Muddling with Mercury

Mercury in Pisces for nine full weeks: 10 February to 17 April 2019. The astrological community has been replete with discussion of the relative rarity for the swiftest of planets to linger so long in one sign. The period of apparent retrogradation in the middle of that time frame increased the tenancy, and caused the planet to apparently cross the position of Neptune three times: 19 February, 24 March and 2 April.
Many astrological writers and commentators anticipated the likely problematic character of the period, represented by Pisces being opposite one of Mercury’s places of domicile, the sign of Virgo (the other being Gemini). Detriment or exile is the technical term, meaning that its significance is apt to include distinctly harmful and unwelcome effects — when unleashed through inclusion in close configurations with Sol, Luna and other planets, or when changing apparent motion.
The Neptune factor added another layer of complexity, offering options of inspiration, fantasy, confusion and obfuscation.

One particularly horrifying event occurred soon after the start of the retrograde period, on 10 March: the crash, shortly after takeoff, of an Ethiopian Airlines plane, one of a new breed of Boeing airplane, the 737 Max 8. It was the second such plane to go down in recent months, and with over 300 in operation and 5000 ordered, this was big trouble.
Soon thereafter, reports appeared to the effect that the plane had been rushed through the U.S. Federal Aviation Agency approval process, and that there were major problems involving the flight control system. Apparently, the pilots of the Ethiopian plane performed all the procedures recommended by Boeing to save the aircraft, but could not pull it out of a flight-system-induced dive.
Very Mercurial, with a strong dose of Saturn. (Saturn, representing controls and the force of gravity, and powerful from its position in domicile in Capricorn, appeared at the top of the event chart.)

Weather events have been especially severe and unusual through the Mercury-in-Pisces period: notably Cyclone Idai that struck the southern African nation of Mozambique, and the concurrent “bomb cyclone” Ulmer that struck the Central Plains of the United States — both covered here in earlier posts (“Africa’s Katrina” and “Nebraska’s Katrina”).
This week, another bomb cyclone — also described as an “inland winter hurricane” (nearly a month into spring!) — has struck much the same area of the Plains as the one in March. Storm Wesley wound up over Colorado, dropping temperatures impressively, whipping up extreme winds and posing danger from wildfires on its warm and dry side, and from deep drifting snows on the cold and wet side.
Many reports noted that Wesley came through four weeks after Ulmer. Well, it’s no surprise from an astro-meteorological standpoint: The planetary configuration is a near-repetition of the one that accompanied the two storms a month earlier.
For one thing, Mercury has made the last pass in this series through the zodiacal area marked by Mercury in mid-March. In addition, Luna has also returned to the same place as then, forming the same configuration as before, minus Sol.

Even though a fresh season chart forms the basis, the recurrence of the former pattern provides a potent lesson: Understanding and forecasting require detailed examination of the ephemeris. And this calls into question the tempting reliance on computers.

Africa’s Katrina

The storm came on a meandering course, seemingly indecisive about whether to remain at sea or visit the continent. It almost seems intentional, the way it came back to the Mozambique Strait — the passage between southern Africa’s eastern coast and the island of Madagascar — to pick up more water before its slow-motion landfall.
Tropical Cyclone Idai was a prodigious rainmaker, dropping amounts in excess of two feet on a region suffering from years of severe drought: a now-common recipe for disaster in this era of climate crisis. Drought hardens the soil and enhances runoff.
An “inland ocean” up to thirty miles wide resulted, forcing thousands of people from their homes. Winds over one hundred miles per hour also delivered much destruction.
In addition to a terrible death toll, initial tallies indicated damage amounting to a large portion of the meager economy of Mozambique, with at least five years necessary for recovery. And as usual, waves of water-borne disease followed.
Astrological indications of potential major events were present, lacking only the triggers of subsequent configurations for manifestation.
The base chart is the Capricorn solar ingress, 22 December 2018, 12:23 a.m. EET, at Beira, Mozambique. The moment marked the start of the summer season for the southern hemisphere location.
Applying principles of Hellenistic astrology: Out-of-sect Saturn in domicile on the lower meridian in the season chart is a convincing indication of the likelihood of major problems, if not major woe, in some regions along that zone of longitude. One saturnine translation is: events and situations of extreme physical and emotional gravity. (That line also passed near Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, scene of the tragic crash of the Ethiopian Airlines plane on 10 March; many of the ill-fated passengers were United Nations personnel involved in projects in eastern Africa.)
Saturn’s movement since the Capricorn ingress to the place of Pluto in the ingress chart confirms the manifestation of large-scale death and destruction: the region utterly and lastingly transformed.

At the time, around midnight, fourteen degrees Libra was on the ascendant, with Libra’s ruler (or “lady) in the same degree but of the next zoidion, Scorpio: Venus’ zoidion of detriment: another indication of likely problematic developments. The power of Venus, being one of the symbols for moisture (along with Luna and Neptune), is amplified for ill effects in the watery zoidion of Scorpio; one of the triggers is evident in Venus’ arrival at fifteen degrees of Aquarius — “in square” to Venus’ base place — by the date of the first lunar quarter on 14 March 2019.
Idai came ashore on that date, and as often happens with major storms, this one did so at high tide. This can be seen from the symbols near the top of the chart’s outer ring: Luna at first-quarter phase rising on the eastern horizon AND in alignment with Luna in the season chart.
This is merely one part of a tight configuration: Luna opposite Jupiter, that axis right-angled by Sol and Mercury (retrograde) less than a day away from conjunction. All these transiting bodies were connecting to Mars (twenty-three degrees Pisces) in the season chart — representing an event tapping into an ocean (Pisces) of warm (Mars) water.
(See “Mercury’s Shadow” for another story linked to the symbolism of Mars in this season chart.)
If anyone were looking for signature events associated with the entry of Uranus into Taurus, this would be one.

Peter Doughty
-<zoidion>-

Sources:
“Africa’s Hurricane Katrina: tropical Cyclone Idai Causes an Extreme Catastrophe,” 20 March 2019

“Cyclone Idai Lays Bare the Fundamental Injustice of Climate Change,” 20 March 2019

“Cyclone Idai: ‘Massive disaster’ in Mozambique and Zimbabwe,” 20 March 2019

P.S. Elisabeth Grace touches on the Cyclone Idai story and many others in the latest installment of her regular “Astrology for News Junkies” feature. Highly recommended.