How Deep Is That Rabbit Hole?: Mercury Retrograde and the Solar Eclipse In Scorpio

Mercury Retrograde In Scorpio: October 21—Nov 10, 2013
Hybrid Solar Eclipse In Scorpio: November 3, 2013

Mercury entered Scorpio on Sept 29th, where it will stay until Dec 4th due to its final retrograde cycle of the year. That’s nine weeks in Scorpio. With a Solar Eclipse on Nov 3rd (conjunct Saturn) in the sign of Scorpio; we get a heavy dose of depth, intensity and transformation this fall. Back in April of this year, a lunar eclipse conjoined Saturn in Scorpio; so we’re already familiar with this terrain. The difference is that Mercury’s retrograde cycle will occur alongside this weighty hybrid solar eclipse of the Sun.

A solar eclipse begins a powerful process of change and brings about an overwhelming sense of renewal. And in this case, occurring in Scorpio, that meaning is amplified. Scorpio is the sign of the zodiac that completely embodies the word transformation and all that we associate with it.

Letting go, releasing, dying, emptying, shedding, and rising from the ashes—these are all keywords inherent to Scorpio and its modern planetary ruler Pluto. And these qualities often accompany an eclipse of all kinds, because eclipses signify moments of deep inner personal change and transmutation. During eclipse season the personal self becomes porous and translucent. Our identity is a bit like putty; we have an opportunity to change or shape it into alternate forms. These are also moments of tremendous growth, but only if we so choose. They can just as well pass with the current they arrived upon—to become like a faint memory of some uncertain or seemingly precarious moment.

With the exception of this year when we experienced three eclipses this past spring, eclipses generally occur in pairs twice a year. Not too rare, but their interest lies in the peculiar ambience they generate and the impactful force of their presence within our own psyche.

During eclipse season, we may find ourselves more uncertain of who we are, and most of all, where we’re going. Eclipses are opportunities to adjust our course ahead; we get a chance to significantly alter the timeline we currently travel. That’s exciting and equally terrifying. The eclipse has the power to reveal just how much of an impact our choices and decisions have on our lives. It is a portal of transformation, and whether we participate or not, we come out the other end a slightly different person. With Scorpio, we can double the significance of that statement.

Saturn’s involvement brings a sense of seriousness and challenge. And Scorpio, as a fixed sign, suggests that this is likely to be a highly demanding eclipse passageway. The only way to work with it is to do your homework and show up on time. This is no time for slacking off, putting things aside, evading responsibilities, or sweeping unsettling realities under the rug. Mercury retrograde reveals that this is a time for making critical adjustments within very deep chambers. Failing to do so could be detrimental, and I’m tempted to say, that in specific cases, even life threatening.

So Mercury’s retrograde cycle in Scorpio, alongside this rather intense solar eclipse, seems to ask the question: How deep does that rabbit hole really go? This has tremendous personal and collective meaning. Just how deep? Well, ultimately, we may never know completely. The true workings of the universe are shrouded in secrecy, and possibly for good reason from an evolutionary standpoint. Most of the time, we’re quite contented with superficial explanations; they get us through the day; they keep us sane and productive.

Other times, like we’re experiencing now, we’re likely to have a little more curiosity than usual. But as the saying goes: curiosity killed the cat. Consider it a warning. There are secrets that humankind was never meant to know. Secrets that could destroy the feebler minded. Unless you’re well equipped with strong planets in Scorpio or the eighth house; be careful where you tread, and how deep you go down that abysmal rabbit hole—and actually, even if you meet the above criteria, be careful anyway; it might actually get you into even more trouble!

However, if you approach this passage with maturity, discipline and focus—you will reap the valuable rewards and revealing insights it offers-- all in due (and lengthy) time (it is Saturn we’re dealing with here). A critical and sharp focus and an eye for miniscule details will be required. This retrograde cycle brings about a hyperaware state of consciousness, maybe a little paranoia, and an introspective gaze and focus. Saturn’s involvement lends well to a process of reflection and a bout of solitary confinement. So, unlike many retrograde cycles, this one isn’t much of a break or vacation; there’s important work do be done.

The sign of Scorpio symbolizes our raw and primal instinctual urges. They keep us alive in more ways than one. When we encounter danger, it is the Scorpionic influx that gives us that “funny feeling” that something isn’t right; that feeling like, “maybe I shouldn’t turn down this street”, or “I just don’t feel right about this”. Mars, the traditional ruler of Scorpio, infuses Scorpio with an inherent fight-or- flight reaction, even a sense of premonition.

Scorpio also symbolizes that instinctual drive that contributes to the boon of overpopulation. All of us who made our way past puberty are well familiar with its seductive allure. There’s no denying its power and influence, with its arsenal of hormones and chemical release. Healthy and balanced sexual expression is a potent psychic force. Unfortunately, modern western culture completely distorts it in grotesque and dysfunctional ways. And also, while Saturn is moving through Scorpio, it can stagnate and gum up the wheels of our sexual instincts and desires.

Perhaps this a time to refocus and recharge our sexual energy-- which, by the way, it isn’t solely reserved for sex or an orgasm. Sexual energy is a current of personal power, creativity and magnetic attraction. And like all energy, it can be wasted if it isn’t employed wisely or strategically. We use it in our everyday interactions, whether we’re conscious of it or not.

It’s a magnetic force that attracts us to other people. It brings us together. It’s the reason we’re drawn to a certain person without knowing why, even when that certain person isn’t necessarily sexually attractive to us. And when we band together with like souls, with a shared creative interest, goal or desire—magic happens and amazing things result.

At the heart of Scorpio is its relation to the osmosis of souls. In the realm of Scorpio we become something more than we currently are; we fuse with an external symbol. But that in itself is some risky business, because naturally, we risk losing ourselves. There are times when this is completely appropriate, but in all cases, it requires a strong sense of self and a hefty amount of discipline and solid boundaries. Be mindful of this.

As usual, Mercury retrograde warns us of making permanent commitments, and if we must, it is highly suggested that we deeply reflect on the matter and look at it from a multitude of perspectives. This retrograde cycle suggests the notion of resurrecting critical elements from the past, building off of previous foundations, and looking for missing or hidden essential pieces to the puzzle we’re working on.

With the eclipse, this is a potent retrograde cycle. Powerful emotional or psychological breakthroughs are possible, especially for those of us with significant natal placements in the sign of Scorpio. Deep inner personal insights are floating around like CO2, so don’t resist the inner work these two events are pulling up for us. Embrace it and shine your light into those places you usually avoid like the plague.

Oh The Horrors….

Yes, Scorpio is a “dark” sign. It gets a bad rap for that. But that’s just because Scorpio and its 8th house associate deal with some of the most sensitive and taboo of subject matter. Ultimately, our repulsive reaction to Scorpio has more to do with cultural conditioning than anything else. Sex, death, collective power, early childhood trauma, inner psychological terrain and so forth; they’re all elements our society suppresses or significantly distorts.

There’s a multitude of distractions to keep us from thinking about it all. The more time we spend on the surface, the more productive we are and the more we contribute to the current industrialized civilization. “Keep calm and carry on”…right?
Well this certainly isn’t a time for ignoring what lies in the deep. Willingly and consciously make your way down that rabbit hole. It beckons. Scorpionic material is generally uncomfortable to the ego. It points us toward that one undeniable truth: eventually, you’re going to die. You are impermanent. It’s unsettling indeed; nobody really wants to think about it. Even the most dark and macabre of souls, when it gets right down to it, will have some resistance to their own death. It’s natural.

In a society that glorifies youth and outer achievement--the inner world, the sensitive zones of life experience, goes on quite neglected. As a result, it takes on more ominous forms within cultural expression. At certain moments, when we least expect it, something explodes, there’s a collective catharsis. The external world is merely a reflection of the inner world. What happens out there is inside of us, a part of us; it is us.

That means that in order to heal, grow, and evolve toward our collective potential, we must embrace the horrors. We need to look them straight in the eye and process their realities and truths as we see them for what they truly are. This retrograde cycle and Scorpionic/Saturnian solar eclipse also urge us to step up and take responsibility for the horrors of the world. Instead of running away, or pointing the figure at everything except yourself, really step into it and see your part in creating it.

It is you and you are it. The segregation is an illusion. With that said, we may encounter some material that makes us uncomfortable, perhaps a little squirmish. But if it shows up in your awareness; there’s a reason for it, and it’s important that you look at it. It will help you mature and grow.

The Mind Hath No Substance

We all agree that Mercury is a symbol of the mind, the vehicle of ego consciousness. It’s the hardware that runs the software of the personal self. The mind is a network of pathways within the body, not particularly the brain. It is the intelligence within the nervous system. Without Mercury, and without a mind, we would have little success navigating the “real world”. But too much attachment to the mind, and we end up missing a whole heck of a lot.

The mind doesn’t like paradox. In fact, its sole purpose is the reconciliation of dichotomy. That’s how we make sense of the world. Mercury seeks to assimilate disparate pieces to make an intelligible pattern or formation. Without Mercury, what would we see? Without a mind, what would the world look like? Well, there are a few chemical substances that could quickly answer those questions, but there are also a few cosmic events which can momentarily provide us a glimpse beyond the veil.
The truth is that the universe around us is utter chaos. Order, symmetry and structure are created by conscious beings. What we see around us was created by focused awareness and attention. 

Does that mean that you’re “creating reality”? Well, not exactly. You aren’t that omnipotent. But yes, you’re definitely directing the scenes and arranging the scenery around you. Every choice you make alters what you experience in every moment. You’re thoughts play a crucial role in what comes into your life.

Your level of awareness and your beliefs about life severely affect what unfolds. The mind, in reality, has no substance. It’s a software program, and so is our identity. It can be readily deleted. But behind the software, there’s a ghost in the machine. We refer to this as the soul. Whatever you call it, we all know deep down that there’s something else inside of us, something behind the façade of the personal self.

That something else is what you really are. No matter what, it cannot be destroyed. Perhaps then, the soul is the only real thing that exists at all. And ironically, it is the most mysterious and intangible of concepts humanity has ever entertained. When you die, something lives on. That something isn’t necessarily who you think you are. It’s only your essence and your awareness.

My point here is to illustrate this image for you because it will play a critical role in this upcoming passage. Understanding it will allow you to benefit most deeply from the insights it offers.  When Mercury turns retrograde, the mind reconfigures itself. During eclipses, we enter a mild psychedelic state of awareness; we see the mechanizations of consciousness more clearly than usual, and we step outside the illusion of the personal self.

Pay more attention to yourself and to the people around you. This is a time to more authentically peer beyond the masks we wear in our daily interactions. It is within this altered state that we can actually make structural changes to the ego. We can let go of what no longer works, and we can release our attachment and enmeshment more than at any other time. Take advantage of this, because once eclipse season passes, it all comes rushing back in, as we attempt to further tighten that illusionary barrier.

Side effects may include:

Mercury retrograde is notorious for all sorts of technical mishaps, setbacks and annoyances--although, that’s not always the case. Mercury is a trickster. The trickster has the ability to work between realms, densities and realities. The trickster’s intention is to break down structures so that new forms can emerge. It’s a noble mission indeed. Reality would become rather sterile and banal if it weren’t for the trickster’s deeds.

When Mercury retrograde strikes, it initially appears as an inconvenience. But its lesson is always the same. Stop, pause, reflect and slow down. Notice the wind, look at the trees, and see the geometry in your lover’s eyes. What do you see now? How does it appear differently than it did before? What can you create from it? How can you do things differently? Take a few steps back, and really take a good hard look.

Mercury retrograde is not conducive for active forward movement; it’s a time for reflection and for making adjustments where needed. Usually, the more we push the more resistance we encounter. We may make adjustments to things that are solely tangible and mechanical, or we may adjust the way we see the world around us. Always, with each retrograde, we’re offered an alternate perspective, and it would be wise to consider it deeply.

Often, a specific outlook needs to change. We attract people or situations which seek to bring our attention to this need. Let go of the old and make way for the new—it will make you a more complete being. Take stock, double check, and reiterate everything you communicate. This is a time to be clear and direct in your dealings, because all sorts of blind spots and loose ends frequently emerge.

If you’ve been delaying or putting aside something, a Mercury retrograde cycle often serves as an opportunity to deal with it—sort of like a second chance. Often this comes together without much planning or foresight, it seems to be a natural consequence of Mercury retrograde. People and situations from the past may come back into your reality, to surprise or haunt you.

So don’t panic, worry or freak out. Even though this happens to be a pretty significant and heavy cycle—considering the involvement of Saturn and a Solar Eclipse—it could serve as a rather productive and insightful period of time.
But, also keep in mind the fact that we’re entering into a sensitive and deeply personal process. There may be some very significant insights and revelations about your own nature—a perspective about yourself that you didn’t see before. This can only come about by paying very close attention and observing yourself from an objective perspective.

Naturally, those of us who would rather stay on the surface and maintain the status quo are likely to have a far more difficult time with this. Uncomfortable truths are never digested easily. But, if you’re aware and well prepared for some challenging, yet deeply rewarding work, it won’t be such a shock when it arrives.