Anonymous Flammarion woodcut (1888). (Source:Wikimedia Commons)

Anonymous Flammarion woodcut (1888). (Source:Wikimedia Commons)

Hello everyone.

Since the most important aspects this week center around Mercury retrograde, including the Sun/Mercury retrograde conjunction, I thought we should revisit the whole Mercury retrograde cycle.  The cycle of Mercury retrograde is a tri-annual event and learning to use it well should be in the tool bag of every business person.

First, a review

First, let’s review what the Sun and Mercury symbolize.  In astrological thought, the Sun is the essential Self, the individual spark of life that provides energy, purpose and meaning to all of our endeavors.  In business, the Sun represents you, the leader, in your role as the one who sets the goals and standards, the values of the company, the direction and flavor.  The Sun is the center around which all other facets of the business revolve, including the employees, the customers, the systems, the controls, the profits, and the outcomes.

Mercury represents the mind, speech and communication faculties; all of the conversations, messages, and memos it takes to keep things moving.  This faculty of the rational, reasoning mind is inseparable from the essential Self, just as in the Solar System the planet Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun.  The Sun has a creative impulse and, in a sense, hands it off to Mercury to bring into manifestation through speech, planning, and enlisting others.

Mercury has two faces.  One we experience 80% of the time, the outward facing mental processes which apply attention toward the tasks at hand.  This is the busy Mercury, the mind that is constantly transmitting, processing, and analyzing information and making literal, reasoned responses.

Mercury’s other face is its retrograde motion, periodic times of looking inward toward inner sources of wisdom. At these times the mind is not so reactive to outer directives, but delves deep into stores of experience and unconscious knowledge to bring back a perspective that only those realms can give.  This is an extremely valuable aspect to Mercury, as important to our mental health and acuity as sleeping is to waking.

Both sides of Mercury are important to expressing our essential selves:  the directly relational Mercury and the inner-tuned awareness of Mercury retrograde.

The Cycle

The Sun/Mercury cycle is always the same, with the same number of days in each phase of the cycle.  Our present cycle began in October and looks like this:

  1. Mercury and the Sun were both moving forward and met at the exact same point in the zodiac.    This was on October 16 in Libra.
  2. Mercury zoomed ahead of the Sun, all the way to 5 degrees of Capricorn.  The Sun was 16 degrees behind Mercury at 19 degrees of Sagittarius.
  3. Mercury turned retrograde and started moving back while the Sun was still moving forward.  This happened on December 10.
  4. Mercury and the Sun again meet at the exact same point in the zodiac, the Sun having moved forward to 28 degrees of Sagittarius and Mercury in retrograde motion having moved back to 28 degrees of Sagittarius.  This is where we are in the cycle this week, on Sunday, December 19.
  5. The Sun will continue to move forward and Mercury will continue to move back for about 10 days, making them even farther apart.
  6. Mercury will turn direct, this time on December 30 at 19 degrees of Sagittarius.  The Sun will be ahead of Mercury at 8 degrees of Capricorn.
  7. Now both the Sun and Mercury will be in forward motion, but the Sun will begin 19 degrees in front of Mercury.  Mercury will finally catch up with the Sun on February 25 at 6 degrees of Pisces.  This is the same stage of the cycle as step 1 above, but now the Sun and Mercury will have both moved forward in the zodiac to Pisces rather than Libra.  And then the whole cycle will begin again.

The Meaning

So if the Sun is our essential Self and its purposes and Mercury represents our thinking, speaking, and communicating faculties, what does this cycle tell us about the interaction of these parts of ourselves, and how can we use these cycles in our businesses?   (To skip the detail, go to “In a Nutshell” below.)

  • In step 1 above, the Sun and Mercury briefly join together on the exact same degree of the zodiac.  This is the best time for a meeting of the minds, an excellent day for communication and planning.  It’s like our purpose and our ability to represent that purpose in speech and interaction are hand in hand.  It is also a good day to hand out assignments, sending people on fact-finding missions, exploring future possibilities, with a requirement to report back in on what they find.
  • In step 2 above, Mercury zooms ahead of the Sun, moving into the Sun’s future.  In other words it travels farther into the zodiac than the Sun.  It is ahead of the Sun, like a sentinel or a trail-blazer, getting the first look at the lay of the land.  This is the time when your team may be able to see the world more clearly than you, as they fulfill the assignments you gave them hands-on.  It is important to listen carefully during this time and continue to support them as they discover new territory.
  • In step 3, Mercury reaches its farthest point ahead of the Sun, stops, and proceeds into retrograde motion.  An interesting thing happens when Mercury starts retrogressing.  It actually covers the same ground it has just been over, in effect, getting a second look but from a different direction.  So it not only has new information for its next meeting with the Sun, but it has actually seen it from two different points of view, once going forth, and once coming back.
    This is the time to pull in those reports, to begin to examine the findings, and to course- correct based on the new information.  It is also a time to gather the troops back into the fold if they’ve been out on their own too long.  This is the time for reconnection and to re-familiarize yourself with your people and their stories.
  • This Week: In step 4, Mercury meets the Sun again, this time in retrograde motion.  It has information for the Sun about the future, it has seen the path the Sun is about to walk.  Another great day for a formal meeting, but this time Mercury, in retrograde motion, is still in listening mode, looking for synchronicities and making connections that aren’t apparent on the surface.  This meeting may need to account for this.  It may be that your best lieutenant has something very important to share but may have a hard time putting it in words.   Or you may have an inspiration that will express itself easily through non-linear means, such as color, or music, or movement, rather than the usual white boards, power point, or outlined memos.
  • Step 5 is a really interesting part of the cycle.  The Sun and Mercury have met and exchanged energy and information, but Mercury keeps moving back in retrograde motion for about 10 more days, while the Sun moves forward.  This is the point in the cycle when the Sun gets ahead of Mercury.  It’s almost like the Sun says, good work, I’ll take it from here for a while, you get some rest.

    Mercury stops to fasten his sandal.(Wikimedia Commons)

    And maybe this is a hint we should take for ourselves and our staff.  Maybe these ten days should be about rest, with the leader taking on the mantle directly for bringing the business forward.  The scouts and emissaries have earned a few days of lowered expectations, and it’s always good for the leader to interact directly with the business environment.
  • In step 6, Mercury resumes direct motion.  During our present cycle this will happen on December 30.  Whenever Mercury changes direction it slows down for a few days, so this is probably not the time to expect everybody to be 100% back on course.  Give it a few days before you start expecting people to be fully back into the rational, linear mode.
  • In step 7, both Mercury and the Sun are moving forward, yet Mercury is quite a bit behind the Sun.  This is the time when the Leader is in their full power, has stepped into their role completely, setting expectations and demanding accountability.  It’s also the time when you can start handing off projects to people; you’re in front, you see the future, you know your ultimate direction.  This is a time of maximum clarity and your troops are awake and alert – even if your only troops are your own faculties.
  • And back to step 1.

In a Nutshell

So here are the key dates for the next cycle of Mercury, starting with this week’s Sun/Mercury conjunction (for more detail, see above):

December 19 – Sun meets Mercury in retrograde motion.  Action: Meet with your people, collect assignments, listen, and disseminate information.

December  19 – 30 – Mercury in retrograde motion; Sun moves ahead of Mercury.  Action:  Let your people rest, take the lead, plan your next steps based on new information.

December 30 – February 25 – Mercury in direct motion, Sun ahead of Mercury.  Leader implements new plans, moves forward; everyone involved in current projects.

February 25 – Sun meets Mercury in direct motion.  Meeting of the minds.  Spell out your vision, hand out new project assignments, and create exploratory teams for future innovation.

February 25 – March 30 – Mercury in direct motion moves ahead of Sun.  Teams work on innovation, exploration, future possibilities. Leader manages, coordinates, and provides resources.

March 30 – Mercury turns retrograde, still ahead of Sun.  Teams finish assignments, begin to report in.  Leader reviews.

April 9 – Sun meets Mercury in retrograde motion.  Action:  Meet with your people, collect assignments, listen, and disseminate information.

And here we’re back to step 1 in the cycle.  Can you see the natural rhythm that comes with the Sun/Mercury cycle?  Shall we give it a try?

Happy Holidays Reminder

Since I’m traveling and enjoying the holidays, these posts will be more sporadic and spontaneous until the end of December. I think the best idea is to subscribe via the RSS feed above and then you’ll be notified by email whenever there is a new post. I don’t want to lose touch with you.

Do you have a question for Ellen? See the “Work with Ellen” tab at the top of this site for my Straight to the Point Response service.

For an overview of the month, see the Astro4Business Month Ahead – December 2010

For tips on how to use Mercury Retrograde to your advantage, see

10 Best Practices for Mercury Retrograde

Mercury Retrograde – 10 Ways to Engage

For more info on the business descriptions of the planets mentioned today, see

The Sun