Mercury Retrograde and the 2012 Election
Just about every astrologer who has commented on the election at this point has made note of this event, and its potential significance for the election.
The most frequent comparison is to the 2000 election, because that was the most recent instance in which Mercury was retrograde on Election Day.
The purpose of this article is to talk a little bit about what Mercury retrograde is, how it has worked out in some previous elections, and what it might mean for the upcoming presidential election in November.
What is Mercury Retrograde?
“Mercury retrograde” is a period of time in which the planet Mercury appears from our vantage point on Earth to stop moving forward in its usual path across the zodiac, and instead does a U-turn and starts moving backwards, contrary to its usual direction. The period of time in which it appears to move backwards from our vantage point lasts for about three weeks, and this is called a “retrograde period”.
The two most important dates within the three-week Mercury retrograde period are known as the two “stations.” The stations are the actual dates when Mercury either stops moving forward in the zodiac and begins moving backwards, or conversely when it stops again at the end of the retrograde period and then starts moving forward again. When Mercury first begins the retrograde period it is said to “station retrograde,” while when it reaches the end of the retrograde period it is said to “station direct”.
Here is a diagram to illustrate the concept:
Mercury retrograde periods happen about three times a year. They are seen as significant because in astrology the planet Mercury is associated with topics such as communication, speech, writing, technology and calculation. When a planet goes retrograde it is deviating from its course and going contrary to its usual direction, and so symbolically this means that there is something about the topics associated with the planet that have similarly been reversed or gone awry.
Astrologers generally associate Mercury retrograde with things like miscommunication, delays, false starts, technological breakdowns, situations lacking in resolution, uncertainty, and times in which previous actions must be revisited.
If you would like to read about this in more depth, astrologer Celeste Teal has a good write-up on Mercury retrograde, in which she provides a pretty standard account of how contemporary astrologers conceptualize this phenomenon.
One of the most notable instances of miscommunication under Mercury retrograde in recent times that we have covered here on The Political Astrology Blog was the flub that occurred on Inauguration Day in 2009 when President Obama was being sworn in, which led him to retake the oath of office the next day.
The Mercury Retrograde Period in November 2012
Later this year, in the weeks leading up to the election in November, Mercury begins to slow down. Eventually, right on November 6, Mercury will station retrograde, and then it will begin moving backwards in the zodiac.
The exact station is calculated to occur just after 6:00 p.m. eastern time (ET) actually. This coincides perfectly with the day of the 2012 presidential election in the United States, and the Mercury retrograde is easily the most notable astrological event that will occur that day.
Mercury stations on Election Day at 4 degrees of Sagittarius, and then over the next few weeks it slowly begins moving backwards through early Sagittarius, falling back into the previous sign of the zodiac, Scorpio, on November 14, and then eventually it slows down again and stations direct at 18 Scorpio on November 26.
Here is what that looks like in the Swiss Ephemeris, which lists planetary positions for each day of the year, with the notable dates being highlighted in yellow:
(The ephemeris lists planetary positions at the start of each day.)
As you can see, the Mercury retrograde period begins on Election Day, and then it lasts for almost exactly three weeks, eventually ending in late November. So this raises the question: With such a significant astrological period starting right on Election Day, what does this mean for the election itself?
Mercury Retrograde in the 2000 Election
The last time that Mercury was retrograde on Election Day in the United States was in the year 2000, in the presidential election of George W. Bush vs. Al Gore. Anyone who is old enough to remember that election 12 years ago may recall that that Election Day didn’t go very smoothly.
On the night of the election the electoral votes were so evenly divided between the two candidates that ultimately the outcome hinged on whether Florida went for Bush or Gore. During the course of the night the news networks originally called Florida for Bush around 8:00 p.m. ET, but then this prediction was retracted around 10:00 p.m. A few hours later, around 2:30 a.m., it again looked like Florida had gone to Bush, so much so that Gore called Bush on the phone and congratulated him on winning the presidency. But then a couple of hours later, by 4:30 a.m., the vote count changed again, this time in favor of Gore, leading him to call Bush in order to rescind his concession.
What followed was 36 days of legal wrangling by both parties. Important turning points occurred on November 26, which was the deadline set for the recount by the Florida Supreme Court, and then on December 12, when the US Supreme Court delivered their verdict on Bush v. Gore, which ended the litigation and effectively decided the election.
What is interesting about the Mercury retrograde during the 2000 election is that Mercury actually stationed direct on Election Day rather than stationing retrograde. Or in other words, the Mercury retrograde period ended on Election Day, around 9:30 p.m. ET, whereas in 2012 the period will begin on Election Day. Many astrologers would be quick to point out that the events associated with Mercury retrograde periods are commonly thought to extend beyond the exact stations by a few weeks due to what is known as the “shadow periods.” Nonetheless, it does seem notable that the 2012 election will coincide with what is usually regarded as a more problematic segment of the retrograde period, when compared to the 2000 election. Essentially this raises the question of whether it is possible for the 2012 election to have even more problems than the 2000 election did.
Issues During the 1960 Election of Kennedy vs. Nixon
Prior to 2000, only a handful of elections coincided with Mercury retrograde periods. One of the most notable in the 20th century was the 1960 election between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon.
The 1960 election took place on November 8, and on that day Mercury was right in the middle of its retrograde period, starting out the day at 14 Scorpio, with the Sun at 15 Scorpio (chart to the right).
The 1960 election was notable for three reasons:
- It was the closest election in the 20th century according to the popular vote, with Kennedy winning with a lead of only 0.1%.
- Election night itself was abnormally suspenseful and protracted, in a way that was similar to the 2000 election. Kennedy was initially thought to have won early in the evening, but then later it became too close to call. Some newspapers were concerned that they might have to print retractions since they went to press and announced Kennedy as the winner before the dust had settled. Nixon ended up delaying his official concession speech until noon the following day.
- There were some widespread issues with voter fraud, which ultimately may have decided the outcome of the election.
Because of Mercury’s association with calculation and number reckoning, when it goes retrograde this can sometimes lead to problems and irregularities with respect to these topics. Within the context of elections, the issue of voting irregularities sometimes seems to be particularly important, whether due to fraud, hanging chads, or what have you.
It is interesting that one of the things that the 1960 and 2000 elections share in common is not just how close they were, or how suspenseful election night was, but that both had issues with voting irregularities. Could this become an issue again this year when Mercury goes retrograde on election night?
A Recent Example with the 2010 Australian Election
A more recent example of the type of scenario that astrologers are concerned about with respect to Mercury retrograde and the US election actually occurred a couple of years ago in the 2010 election in Australia. Thanks to astrologer Kelly Surtees for bringing this to our attention.
Australia is on a parliamentary system, which means that voters elect a specific party to power each election rather than a person, although each party selects a specific leader to represent them prior to the election.
The Australian election took place on August 21, 2010, and Mercury stationed retrograde at 19 Virgo early that same day. By the end of the day it became clear that the votes were so evenly divided that it led to a tie between the two parties, which resulted in a hung parliament.
After more than two weeks of deadlock the situation was finally resolved on September 7 when the incumbent Prime Minister Julia Gillard was able to secure the votes that her party needed, thus ending the deadlock and establishing the outcome of the election. Gillard was then sworn in a week later, on September 14, just one day after Mercury stationed direct at 5 Virgo.
So, to summarize, in the 2010 Australian election Mercury stationed retrograde on Election Day and this coincided with a hung parliament. A few weeks later the issue was finally resolved and the new government was sworn in a day after Mercury stationed direct.
Since Election Day in the United States this year also coincides with Mercury stationing retrograde, just like it did in the 2010 Australian election, it naturally raises the question of whether something similar might take place in the US this year as well.
Based on the examples given above, I hope that it is clear now why many astrologers are talking about the Mercury retrograde on Election Day this year. It is already generally associated with delays, miscommunication, uncertainty and technological snafus, but when it exactly coincides with a major election the implications can be much more far-ranging and important, as was the case with the 1960, 2000 and 2010 elections mentioned above.
One of the things that came up during the course of our research for The Political Astrology Blog’s official prediction for the presidential election this year is that this Mercury retrograde seems to be specifically tied into Mitt Romney’s chart. There seem to be some interesting parallels between the dates of the two stations in early and late November and some parts of his birth chart that become activated around the same times.
More specifically, Romney has a repetition of the same time-lord periods being activated November 6–8, and then again on November 26–29. These dates are significant because they are right around the same times that Mercury stations retrograde on November 6, and then stations direct November 26.
This seems to imply that there is something about the election that is still unfinished for Romney until later in the month. Yet it is not clear if this is because the election itself is still contested until then, as in the 2000 election, or if it is some sort of personal matter that Romney doesn’t fully resolve until later in the month.
Whatever specifically happens, this upcoming Mercury retrograde period should provide an illustrative example of a phenomenon that is widely regarded as significant within the astrological community, and we look forward to seeing how it unfolds.