Mercury turns retrograde today, so begin taking extra care in clarifying all communication. Don’t be surprised if documents are lost, appointments are missed, and equipment stops working. Mercury retrograde periods are good times to do everything twice, just to be sure. Mercury is in Leo, where it finds creative ways to express the ego and personality. While retrograde (through July 26), Mercury tends to bring up unresolved issues, presenting them for review and reexamination. Because Leo tends to be dramatic and ego-centered, until July 10 when Mercury retrogrades back into Cancer, we may experience miscommunication and hurt feelings resulting from a lack of sensitivity to the needs of others. Mercury in Leo can be generous and kindhearted, but when retrograde the generosity may not be communicated in the manner in which it was meant. As with any retrograde period it’s important to take extra care with the way information is transmitted and keep very good backup notes.

In honor of the July Fourth holiday, I refer you to Jude Cowell’s analysis of the Solar Return chart for the USA. Some of it is a bit technical for non-astrology geeks but it’s quite extensive and compares the Solar Return chart to the USA chart. I’ve done a modified version of the Solar Return chart itself, but read her original here and here. Quoted portions are from Jude’s article.

A Solar Return chart is done the day of the birthday when the Sun returns to its place in the birthchart, and shows the themes for the following year. The Solar Return for the USA shows Leo rising in the chart “and Sun is placed in the behind-the-scenes 12th house of karma and self-undoing. It’s the perfect placement for politicians who love those backdoor deals, and with the US Sun at the same degree as Bush’s natal Sun, we see him lurking about. ” Mercury is also in the twelfth house nearing the cusp of the ascendant, accentuating the secrecy and mystery (twelfth house) of communication and information exchanges (Mercury). This to me indicates that the whole secrecy issue is going to prevail over the next year.

The Sun makes a Grand Trine with Jupiter and Uranus, all in water signs, showing an overall ease and facility and an opening (Jupiter) to new experiences and understanding (Uranus). Grand Trines often create an environment where the flow is so easy that it’s difficult to put anything into motion, but there are some stressful aspects that will create tension and conflict to keep the ball rolling.

Saturn and Mars both fall in the first house of identity, and while they are not really close enough to be considered conjunct (8-1/2 degrees apart) their influence is still exerted through the first house. Saturn in the first shows a calcification and inflexibility (Saturn) around image and identity (first house), and Mars in the first shows an aggressive (Mars) personality (first house). Saturn opposes Chiron within a few degrees, and Chiron falls right on the cusp of the seventh house of partners and enemies. This creates a clear tension between Saturn’s desire to solidify and exert influence (Saturn in the first house) and Chiron’s tendency to open up painful wounds (Chiron) in the USA’s relationships and partnerships with other countries (seventh house). Planets that are said to be “angular,” meaning they fall on the ascendant/descendant axis such as these two, are very powerful in the chart and this to be is probably the prevailing influence over the coming year.

Mars in the first has no hesitation about getting its own needs met, and tends to be rather self-centered. As Jude says, “Saturn’s restriction and control handily describes some of Bush’s current altercations with the press, the public (bloggers!), the recent SCOTUS ruling (which I’ll believe wasn’t planned when I see it), and members of both political parties. Oh–and his enemies. (His self-styled “unaccountability” got a small nip in the big-fat bud beginning with Hurricane Katrina…when Saturn crossed his Asc the first time and he felt Saturn’s criticisms extraordinaire.)”

Mars opposes Neptune exactly, showing mystery and delusion (Neptune) around warfare and aggressive forays (Mars). Neptune falls in the seventh house of partners and open enemies, which is a clear indication that we will not be able to easily see who our allies are, and enemies (seventh house) will be lurking below the surface (Neptune). This is not a good position for war and shows no clear result and combined with the angular Saturn/Chiron influence does not bode well for the various incursions into N. Korea and Iran that the US may be about to begin.

The Moon in the Solar Return chart is in Scorpio in the fourth house of home and security. The fourth house also rules tribal identity, and is where we find patriotism and a sense of lineage, and a Scorpio Moon in the fourth is intensely passionate about one’s roots. The Moon conjuncts Jupiter, expanding one’s sense of security. It appears that the American people will experience a great sense of security and confidence (Jupiter), as well as perhaps an increase in the sense of connectedness with one’s country (Moon/Jupiter in the fourth). However, this happy combination is tested by its stressful aspect to the angular Chiron/Saturn combination, making this a T-square. T-squares create tension and conflict, showing that the security of the Moon/Jupiter conjunction will be consistently threatened by painful events of the Saturn/Chiron opposition. Jupiter also represents the press, and the square of both Chiron and Saturn to Jupiter shows a continued persecution of a questioning media.

Uranus falls in the eighth house of sexuality and other people’s money. The eighth house is commonly associated with the stock market, and Uranus placed there shows wild swings (Uranus) in the financial markets where people put their money in with other people’s money in order to gain greater returns.

Jude points out that the Solar Return Aries Midheaven (point of highest goals and aspirations) is exactly conjunct Bush’s Midheaven, which is being trined by Pluto (transformation) right now. In the best of all possible worlds, this chart shows a nation who has a grace card (the Grand Trine) to put its highest and best plans (Pluto transiting Midheaven) into effect right now, but that its partnerships will be tested and new enemies gained (Saturn/Chiron on the ascendant axis). War plans (Mars in the first) will be reactive and blind (opposite Neptune) and our enemies (seventh house) will be hidden and deceptive (Neptune in the seventh).

All in all, it sounds very like what we have been experiencing so there’s no need for alarm. As Jude says, “may her flag wave in Freedom, her Press monitor her government in Freedom, and may we all confront our shadows so they can be dispelled. It’s the only way to raise up this nation again.”

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