Mercury retrograde is in full effect right now. Each one of these phases, which happen about three times a year, has its unique pattern, its own distinct feeling, and its special challenges. Currently, Mercury is retrograde in Capricorn, and on January 4 will track back into Sagittarius, changing to direct motion on January 8.
One interesting thing about this Mercury retrograde is the dance that it's doing around Pluto. The two planets formed an almost-conjunction, before Mercury stationed retrograde and backed off for a while. That happened Monday, December 19, the day that the Electoral College installed Donald Trump as the next president of the United States.
Mercury will complete the conjunction to Pluto on January 29, after the retrograde and after the inauguration takes place. That looks like a real "oops" moment, complete with various forms of "We should have known," "What were we thinking," and "I wish it wasn't too late."
Many people were wondering whether Mercury stationing retrograde on the very day that the electors met would derail that process. Yes, it was an impressive synchronicity. It might have meant less happening the day before or the day after, but stationing on the day-of means that whatever Mercury retrograde represents has been injected into the DNA of the Trump presidency, assuming he takes office on January 20. Since politics is largely a game of pretend and deceive, there's not much that could stop him at this stage.
The Uncertainty Factor
Meanwhile, Mercury retrograde is adding to an already strong uncertainty factor. Many people are deeply concerned. They range from groups who need special protection (the disabled, women, blacks, immigrants, and Muslims) to people who just need a stable society so they can get through the day or conduct business. At the moment, we seem to live with nothing but questions.
Then, of course, there are the people who are compensating by heaping on the false certainty. The president-elect and all his men—the best and the brightest—are sheer geniuses, and soon the nation will be swimming in money. A Trump supporter explained that to me recently.
Mercury retrograde so intimately involved with Pluto, Capricorn and the machinations of the new president taking office suggests that what we're now seeing is a setup for something in the future. To my eye, the setup involves the immediate political situation here in the United States, but I think the scope is much deeper. The conflict into which we're heading is part of a much larger process that's been unfolding for a while and has yet to come to a head.
The Pluto in Capricorn journey began in 2008, just before the subprime mortgage crisis became the Great Recession, with its many bank failures, plus the TARP and bailouts. We live in a time when the structure of society is changing. This is easy to read astrologically: Capricorn represents the foundations of culture and its institutions. Pluto is so powerful that it can drop the World Trade Center towers like marionettes (that aspect was Saturn opposite Pluto in 2001-02).
The Pluto Return of the United States
The United States has Pluto in Capricorn. Pluto was not discovered yet in 1776, though it's well documented that planets have effects long before we know about them.
Pluto moves so slowly that it takes 250 years to go around the Sun. With Pluto back in Capricorn, what we're experiencing for the first time is the Pluto return of the United States. The first exact contact of that transit is February 20, 2022 (or 02/20/2022, which is some interesting numerology indeed). That seems a long way off, I know.
Because the United States has Eris in early Capricorn and many planets in Cancer, we've been in this process for a while. In fact, I would say that the Pluto return of the United States is the entire duration of Pluto in Capricorn (2008 through 2024), though for a number of reasons (beyond just the exact return) the peak will be 2020 through 2024.
One of the best ways to get the feeling of a planetary return is to track the cycle back in time. Salient phases of the cycle are first quarter, opposition, and last quarter—the Pluto first square, the Pluto opposition, and the second square. This is similar to the phases of the Moon.
Understanding this cycle does not predict the future. Rather, it helps us understand the past to some extent, and locate ourselves in the present. The alignments are points of intensified growth, crisis, and opportunity. Let's look at those previous three phases and see what we learn.