The Republican Presidential Debates Begin: Mercury Superior Conjunction
CNN is hosting a debate between seven Republican candidates for President from 8-10 pm this Monday, June 13th at Saint Anselm College in Goffstown, New Hampshire. Funnily enough, Mercury, the planet of communication, debate and contest, will be at its superior conjunction with the Sun, inaugurating a new season of politicking until the next Mercury retrograde period.
Before we get to the good stuff, in case you’re rusty, here are the basics about Mercury’s cycle. There are 6 main points to Mercury’s phases (without looking at heliacal risings and settings just yet). Note that the same applies for Venus since it is also an interior planet (a planet in between Earth and the Sun). The following graphic is not perfect (it’s not to scale, orbits aren’t circular, the retrograde motions only exist from Earth’s perspective, etc.) but I hope it’s useful to visualize what I’m talking about.
- Superior conjunction – when the Earth, Sun and Mercury are aligned, in that order.
- Maximum Eastern Elongation – When Mercury is as far away from the Sun as it can go (from Earth’s perspective). It is very bright in the sky at sunset.
- Retrograde Station – Mercury appears to slow down and reverse directions as the Earth catches up with Mercury, Mercury retrograde period begins.
- Inferior conjunction – when the Earth, Mercury and the Sun are aligned, in that order.
- Direct Station – Mercury appears to slow down again, resuming forward motion as Mercury continues its path around the Sun, retrograde period ends.
- Maximum Western Elongation – when Mercury is as far away from the Sun as it can go (from Earth’s perspective). It is very bright in the sky at sunrise.
- Superior Conjunction – Rinse, repeat.
There are some simple clues for understanding where Mercury is in its cycle just by looking at a natal chart. If Mercury is conjunct the Sun and it’s retrograde, you know it’s an inferior conjunction. If Mercury is conjunct the Sun and it’s direct, it’s a superior conjunction. If Mercury is retrograde, you know an inferior conjunction is close and the superior conjunction is a long way away. Same thing for Venus. What is harder to know is if Mercury or Venus is at it’s maximum elongation. Here is a site which would probably find being linked to by an astrology blog kind of annoying, but it’s a great resource. Use this page to find out the times of Mercury’s maximum elongations and this page for the times of Venus’ maximum elongations. You will need an ephemeris though to know where in its cycle Mercury is if Mercury is direct and not conjunct the Sun.
So, what’s the point of all this?
The whole point of understanding this cycle of Mercury is because it is extremely useful for tracking broader developments in political campaigns. And is it any wonder for the planet that is traditionally associated with communication, speaking, contests, debates and controversies? For example, the last Mercury retrograde period was in Aries, lasting from March 30th to April 23rd 2011. In that time, just 5 days away from the inferior conjunction, President Obama was the first major candidate to announce a run for President in 2012. That event, in essence, kicked off the 2012 elections. In fact, Obama has had quite a long and fairly positive history with Mercury retrograde which you can read about here, so it doesn’t surprise me too much that he made yet another important announcement during one. In fact, if you do check out that link, you’ll see a partial chronology of how Mercury’s retrogrades seemed to time out the major developments of the 2008 election as well as in Obama’s life. However, he doesn’t always appear to be so fortunate near the superior conjunctions of Mercury which we are now at.
Mercury’s maximum western elongation occurred on May 7th 2011. Just 2 days before on May 5th, there actually was the first debate for Republican presidential candidates, even though virtually none had officially announced that they were running. The only people who showed up were Herman Cain, Gary Johnson, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty, and Rick Santorum, and out of those, only Johnson had officially announced by that point. Herman Cain was considered the winner of that debate according to media polls, which appropriately enough happened at his Jupiter half-return. Meanwhile, Tim Pawlenty was seen as the candidate with the most to lose and/or gain and didn’t do well by offering a middling performance. Mercury squared his unfortunate Mars-Saturn opposition at that debate.
On June 12th 2011, Mercury is back at a superior conjunction at 21 Gemini and the Republican presidential campaigns have largely been assembled. The debate was scheduled just the day after the superior conjunction. The 7 Republicans are: Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. The Mercury superior conjunction happens to make significant contacts in all their charts which could indicate how well they will do in the debate.
Click here for the birth data I’m using for the candidates. For the transits of the debate I’m using June 13th, 2011, 8 pm, Goffstown, New Hampshire.
Michele Bachmann: She’s the only participant of the debate who has not yet officially announced, although she has indicated she will very soon. We do not have her birth time, and she has no planets at or aspecting 21 Gemini, however, she herself was born at a Sun-Mercury superior conjunction. To me this indicates that she will be in her element, as the phase of Mercury in the sky is the same as it was at the time she was born. She also recently had a Venus return, which may bring her a bit of luck (and donations) from the debate performance. Things won’t always be so peachy for her, definitely keep an eye on her campaign as Saturn begins to oppose her Sun-Mercury conjunction in August and September.
Herman Cain: His Sun at 21 Sagittarius is exactly opposed by the Mercury superior conjunction at 21 Gemini. He may have a chance to really shine, but the fact that it’s opposite the conjunction may also indicate some frustration, perhaps not getting to answer a question or being asked enough questions. The lunar eclipse at 24 Sagittarius comes pretty close to his Sun 2 days after the debate as well. Unfortunately, no birth time is currently available for Cain.
Newt Gingrich: This debate is surely something Gingrich is hoping to seize upon to revamp his imploding campaign. The Mercury superior conjunction at 21 Gemini is quite close to both his Sun at 26 Gemini and Saturn at 17 Gemini and possibly close to being opposite his Moon at 25 Sagittarius (if his purported birth time is accurate). The fact that it is close to his Sun is sort of encouraging, while the fact that it close to his Saturn is not. It’s not hard to imagine that he will be on defense about his remarks at the beginning of his campaign, and will not be in a very strong position (Saturn). Additionally, just two days after this debate there will be a lunar eclipse at 24 Sagittarius, which will be in a tight opposition to his Sun at 26 Gemini, and possibly a conjunction to his own Moon. I don’t have a specific interpretation for this but it’s definitely ominous for Gingrich’s campaign. After all, for the chart I’m using for Gingrich’s campaign, the Ascendant is at 23 Gemini.
Ron Paul: The Mercury superior conjunction at 21 Gemini will be making a fairly tight square to his retrograde Venus at 22 Virgo. It seems he’ll probably get in a few good lines about his unorthodox values (Venus retrograde) that may nonetheless win him favor with the crowd, although it’s unclear that this debate will be all that consequential for him without a solar contact. But we don’t have his birth time to begin with so it’s hard to say. Interestingly enough, Ron Paul announced his run for President when the Ascendant was at 21 Gemini.
Tim Pawlenty: Without a birth time, we can’t be sure exactly where the Mercury superior conjunction falls in his chart, and he has nothing that it seems to be aspecting in his chart. Since all the others do, we could nearly see this as Pawlenty not really being part of the conversation, but it isn’t altogether bad. Venus will be opposing his Sun. I’m not quite sure which chart to use for Pawlenty’s campaign, but it is interesting that at the time he uploaded his first announcement video, the Midheaven was at 19 Gemini while the Ascendant was at 21 Virgo. Just as a side note, take a look at his Mars-Saturn opposition, and how transiting Saturn is closing in on squaring both of them. Mars is also coming up soon too, and they will perfect a square at 14 Cancer-Libra on August 25th 2009, locking in with his natal Mars-Saturn opposition. I would expect that to be a pretty challenging time for Pawlenty.
Mitt Romney: The Mercury superior conjunction at 21 Gemini will square Romney’s Sun at 21 Pisces. Not only that, but Romney formally announced his candidacy when the Midheaven was at 20 Gemini, and the Moon was even conjunct the Nodes at 21 Gemini. This will be a kind of re-introduction to what kind of candidate Romney will be like, and it looks good for his campaign, for exposure and chatter. Additionally, the Moon will even be transiting over his Moon-Jupiter conjunction, which may make him receptive to the mood of the audience.
Rick Santorum: The Mercury superior conjunction is in a close opposition to Santorum’s Saturn, and the lunar eclipse that happens 2 days later makes a conjunction to Santorum’s Saturn. This is not very promising. It could indicate that Santorum could stumble over his words, provide a soundbite that would work against him or otherwise be caught in a weak position. He kicked off his campaign when Mars was conjunct his Sun. These strong Sun/Mars/Saturn contacts just don’t paint a very good picture for Santorum.
The three candidates who it seems this debate is particularly important for is Romney (in a good way), Gingrich (maybe in a bad way) and Cain (in some way), since the Mercury superior conjunction is making contacts with their Suns, but we’ll have to see what it all means. One thing is for certain. There is one candidate running for President who won’t be sharing the stage with the Republicans that night, but will still have quite a presence. President Obama was born with Mars, the planet of conflicts and recriminations, at 22 Virgo. With the Mercury superior conjunction at 21 Gemini squaring it, I wonder who the attacks will focus on in this debate? Hmmmm.
Bonus, Because I’m Nice and Extremely Modest About It
Don’t want to flick back and forth between ephemerides and elongation calculators to get a comprehensive list of Mercury events until the 2013 inauguration? Nor do I! Bookmark this page and you can come back to refer to this list!
Superior Conjunction: February 25th 2011, 6 Pisces
Maximum Eastern Elongation: March 23rd, 2011, 21 Aries
Retrograde Station: March 30th, 2011, 23 Aries
Inferior Conjunction: April 9th, 2011, 19 Aries – First 2012 candidates emerge
Direct Station: April 23rd, 2011, 13 Aries
Maximum Western Elongation: May 7th, 2011, 20 Aries – First Republican debate
Superior Conjunction: June 12th, 2011, 21 Gemini – First “real” Republican debate
Maximum Eastern Elongation: July 20th, 2011, 24 Leo
Retrograde Station: August 2nd, 2011, 1 Virgo
Inferior Conjunction: August 16th 2011, 23 Leo
Direct Station: August 26th, 2011, 19 Leo – conjunct Obama’s Descendant
Maximum Western Elongation: September 3rd, 2011, 22 Leo
Superior Conjunction: September 28th, 2011, 5 Libra – conjunct Bill Clinton’s Ascendant
Maximum Eastern Elongation: November 14th, 2011, 14 Sagittarius
Retrograde Station: November 24th, 2011, 19 Sagittarius
Inferior Conjunction: December 4th, 2011, 11 Sagittarius
Direct Station: December 13th, 2011, 4 Sagittarius
Maximum Western Elongation: December 23rd, 2011, Mercury 9 Sagittarius
Superior Conjunction: February 7th, 2012, 17 Aquarius – conjunct Obama’s Ascendant, Super Tuesday primaries
Maximum Eastern Elongation: March 5th, 2012, 3 Aries
Retrograde Station: March 12th, 2012, 6 Aries
Inferior Conjunction: March 21st, 2012, 1 Aries
Direct Station: April 4th, 2012, 24 Pisces
Maximum Western Elongation: April 18th, 2012, 1 Aries
Superior Conjunction: May 27th, 2012, 6 Gemini
Maximum Eastern Elongation: July 1st, 2012, 5 Leo
Retrograde Station: July 14th, 2012, 12 Leo – conjunct Obama’s Sun
Inferior Conjunction: July 28th, 2012, 6 Leo
Direct Station: August 8th, 2012, 1 Leo – conjunct Obama’s Mercury
Maximum Western Elongation: August 16th, 2012, 5 Leo
Superior Conjunction: September 10th, 2012, 18 Virgo
Maximum Eastern Elongation: October 26th, 2012, 27 Scorpio
Retrograde Station: November 6th, 2012, 4 Sagittarius – ELECTION DAY 2012, repeat of 2000?
Inferior Conjunction: November 17th, 2012, 25 Scorpio – conjunct Obama’s Midheaven
Direct Station: November 26th, 2012, 18 Scorpio
Maximum Western Elongation: December 4th, 2012, 22 Scorpio
Superior Conjunction: January 18th, 2013, 28 Capricorn – Pretty close to the Inauguration…