Photo by Derek Sanderson
Elizabeth Hazel is an astrologer and
tarotist who lives in Toledo, Ohio. She has written extensively on
techniques for combining stars and cards, and enjoys researching and
writing about other occult topics, including mythology and history.
Liz has 3 cats, loves to grow flowers and
herbs, and plays keyboards for a band. Her secret wish is to be a
contestant on Jeopardy. She can be contacted via
The aim of this series is to aid the tarotist in gaining
useful information about astrology in order to assist clients. Current
phenomenon will be featured in the series.
Mercury is the planet closest to the Sun. Three or four times each year,
Mercury disappears in front of the Sun from our view on earth. This
phenomenon is known as “Mercury retrograde." (The
more technically accurate term would be a “Mercury eclipse,” because this
phenomenon physically resembles the relationships of the Sun, Moon and
Earth during eclipses.)
useful to think of the planet Mercury as the moon of the sun, and to think
of Mercury retrogrades as a “new Mercury.” Mercury is the planet of
communications, transportation, and exchanges, so these periods – when
Mercury’s power is swallowed by the Sun’s light – are notorious for
confusion and delays.
Mercury retrograde phases, also called stations, are not created
equal. The evaluation of any Mercury retrograde starts by determining its
relative comfort in the sign in which it occurs. The second criteria are
Mercury’s relationships to other planets during its retrograde phase.
Mercury forms triple aspects to slower planets as it shifts through its
retrograde territory – forward, backward, and the third and final aspect
in direct motion as it is exiting its retrograde territory. Repeated
good aspects help a Mercury retrograde show better results – bad aspects
show the potential for a more difficult retrograde.
Mercury is retrograde in one element each year, making three to four
retrogrades before moving on to the next element. In 2003, the Mercury
retrogrades are in Earth signs – Capricorn (Jan ’03), Taurus
(May), Virgo (September), and Capricorn (December ‘03 – January ‘04).
The earth signs focus on material goods, money, and practical efforts –
issues at the heart of the suit of Pentacles. Some astrologers
equate a retrograde Mercury with its transit in the opposite zodiac
sign. The tarot cards assigned to the relevant zodiac decanates and the
opposite decanates of the zodiac are given below for each retrograde.
2003, Mercury retrogrades repeatedly aspect the asteroid/planetoid
Chiron. This body has been under evaluation by astrologers since its
discovery in 1979. Some astrologers emphasize its role in wounds,
healing and teaching; others suggest that it has a strong impact on love
and money matters. Yet another view is that Chiron is the asteroid
highlighting the interpretation of symbols (Chiron
as the symbolists’ planet was suggested by Mary Greer)
– the language of the tarot. In mythology, Chiron was a centaur, and
credited with teaching math, strategy and astrology. Thus the Mercury
retrogrades are quite fortunate for aspiring tarotists in 2003.
The first Mercury retrograde of the year is already complete. It
ran from January 2nd to 22nd, in the sign of Capricorn. It was in the
condition of mutual reception with Saturn in Gemini, thus these
two planets were in each other’s ruling signs. The upshot of this
retrograde seemed to be people struggling with leadership vacuums (an
issue ruled by Capricorn), and struggles with setting limits with
children (a Gemini issue).
The second Mercury retrograde station runs from April 26th to May 20th;
from 20 to 11˚ Taurus. Mercury struggles with the slow pace of
Taurus, so expect delays. Mercury forms squares to Jupiter and Neptune
in fixed signs. The fixed signs are “power” signs – Jupiter and Neptune
represent spiritual and philosophical matters, generosity, and the
extent to which a person can expand their consciousness in both reality
and fantasy. Nonetheless, issues of abundance and stability, excess
debt, and balancing the costs of the group versus the individual may be
station occurs in the second decanate of Taurus, attributed
in the Golden Dawn system
to the 6 of Pentacles.
This card relates to generosity, loyalty, personal comfort, and gifts.
During this retrograde, gifts may not be welcome if they impose
obligations; or wishes may conflict with reality. The card attributed to
the opposite decanate is the 6 of Cups, a card of memories and
past relationships. People may need to review events of their
childhood, particularly their view of stability or security, or the
extent to which they are influenced by the beliefs of others.
There is also a triple trine to Chiron. For tarotists, this may be a
period of accelerated learning, heightened intuition, and striving for a
greater depth of interpretation.
The 3rd Mercury retrograde takes place from August 28th to September
20th, from 26 to 12˚ Virgo. This retrograde occurs in Mercury’s
sign of rulership, thus requires attention to details and scholarly
matters. Mercury conjuncts Venus (on Sept. 8th); a fortunate
combination for social events and reunions with friends. This time
period encourages the review of critical assumptions about personal
relationships and possible ways of working through difficulties with
two cards assigned to these decanates of Virgo are the 10 and 9 of
Pentacles. Financial concerns like wills and estates, scheduling,
and budgets, are emphasized at this time. This is a good time to
embrace self-improvement or home-improvement efforts relating to the 9
of Pentacles, as the retrograde receives the assistance of Venus. The
cards attributed to the opposite decanates are the 9 and 10 of Cups
– cards that focus on family relationships, continuity between
generations, and the opportunity to fulfill particular hopes in life.
Mercury forms trines to Chiron in Capricorn. The Virgo-Capricorn
connection suggests comparing various approaches to the tarot (dare I
suggest “comparative tarot” techniques?). Each deck used may inspire
diverse divinatory meanings that blend the artist’s unique card
rendering with traditional interpretations.
The 4th Mercury retrograde of the year takes place from December 17th to
January 6, 2004, from 12˚ Capricorn to 26˚ Sagittarius. Mercury
stations are moving from earth to fire signs, making the transition from
one element to another. Mercury forms oppositions to Saturn in Cancer,
which is quite difficult. Children may struggle with authority figures,
and adults struggle with aging parents. The Capricorn-Cancer axis gives
special emphasis on family structure and relationships. Mercury squares
Mars during this station, giving a proclivity for accidents and
struggles with transportation during the year-end holiday period. In a
contrasting vein, Mercury forms a triple sextile to Uranus, indicating
revolutionary concepts, original solutions, and unusual new resources.
This retrograde has a mixed influence.
end of this retrograde takes place at 26˚ Sagittarius, the location of
the Galactic Center (or GC). This is an area of deep space that is the
center of our galaxy, the Milky Way. It is surrounded by dust clouds
that obscure the view from earth, but is the primary star nursery in
local space. Conjunctions to the GC occur in the charts of tarotists
and events of tarot history. The GC sharply increases godly influences,
or divinely inspired metaphysical work. Important new works about tarot
may be released at this time.
cards attributed to the zodiac decans of this retrograde are the 2 of
Pentacles and the 10 of Wands. These are cards of changes and
endings; some may find this a period of intensified turbulence due to
location changes or family management adjustments. The cards attributed
to the opposite decans are the 2 of Cups and the 10 of Swords,
indicating a shifting view of others in critical relationships, and
surprising or sudden actions by loved ones.
Generally, the cards attributed to Mercury are the Magician (Mercury),
the Lovers (Gemini), and the Hermit (Virgo), both Mercury-ruled signs.
The Mercury-ruled pip cards are: 5 of Pentacles, 3 of Cups, 10 of
Pentacles, 8 of Wands, and 6 of Swords. Mercury-influenced court cards
are the Queen of Cups and King of Pentacles, and the King and Queen of
Swords. If a client gets any of these cards during the above-mentioned
retrograde periods, chances are that they are feeling the influence of
the station. Other issues that may appear in spreads are indications of
delays, confused communications, absences, and schedule changes.
clients who are born under the Earth signs (Capricorn, Virgo, or
Taurus), this is a year to reflect on personal management, appropriate
boundaries in friendships and love relationships, and on planning for
Clients born under Fire signs (Sagittarius, Aries, and Leo) will
make many adjustments to their source of income, use of money, improving
their personal possessions, or adapting to adjustments in their career
Water signs (Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces) will focus more on the
flow of issues with various friends and loved ones, daily scheduling,
group events, travel, and education targeted toward future career
Clients born under Air signs (Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius) will
need to focus on negotiating life changes, coping with disrupted
patterns, particularly centered on long-term financial or family
stability. They may be vulnerable to health issues this year.
Mercury retrogrades are not always terrible, but are usually irritating
for everyone. Astrologers recommend that clients avoid signing
documents that initiate purchasing, leasing or renting agreements during
Mercury stations, and you may wish to pass along this information to
clients during these periods. Sometimes travel is favored, especially
if the client needs a rest period. The most favorable activities during
these stations are review, research, and re-doing. I hope that
tarotists make the most of the Mercury retrogrades this year for study
and intensifying their understanding of the cards.
This is a simple tarot spread for gauging the effects of a Mercury
retrograde. You may wish to extract the Magician as a significator
card (or any card that represents Mercury to you). You may also use
your own birth chart as a meditation mandala. Write in the degrees of
the Mercury retrograde on your chart, and concentrate on the house or
houses being activated by the retrograde.
Shuffle the deck while focusing on the significator card or chart, and
meditate on Mercury’s energies. When you have finished shuffling, take
three cards off the top of the deck, and place as shown:
This spread delineates the three major phases of a Mercury retrograde:
Card 1 – The Retrograde Station. Represents how the Mercury retrograde
will begin, and may offer warnings, tips, or areas of extra caution. It
may also show a person that will be involved in your experience of the
Mercury retrograde, or someone who may show very obvious Mercury
Card 2 – Inferior Conjunction. This is the mid-point of the
Mercury retrograde, when Mercury is directly in front of the Sun. This
card represents when Mercury’s energy is at its weakest. The card may
show where a communications vacuum may occur; or show an issue, person,
project, or situation that should be re-evaluated at this point in the
retrograde cycle. It may indicate possible weak areas that require
protection or great caution at this point in the cycle.
Card 3 – The Direct Station. This is the end of the retrograde, and
this card shows the predominant influences at the time of the direct
station. A new understanding may be apparent in this card, or
cumulative fall-out from the entire retrograde may be revealed. Errors
or misunderstandings may also be indicated as the cycle winds to a
close, requiring special effort to correct or repair.
Card 4 – Results. This card shows the cumulative effects of the entire
Mercury retrograde cycle. It may encourage a special attitude or focus
to maintain during this cycle, or an emotional tactic that should prove
effective for coping with the cycle. For instance, if the Queen of Cups
should appear here, a fine strategy would be to be loving, gracious, and
sympathetic toward others, and if all else fails – feed people.