Eclipse Time Again (and Mercury Retrograde Too!)


Faster than we saw it coming, we're now within the frame of eclipse-period land… as we head towards a solar eclipse in Sagittarius next Thursday (Nov 24).

What's that, you say? Next Thursday is Thanksgiving in the States? Well, then, this year's Turkey Day festivities could get a bit livelier or more provocative than usual—especially if the wine is flowing and the tongues get loose.

Sagittarius is the sign who 'tells it like it is', impishly pushing the envelope by speaking its mind with a trademark lack of subtlety. Who needs to pussyfoot around the truth, just to spare the feelings of folks too sensitive to cope with strong opinions or flatly-stated observations? Certainly not a Sagittarian, nor anybody else under the spell of this sign's jocular spunkiness. Life's too short to 'hold it in', am I right?

Let's be clear: The usual intention behind Sagittarius's button-pushing provocations is not a rude or hurtful one. It's merely to keep things moving forward… to advance others' and their own thinking through frisky discussions and debates, to push past superficial remarks into the belief-systems that underscore them, to expose everyone to more than what they'd had before, and, most of all, to prevent life from becoming too routine or uninteresting.

A solar eclipse in Sagittarius, then—and especially one conjunct the Moon's North Node, as this one is—is a cosmic shove ahead, whether or not we feel we've adequately readied a detailed timeline or sorted out our emotions in advance of stretching toward this next frontier. You can never really be prepared for something you've never done before… which is sort of the whole point of galloping out to those further reaches, isn't it? We get outside our familiar environs (literally or in a certain sense) in order to spur this exploratory way of looking at the world, unspoilt by expectation or habit. This eclipse's trine to Uranus in Aries supportively feeds this 'try something new' quality, inspiring us to risk comfort in favor of experiential discovery. The fiery vibe is further emphasized by both Venus and Mercury also presently traveling through Sagittarius.

Oh, about that Mercury… he takes on much prominence during the solar-eclipse week, due to having just turned retrograde the prior day (Wed Nov 23), adding even more of this 'plan on having no plan' element to the Sagittarian adventurousness. We all know the Mercury retrograde drill by now, right? The usual-suspect problems include machinery malfunctions, travel detours or delays, mixed signals, misunderstandings, and overlooked information… any of which are best handled with a patient willingness not to make the problems worse by overreacting, overcorrecting, or trying to hastily circumvent the issue.

Mercury-retrograde 'problems' are often just minor hiccups, optical illusions, or temporary-but-ultimately-productive slowdowns. The real problems are usually the ones we carelessly create with our responses.

A Mercury retrograde in Sagittarius, alas, is one of the slipperier one, to be sure. Mercury doesn't especially like being in Sagittarius, where he regularly blurts things out without first considering their impact and hurries past important details in his rush to 'get to the point already!' Under the devilish retrograde influence, his loose lips are liable to sink ships—by saying too much too soon, in too bold a manner, and/or to the wrong people. (For example, there's really no reason to answer their needy inquiry with, 'Actually, that outfit does make you look pretty damn fat,' just because it's the truth. I don't typically advise lying… but come on.) He's also especially susceptible to making agreements without first examining the proverbial fine-print. Even more than in other Mercury-retrograde situations, this one demands you check your work three or four times before signing at the x. (Mercury remains retrograde through Dec 13.)

Yet, just as we cannot adequately prepare for what we haven't yet experienced, nor can we necessarily always predetermine what shouldn't be said or agreed to… and I think there's a certain quality to this eclipse likely to bring 'happy accidents', or events that are confusing or upsetting in the first moment but later prove to have divinely knocked us onto a different path, better suited to our higher purpose. I say this because of the eclipse's square to Neptune, yet one more astro-feature to further discombobulate our logic-processes. Let me just offer the reassurance, hollow though its easier-said-than-done words may ring: We don't need to understand what we're doing, in order for it to be the correct action. If you feel the inspiration moving through you, you're very likely on the right track—and a little anticipatory nervousness is all part of the process.

Of course, pragmatic logic-bearer Mars in Virgo does not like any of this one bit. Pretty much everything I've written in glowing ode to this eclipse's possibilities flies in the face of Mars-in-Virgo's preferred state of affairs: clean, precise, well-thought-out, gradual. Mars also forms a square to the eclipse, insinuating a bit of grinding tension between 'fact' and 'instinct', 'details' and 'picture', 'prepared' and 'by the seat of your pants'. What can we really do about that, though, other than point it out… and assume that, in the end, Mars will eventually work out the specifics, even if it happens retroactively?

Alongside the eclipse's and Mercury-retrograde's fiery energy, there's also still plenty of strong earth energy… which indicates that, once we allow ourselves to make the bold moves (or at least accede to the bold moves that surprisingly happened to us), we simultaneously have the practical wherewithal to steady up the shaky boat or reassert rationale into the process. With Mars forming a nearly perfect trine to Pluto in Capricorn during the eclipse, the power of such earthy reassertions should be nice and sturdy.

The subsequent lunar eclipse in Gemini two weeks later (on Dec 10, while Mercury's still retrograde) also clashes with Mars in Virgo (who, by that point, will be in trine to Venus in Capricorn). This tells us we'll probably still be struggling to recapture the dangling details and integrate the whirling dynamism into our daily goings-on. This later full-moon eclipse goads us to come to emotional terms with whatever still-partly-open doors must necessarily be closed completely, as a side-effect of advancing through the new door up ahead. Certain logistical questions will need to be addressed, the process of which may make the changing circumstances finally seem real for the first time. Give your feelings some space to flip-flop between grief from the past and enthusiasm for the future. It's only natural.