have a comprehensive understanding of the language in order to effectively translate what we’re perceiving, what we’re learning.
CB: Yeah, totally. So everybody, that’s a good recommendation. I always forget that, but that’s what i did first. I learned how to write the glyphs, and that was one of my first steps, but I have met people that five years into their study don’t know how to do that and don’t realize it’s a thing. So everybody listening should definitely, square one, learn how to write the glyphs.
JL: Yes, absolutely. When I taught astrology, when I had beginner classes, I mean, I’m no fun as a teacher. I’m just like, “You didn’t study? You didn’t do your homework? Go home!” I was just such an asshole about it because that’s how I was taught. And again, I was taught Solar Fire. Computers existed. I didn’t have access to computers–it wasn’t a thing–so I learned how to do the math to cast a chart.
JL: And you can imagine with my Mercury how long that took me and how many errors I made. It was awful.
CB: And you used to have to trudge up a hill, in snow, in order to do this both ways.
JL: Yes, I did. I had to wear tennis shoes in the snow and fight hypothermia the whole way.
JL: But I will say this, learning how to do manual calculations, I believe in it. And I don’t believe in doing it, to be clear; it’s a stupid waste of time, but I do believe in learning it because it grounds you in what astrology actually is; understanding that it’s not just pressing buttons and going to astro.com and having someone tell you the math. It’s knowing the steps, not necessarily doing them because, again, they’re stupid. But being able to know those steps I think is really valuable; again, it’s like a homage to the craft itself.
I take issue when people are like, “I value astrology, I learn from astrology, I center astrology, but I don’t want to learn the basics.” I feel like then how much do you really respect it? It’s a craft. It’s an ancient craft; it deserves some measure of respect. So I know I sound like a poster child for Capricorns, so I apologize.
CB: That’s all right, I like it.
JL: I am what I am, thank you very much.
CB: I like it. But yeah, a baseline of learning the astronomy, even if you don’t go all the way in calculating charts on your own, or observing the astronomy outside each night in order to calculate the chart or whatever. Just getting some basic familiarity with the ephemeris, that’s one of the easiest ways to identify the retrograde periods and to identify the shadow periods.
So again, just back to this. So Mercury stations at 11° of Scorpio, goes retrograde in October, and then it stations direct at 25 Libra in November. So those two degrees are important, sensitive degrees that we apply to the shadow periods.
If we back up to late September, around the 23rd, as soon as Mercury hits 25° of Libra the first time, that’s when the shadow period starts, because that’s the degree that Mercury will later retrograde or return back to when it stations direct in November; so that’s why the shadow period begins at that point.
From that point forward, Mercury is moving through degrees and moving through parts of the zodiac that it’s later going to return back to. So it starts opening up a series of events or a set of circumstances that even though it may not seem like it at the time, you do something during that time and it’s done and you move forward, and several weeks later, you sometimes find yourself coming back to that thing, just like Mercury itself returns back to those ° of the zodiac weeks later.
JL: Yeah, agree button.
CB: Okay, so that’s the pre-retrograde shadow period. And then the post-retrograde shadow period is that we can see Mercury stationing direct and starting to move forward again in early November, starting at 25° of Libra. And then it’s moving forward from late Libra into early Scorpio all the way until about November 19 or so, when it hits 10° or 11° of Scorpio; that was the degree that it originally stationed retrograde at.
So once it reaches back to that degree it’s stationed at, from that point forward, it’s going to start moving through ° that it never got to. And that’s why it’s the end of the shadow period, because it’s not really sometimes until you get to that point that the whole situation is fully wrapped up and there’s a nice little bow on it; but sometimes, there’s still cleanup that continues to linger through the shadow period after that point. Is that how you interpret it as well?
JL: Absolutely, yeah. I did notice something, which is why I was peeking at my ephemeris.
JL: Not to belabor the ‘ephemeris love’, but the 25th degree of Libra, that moment in the retroshade pre-, Mercury formed a square to Mars, which was retrograde in Aries. And what’s happening the next time it happens–was that the 4th of November? Mercury will be forming a square to Saturn, a couple of duty-do dudes; masculine, archetype-y. Although, I have an argument for these planets not having masculine archetypes, which is for another conversation.
But to see Mercury opposing Mars and then Mercury squaring Saturn, to me, that is worth noting because, again, we’re not just seeing these things existing in a bubble. We need to understand that it might have felt like something at that first retroshade moment, that September date of the 22nd–thank you for pulling up the chart. It might have felt like something happened that was kind of sudden or surprising, or just how you dealt with anger, how you expressed frustration, and then there’s going to be consequences because it’s Saturn. When we look at November 4th, we’re going to deal with consequences.
So you when we think about the election, I’m like, damn, we should have really looked at what was going on politically and socially, even in the President’s Twitter feed, on and around the 22nd of September, to see some sort of consequence come the 4th of November, which is a really particularly important date of course in US politics.
CB: Right. So here’s the chart, for those watching the video version, where Mercury here, it’s direct; it’s not retrograde yet. But once it gets to 24°-25° of Libra, we know from looking at the ephemeris that that’s the degree it’s later going to retrograde back to. So it’s going to come all the way back to this degree several weeks later.
So if we keep animating it and moving the chart forward by days, we see Mercury move into Scorpio. And then, in early October, it starts slowing down. So it starts moving slower than it usually does and all of a sudden it stops at this certain degree, which is 11° of Scorpio, or the 12th degree of Scorpio, as Jessica would say, right? 12th degree?
JL: Yeah, I would.
CB: Okay, so 11° of Scorpio or 12th degree of Scorpio, and it stops at that degree. And that’s one of the things that’s really important that’s maybe worth emphasizing of why retrogrades, especially stations are important. Usually, Mercury moves a degree or two a day.
So usually, it hits a spot in the zodiac, or a degree of the zodiac, and it just keeps moving, and it’s only there for a day tops. But what happens during a retrograde is Mercury slows down, and then it just sits at that degree for several days or almost a week; basically, just sitting there at 11° of Scorpio, right?
JL: Yeah. Another interesting thing about retrogrades that are really important is that when we have a retrograde that means we’ll often have multiple transits between Mercury and any given planet–usually an outer planet–hit multiple times in a short period, which is unusual with the planet Mercury. Mercury has to be retrograde for that to occur; ditto for Venus and Mars. So that’s another thing to really watch out for. It doesn’t happen in every retrograde, but it certainly has happened in this one, or it will have happened in this one.
CB: Yeah, that’s a really good point. So that’s one of our ways of characterizing what the retrograde is going to be about. Number one, what sign of the zodiac is it taking place in? So in this instance, it’s taking place in Scorpio, but that’s going to be different qualitatively. For example, there was a retrograde in Pisces earlier this year.
But then, second, what planets are configured to Mercury, especially when it stations retrograde and is just sitting at that degree? Outer planets seem to be really important in characterizing it, as you’re saying.
CB: But then, also, it sets it up so it’s not just, for example, opposing Uranus, which is at 9° of Taurus, when it stations there at 11° of Scorpio. So it’s holding that opposition for quite a while, which is something Mercury doesn’t normally do; its aspects are usually very quick.
JL: Yeah, and that’s a really important transit. Mercury opposite Uranus has already occurred on October 19. It happens on the 15th and then it’ll happen again on the 19th, I believe. This is all based on my memory.
CB: So the first one was October 7; so that’s when it first opposed at 9° of Scorpio to 9° of Taurus while it was still direct. Let’s see, it’s station’s retrograde October 13, and it goes back to 9 Scorpio and opposes Uranus again.
JL: There it is, 19.
CB: Yeah, 19.
JL: And the 19th already happened. right?
JL: Okay, and then it’s going to happen one more time. I think we get another hit November 7.
CB: Yeah. So after Mercury stations direct in Libra, it eventually comes back into Scorpio, and then it opposes Uranus a third time here; it looks like November 16.
JL: 16th. Okay, there it is. So my brain did a 7 out of a 1+ 6. So this is something with the current Mars retrograde, which is a different topic, but something that is a very important part of this Mars retrograde. You know, this Mercury opposition to Uranus, there’s the social implications and then the personal implications, but they’re both a little chaotic.
And I think that the component of Uranus as associated with individualism, Mercury also can be quite individualistic. It’s much more relational than Uranus is, but it’s always my ideas, my attitudes, what I think, what I say. And I think this opposition–we’re seeing so much tension in the world around, “This is who I want to vote for. This is what I think. I don’t want to talk about politics.” All of this kind of stuff is very activated.
I also think Mercury opposite Uranus is really good for hackers and people who want to push propaganda and people who like chaos, because this is a transit that creates a lot of chaos and anxiety. Mercury and Uranus are both related to our nervous system in different ways and our thought processes, and so, it speeds things up in such a way that it’s hard to keep track.
And anyone with any kind of hypertension, anxiety disorder, ADD stuff, it can get stimulated through these transits, unless, of course, it hits your chart in a way where it makes everyone else speed up, so you’re like, “Oh, I’m calm now. Now I’m normal because everyone else has caught up with me.”
JL: So it can kind of go either way.
CB: Yeah, so that’s a really good point for people listening to this after November, in the future, because I think this is going to be my main Mercury retrograde episode from now on. There’s a whole range of significations that we mentioned at the beginning for what Mercury retrogrades can coincide with, or maybe we just mentioned the significations and we didn’t actually talk about what Mercury…
JL: We didn’t, but we will.
CB: Okay, so we got into the astronomy; we forgot to define it. But let’s say there’s a range of significations that Mercury retrograde can coincide with, but sometimes it gets narrowed down, and there’s more specific ones that tend to manifest when it’s configured to certain planets, when it stations retrograde.
So this one is primarily characterized by Mercury opposite Uranus, so therefore, we take more of those Mercury-Uranus significations that have to do with technology, unexpected things coming up. Since it’s Mercury retrograde in Scorpio, it’s unexpected disclosures potentially or potentially attempting to manipulate things with disclosures, more issues with technology. I’ve seen this retrograde already being much more about the technological end that people sometimes talk about in Mercury retrogrades. It’s not always emphasized, but this one, it definitely is due to that opposition with Uranus.
JL: Yeah, I agree with that. Also, let’s not skip over Mercury in Scorpio. Scorpio is associated with shame, and it does move into Libra, as we know; and Libra’s a very relational, kind of peace-seeking sign. And I think it’s really important for us to also acknowledge–and this kind of gets into what is a retrograde on an experiential level–what is a Mercury retrograde? Retrogrades want, I always say, ‘the rule of re’s-’–review, reassess, reaffirm, recalibrate; it’s about reflecting back. And in order to really have consistent progress, we need to look back at what we’ve done, what isn’t working, what is working, and kind of let the wisdom of time inform us.
And I think that when we’re looking at a retrograde in the sign of Scorpio and Libra–especially in the context of what’s happening globally and certainly domestically–we all need to look at things that we have shame around. When we talk about the kind of ills and ails of the world, we are all complicit in them; we are all a part of it. We are all the benefactors of various things that are problematic, and it stirs up shame, and it serves up resentments, and it stirs up anger, and it’s all very Scorpio stuff.
I won’t overspeak about this–because it’s connected to a lot of larger transits that are not Mercury-oriented–but I think that we’re already seeing it, and I expect us to see throughout the retrograde that this is a period where individual people are reflecting back on things that are hard to sit with, hard to acknowledge, and figuring out what their story is. And I think that the psychological implications of that don’t just stop with the individual psyche because society and community is made out of many individuals.
And so, how we relate to calling each other in versus calling each other out, how we relate to making space for difference and for individual learning curves, how we step into humility–all of these things are a part of this particular Mercury retrograde in these signs, in the context of the larger astrology and societal trends. So I don’t know if you have a take on that as well.
CB: Yeah, totally. I mean, there’s a lot of stuff like that. Maybe let’s finish defining the astronomy and then let’s define the core Mercury retrograde significations.
CB: Then I want to circle around and bring it together with the current one and where we’re at with the election and what it all means. So you’re bringing up a really important point about when Mercury goes retrograde. One of the things that’s really unique about it is usually Mercury–because it moves so quick–it’ll aspect a planet, like an outer planet, and it’ll happen over the course of a day and then it’s done; or you’ll have a Mercury transit, and it’ll aspect something in your chart, but it’ll be very quick and it’s done. But when Mercury goes retrograde, it sometimes sets it up so those aspects will recur three times over the course of a several-week period.
So you were mentioning Mercury opposite Uranus, and this is a little graph from Kyle–over at Archetypal Explorer–where it shows that first Mercury-Uranus opposition in early October, the second week of October, whatever that was. But then Mercury goes retrograde and it comes back and opposes again later in October, and then, later, once Mercury turns direct, it will come back and oppose Uranus again in November. So you get three hits of Mercury when it goes retrograde and that’s an important part of the Mercury retrograde dynamic.
JL: Yeah, I love that, and I love that you had that graph ready to go.
CB: Yeah, I’m trying to try to line it up. I’m trying to use as many visuals for those that are visual learners…
CB: …who are trying to get this down. So I want to circle back to talking about other outer planet configurations with the Mercury retrograde because that can certainly change things; like if Mercury is opposing Neptune that’s much different than opposing Uranus, like we’re talking about now. But maybe we should stop and actually define what Mercury retrograde in and of itself means sometimes.
CB: So Mercury retrograde, when it slows down and goes retrograde, it’s this three-week period; and it takes Mercury’s significations, and one of the things that it seems to do is it sometimes inverts them in different ways. So it becomes traditionally associated with things like miscommunication, delays, being sidetracked, technological snafus, and different disturbances in the regular flow of communication. Do those seem like good, core significations to you?
JL: Yeah, absolutely. The thing that’s so tricky about the Mercury retrograde that people really notice is you think you’re being clear and somebody else isn’t hearing what you said, or they’re not hearing it the way that you meant it. You say, “Meet me on the corner of 4th and Market,” and they’re like, “Okay,” and they’re standing perpendicular to you and you never see them. They’re really honest misunderstandings because we’re distracted. Because we’re a little bit in the past, we’re a little bit trying to catch up, and it makes us distracted; so we’re back to this core thing about Mercury, which is listening.
I feel like Mercury retrograde is a call to listen to yourself more and to look at how you are or are not listening to others. And within that, you think you sent them an email, but it actually ended up in your drafts folder.
JL: It’s that kind of thing.
CB: Mistakes, or technological, genuine mistakes sometimes happen that are forms of miscommunication. So for example, one that’s happened to me recently in this retrograde was sending a text to somebody and then them not replying, and you being like, “Oh, well, that’s offensive. I’m not going to talk to that person again.” And then it turns out that the text didn’t go through, and they genuinely didn’t see it because there was a technological snafu that resulted in the miscommunication.
And sometimes, a little thing like that can set off a larger sequence of events, but at its core, the Mercury function of communicating or transmitting information between people went awry and didn’t work like it’s usually supposed to and it led to something else.
JL: Yeah, absolutely. I’m always hearing from people like, “Oh, I have to sign a contract.” “I have to get a new job.” “I have to do this new thing.” “I’m trying to buy a car. What do I do? It’s Mercury retrograde.” And the answer is double-check your work, triple-check the contract; be careful. It’s not don’t live your life, it’s live your life empowered with the information that things are more likely to be wonky.
Because you’re an astrologer and you know that your text maybe didn’t go through, or somehow they read it and they meant to get back to you and then they forgot–because we’re astrologers and we know that, to me, it’s really empowering. Listen, I’m a triple-Capricorn. When I make appointments with people, you don’t show up for your appointment, you’re a minute, you’re 10 minutes late, you missed your 10 minutes.
I’m a rosy girl. But when Mercury is retrograde, I’m like, okay, so people are going to show up like clockwork for an appointment that’s going to happen in six months. People will show up late. They will come the wrong day. People will ask me a bunch of stupid questions that I already answered or whatever. And instead of being offended and rigid–like I can get–I will be very understanding during a Mercury retrograde because it’s the math. It’s not on them, it’s not on me, it’s just how it goes.
CB: Yeah, that’s really funny. Actually, you mentioned that scheduling misunderstandings and snafus are very common under Mercury retrogrades. And I actually, today, woke up an hour earlier than I needed to for this because I did the time zone conversion wrong. So I showed up for this meeting like an hour early, and I was like, “Where is Jessica?” And then 10 minutes later, I realized, okay, we’ve had one of those things.
JL: One of those things, yes. I mean, this is the thing about Mercury retrograde, for me, as a literalist, I love knowing shit’s going to go sideways, and it’s not anyone’s fault. I mean, listen, some things are people’s fault, but I hold a lot of grace during a retrograde because it makes my life easier; honestly, that’s that’s it.
And I think a great way of relating to this, if you’re not an astrologer–you’re just trying to live your damn life–is to be like, okay, so I am empowered with the knowledge that people are going to miss things, and I’m to make stupid mistakes, and none of it’s personal. It’s all by design, and the design is so that we keep on being relational.
Like in that instance, obviously, you figured it out, so you didn’t have to do anything. But you could have texted me and been like, “Hey, Jessica, where the fuck are you?” And I would have been like, “Hey, weirdo, it’s not the time,” and then we would have been like, “Hahaha,” and moved on with our lives. And that’s the thing that I think Mercury wants of us because it’s a relational, subjective planet; it wants us to interact.
And as I said at the start, it’s related to the platonic side of all relationships. It’s how we get on with others and how we are interconnected with others. And I think that that’s really something we shouldn’t let go, we shouldn’t forget. We are supposed to ask questions. We are supposed to double-check. We are supposed to check in on people and situations during the retrograde; really during any retrograde of a personal planet, but certainly Mercury, first and foremost, IMO.
CB: Yeah, definitely. So that’s a good point that all the other planets–except for the Sun and Moon–also turn retrograde and have their own meanings when they’re retrograde; we’re focusing on Mercury for the purpose of this. And Mercury retrogrades happen the most frequently that they tend to be talked about the most, but some of this may apply to other planets as well in different contexts.
JL: Absolutely, yeah. And I haven’t done any research into how frequently Mercury and Mars are retrograde at the same time. I don’t remember it happening in recent years. And I will say, for the record, it’s a boner, not enjoying it. Boner’s a bad thing, in my view.
JL: No offense.
JL: But, for me, it’s a bad boner, yeah; or as my friend who taught me the term, it’s a ‘sad boner’. So yeah, it’s just a term for you to use. That’s retroshade, sad boner, run with it; that’s Mercury for you.
CB: All right, we’ll put that in the books to pass down to future generations for astrological terminology.
JL: Thank you. Sad boner–Mercury and Mars retrograde at the said time is a sad boner.
CB: Somebody’s going to be translating this into another language at some point and is going to have a question mark, so we’ll have to give them your email address, just to direct all questions to later.
JL: I get questions about it a lot because I use ‘that’s a boner’ or ‘it’s a boner’ to both mean something very bad and very good.
JL: I just feel like language is flexible. Why be rigid about it? It’s not like time, which is super rigid Capricorn, sorry.
CB: That is a very Mercury-Uranus-type position to take, if I may say so.
JL: You may.
CB: Okay, let’s finish defining other possible, generic, Mercury retrograde things that it’s said to be associated with, just to finish up this part of my outline. What I wrote was that which Mercury signifies normally gets inverted, impeded, or delayed, and that in its movements– we’ve already seen, maybe to excess in the ephemeris at this point–it has this sort of deviation or anomalous movement from our perspective, which when interpreted then is interpreted as meaning anomalous occurrences with respect to Mercury; so a deviation from what is expected. So if Mercury normally signifies clear communication then you get an inversion of that, which is miscommunication, or a delay, or a sidetrack or what have you.
Let’s see, other standard things. Disturbances in the regular flow of communication resulting in misstatements, unwelcome disclosures, miscalculations, do-overs, problems of technology, schedules, traffic, etc. The retrograde involves revisiting a part of the zodiac that it has recently been through previously, so therefore, the retrograde sometimes itself involves periods involving revisiting, revising, and rethinking things from the past. So a lot of ‘rewords’ I think you use as well, right?
JL: Yeah. I’m obsessed with the concept of retrogrades being related to any form of review. It’s three words. It’s a great rule to work with because it seems to really work, and it clarifies that this is not a torture chamber that the planets have put us in; it’s simply a time for reframing. And sometimes, the only way that we are willing to make changes or to question things is to have them go on the fritz.
Humans–we’re so stubborn. We’re just like, “I don’t want to question. It’s working, I’m just going to do what I’ve always done.” But time marches on and it wants us to understand that things change as our position changes, as everything around us changes, as we change. And a retrograde is a time for that reassessment being an activated thing in the context of whatever planet it is.
Now I will say that, for me, that is much more true with the personal planets–with Mercury, Venus and Mars–than it is with any of the slower-moving planets, which all retrograde every year a bunch, and already move so fucking slow. Anyways, not all scholars agree with me on that one.
CB: Yeah, I think that’s fair to say. So yeah, one of the things that you emphasize in some of your retrograde write-ups is, also, an internalization of the thinking function and a period of reflecting and sometimes looking backwards, or other times, when old things come back into your life either mentally or sometimes literally.
So some of your keywords in your articles are things like review, reflect, reassess, recalibrate, and reorient. I think some of that internalization and reflection also has to do with when Mercury slows down and turns retrograde; there’s the problem and the problem arises at that time, or the snafu or the anomaly.
But then, Mercury, during the course of its three-week retrograde cycle, it will back up and fall back into a conjunction with the Sun, and it will fall–traditional astrologers would say–under the beams of the Sun, or become hidden, or reunite with the Sun in some way. And perhaps, as a result of that, we have that idea of reflecting or internalizing on things that sometimes causes some greater internal development is how you’re sort of framing it.
JL: Yeah, I really like that. It’s really actually very pretty. It’s nice. Yeah, I think there’s this way that retrogrades get so much fear because they’re inconvenient, honestly. I’ve seen people be like, “Whenever Mercury goes retrograde, I get depressed,” or “I cry all the time.” And I’m like, well, that’s not actually what Mercury retrograde does.
But what it can do is it can trigger a coping mechanism that is underdeveloped or that needs greater attention, and your resistance to reviewing and making changes, that’s what can trigger a depression or emotionalism. Mercury on its own is not about emotionalism; it is a reflective, subjective planet. But it is not the Moon; it is not even Venus; it is Mercury.
And so, I think that there’s so much value in Mercury retrograde, honestly, I think there’s so much that we can gain from Mercury retrogrades, but it requires us being inquisitive and interested in our own processes, in our relationship to frustrations or snafus you. You and I spent an hour getting ready for this. If either of us had been like, “Nope, that’s it, fuck this,” it would have been really difficult and stressful; but instead, it was actually pleasant and we got to laugh about it because we didn’t personalize it.
And I’m just using that because it just happened and it’s an impersonal example. But I think it’s important for people to think about in your own life, when Mercury is retrograde, how are you taking something personally that you actually could just let go, and how would your life be easier if that happens? And I think it’s really valuable to play with and explore those kinds of questions.
CB: Yeah, that’s really a great point that Mercury retrogrades, one of the best things that you can do or cultivate to get through them with the greatest sense of inner peace is just flexibility.
CB: Because probably the one thing that Mercury retrogrades are the hardest on is inflexibility; inflexibility in your scheduling, or your attitude, or whatever it is. If you go into it saying it has to be this one way, then you’re going to have a harder time because that’s going to get thrown off potentially. And if you don’t have some degree of flexibility then it’s going to be sort of dragging you along with it, instead of you just going with the flow, so to speak.
JL: Yeah, and that’s coming from a Mercury-Saturn and a Mercury-Uranus person, not the most flexible of all the ‘Mercury-outer planet’ people; real talks.
JL: I mean, it’s easy to think Uranus is a flexible planet, but it’s really capricious. I think it’s very much like, “I’m completely flexible about everything I’m not obtuse about,” right? And I feel like Uranus and Saturn have a lot in common in that regard. It’s like, “Yeah, I’m super flexible when it serves me. When I’m not in the mood, I’m not.” You know what I mean?
CB: Yeah, or it’s like, “I’m super-flexible as long as I can do it my own way.”
JL: Yeah, exactly, as long as I’m in total control. I remember when I was first studying astrology and I was learning about Uranus. And I was like, “Oh, it’s counter-culture. It’s like punks.” As a young person, everyone around me was punk. And I was like, “Oh, wait a minute, that’s so Uranus.” It’s like they would spend hours on the way they looked, but if somebody spent hours on looking conventional, they’d be like, “That’s boring, that’s stupid, but what I’m doing is okay.” And I was like, oh, that’s classic of Uranus. It’s kind of super-flexible/super-rigid at the same time, and I just find that fascinating. Not about Mercury, but not completely separate.
CB: No, that’s great. I love that; that’s good visualization. All right, the very last section in defining Mercury retrograde was making a choice or initiating a plan of action at the beginning of the retrograde cycle, and then, later, once Mercury goes retrograde–or later in the Mercury retrograde cycle–having to reverse the decision, or take something back, or make a significant course correction in order to rectify an error or a miscalculation that was made previously.
So sometimes, the first part of the cycle, there’s a delay or an issue comes up, but then, eventually, there’s a resolution that usually starts to come about halfway through the retrograde, usually when Mercury conjoins the Sun, or sometimes not until Mercury stations direct. There’s some sort of resolution or solution to the problem that that comes about.
JL: Yeah, that’s interesting. That sounds right to me. It’s not something that I’ve ever focused on though, so I like that.
CB: In terms of just the instances where it’s more literal, instead of the instances where it’s more internal?
JL: It’s the planning part. It’s the clarity of, okay, so I’m starting something, I’m going to have to revisit it or check it out specific to this cycle. That’s not what I’ve thought about; I’ve thought about it in more of a broad sense. Yeah, I just thought about it in a more broad sense is the best way to put it.
JL: So yeah, I like what you’re suggesting, that there’s something that is encapsulated, that is somewhat exclusive–not really exclusive–literally within the degrees, the dates of the retrograde itself, and that’s not actually how I’ve thought about it; and now, I’m going to have to go back and do some research. But yeah, that’s cool. I like that.
CB: I like collecting Mercury retrograde examples. I have a history of needing to get a new laptop and sometimes this happens at the beginning of the Mercury retrograde.
JL: Oh, yeah, I’ve seen that.
CB: It slows down and stations retrograde and something happens and you just have to get a new computer at that time. And you’re like, “Well, if I do this there’s going to be issues,” but you have to go ahead and do it anyways, and then there’s a problem. I got a laptop a few years ago, at the beginning of the retrograde, and then it died within two days of using it, just two days after Mercury stationed retrograde; so it starting the three-week retrograde cycle.
And then I have to send it back and go through this whole process, and then, eventually, I don’t start to see any resolution to the process until Mercury conjoins the Sun halfway through the cycle, and it’s not really all going well again until Mercury stations direct and begins moving forward again.
JL: Interesting. That is one thing that I will not do, unless there’s an extreme situation. I will not buy a phone. I will not buy a computer during a Mercury retrograde.
CB: Okay, so you avoid that altogether?
JL: I think maybe once she broke and I had no choice.
JL: But I will go to great lengths because I know that it can’t go well; it just can’t go well. You know what I mean? I mean, it must. People buy computers and phones all the time, but in my experience, it just can’t go well.
CB: Yeah, it’s one of those instances where sometimes, if you can, you try to avoid it. But if you can’t, you just have to have flexibility and understand that even though it doesn’t look like it should at the beginning of the cycle, this may take longer than you think that it’s going to due to unexpected delays and just sort roll with the punches as that’s happening.
JL: Absolutely. Now that you’re naming this so frequently–hold on, let me just see what I can pick up here. When does the Sun and Mercury meet this time around? Let’s take a peek. Oh, the 25th of October. I beat you to it.
Yeah, the 25th of October is when that transit occurs, and I’m down for that. I’m not going to lie to you; I’m down for that.
CB: So here is the little calendar. There’s October. We see Mercury stationing on the 13th, retrograde, and then it conjoins the Sun on–did you say the 25th?
JL: 25th, yeah.
CB: Okay, good. Okay, so the 25th is the halfway point. That’s usually when you start to see some resolution, like halfway through the cycle, but it’s not fully resolved until Mercury stations direct, which it will do on November 3.
JL: From your mouth to God’s ears, as they say because this Mercury retrograde’s been a real boner, if I’m being honest–a sad boner. It’s just been painstaking, slow.
CB: Yeah, and there’s one caveat with that, which is, occasionally, even though stuff is supposed to start clearing up by the time Mercury stations direct–and there’s supposed to be some forward movement and resolution of the snafus–there are instances where the things that started and went crazy during the Mercury retrograde can last after that; like, for example, 20 years ago, when Mercury retrograde stationed direct on Election Day; and then it was just chaos for the next six weeks and the election wasn’t fully decided until like mid-December or something like that.
JL: Oh, I think we’re going to have something similar again, at best, honestly. This is a really different situation in a lot of ways, but a big one is the voting by mail, which has never happened before in the way that it’s happening now. We’re having record voter turnout already, and we’re not even at the 25th of October yet. And we know that ballots are being filled out, votes are being put in the mail, and then they’re being tabulated in the retrograde; so that is unique and has never before happened in American history.
And so, this is a fun place for us, as practicing astrologers, to know that there’s no precedent. So there’s little bits and pieces of precedent, but this is a unique situation. And if we move forward as a nation and we continue to vote by mail–which I hope we do because I hate going to a polling place myself. I’ve been in California for 25 years and I’ve always voted by mail; I love it.
But if we’re going to do this, then then we’re going to have the opportunity to see this moving forward in the future. Because in 2000, when this happened, not all states allowed you to vote by mail, and there weren’t that many ballots sent in by mail. I haven’t looked at the numbers on it, but it was nothing like this year; so I think we can expect a shitshow.
CB: Yeah, I think all astrologers agree on that one thing, that it’s going to be a shitshow pretty much, no matter what. And it’s due to that weird, perfect storm of not just the higher turnout of more people trying to vote, but also, the pandemic; and therefore, more people not wanting to stand in line at a polling place with a hundred other humans in close proximity–wanting to take advantage of mail-in voting more than usual–as well as some of the weird manipulations that may be going on, in terms of trying to pull machines out of the post office and suppress some of the vote through weird shenanigans going on at the post office.
JL: Shenanigans is such a kind word for what it is. Also, on the news that in Florida–it might be happening in other states as well–people who are registered as Democrat are receiving emails saying, “If you don’t vote for Trump, we’re going to get you.” So they’re getting threatening emails saying, “We know who you are,” so we’re seeing voter intimidation. We’re also seeing all these other things that I think are a really great motivation for voting by mail or dropping off a ballot at a polling place versus going into the polls.
Now there’s an argument to be made for voting in person as well, and I’ve heard many people make a compelling argument about it. I think the most important thing is to vote, and that is as much Saturn as it is Mercury. That is as much our little stellium of outer planets in the sign of Capricorn at this time as it is any kind of Mercury retrograde shenanigans.
JL: You’re welcome.
CB: All right, so we’ve defined Mercury retrograde pretty well. Let’s talk about social impact a little bit; I want to do a little segment talking about it. This is one of the few astrological concepts that’s become widely-known. Outside of Sun signs, Mercury retrograde is the next thing; the only other thing after that–somewhere way down the line–is maybe Saturn returns.
JL: Definitely, Saturn return. I mean, I’m queer. So I will say that since 1994, when I moved to San Francisco, everyone’s like, “Saturn return, tell me about my Saturn return.” They’re knocking on my door when they do that; that’s why I’m doing this for the video. Yeah, so Saturn return is pretty high up there. I think it’s pretty close to the Mercury retrograde.
CB: But Mercury is still up more than Saturn return, right?
JL: But you’re also talking to a triple-Capricorn. So, of course, everyone and their sister finds me when they’re going through their Saturn transits. Why wouldn’t they? I’m like a walking, talking Saturn transit.
CB: That makes sense. You’re a Saturn magnet; I just magnetized you.
JL: That’s right. They’re like, “Oh, I’m suffering, tell me of my suffering,” and I say, “Okay.”
CB: So let’s talk about the social impact. So while all of the planets go retrograde, Mercury does the most frequently. This causes astrologers and horoscope writers to talk about it more frequently, especially in modern times. The advent of the internet, and writing online columns, and YouTube, and everything else has meant astrologers can also go outside of just talking about the Sun signs, where they can make general statements about the astrological weather.
So Mercury is mentioned very frequently in terms of its retrograde cycles. Additionally, Mercury’s connection with day-to-day things perhaps make its retrogrades more tangible, but also, the increasing reliance on technology and electronic communications over the past few decades probably makes the Mercury retrogrades more relevant in a way. So maybe it’s become more relevant as we get more technological. What do you think?
JL: I a hundred-percent agree with that, yes.
CB: Okay, so the broader public awareness of this concept has some pros and cons. On the positive side, it shows that there’s more to astrology than just Sun signs. So people are finding out that astrology is more complex than just dividing the entire globe into 12 camps or 12 groups; there’s actually a lot more to it, so that’s a good thing.
On the negative side, it sometimes gets overstated in its importance and often is mischaracterized as being worse than it is. Alternatively, it’s also assumed to apply to everyone at all times, even when that’s not the case.
CB: So let’s start with the mischaracterization part. To what extent is Mercury retrograde panic justified versus to what extent is it overblown in modern society today?
JL: God, I mean, it’s overblown in a lot of ways. There’s no Mercury retrograde lipstick–and I love lipstick–there’s no Mercury retrograde whatever; it’s overblown in a lot of ways is basically the point.
I’m cynical, a little. The commercialization of astrology is worth being critical and cynical around; and also, open to and enjoy it. You know what I mean? If you’re shopping for lipstick and you like astrology, good, read the article, that’s cool. But also, that’s not astrology, it’s something else. It’s like cotton candy is food, but is it food?
JL: It’s cotton candy.
CB: Or let’s say fast food. Let’s say Mercury retrograde is like the McDonald’s of astrology. Yeah, it’s good and it’ll get you by. It’s food. It has some nutritional value.
CB: But it’s not the same as a Michelin 12-star restaurant, where you go and you have a chef.
JL: That chef, in the Michelin 12-star restaurant, that’s an astrologer, an experienced astrologer looking at your chart and looking at the retrograde and seeing how the retrograde’s going to directly impact you; that’s your fancy, ‘Gordon Ramsay might eat there’ kind of situation.
JL: But the McDonald’s is just like–even the articles that are really popular these days like, “What four signs are going to be impacted the most by this Mercury retrograde?” it’s based on the misinformation that your Sun sign is the only thing in your chart. I mean, I’m Sun, Moon, and rising in Capricorn, so, for me, sure, maybe something like that would hit me more directly, but I have other planets in other signs–come on, guys.
So I think that there’s a way that Mercury retrograde is so important–it’s something I track; it’s something I think is very important to talk about and educate people about–but the oversimplification of it, the ‘memefication’ of it is where it gets problematic; it just becomes generalized.
And I think that the risk with astrology–and this is a really important thing, for me, and older astrologers, people who are my age and older–is this fear of ‘astrology perfume’ and astrology memes and all this kind of stuff–which is fun; it’s not bad; As a person who makes a living, I’ve participated in this stuff a little bit, for sure.
But the risk of it is the ‘sillification’ of astrology. It’s taking something that is substantive and making it not very substantive, and that’s always associated with the downfall of astrology in popular opinion. And so, I’m very nervous about that, as somebody who’s in love with astrology and has dedicated her life to astrology.
And I think when we’re talking about Mercury retrograde, we are, in part, talking about a place where this happens. There’s enough social awareness of Mercury retrograde that it becomes a place where people who are not astrologers are posting about it, or brands are using it as a way to sell products and all this kind of stuff. That’s so classically Mercury retrograde; it’s misinformation or partial information, but it’s also kind of annoying.
CB: Maybe one of the core issues is just oversimplification of maybe something that’s like a complex. We’re like an hour-and-a-half into this discussion already, and I feel like we’ve barely scraped the surface, so it’s obviously a very complex thing that has a lot of different factors you can take into account if you’re doing it full-blown. It sometimes gets simplified, and sometimes that simplification can, like you said, end up almost misinforming people more than helping to inform them about what the phenomenon actually is.
JL: Yeah, or create fear.
JL: We know that clickbait is salacious; it provokes a strong feeling. And so, fear is a really strong feeling, and if you post something that has a scary title, or “The thing that you absolutely need to know during this Mercury retrograde,” it’s like, “Oh, no! What is it that I need to know?” I’m sorry–I’m biting my nails; I don’t know if that was obvious. I realized it looked like I was eating corn-on-the-cob, so I apologize.
CB: That’s fine.
JL: Thank you very much. So anyways, you understand the problem with it, right? How do we talk about astrology intelligently, and also, make it fun? It does have to be bite-sized pieces; tweets are only so many characters.
And I think some of that is it is okay to be a student of something and not try to teach other people the thing; it is okay to be a fan of something and not present yourself as an expert. And I think that more astrology fans need to hear that–because there’s a lot of things that we want to post about because they’re important to us–but there is a risk of posting misinformation, and I think it’s something for us all to pay attention to in this time.
Well, first of all, in a Mercury retrograde time, it’s a good time to reflect on this concept. In general, this is a time of great propaganda, and we can think about that in terms of politics and all these crazy things that are happening, but also, in terms of how we might put out information that we actually don’t know if it’s accurate or not. And we all do it. Everybody does it over the course of their lives frequently, so it’s something to seriously consider; and again, Mercury retrograde’s a great time for that.
CB: Yeah, totally. All right, so the underlying point is a few things–Mercury retrograde, it’s not the only thing going on; there’s other things going on in the sky. So there’s a Mars retrograde happening right now as well and that’s huge. There’s Mars squaring Saturn…
JL: And Pluto.
CB: …and Pluto. There’s three planets in Capricorn forming a triple conjunction right now—Saturn, Pluto, and Jupiter. So astrology is more complex, especially mundane astrology where there’s so many different moving pieces, and it’s applying to the entire globe instead of one individual, so there’s that.
Even though there’s a very wide spectrum of different ways that Mercury retrograde can work out that we’ve just outlined, some of them will be more pronounced during certain retrogrades, like technological issues during this one, with Mercury stationing retrograde and opposing Uranus three times. Earlier this year, I think it was February and March, there was a Mercury retrograde in Pisces conjunct Neptune, and some issues with miscommunication, or disinformation, or misunderstandings, or different things like that were more prominent, right?
JL: Oh, yeah, and also, more psychologically, anxiety, a sense of overwhelm, a sense of helplessness and hopelessness. Whereas this Mercury retrograde–because of Uranus involvement–is much more associated with like impatience; the kind of anxiety that is related to impatience and an irritability of like, “I just need things to change. I need them to move along.” And I would also add to that because of those markers that we saw at the start of the retroshade and the end of the retroshade, we’re also looking at Mercury opposite Mars, Mercury square to Saturn and the implications of it, which call for a sense of consequences for what you do or what you don’t do.
So within all of this, Mercury is maybe egging us on in a way, and there will be a time for consequences and it will come quickly. Because I really do think that when Mercury forms a square to Saturn in the retroshade, we will see consequences for our actions, not just our attitudes, which is more classically Mercury; so I think this is a really impactful and important Mercury retrograde.
And again, I keep on wanting to bring in that Mars retrograde because I can’t help myself. But ignoring that, as much as I can, I still think it’s a very impactful retrograde; and the fact that Mars is retrograde at the same time makes it more action-oriented and actionable, for better or worse.
CB: Yeah, definitely. All right, let’s talk about when Mercury retrograde will be important for you, personally. Another piece of misinformation or a misunderstanding that goes around as a result of Mercury becoming more prominent as a concept is the misassumption that every time Mercury goes retrograde that it’s going to be personally relevant for you, and that’s not always necessarily the case. But instead, some Mercury retrogrades are more important for certain people and others are less important.
Sometimes a Mercury retrograde will happen, and you will get some of those classic things in your life, like things will go haywire and there will be miscommunications or something like that will happen. Other times, you’ll have a retrograde happen, and it’ll come and go and it won’t be anything to write home about, right?
JL: Yeah, absolutely.
CB: Okay, so that’s important that people understand that. What are some ways in which a Mercury retrograde can be more important for a person? How could you tell, as an astrologer, when a Mercury retrograde’s going to be more personally important for them versus when it’s not?
JL: For me, as an astrologer, it’s always how it directly impacts planets in your chart; so not just your Sun and the degree of your Sun. This is where we we turn to the ephemeris and we turn to the math of astrology, if you have something in your birth chart at 11° of a cardinal sign, or 12° of a cardinal sign, 25° of a cardinal sign because we’re looking at those two Libra stations, right? At those two individual degrees, it’s going to be a strong aspect, and it doesn’t have to just be your Sun. So when Mercury, or any retrograding planet, directly activates a transit to your birth chart, you are going to feel that; and it’s going to not just impact that one point, but it’s going to reverberate and trigger all of your natal aspects.
So, as an example, if you have something at 11° or 12° of Libra, when Mercury crosses that point, it wouldn’t just activate your Saturn, it would activate all of your natal aspects to and from Saturn. And I think that that’s where, again, this interconnectedness of astrology is a really important point to hammer in. Because you might be like, “Why are all these things happening right now?” and it’s because Mercury is transiting over a point in your chart that has got a lot of reverberations to it. And so, this is where a more nuanced kind of understanding of your chart is important.
And I also will say that when I’m scared, when I’m having a lot of feelings, I consult other astrologers; not because I don’t technically have the data in my little noggin, but because we are not objective when we are the subject of a thing. And so, something you and I touched on the last time I was on your podcast is, in the context of relationships, we cannot be objective observers when we are subject to our own relationships. And I think that’s the mercurial rule; we are subjective in the realm of Mercury.
And so, it’s good to seek counsel during retrogrades, and it’s good to not abandon discretion during those retrogrades because we might not understand the counsel, or that person themselves may be influenced by the retrograde in a way we don’t understand. So I hope that isn’t contradict-y, but the truth is in the nuance, right?
CB: Right. Yeah, that’s a really good point. So probably the primary rule then for figuring out if a Mercury retrograde is going to be important for you is seeing if it is going to either station retrograde or station direct on an important, especially personal planet in your chart, or on the degree of one of your angles, like the degree of your Ascendant, or the degree of your Midheaven or what have you.
So this Mercury retrograde, for example, stationed retrograde at 11 Scorpio. So if you have something at 11 Scorpio, at the degree of your Ascendant…
JL: Scorpio, not Libra. Sorry about that.
CB: That’s all right. So if you have something at 11 Scorpio at your Ascendant, then that retrograde could be more important for you; part of the reason for that is Mercury is just sitting at that degree for a week. It’s sort of like with chimes. If you had a chime, and you just hit it once, you get the little ‘bing’, and then it eventually dissipates pretty quickly. But if you just kept hitting that one chime for a week, that’s kind of what Mercury stationing on that degree is like.
JL: That’s a great way of putting it. It’s like being in a windstorm, just a damn windstorm; it’s just hitting on that chime. That’s a very good way of putting it.
JL: I will add one thing to that, though. The way I practice astrology, I would say if Mercury or any planet hits an outer planet, I see that as a very big deal, and I see that as triggering your psychology in a much deeper way. So, for me, any kind of a personal planet forming a transit to an outer planet in the nativity, I’m going to pay a great deal of attention to that because I find it really triggers our deepest inherited issues. So I’ll just kind of add that to the mix of our conversation.
CB: Totally, and that’s a really good point, especially in a time like this, where Mercury is opposing Uranus at 9. Because let’s say somebody has their natal Uranus–I know a few people that have their natal Uranus at 10° of Scorpio. That means Uranus itself has been opposing that and they’re getting their transiting Uranus opposition to their natal Uranus during that time, and then Mercury swoops in and activates that at the same time, both opposing transiting Uranus and conjoining their natal Uranus. So it’s activating other long-term, outer planet transits that are happening at the same time occasionally.
JL: Absolutely, yeah. And also, let’s say you have Saturn at 11° of Scorpio, your version of reality is going to be triggered here. You’re going to deal with consequences in a way that somebody who’s dealing with Uranus touching their Venus–I’m sorry, Mercury touching their Venus. It’s going to be totally different than if it’s touching your Saturn or your Uranus, right?
So I think it’s really important to know that we’re not all–what is that expression? It’s like we’re all in the same boat, but we’re not all in the same conditions on that boat.
JL: Whether it’s the Titanic or not, we’re not all having the same conditions on the same boat. And so, some people might be on the part of the boat where they’re like, “Oh, yeah, technically, I know Mercury’s retrograde. I tripped on my way over here, but I’m fine.” And other people are just taking a spoon and trying to get water out of the damn dinghy.
JL: You can tell I’ve never seen the movie or read the books or anything. I don’t know anything about the Titanic. I just don’t know…
CB: Oh, that was your synopsis of “Titanic”.
JL: Yeah, that was something with sex and class and that was all I got.
JL: People like that guy, DiCaprio.
CB: It’s Leonardo DiCaprio. You’re not a Kate Winslet fan?
JL: No, I couldn’t pick her out of a lineup.
JL: But I have seen a lot of things that reference “Titanic”, and I know enough to know that we’re all on it now, so it felt apt.
CB: I like that. That was pretty good, pretty appropriate.
JL: Thank you very much.
CB: All right, so if you have anything natally at the degree that Mercury stations retrograde at, but then you look three weeks later at what degree it’s going to station direct, if you have anything natally there–for example, here it’s going to station direct to 25 Libra–then if you have a natal planet at 25 Libra, it could be important to you personally than it would be otherwise for other people.
CB: There’s another technique that I use to determine if a Mercury retrograde’s going to be important, which is called annual profections. Do you use that timing technique at all?
JL: No, I don’t.
CB: Okay. So it’s really simple. All you do is figure out your rising sign or what sign your Ascendant is in; whatever sign that is, that sign and the planet that rules that sign is activated for the first year of your life. Then once you have your first birthday, a year into your life, it then moves to the next sign in zodiacal order, so downwards; then that sign and its ruler becomes activated. So you just count one sign per year from the Ascendant for each year of the person’s life, and whatever sign is activated, the planet that rules that sign will become more important for you in that year of your life.
So if, in that technique, it ever comes to Gemini or Virgo, it will activate Mercury in that year; and I’ve seen that people that have Mercury activated in that year will tend to experience the retrogrades as being more important than other years of their life. And this ends up explaining why sometimes a Mercury retrograde will come and go and nothing happens, and you don’t know why everyone’s freaking out about it, but other years, you’ll have a Mercury retrograde and you’ll just get nailed; it’ll be a big turning point for you, for some reason, and that tends to be why.
JL: Interesting. That’s really great. I’m a big fan of the KISS method, the ‘keep it simple stupid’ method, or if you’re a water sign, ‘keep it simple sweetheart’ because we’re not all asshole Capricorns, so I’m a big fan of it. So I’ve heard about profections. I actually don’t use progressions either.
JL: I mean, I have.
CB: Secondary progressions?
JL: I mean, I have. I spent a couple years using them. But in the end, what I found was that their presentation sometimes would be meaningful, sometimes would be really subtle; but in the context of a consultation, everything I need is really in the birth chart. And again, I know I’m a poster child of a triple-Capricorn right now where I’m just like, “Keep it simple,” but it really works for my practice. And I’m really a fan of going incredibly deep into the fundamentals, instead of gathering too many details, which is actually an interesting thing for me to say, given that I have Mercury in Aquarius squared by Uranus at the top of my chart.
You’d think that I’d be obsessed with a million details because that Mercury placement, technically-speaking, would make me somebody who would go into a lot of details and maybe even be scattered with those details. But this is where we look at the complexity of the chart, and I have other things including, but not limited to, Sun, Moon, and rising in Cap that bring me back to fundamentals and being really interested, in a really deep way, in the details of those fundamentals.
I share this in the context of our mercurial conversation because in order to really understand astrology, it’s important to understand one’s own cognition and to understand the motive of your Mercury and the modality–not modality; I’m trying to say the way that your Mercury mobilizes is maybe what I’m trying to get at–and to understand it in the context of your chart.
Because Mercury on its own is going to tell a story, but in the context of your chart, that story changes; inevitably, it changes. And I think, for astrology students, it’s really important to know that for several years, you’re just going to think of the pieces; all you can hold is the pieces. In order to truly learn the pieces, you have to focus on the pieces; and then, at a certain point, you get to synthesize those pieces.
So for some people, like you, you have a capacity to synthesize a million data points; you’re so good at that. Not me, man. I’m like, “I’m going to focus in.” And it’s just about knowing yourself and not comparing yourself to other astrologers, but instead, being the kind of astrologer that you were meant to be based on your own birth chart. So I know it’s a little bit of a departure, but it’s kind of connected.
CB: No, it speaks to what different astrologers focus on, and part of your focus is sitting down with clients and talking through and understanding their psychology and their internalization of the process. And the process itself is understanding the birth chart and how it speaks to the psychological and emotional and relational dynamics in their life. And you’re not trying to predict when somebody’s going to win the lottery or something like that, that’s not your orientation.
CB: So in that context, just speaking to and looking at the birth chart itself is what’s primary and fundamental to you, and that’s your main orientation.
JL: Yeah, that’s right. More and more, I am practicing mundane astrology. I just released a talk I gave on the Voting Rights Act of 1965. It’s fascinating. I mean, I’m not saying my talk was fascinating, I’m saying the topic is fascinating.
JL: And I pulled charts from the 1700s and looked forward up until like 2030, using that one particular chart as a centerpiece of looking at social justice movements in the US, and also, movements of oppression and systemic oppression, understanding how the collective is made up of individuals acting out of their flight-or-fight mechanisms–acting out of self-preservation as much as it is acting out of a call to justice—and understanding, for me, the psychological foundation of each individual has everything to do with how society functions in times of change or tumult.
I know, again, I’ve taken us away from Mercury. That’s my specialty, divert the topic, sorry.
JL: But I feel so passionate about this; this understanding that, as an astrologer, and as well as a person, wherever you start doesn’t have to be where you rest forever, even if you’re somebody like me who spent 23 years only doing one thing, which is you know counseling people–focusing on helping them with their innermost life and making choices from a healthy place–and it’s transitioning into more mundane work, but my foundation is really in human psychology.
So I think it’s really important to know that whatever it is that you’re looking at in your own birth chart–whether it’s Mercury, the complexity of it, whatever it is–you have a whole lifetime to change and grow in your practice or in your embodiment of your birth chart. I don’t know. For me, it’s really cool. And because I’m talking to you, and I talk to so many other younger astrologers, I feel like it’s an important thing for me to always reiterate.
We change. Our charts change with us, we change. And holding space for that and to use your word–which is the perfect word for Mercury–having flexibility with your own self, with others, with your slow times and your fast times is a really valuable thing for all humans, and it’s a useful application of astrology. It’s a great tool, bar none, for figuring those things out and giving yourself some space and some grace to do that.
CB: Yeah, that’s a really good point, that you’ll go through different phases as an astrologer and maybe different eras of what you’re interested in and focused on. And the field is so vast that there’s something for everybody to focus on, and they may even change focuses at different points during the course of their life.
JL: Absolutely, yeah. I mean, I absolutely see that.
CB: All right, the last section or two, let’s try and squeeze in–how are you doing for time? Do you need to go? We started an hour late.
JL: No, I’m okay. Let’s do this. That’s what we do, we’re here.
CB: All right, let’s do it. So one of the last things–when to do stuff versus when to delay. So when should you try to reschedule versus when should you go with the flow? I guess we’ve talked about this a little bit, but I wanted to bring it up as an important thing to speak to generally to the public or people with a little bit of Mercury retrograde knowledge, but not super advanced.
You get different advice from different people, or just depending on what sources you look at, and I feel like there’s a healthy version of Mercury retrograde knowledge and there’s probably an unhealthy or even detrimental version of Mercury retrograde knowledge, and I don’t know if there’s any hard and fast rules about knowing exactly what’s healthy versus what’s not; but maybe exploring that in terms of possibilities a little bit, just in terms of at what point is putting off doing something crucial and sensible and appropriate versus at what point is it going too far or almost being neurotic to put everything in your life on hold for three weeks.
This is such an important question because really what we’re talking about is common sense, right?
JL: And there’s no astrology for common sense. You just have to practice, and I think that it’s really important. If it’s like, “I have a meeting with somebody about this project we started, and it takes a lot of focus; and no time-frame on it, but she really wants to do it, so I should do it,” yeah, you can put that one off. If it’s like, “I need to buy a car; my car is broken; I’m walking everywhere; I shouldn’t buy a car because it’s Mercury retrograde,” buy a goddamn car. Just read the contract. Don’t just assume everyone’s cool, like shop.
CB: I have a really funny example of that from earlier this year. Bear Ryver, who was on the podcast earlier this year, had to buy a car during a Mercury retrograde; it was during the start of the retrograde. And he tried his best to pick a good chart for it, but he had to just go ahead and do it. And he did it and he got the car, he thought it was going to be all right, but then a few weeks later, the dealership wrote him and said that they were reneging on the deal and they were taking it back, and they wanted to repossess the car due to some like bizarre thing that I’ve never heard before where the dealership just decided they couldn’t finance it, or something weird
JL: Some fine print, bullshit of Mercury retrograde
CB: But luckily, after driving for a few weeks, he decided he didn’t really like the car anyway, so he was fine giving it back and then he got a different one elsewhere; so that’s a retrograde example.
JL: And it’s a perfect retrograde example. And it’s a perfect example of how you got to live your life; you have to live your life. And if Mercury is retrograde, I mean, I have done everything you’re not supposed to do. I’ve had major purchases. I’ve signed contracts. I’ve started businesses. I’ve done literally everything you’re not supposed to do during a Mercury retrograde, and usually something goes a little off–not always, but usually something goes off–and I say, “Of course it did; it’s a retrograde; I’m a genius; I knew that,” and I just deal with it.
And the thing is you can wait for the perfect time, and you can cast charts for the perfect moment, and what does that do? That’s the thing to really ask. What does that do? Because if you’re trying to get ahead of problems, but you’re not learning the lesson, you’re just going to have to deal with that problem sooner or later anyways.
There’s a reason why Mercury goes retrograde. There’s a reason why we have delays. It’s to teach us how to cope, so learn to cope with problems. Learn to cope with delays. Learn to cope with contracts. Learn to cope with communication. Be a better listener. Be a better reader or speaker or whatever it is that you’re learning.
And I think that the thing that people miss is that these things happen for a fucking reason. And it’s an annoying experience, but just know that if you can avoid incurring consequences that you’re unwilling to cope with, that’s great. But otherwise, just live your life and have common sense. And if you’re a person without common sense, then be meticulous in reviewing contracts or agreements. That’s my take on it
CB: Sure. I think there’s a version of Mercury retrograde that’s just annoying and sort of pointless, or doesn’t have any apparent rhyme or reason to it and you just have to deal with it. But there’s also a version that I’ve seen that by doing the process, you make one attempt towards the beginning of the retrograde and you try to do something and it fails. And you have to go back to the drawing board and you have to try it again, but usually the second time you try it, your attempt at whatever you’ve tried is better because it’s more informed, and you’ve had more time to think about it and decide what you really want and what’s really important to you.
And you end up pulling it off and executing it better by the end of the retrograde than you would have if the first attempt had gone through; and in that way the retrograde and the struggle, as you said, leads to growth and improvement that you wouldn’t have had otherwise, even if it was frustrating during the process.
JL: Yeah, that’s it. And the thing is it is understandable to want to avoid pain, and it’s understandable to want to avoid drama and problems, but it’s a misuse of astrology to try to avoid living life, to get away from having to live life and the messiness of life. That’s just not how it works. We’re not machines looking for optimal function. We are messy, disgusting, meat suits.
I’m sorry. A lot of people don’t think of us as gross meat suits. I’m such a 12th house person that I’m like, “Just give me spirit. I don’t need a body.” But we’re a mess. We’re supposed to be a mess. Something I just said on my podcast the other day is bodies are made to break; they are flawed and they are meant to be flawed. The human condition exists inside of the human body and it is flawed; it’s meant to be flawed.
So it’s about how we learn how to be in our flaws and be in our struggles that is the human condition, and astrology is a really valuable tool for developing skills and living in accordance with your own chart, instead of comparing yourself to somebody who has a completely different chart than you and trying to be like them; it’s unrealistic.
I get emails from people sometimes like, “How do you do this thing?” whatever consistent thing I do. And I’m like, well, just be born a triple-Capricorn and you too shall be really consistent.
JL: We all have our own charts, for better or worse, right? So I think, on a real big level, some of what Mercury retrograde does is it allows us, it prompts us to look back at who we’ve chosen to be, what we’ve thought, what we’ve said, what we’ve done, how we’ve listened, how we’ve engaged, so that we can review, so that our progress moving forward is better; that’s really why it happens. Now, that said, watch me curse my butt off when some technical issue emerges because of Mercury retrograde, but there’s the micro and then there’s the macro.
Yeah, there’s got to be room for both. But it brings up the issue–and there’s no way unfortunately to answer everybody’s question who sent in this question–that there’s no really clear answer or dividing line between when you should definitely try to delay something, or put something off, or absolutely not do something during a Mercury retro versus when you shouldn’t put your life on hold for three weeks, three times a year, whenever Mercury goes retrograde.
So some people sent in questions like, “Is everything started during a retro doomed?”
JL: The answer is, no.
CB: The answer is obviously, no.
CB: The other one that’s like that–somebody sent in a question that said, “Is it bad to start relationships during a Mercury retrograde?” Actually, we’ll stick with those two. So those are the types of questions that sometimes come up. People hear so many negative things about Mercury retrogrades that they start thinking you shouldn’t do or shouldn’t try to do anything during those times, and sometimes will not schedule major things, like weddings or what have you, for one. Where do you come down, when it comes to like things like that?
JL: Okay, here’s the first thing about weddings. I know I’m in the minority with this, again, but the decision to get married is when a marriage begins, IMO, not the wedding.
JL: A wedding is a party. Yesteryear, I think it was different; but now, it’s six months to plan, and building a budget, and who sits where and all this bullshit.
JL: And so, I actually believe the engagement, the decision to commit to marriage is when I want to cast a chart. I don’t care about casting a chart for a wedding. Now casting a chart for a very expensive party, I’ll do that, but I actually don’t think that’s the beginning of a marriage. So that’s an aside maybe, but worth stating.
JL: Because you can fall ill and then you can finally make it to the doctor and get a diagnosis; I’m not going to cast a chart for the diagnosis unless I want to know about the diagnosis. If I’m looking at the life of the illness and casting the chart for when you fell ill, same concept. Anyways, so that’s my little aside on that.
CB: So let’s say starting a relationship. So would you be like, “Sorry, I’m not going to start a relationship with you because Mercury is retrograde?”
JL: Hell no. But I would say, “I think this person is X, Y and Z. Let’s see what happens after the retroshade post-retrograde.” I might realize that actually they’re a big fat liar. I might realize that they’re the cutest cutie that ever ‘cuted’; I don’t know yet.
This is the thing; you don’t have enough vetted information during a retrograde on the surface, and then on top of it, you’re not supposed to know that stuff at the beginning anyways. So I personally would never not date someone because of their Sun sign, and I would never not date someone because it’s a retrograde–not a Venus, not a Mars, not a Mercury, for me. How about you?
CB: No. I think something that’s important for non-astrologers or new astrologers to know is sometimes things like a retrograde station, or an eclipse, or something like that are just markers that something important is happening. And so, for some people, Mercury stationing retrograde in your 7th house could be indicating a marker that an important relationship development of some sort is happening for you at that time; and if there’s other positive things that are also coinciding with that, that could be the start of a really major relationship.
And maybe there’s some bumpiness at the beginning, or maybe you run into issues text messaging each other and you think that they’re blowing you off for three weeks and then later you get back in touch, maybe there’s some bump in the road like that, but it’s not something that you need to necessarily shy away from just because Mercury is retrograde
JL: Agreed, yeah. And also, if a relationship is viable, a retrograde’s not going to stop it. So it’s about, again, common sense. When you get to know somebody, it takes time to truly know someone. It takes time to form a friendship. It takes time to build up intimacy. I mean, it doesn’t take a whole lot of time to build up chemistry or fantasy, but it takes a lot of time to build a relationship.
And so, there’s no retrograde that lasts long enough to impede your capacity to get to know someone in a reasonable amount of time, because retrogrades simply don’t last that long. It’s just, again, a common sense-y moment for us all. And when I say that, it’s not to, in any way, belittle or shame anyone who’s asking that question; everyone asks that question because of the myth.
It’s because we put things in sound bites, and people turn to astrology for answers when they’re scared. And so, if you’re scared of starting a new relationship–every retrograde I get that question, at least a couple times. “Should I do X?”
JL: The answer is, yes.
CB: Because Mercury retrogrades sometimes have to do with reviewing things from the past or reconnection, it can sometimes mean getting back in touch with somebody that you haven’t talked to in a while, or reestablishing connections with past friends or past lovers or things like that, and sometimes, that comes up as a question. But again, sometimes all the Mercury retrograde is signifying is revisiting that; and that doesn’t necessarily have to mean it’s good or bad, one way or the other, it just indicates the revisiting itself.
JL: Yeah, I agree. And also, a good rule of thumb for interpersonal relationships is if you’re reconnecting with an ex–ex-friend, ex-lover, whatever–if they haven’t changed or if you haven’t changed then nothing has changed except for you’re both older.
So I think the review is not supposed to be masturbatory, it’s supposed to be investigative; that’s the nature of a review brought on by a retrograde. It’s upsetting for a reason. The upset is supposed to spur action, and that action is an active reflection. So if you are dealing with an ex- or an old friend come back, really look at your own patterns, really look at how you are listening to what they’re actually showing of themselves. How are you learning from the mistakes of your past or the heartaches of your past or whatever it is?
And again, this is a common sense activity that can be done for anyone, at any stage of life, for free, without astrology, psychology or really good lipsticks for your sign.
CB: Totally. So that actually brings up one of the final questions from Twitter; shout-out to 8th House Siren who sent this in saying, “What are the things that are beneficial to do during a retro?”
So we just talked about one of those–reflecting, revisiting things–but also, not reanalysis, but reassessing your current situation, whether it’s in a relationship or a job or whatever else to see if it’s suiting your needs or if it needs to be recalibrated.
JL: Yeah. I mean, honestly, I think that’s the biggest plus of a retrograde. I don’t think the primary way most astrologers think of retrogrades is, “It’s so great!” I just am trying to focus on what’s constructive in it because, otherwise, it’s just annoying.
CB: Right. All right, so let’s see if I got through everything. There’s some other miscellaneous ones, but we’ll leave that out. Do you have any really good Mercury retrograde stories that really stuck with you, that you never forget?
JL: Oh, yeah, sure.
CB: You’re having flashbacks right now.
JL: I am. Could you feel it?
CB: I could see you looking off into the distance.
JL: I’ve signed contracts and had them really backfire on me, like really backfire. I have seen terrible things happen during Mercury retrograde; nothing that is irretractable, nothing that ruins lives, but just all the stupid shit you could imagine.
I have had Mercury retrogrades that hit my chart directly and I lose my voice. I had one–I don’t remember what year it was, and I don’t remember what was going on astrologically, but every single day, someone came to my office when it wasn’t their appointment; they got the wrong month like every single day of the retrograde.
CB: Oh, they gave you the wrong birth data.
JL: No. I was booking clients six months’ and nine months’ in advance.
CB: Oh, okay.
JL: So somebody would have an appointment with me–let’s say, it was in December of 2020–but they would show up in October of 2020, on the same day at the same time.
JL: So I’d be with a client and then I would have a retrograde panic, where I’d be like, “Which one of these people is the person I’m supposed to be talking to?”
JL: It was awful. Another Mercury retrograde time–oh, my god, you’ll appreciate this–I lost 2,000 charts out of my Solar Fire.
CB: Wow. Yeah, computer crashes.
JL: Yeah, it was awful, it was tragic, and it taught me the value of backing up my computer, which I still don’t really do because I’m an idiot. So I’ve had lots of Mercury retrograde problems, but again, life.
JL: How about you?
CB: Yeah, I did have one last year that was funny. When you mentioned signing contracts, I had to sign a contract for a lease on a new apartment last year, and we had to do it during this Mercury retro because our old place was ending. So we’re looking at this place and the biggest thing for me is–because I do a podcast like four to six times a month–it needed to be quiet. So we asked the person showing us, is this place quiet, is there anything we need to know about. We even went so far as to ask to speak to the previous tenant who had already moved out, and they assured us the place was quiet, we weren’t going to have any problems.
We move in, we signed the contract during Mercury retrograde, and then just a few months later–I think it was actually during the next Mercury retrograde–they started setting up poles outside the entire building and scaffolding and began a year-and-a-half of construction that was just like everyday from 9 AM to 5 PM; and we were screwed and we were stuck in the contract. Yeah, so that was one of my funny Mercury retrograde contract snafu stories.
JL: That’s awful. And also, just a word to the wise, anyone listening, anyone who has Mercury in Scorpio–especially if activated by Saturn in the birth chart–does not like sounds that are out of the schedule of sound, like after 9 PM, before 7 AM, whatever it is for you. You don’t want to fuck with a Mercury in Scorpio person and how they like to protect themselves from outside noise.
CB: Yeah, totally. So other than that, I try to collect ones. Me and my friend Patrick Watson collect historical Mercury retrograde examples. I have a few on The Astrology Dictionary.
JL: That charming, British man.
CB: Yes, he is very charming, very witty. So we used to do a political astrology blog, but one of the funny ones was back when Obama was first elected in 2008–when he did the oath of office on January 20, 2009–Mercury was retrograde, and all the astrologers were commenting on it at the time. And Roberts, the head Supreme Court Justice, ended up misspeaking, and he changed up some words in the oath accidentally, and it led to them having to redo the oath of office the next day just to be safe. And all of the astrologers were going crazy at the time about what a Mercury retrograde thing redoing the oath of office was at the time.
CB: Elsewhere, like years later, when they launched the Obamacare website and finally rolled that out a few years after it came into being, the website was launched really close to Mercury stationing retrograde, and it was marred by serious technological problems that were not worked out. They ended up bringing in another company and doing all this stuff over the next several weeks.
JL: It was a mess.
CB: It was a mess.
JL: It was like a poster child for what not to do during a Mercury retrograde, that experience.
CB: Yeah, that was a whole Mercury retrograde thing, as well the roll out of Obamacare website. It was eventually fixed later, once Mercury stationed direct, they started getting it under control; and once it left the post-retrograde shadow, it was in pretty good shape, but it took a while.
And then, finally, another one was the website Patreon, in December of 2017. They announced that they were going to change the ways that fees were structured for their users–and this announcement was made three days after Mercury stationed retrograde in Sagittarius, conjunct Saturn–and it was immediately met with widespread opposition from users. And eventually, on December 13, a week or two later, Patreon announced that they were retracting the previous plan, and they said, “We messed up. We’re sorry. We’re not rolling out the fee change.” So they had to take it back and go back to the drawing board basically.
CB: Yeah, so those are just a few little anecdotes, little examples to give you an idea of what we’re talking about and to give you some concrete ways that this sometimes plays out, not just in personal lives, but also, in the lives of larger entities and organizations and things like that.
JL: Yeah, and again, I think it’s really important–if you’re listening and you’re an astrology student–to really notice that shit happens; it’s how you cope with it. It’s how you recover. It’s how you engage and what you learn. It’s not about avoiding shit; it’s about coping with it intelligently and effectively. So don’t fear the retrograde, if fear sparks a lack of common sense.
JL: For me, fear sparks a lot of common sense, so I enjoy fearing things, but that’s not for everyone.
CB: Sure. All right, so to wrap this up and bring this to completion, originally I was going to say, okay, let’s talk about the current retrograde; we’ve kind of done that. But we’re going into the second-half of the current Mercury retrograde, and we’re going to see what happens on Election Day this year and if it’s going to be a repeat of 20 years ago, when Mercury did the same thing stationing or not. There’s a lot going on right now over the next couple weeks.
JL: You know, if I’m being honest, I am more concerned about the Mars retrograde in the context of the election than I am about Mercury. Because Mercury retrograde, it’s a boner. Again, a sad boner, but a boner, and we’ve coped with it before; it’s recounts. My concern is violence, and I think we have a lot of reasons in the US and abroad to be frightened of the presentation of toxic masculinity and violence.
And violence is something that doesn’t just happen with physical harm, there’s a lot of ways of talking about violence. It is an act of violence to intimidate or coerce or put hands on, but putting hands on another is not the only form of violence that exists, right? And so, it is a concern for me to see these two things at once, because the double-whammy could create so much chaos that it sparks collective problems.But also, on a more personal level, how each individual responds to fear and uncertainty, it throws them into their Pluto, right? It throws them into their flight-or-fight mechanisms, or fear–Saturn. We can talk about it from the outer planets’ perspective.
But from my perspective, most people become self-interested and conservative in the face of their fears. And if we have scary election stuff, people will be more self-interested and more conservative, that’s my concern, and this is a time for being more engaged and empathetic. Because having this stellium–and I know I’m taking us away from Mercury, please don’t get mad at me. You can get mad. I’m okay with you being a little mad.
But the thing about this stellium that we have with Jupiter, Saturn, Pluto in Cap is that there is a risk that we compromise our humanity while we seek to find answers to our systems, and that is further reiterated with Mercury–is it going to be Scorpio or Libra now? I’m scared I’m going to fuck it up.
CB: It’s going to stay direct in Libra, at 24’25” Libra.
JL: Right. And then Mars is retrograde still in Aries, so it’s engaging with that Capricorn stellium; so we can’t see it as separate. And also, it’s the individual versus us; it’s me versus us and how that shows up in public.
So I think that these things are all very concerning. And to look at Mercury retrograde, in the context of the election, in isolation, is to miss the whole story. And so, you I don’t know if that’s very helpful, but there’s so much more that we could say about this chart. I mean, we could spend the next two hours talking about this chart. You know we could, right?
CB: Yeah, and maybe we’ll have to come back again and talk about it more, especially once we get closer to or once Election Day happens.
CB: I mean, there’s going to be, obviously, reviewing and reflecting as a country on our election, our electoral process–is this working out or is it not working out. There was a lot of that 20 years ago. You remember the hanging chads in Florida?
CB: There were a lot of questions about how voting works and is this antiquated, do we need to update certain systems.
JL: And the Supreme Court did update something. Didn’t the Supreme Court have to weigh in on this? I think something like that happened.
CB: Yeah, what happened was it was up in the air for six weeks, and then, eventually, they were doing a recount in Florida of the votes, and part of it was due to that hanging chad thing of what counts as a correct vote, or if you don’t staple the paper all the way through, is it still a vote or is it not and all of this nonsense, like fine-detailed things.
But then, eventually, what happened in December of 2000 was the Supreme Court stopped the recounts, which meant that if they stopped the recount then it would automatically go to Bush, and that’s how everything was decided. So there’s going to be that, there’s also going to be reflecting.
On November 3, Mercury’s stationing direct and coming out of the retrograde, reflecting on the past four years and how politics and how the country has gone and where the electorate is. Voters decide the direction they want to keep going. Is the reflective period coming out of that, that we stay the course, or is it that you take something back? Has something changed? Is there a change in direction at that point is one of the other questions.
JL: Yeah. Associated with that, also worth naming, there is greater awareness in the populace of the US, since Trump’s first election, of the electoral college. I think more people are aware of it now than they were before because of how he took office and how he won. And I should have put quotes on ‘won’ because we know there was Russian interference in the US election.
And so, we also know that there are attempts at infiltrating our vote and there’s questions about the legitimacy of the election that are being posed by the President himself; he’s already predicting that it can’t be trusted. So there’s a lot of misinformation, mixed information; it’s hard to know what to trust. And in a time of chaos, where it’s not possible to know what to trust–Mercury opposite Uranus in the Mercury retrograde.
JL: Then nothing’s true. If we can’t trust any truth then there’s no truth. And this kind of chaos is exactly what you don’t want during a presidential election when the USPS is being compromised, when we know the Pluto return of the US is coming. I could create a massive list of all of these things in context.
So I think we are going to see a lot of questions and not a lot of answers for a long time, honestly. And I think it’s important that each individual participate in the system and to do so in a way where they’re conscientious of how their Mars is functioning. So how we’re being defensive, how we’re being aggressive, how we’re standing up for what’s right, how we’re being courageous–these things are really important I believe at this time.
CB: Definitely. And in that context, I want to give a shout-out to and make sure people visit your website at ZodiacTheVote.com and check out your Mercury Retrograde Survival Guide, where you’ve actually got a really great guide for voting and making sure you’re registered, hosting a ballot party and lots of other things. What are some of the other things that you go into in this guide?
JL: So there’s a lot of links within this. There’s links for state-by-state laws, so you don’t have to try to look at every state. You can just be like, Colorado or whatever. There’s some progressive voter guides. I mean, I don’t know how progressive they are; they’re more like liberal democratic-y voter guides.
There’s what to do if somebody’s perpetrating intimidation at your polling place, how to find your polling place. There’s clear, step-by-step instructions on how to fill out your ballot. Also, kind of adjacent to the vote, there’s information about if you want to call a senator or a representative, what do you say. We have a video; it’s less than three-minutes-long about how to do that.
We also have, of course, information about Mercury retrograde. Mercury stations direct on the 3rd; there’s articles about that too on this website. But there’s just so many resources, and we tried to make it in the style of horoscopes. This is intended to be accessible to horoscope readers, people who are like, “Oh, I use whatever co-star, but I don’t really know how to read a political website.” Cool, we’ve got you covered.
And then, also, if you’re interested in seriously nerding-out, I uploaded my talk–on the Astrology tab of that website–that I gave at the Astrology Summit recently about the Voting Rights Act of 1965. I uploaded that talk, so you watch it. Or you can go to my website and you can read it, so that you can basically see the astrology behind voter suppression, and how it’s activated now and the markers of what’s coming next. So if you’re an organizer, if you’re a concerned citizen, if you’re in politics, it’s a great resource to spur conversation, and hopefully, research.
But I did it during a Mercury retrograde, so maybe I’ll find out something was totally fucked up. In that talk, I think I said 12 times like, “This could be wrong. You should do your own research, please.” Because I’m aware that there are two retrogrades–so the margin of error or my capacity to have missed something is greater–I made allowances for it, and I named it.
And I’m not bragging. I’m just saying this is a way to work with the retrogrades. It’s to just be like, “Hey, guys, I don’t know. Nobody knows. It’s a retrograde. We’ll see.”
CB: Yeah. Well, one of the things I love about the checklist is that you give people a guide to not letting Mercury retrograde stop you from voting, by giving very simple, common sense, but what could turn out to be very important advice, like bring your ID because that may be necessary and required in order to vote.
And you don’t want to stand in line for like six hours on on Election Day, get there, and then realize that you left your wallet at home or your purse with your ID at home, and therefore, your Mercury retrograde thing ends up being not being able to vote just because you forgot your ID or something like that.
JL: Exactly, and instructions around make sure to put the date on your ballot, make sure that you use a black or blue pen–a lot of people don’t know this. A lot of people are first-time voters, or they’ve just not voted by mail before, and there’s a lot of small things, very mercurial, detailed things that go into voting, unfortunately. Voting is hard. It shouldn’t be hard.
I read a ton of politics. I’m really motivated by and interested in social issues and political issues, and it took me for-damn-ever to fill out my ballot and to get my vote in because I was just doing all this research and cross-referencing lots of websites. A lot of people aren’t going to do that. A lot of people are just not that interested, or they don’t have the time and the resources to whatever.
I also live in the state of California, where there’s a ton of progressive voter guides. And if you live in a different state, there might not be any or many progressive voter guides, if you are also a progressive, which I know lots of people aren’t. But it’s harder than it should be and that’s by design. And I think that this during this Mercury retrograde, what I was really motivated to do with with my partner Lindsay was to create something to make it easier for people who are interested in the world and care about the world, but just don’t fucking know what to do, because it’s not intuitive.
It’s not like everyone should know. It’s hard; and having this retrograde means it’s harder. And so, our ambition was to make it easier, to make it more accessible, to take out some of the steps. And when you showed the screen of the website, so many of those things are clickable. So you can download it to your phone and bring it with you to the polling place as a reminder. There’s so many things that you can do with this list and they bring you to different pages of the site, yada-yada
I hope it’s valuable for people. See, we have mobilize parties. If you’ve already voted and you want to get involved, and you’re like, “I don’t know how,” we have links to volunteer opportunities throughout the country that you can get involved with, all without leaving your computer in your house, so you’re COVID-safe.
And so, for me, I’m just really interested in, I know Mercury is retrograde. So what are we going to do about it? Let’s do something about it, and that’s really the thing. Oh, look at that! It’s our Instagram.
CB: Yeah, I looked at it.
JL: Thank you.
CB: Go ahead.
JL: If you scroll a little bit, you can see the beautiful Tony Howard. He was facilitating Demetra George’s talk. And Kent Bye, another great astrologer and podcaster, emailed me this screenshot he took of Tony, in the middle of Demetra’s talk, wearing one of our t-shirts, ‘Mercury Might Be Retrograde But My Vote’.
CB: I love that.
JL: Thank you very much, I love it too. I want to get you in a shirt; you know I do, Chris.
CB: I have ordered a shirt, so if I have it I will wear it on the next forecast episode or something like that. I’m looking forward to it. And I appreciate this website and how this effort on your part and your partner’s part shows your philosophy also of being forewarned is forearmed and trying to deal with things like Mercury retrograde actively, by just trying to anticipate it and do what you can to take the edge off of it, instead of just being like, “Well I’m not going to vote because Mercury’s retrograde or something like that. That’s not the answer.
JL: It’s not the answer. It’s never the answer. Astrology is so useful for understanding history, and you know that. I’ve seen your project with Patrick Watson. You guys talk about a lot of history stuff; I think you do that with other astrologers as well. But understanding history and politics in the context of astrology makes politics and history interesting, IMO.
JL: And also, it doesn’t make it exactly predictable because there’s too many people involved to make it exactly predictable, but what it does is it tells us dates to be aware of and strategies that are more likely to be more influential or effective during those dates, and that is a leg up. I mean, there’s a reason why royalty of yore used astrologers, because we’re fucking awesome and we can help things,
So I want us astrologers to get more motivated in creating tools and resources for the populous, so that we can be more civically-minded and actively engaged; so that’s a little for the people.
CB: Yeah, and along those lines actually, not just royalty, but in the 1980s, Reagan had a private astrologer that he used to give him a leg up for certain things.
JL: And it worked.
CB: And it kind of worked.
CB: And part of the response I can already anticipate to some of this is just, well, if Reagan can use astrology to do some of those things and promote some of those things, I think it’s okay for astrologers on the other end of the spectrum to try to use astrology, to some extent, to promote and at least get out the vote, which is what you’re doing here.
JL: Yeah, that’s exactly right. And also, my partner has a political background, and we’ve been working with lots of people who are currently in politics working for really big names in politics, and what we have found is that they’re all into astrology–all of them, and that’s so cool. I mean, not all people. Obviously, all the people we’ve had contact with have been really into astrology. And so, that speaks to what you and I were talking about at the start of our conversation, that as astrology has become more accessible, people are inevitably passionate about it and interested in it, across disciplines.
I did an episode of my podcast with an amazing activist; we talked about the astrology of the ADA. And a week after that episode came out, I got contacted from somebody who works in the federal government on the ADA, and she expressed that she had learned things from that episode that she didn’t know, and she like asked me for help about something.
And this is actually what I want; I want more interdisciplinary conversations, more crowdsourcing of data without judgment. Don’t abandon common sense, but get your insights and strategies where you can. And I think this is where we all need to be competent in order to be effective, and so, there’s layers of effectiveness and competency to consider in all things–in politics and astrology and all the things.
But I hope that more people get more excited about looking at mundane astrology and looking at the impact on the collective of individuals that we can trace as astrologers. I mean, we have a really unique tool to trace the impact of collective events on the psyche of individuals; not just the babies being born right now but the adults that were once adorable babies. Obviously, I could talk about this for another three hours.
CB: No, that’s a great point, both to end on, but also, great. That’s going to be the biggest lesson for astrologers of 2020, just the importance of mundane astrology and how mundane astrology sometimes is very literal, like with COVID and the lockdowns, and everything that happened with the pile up in Capricorn and the Mars-Saturn conjunction in Aquarius, and the protests that were happening in the spring and early summer when Saturn went into Aquarius and started squaring Uranus, which was just a preview of next year, when that aspect actually comes back and goes exact.
And then we’ve had, more recently, the Mars retrograde in Aries squaring the Capricorn stuff, and now, we’re seeing the return of the COVID numbers spiking and everything else. And then we’re going to get two final major things this year, with the Mercury retrograde stationed on Election Day, Mars stationing, and then the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction. So if astrologers learn nothing else from this year, I think the lesson that mundane astrology is actually important and sometimes very literal is definitely the main takeaway.
JL: Yeah, absolutely. And I will say I only realized that I was doing mundane astrology after Tony Howard told me I was. I was like, “I’m just doing his trilogy.” He’s like, “That’s mundane.” I was like, “Oh, okay, I’m doing mundane astrology. He was like, “Yes.” I wasn’t as rude as I’m being about it; he was actually very supportive and sweet about it.
But I also will just say I am terrible at knowing names for things. That is not relevant to the conversation, but I felt like I had to personally disclose it because I feel embarrassed.
CB: I think it’s better to be able to do something and do something well and not be able to label it than be able to label something but not do it very well, so I think you’re coming down on the right side of that.
JL: Thank you, I appreciate that.
CB: Yeah. All right, thank you so much for joining me today for this episode and for this discussion. We’re at two-and-a-half-hours, so I think maybe we could wind it down.
JL: I think that’s safe.
CB: It was so funny going into this. We were like, “Let’s record a little 10 or 15 minute pre-show discussion on something else that we’ll release later,” and then we started having an hour of technical issues, where the recorders, for the first time, just weren’t working for no good reason.
JL: Mercury retrograde reasons, that’s all.
CB: Yeah, Mercury retrograde reasons. And then we started our two-and-a-half-hour recording. So thanks for sticking with me for this, I appreciate it. Where can people find out more information about you and just your work in general?
JL: Okay, well, first of all, you’re the only person I would do a podcast episode for two-and-a- half-hours with.
CB: Thank you, I appreciate that.
JL: Literally, the only one. And people can find me all over the internet, the World Wide Web, if you will; I’m at lovelanyadoo.com. If you’re a podcast lover, I have a twice-weekly podcast called Ghost of a Podcast, and you can find that wherever podcasts are heard. And I’m also on Patreon at Jessica Lanyadoo. I’m all over social @JessicaLanyadoo. And I have a book, it’s called Astrology for Real Relationships; it’s right back there. It’s cute and pink and good; it’s a good book.
I feel like that’s all the things, and then ZodiacTheVote.com is for all your political stuff. And on ZodiacTheVote.com, I should say–I don’t remember if I said this clearly because it’s been two-and-a half-hours–many astrologers have written for us. And so, you’re not just going to read my work, you’re going to read the work of other great astrologers talking about social and political issues that are heartfelt to them.
So if you’re an astrologer or astrology student, it’s nice to know that there are writing gigs out there that aren’t just about horoscopes, which, unfortunately, is the bulk of the gigs. But it’s nice to know that there’s some other gigs, hopefully, more and more as time progresses.
CB: Definitely. Brilliant. All right, well, thanks a lot for joining me today.
JL: Thanks for having me
CB: All right, thanks everybody for listening. We hope you understand Mercury retrograde more. Be sure to leave a comment, if you have any questions. Check out past episodes of the podcast where Jessica’s been on two other times, including once, one year ago, to talk about her book, if you want more information about that. Otherwise, that’s it. So we’ll see you again next time.
CB: Special thanks to the patrons who support The Astrology Podcast through our page on patreon.com, in particular, a shout-out to the patrons that are on our Producers tier, such as Nate Craddock, Maren Altman, Thomas Miller, Bear Ryver, Catherine Conroy, Michelle Merillat, Kristi Moe, and Sumo Coppock. Find out more about how to become a patron at patreon.com/astrologypodcast
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