Capping Off the Year with Mars, Pluto & Mercury Retrograde


Sliding into the final stretch of 2010, we're met with Mercury's impending retrograde, which begins this Friday Dec 10 and continues right up through Dec 30.

Though shorter in duration than many Mercury retrogrades, this one packs a serious punch—especially in its earlier days. Right as Mercury stands still and begins its apparent backward motion, he's being pulled into a major conjunction with Mars and Pluto (plus the Moon's North Node), which hits exactitude on Mon Dec 13 in Capricorn.

As if Mercury retrograde doesn't come with enough of its own discombobulating inconveniences, add the Mars/Pluto weight of willful assertiveness… and now there's a sharp penetrating edge to it. Whatever diverts us or mistakenly (semi-consciously?) pops up could well stir more extreme unpleasantness, punitive responses or aggressive overreactions.

Mercury retrograde has a reputation that precedes it, and not without reason: During these periods, our communications and transmissions, short-distance travels and other day-to-day handlings of practical details are vulnerable to unforeseen snags and glitches. These things take longer, don't come out quite right, or require more thorough attention. Their rhythm flows differently. If we refuse to roll with it, we rub against it… and end up ourselves causing the very disasters we'd hoped to avoid. (A past favorite from 2006: "An Alternate Take on Mercury Retrograde".)

Some folks may have begun to experience what they assumed to be Mercury-retrograde phenomena as early as last week… due in large part, as I interpret it, to the simultaneity of last Sunday's (Dec 5) stationing of Uranus back to direct motion. Uranus, the great chaos-creator, has always been the culprit whenever I've personally had computer problems, though we commonly attribute them to Mercury retrograde. The past week was no different: I spent a few days navigating a major laptop problem before finally managing to get myself back together, thankfully with no lost data.

Chalk up Uranus's still-presently-slowed motion (while he's still building up momentum in his newly-direct state) as an exacerbating influence on the earlier Mercury-retrograde days—and one which implies that, perhaps, the delays and errors and crashes may be necessary breakthroughs in a broader reorientation. Maybe these 'disruptions' force us to re-create, innovate, liberate ourselves from stunted habits and outdated means.

Mercury's dual conjunctions to Mars-Pluto, however, promise even deeper-and-denser fallout from any retrograde snafus. In itself, a Mars-Pluto conjunction is already one of the most striking astro-aspects, uniting our self-assertive drives (Mars) with the powerful psychological dynamics associated with 'the Lord of the Underworld' (Pluto).

Mars is exalted in Capricorn, where he's able to persevere over time instead of burning out, pressing his ambitions onward and upward, demanding high standards of victory for himself. When blocked from proceeding, he fights strategically rather than rashly, always aware of the possible repercussions several steps ahead. He's in it to win the whole match, not merely a set here and there.

The addition of Pluto's brute strength to Mars's strategic willfulness serves only to intensify the indomitable oomph behind our actions. As part of Pluto-in-Capricorn's ongoing project of killing off the underhanded, unjust and/or abusive elements in our structures of governance (personal and collective), in order to rebirth something that more effectively disseminates resources to the appropriate channels, this specific segment of time holds great importance. During this period of Mars's conjunction with Pluto (already within orb these past couple days, and remaining so through Dec 20), we should be as acutely aware as possible of how the moves we make both (1) support the longer-term type of life we want to be living and (2) exemplify our personal stance on how this comprehensive structural transformation ought to play out.

At this time, no such moves are casual; the Plutonian tailwind ensures every act carries impact. The further presence of the Moon's North Node indicates such 'impacts' are a necessary, if not difficult (or even painful), part of our evolution. We face an impetus to cross this threshold of 'no return'.

Throw Mercury retrograde back into the mix, and whatever shows up in the form of missteps or misspeaks may prove to be more than mere innocent mistakes. When we try to conceal our motives or our true feelings, we're liable to blow our own cover, through inadvertent revelations or words that don't align with the obvious vibes lurking beneath them. When we bump up against missing pieces or procedural upsets, we may also need to confront gaping flaws in the foundations of our processes which had previously been glossed over or wishfully ignored… errors of our short-sighted ways coming back to bite us hard. And when we angrily or impatiently overcompensate for small holdups or annoying detours, we not only make the problem worse—we get an instructive glimpse at the unflattering parts of our psychological makeup, which we'd typically prefer not to acknowledge.

Instead of a warning, I'd like to suggest the possibility that purposely 'leaking data' about one's ultimate goals (since 'leaks' are all the rage nowadays), even knowing this potentially disconcerting information might cause temporary havoc, could ultimately produce better results than squelching the truth and having it come home to roost at a later, more inopportune moment. Similarly, willingly allowing bits of pressing business to take longer to complete, with the intention of 'really doing it right'—and maybe even having to undo first, before redoing better—is a recipe for a stabler future, after the few extra upfront hassles.

Let's call this suggestion 'working with the Mercury retrograde energy': not interpreting the errors and accidents and admissions as problems, but as gifts. Out comes what we've most dreaded coming out. Gone is the preoccupation, the burden, the fear of discovery.

On Dec 18, Mercury makes a retrograde return-visit to Sagittarius. With Mercury separated from the Mars/Pluto influence and back in a sign of detriment, our ability to consciously guide the retrograde disclosures in any certain direction decreases… while the risk of creating more problems as a result of sloppiness and haste goes up.