The “Mercury Reversed” Retrograde Period Spread

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I split this spread off from yesterday’s post for better visibility, saying three times “I promise not to repeat myself . . .”

As discussed at length in my previous essay, I don’t buy the popular notion that Mercury going retrograde as part of the evolving “sky pattern” is automatically a harbinger of hard times to come for most people. But I’ve seen tarot enthusiasts create “Mercury Retrograde” spreads and thought I would try my hand at it using the Thoth deck to show the archetypal view of a “worst-case” retrograde Mercury scenario (it might briefly loosen your grip on the “wheel of life” but you’re probably not going to drive over a cliff), and five figurative “Sky Pattern” cards to reflect the querent’s likely status for the duration of the event. This is based on the idea that reversal and retrogradation have some similarities. Other than the Mercury-associated Magus, the remaining “Archetypal Pattern” cards are the Mercury “decan” cards in the four suits: Wands (Ambition); Cups (Feeling); Swords (Thought); and Disks (Material Fortune) going left-to-right.

This spread follows the Hermetic (Golden Dawn?) assumption that Earth is an amalgam of the other three elements, thus it becomes the visible “yield” of the first three “Substance” cards (as influenced by the overall “Tone” card). Also, reversal as used in the “Sky Pattern” cards is conceptual; it doesn’t have to appear as actual reversed cards (or additional retrograde planets if other “decanic” cards are present – although that could be truly revelatory, so have an online ephemeris handy!); depending on the nature of the cards drawn, it just suggests a potential misdirection or choking-off (maybe “constipation?”) of the normal mode of consciousness during the period. If all five cards are trumpeting “sweetness and light,” this condition might do nothing more than take a little of the “shine” off them.

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