Mercury Retrograde in Gemini
To tell the beauty would decrease, / To state the Spell demean, / There is a syllableless sea / Of which it is the sign.
My will endeavors for its word / And fails, but entertains / A rapture as of legacies- / Of introspective mines.
Ever ready and restless, slippery and sinuous, Hermes is usually imagined as constantly on the move in between places and thoughts, making the necessary connection at the same time his sleight of hand trickiness takes something away. Yet when the star of Hermes stations retrograde, the stillness of Mercury magnifies mindfulness more so than movement and activates wordless revelation rather than wordiness. Synchronicities, signs, and omens take center stage when Mercury stations retrograde, as the pause in the fleet footed messenger’s movement typically delivers vital messages to guide our entrance into a liminal portal of time that can bring about major revisions in storylines. As Mercury will station retrograde in Gemini in between eclipses that activate the radical tension between Uranus and Saturn, the intensification of Mercury’s presence will facilitate attuning to how to most effectively flow and adapt to the life changes emerging from an especially potent eclipse season.
Mercury will station retrograde on May 10, embarking upon a three-week journey in which the star of Hermes will backtrack from 4°52’ Gemini until stationing direct at 26°05’ Taurus on June 3. As Mercury retraces the zodiacal terrain from twenty-six degrees of Taurus to five degrees of Gemini, personal material in need of deeper engagement will become excavated, bringing opportunities for insight that can catalyze significant growth and foster breaking out of stuck patterns. As part of the process, however, we may need to return to longstanding issues in need of release, reworking, or reintegration. After passing through a phase of putrefaction and purification that will be especially intense leading up to Mercury’s union with the Sun on May 21, we may experience renewal on the other side as Mercury returns to forward motion in the beginning of June. Mercury first crossed 26°05’ Taurus on April 26 and will not move beyond 4°52’ Gemini until June 18, creating almost two months of mercurial focus in this range of your natal chart.
When Mercury stations retrograde he descends from view as an Evening Star following sunset into an invisible phase during which he takes on an underworld role of psychopomp, dredging up whatever issues need our attention. Mercury’s stationing always demarcates an important shift in storylines, however this time it will be taking place during a time period especially ripe for groundbreaking change due to Jupiter entering Aries on the same day that Mercury stations retrograde. Jupiter’s entrance into Aries on May 10 means that the star of Zeus will no longer be inhabiting his nocturnal, watery home of Pisces where he can sink deeply into imaginative, boundless vision. The borderline between Pisces and Aries is perhaps the most catalytic in the tropical zodiac, due to zero degrees of Aries demarcating the intersection between the celestial equator of our planet with the ecliptic. It’s a point of dramatic change and material manifestation, and so with Jupiter entering the first degree of Aries we can expect the changes that have been building in the background to take form as we also experience a speeding up of events.
Fortunately, Mercury is stationing retrograde in one of the most potent sections of the zodiac for the star of Hermes. Within the first five degrees of Gemini, Mercury possesses four out of the five essential dignities for planets: domicile, triplicity, bounds, and decanic dignity. The quicksilver connectedness of Mercury stationing here is ideal for carefully minding the ingress of Jupiter into Aries, surveying the scene for all of the signs and synchronicities mixing and intermingling in surrounding landscapes. Mercury retrograde in Gemini holds vast potential for turning over every facet of the experiences emerging, looking at events from every angle possible, polishing thoughts through rumination and careful contemplation. As Jupiter’s entrance into Aries kindles the fire needed to take a propulsive leap forward, Mercury will tease and probe with a mindful presence ready to peer under the surface of appearances and flexibly facilitate the necessary mutations and shifts.
“Give, and it shall be given unto you / is still the truth about life. / But giving life is not so easy. / It doesn’t mean handing it out to just some mean fool, or / letting the living dead eat you up. / It means kindling the life-quality where it was not, / even if it’s only in the whiteness of a washed pocket-handkerchief.”
from “We Are Transmitters-” by D.H. Lawrence
After Mercury stations retrograde on May 10, the star of Hermes will slowly shift into backwards motion while applying toward an invigorating sextile aspect with Jupiter in Aries that will become exact on May 19. While the collaborative sextile aspect between Mercury and Jupiter can facilitate harmonious growth, it will be taking shape during an extremely volatile astrological period. In between the stationing of Mercury and its exact sextile with Jupiter there will be a total Lunar Eclipse in Scorpio on May 15 that will be forming an intensifying square aspect with Saturn in Aquarius. As the previous Solar Eclipse in Taurus was conjoining Uranus, the Scorpio Lunar Eclipse catalyzing Saturn means that this particular pair of eclipses hold immense potential for unleashing pivotal turning points in storylines that change everything. As a result, the building sextile between Mercury and Jupiter can help guide awareness to release what needs releasing and reorder what needs reordering as we undergo a period of accelerated chaotic change within collective and personal events.
Notably, Mercury will be entering its most intense phase of putrefaction and regeneration as the Moon turns blood red during the Scorpio eclipse. As Mercury gets closer and closer to its purifying conjunction with the Sun on May 21, the increasing proximity between Mercury and the Sun will amplify the capacity of Mercury to burn off aspects of personal patterns that need to be let go so that we can find our way to a more vibrant and renewed presence on the other side of the Mercury retrograde period. Mercury can help in attending to whatever issues become stirred up by the eclipses so that we can better understand how to situate ourselves within whatever life changes we are experiencing. Although the symptoms of larger changes taking shape may feel intensely disruptive, Mercury retrograde in Gemini can help unearth and understand the information found within the symptoms that increase awareness for the inner parts and issues of ourselves that need our attention so that we may more fluidly adapt to the external shifts occurring.
It’s further significant that Mercury will ultimately station direct on June 3 while forming a square aspect with Saturn in Aquarius as well as an opposition to the degree of the Scorpio Lunar Eclipse. As a result, whatever issues of personal boundaries emerge with the activation of Saturn by the eclipse will be especially important to pay attention to, as Mercury will ultimately bring us back into an intense encounter with Saturn at the end of its retrograde. Mercury’s retrograde journey has the potential to help us regenerate boundaries within our personal relationships so that they maintain a healthy protectiveness while also remaining capable of flexibly shifting as needed. However, since Mars will be applying toward a conjunction with Neptune in Pisces during the eclipse, we may need to pass through a phase of amorphous fluidity in which personal boundaries and structures mutate before coming into more solid form once Mercury ends its retrograde journey in the earthy, fixed sign of Taurus.
In between the Scorpio Lunar Eclipse on May 15 and the purifying conjunction between the Sun and Mercury on May 21, Mercury will be empowered to help us empty and let go of whatever needs to be released so that we have more space available for an influx of new developments and growth instigated by Uranus, the Sun, and the North Node of the Moon being together in Taurus. At the same time that Mercury will form its harmonious sextile aspect with Jupiter in Aries on May 19, there will also be a conjunction between Mars and Neptune in Pisces on May 17 and a flowing trine between the Sun in Taurus with Pluto in Capricorn on May 19. Altogether these aspects can help us work with the powerful mental facility available with Mercury retrograde in Gemini so that we may find the thread to follow through the volatile changes occurring that will lead us to a more authentic and inspiring path moving forward. While some elements of life may need to be sacrificed as part of the process, the active connectivity of Mercury in Gemini will be a great aid in bridging between the known and the unknown.
Son of the Seven Sisters
Not knowing when the dawn will come / I open every door; / Or has it feathers like a bird, / Or billows like a shore?
“Dawn” by Emily Dickinson
Mercury will be reanimated by uniting with the Sun on May 21. The reseeding of Mercury in solar light occurs as Mercury aligns in between the Earth and Sun by zodiacal degree, as close to us in orbit as possible for Mercury within its cycle. Known as the inferior conjunction of Mercury, it’s a moment of clarifying rebirth that can enhance realization and seed new ideas for the Mercury cycle ahead in which it will transition into becoming a visible Morning Star. While Mercury is within one degree of conjunction with the Sun, even more so within sixteen arc minutes of its solar conjunction, there can be empowerment for tasks associated with Mercury since it is enthroned upon the solar chariot. Older astrological texts named this moment of Mercury’s rebirth cazimi, or being in the heart of the Sun. It’s the cyclical moment when Mercury enters what Demetra George has named the “sanctum sanctorum,” or “the innermost holy chamber of the mystery initiations” found within “the protected space at the heart of the Sun.”
Mercury will enter the heart of the Sun at 00°43’ Gemini near the projected zodiacal degree of Alcyone, the brightest star within the Pleiades star cluster. In the birth story of Hermes told in the Homeric hymn, Mercury is the child of Zeus and Maia, one of the seven sisters of the Pleiades: “Maia, the modest daughter of Atlas, bore [Hermes] after joining in love with Zeus. The company of the blessed gods she shunned, and she dwelled in a shadowy cave where the son of Kronos used to lie with the fair-tressed Nymph in the dark of night . . . and neither immortals nor mortal men knew of it.” The secrecy of the affair between Maia and Zeus that gave birth to Hermes reflects the mysterious secrecy of Mercury during its reanimation by the Sun. It’s important to make space to sift through thoughts and feelings and allow the deeper meaning of insights to emerge in unexpected directions. Mercury becoming reborn in such a powerful place for the star of Hermes has enormous potential for reseeding ideas and visions we will be able to carry forward with our work and presence long into the future. The Pleiades influencing Mercury can open portals of perception into insights formerly hidden from awareness, insights we may continue to clarify until Mercury eventually returns to visibility as a Morning Star in the beginning of June.
There are several supportive astrological aspects surrounding the inferior conjunction of Mercury that portend positive growth and integration eventually emerging from whatever internal process we engage with. Mercury’s conjunction with the Sun is forming a harmonious sextile aspect with Jupiter in Aries, while at the same time Venus in Aries is forming a sextile with Saturn in Aquarius and Mars in Pisces is forming a sextile with Pluto in Capricorn. While Jupiter and Venus together in Aries can inspire leaps of desires and accelerating toward goals and dreams, the intensification of Mercury retrograde in Gemini reveals that a deepening into full presence is required in order to comprehend the larger implications of our present growth process, seeing through appearances into the heart of the matter.
Mercury Stationing in Taurus
And again my inmost life rushes louder, / as if it moved now between steeper banks. / Objects become ever more related to me, / and all pictures ever more perused. / I feel myself more trusting in the nameless: / with my senses, as with birds, I reach / into the windy heavens from the oak, / and into the small ponds’ broken-off day / my feeling sinks, as if it stood on fishes.
“Progress” by Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Edward Snow
Mercury will move backwards into Taurus on May 22. A day later on May 23 there will be an exact sextile aspect between Mercury retrograde in Taurus with Mars at the final degree of Pisces, just before Mars enters Aries on May 24. Simultaneously, the Gemini Sun will be in an exact sextile aspect with Jupiter in Aries. Altogether, especially due to the ingress of Mars into Aries on May 24, the return of Mercury into Taurus will take place within an astrological climate otherwise indicating a speeding up of events and acceleration of storylines. Mercury’s time in Taurus is thus fascinating due to the sign of Taurus slowing down the tempo of Taurus on top of the fact that Mercury will be literally slowing down in speed in order to station direct in stillness on June 3.
Mercury’s movement into Taurus is further important due to Mercury no longer being sovereign in his own domicile of Gemini and instead occupying the home of Venus. Venus will initially be in Aries and passing through a supportive sextile aspect with Saturn in Aquarius when Mercury enters her earthy domicile of Taurus, creating an opportunity to perceive what lesson that Saturn has in store for Mercury as Mercury heads into a catalyzing square aspect with Saturn. Less than a week later on May 28, Venus will join Mercury in her home of Taurus and as a result will be able to supply her full arsenal of pleasurable, creative, and artistic resources for Mercury to engage with. Mercury’s movement through Taurus will slow down the pace of mental pursuits and focus minds on more practical and tangible concerns, such as how to reorganize and restructure whatever material and relational concerns have been undergoing a metamorphosis. Making the process incredibly deep will be the presence of Pluto, as Mercury will form a flowing trine aspects with Pluto in Capricorn on May 25 (the trine between Mercury retrograde with Pluto is the second of a three part sequence: the first was on April 28 when Mercury was direct and the third will be on June 10 after Mercury shifts back into direct motion).
The week after Mercury backtracks into Taurus will bring a major shift in movement: on May 29 there will be a conjunction between Jupiter and Mars in Aries one day before there is a New Moon in Gemini on May 30. The Gemini New Moon will announce the stationing of Mercury, as the star of Hermes will be barely moving during the lunation and saturating the astrological atmosphere with his presence due to simultaneously returning to visibility as a Morning Star during his heliacal rise at dawn. A few days later Mercury will station direct on June 3 at 26°05’ Taurus while forming a square aspect with Saturn in Aquarius and in range of an imaginative sextile aspect with Neptune in Pisces. Moreover, Saturn will also be stationing retrograde at 25°15’ Aquarius on June 4. Thus the end of May and beginning of June is a time for making it real and bringing into form whatever changes have been brewing as both Mercury and Saturn take on an amplified presence at the same time they will be catalyzing changes through their square aspect. Saturn will bring its penetrating gaze to bear upon whatever work and plans that Mercury has been developing. Knowing this ahead of time, be prepared to face and pass the tests and challenges you can expect Saturn to bring. It’s a powerful moment for bringing the unmanifest into manifestation and initiating the work needed to build a strong foundation of support for future growth.
A week after Mercury stations direct the star of Hermes will still be in the sign of the Bull at the same time a liberating conjunction will take place between Venus and Uranus in Taurus on June 11. Since Mercury will still be in the domicile of Venus and beginning to pick up speed during this time, the union of Venus with Uranus will accelerate developments with dynamic power that may feel volatile while also full of emancipatory propulsion. There will be a lot of empowerment for growth available to utilize due to Mercury simultaneously passing through his final flowing trine aspect with Pluto on June 10. As a result, we can expect the stationing direct of Mercury and shift into forward momentum to unleash major currents of change once Mercury begins to pick up speed and begins to distance himself from the presence of Saturn.
Mercury will return to his airy home of Gemini on June 13, a day before the Full Moon in Sagittarius on June 14. Mercury will then reach maximum elongation as a Morning Star on June 16 at the third degree of Gemini a couple of days after the Sagittarius Full Moon, a few degrees away from where he formed his inferior conjunction on May 21. The maximum elongation of Mercury demarcates another threshold to cross, as it initiates us into the phase of Mercury speeding up as well as accelerating our capacity for integrating the many inner changes that took shape during the retrograde. Gary Caton described this solar phase of Mercury as being similar to the rubedo phase within alchemy in his book Hermetica Tryptycha. As we work to integrate the insights and changes in perspective realized during Mercury’s retrograde journey, Caton noted that we should expect to endure a phase of chaotic volatility as we make a commitment to embody a new presence of being.
As a result, the slivery Sagittarius Full Moon on June 14 will announce the return of Mercury to his swift, direct motion as a Morning Star in which he excels at making mental connections, asking questions, and bridging ideas and material resources. As the Sagittarius Full Moon will be forming a sextile aspect with Saturn in Aquarius and a square aspect with Neptune in Pisces, it will interestingly aspect the same two planets that Mercury did when it stationed direct on June 3. When Saturn and Neptune become activated we need to reconcile the dream with the reality, and so Mercury in Gemini will help in attuning with whatever changes have been happening and the adjustments that will need to be made to securely ground developing visions into tangible forms.
Mercury will move past the zodiacal degree where he originally stationed retrograde on June 18, a couple of days before the Summer Solstice in the northern hemisphere and the Winter Solstice in the southern hemisphere. As we collectively cross one of the most important turning points of the year, Mercury moving quickly direct in Gemini will be able to draw upon the many lessons learned over the course of the past month of retrograde movement to help us reorient and plan for the season ahead. With an easy ear, loquacious lift, and ready response, Hermes will once again, as always, be present to help humanity as we collectively cross yet another crossroads.
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Anthology of Classical Myth: Primary Sources in Translation. (2004). Edited and translated by S.M. trzaskoma, R.S. Smith, and S. Brunet. Hackett Publishing Company, Inc.
Caton, Gary. (2017). Hermetica Triptycha: The Mercury Elemental Year. Rubedo Press.
George, Demetra. (2019). Ancient Astrology in Theory and Practice: a Manual of Traditional Techniques. Rubedo Press.