When Will the Stimulus Package Be Passed? Once Again, Mercury Is Involved.


January 6, 2009
We have much to cheer about as the new year opens. A new president is about to be sworn in, after an unimaginably disastrous eight years of GW Bush destroying the concept of government, the freedoms upon which the nation is based, and the Constitution that codifies both. It is with relief that we see our republic spring miraculously back to life.

However, we know, as much as we may hope otherwise, that life does not proceed in a straight line. It follows a zig-zag path, something that both astrologers and practitioners of the I Ching can agree on. We are about to encounter a zig-zag in the path to a better economy in January.

It’s (Not) All About Mercury.
Yes, it’s time for a Mercury retrograde again. It’s the time when Mercury appears to travel backward in the heavens when measured against the backdrop of the degrees of the zodiac (called the ecliptic). While I hasten to add that this is an apparent motion related to our position on an orbiting planet, the results in the world around us look very real.

Mercury in mythology was the messenger of the gods, and this is his role in astrology as well. Although a “minor” planet, he has the power to unleash the furies of the heavens during his retrograde period, which occurs every 3½ months for about three weeks. Mercury naturally has to do with communication, and this is a cornerstone of all human activity. But when Mercury makes contact with some of the planetary heavies during its retrograde, we get that extra dose of drama that, while blamed on Mercury, is not of his making.

The Mercury retrograde last fall (September 24 – October 15) was one of these furious retrogrades. As it made challenging contacts to expansive Jupiter and Great-Wound combination Chiron-Neptune, the markets lost confidence and the investment world fell apart, taking the economy with it. It was testimony to the power of these heavy planets, and only to Mercury as their messenger.

Up to His Old Tricks Again
If you count the days, you’ll figure out on your own that it’s almost time for another Mercury retrograde. Indeed, if you’ve had the clear skies and high visibility that southern California has enjoyed on the evenings of the past week, you’ll have been treated to the pleasure of seeing four planetary bodies in the western sky at sunset. Bright and easily visible were the crescent moon and Venus; not so visible but just as stunning were the two lights hugging the horizon but dimmed by the Sun’s afterglow: Mercury and Jupiter. Over the past week, we could watch Mercury move slowly past Jupiter.

When Mercury is even visible to us, it’s a sign that it is near its retrograde. So it is now. On January 11, it will make its standstill before moving backward across early Aquarius and late Capricorn. It returns to forward motion on January 31. This, as you might expect, establishes the potential for drama in the world around us.

Now, think about it. If Mercury goes backward over a segment of the zodiac, it covers some of this celestial turf three times, right? Ah, therein lies the rub! This segment of the heavens gets overstimulated, along with all the bodies that resonate at those degrees. The time when Mercury crosses this zone before and after its retrograde are called its “retrograde shadow”.

The themes of the retrograde emerge when Mercury first enters its shadow. They are confronted as problems or issues during the retrograde. Finally, they are resolved when Mercury makes its final pass through the shadow after the retrograde.

So, what snags in the fabric of life will Mercury’s energy get caught on this time? What issues is receiving obsessive interest by the media right now? It’s the economy, stupid. Everything is about the economy. And now, as Mercury slows down, the stimulus package offered up by soon-to-be-inaugurated Barack Obama is the source of much Pavlovian salivation.

The Good News
Mercury makes only two contacts (and one near miss) during this retrograde. These contacts are conjunctions (a neutral contact) to Jupiter and Mars. These are fairly benign as contacts go. They bring stimulation without the easy potential for major cock-ups. What’s more, Mercury and Jupiter as the two mental planets are a natural pair. Even more than that, Mars is in Capricorn, the sign that it performs best in (its exaltation). This is good news! It means that some combination of objectivity and pragmatism may reign.

The Big Question: When Will the Stimulus Package Pass?
Everyone is speculating on when it will pass as much as on what form it will take. With Congress’s swearing-in ceremony tomorrow (January 6), they cannot help but consider the stimulus package during Mercury’s retrograde. Since this is the case, Mercury establishes some nearly certain timing constraints on the situation. Here’s a time line for how it will affect the passage of the stimulus package:

December 25 - January 10 (Mercury Shadow 1): Anxiety and anticipation build as the reality of the weak economy hits home. The shortcomings of the bail-out devised during the last Mercury retrograde are fully revealed. The hue and cry rises for stimulus in the real economy to rescue “Main Street”, as it becomes apparent that the first ($700bn) stimulus package has been squandered. December 31 (Mercury conjoins Jupiter): More bad news from the economy and American manufacturers, especially automakers.

January 11 - 31 (Mercury retrograde): First, nothing will pass while Mercury is retrograde. There will be the predictable sense of urgency, but nothing will gel. It will be a time of fruitful and clarifying discussion. New facts about the economy will emerge. Under-represented viewpoints will be heard (perhaps progressives Paul Krugman, Robert Kuttner, David Cay Johnston, and James K. Galbraith). Partisan politics will threaten to take over the process. January 18 (Mercury-Jupiter): More bad economic news pushes the debate in a more progressive, Keynesian direction. January 26 (Mercury-Mars): The real economy, manufacturing sector, and blue-collar workers rise in prominence.

February 1 - 20 (Mercury Shadow 2): Stimulus legislation will begin to move forward. Although it is possible for it to occur sooner, a bill will probably not be ready for signature or signed until on or after February 20.

Caveats: Although the masses most frequently follow the norm of planetary timing, it is always possible to respond above expectation. This makes it possible for Congress to pass legislation before February 20, but it is relatively unlikely, especially before February 1.

One thing that will certainly spur action is whatever happens at the time of the Solar Eclipse on January 25, coinciding with a major stellium (cluster) of planets in Aquarius and the Mercury-Mars contact. This could be a game-changer.

Impact on the US
This is “Mercury retrograde lite” for the US chart, since Mercury only contacts the US’s destiny line, the nodal axis. This suggests a major shift in direction for the country but does not imply any complications more than are inherent in the issue (and they are huge).

There is no doubt that there are more facets to the situation than I can anticipate or that lie beyond the depth of this inquiry. However, there is no doubt that Mercury and its compadres will play a role in the unfolding of events.