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Mercury retrograde, Pluto, and the darker woods

mercury rx darker woods
mercury rx darker woodsOn Friday, Mercury turns retrograde at 5.58 Capricorn. The Sabian Symbol for 6 Capricorn is, I think, a beautiful and exciting one: “Ten logs lie under an archway leading to darker woods.” The logs can be the things that are blocking your mind, and powers of perception, from seeing the truth. But lay them out in a certain way, and they can also serve as steps that take you deeper into the darker woods.

Mercury is turning retrograde in a conjunction with Pluto and the Moon’s North Node, and the combination is designed to help us acknowledge some ugly truths – about ourselves, and about our world.  Sometimes loss and shock and grief open up channels of communication that can’t be opened any other way. This is what writers and journalists attempt to do. We tend to think of writing as a relatively safe, even sanitized profession – alone in a room at a nice little desk, perhaps looking out the window at a lovely tree. But the act of sitting down to write places you under the archway; to get to the darker woods – the deeper insights, the honesty needed to tell the stories people need to hear – you first have to deal with those ten logs.

It’s fascinating to me that Mercury turns retrograde just at the threshold of Capricorn’s 7th degree. Astrologer Lynda Hill refers to the following degree as the “Quest” degree, and its Sabian Symbol describes the state we’re headed toward.  The Sabian Symbol for 7 Capricorn is “A veiled prophet speaks, seized by the power of a God.” Hill wrote about that degree, “Info is coming through someone or something, and it may be difficult to know whether to fully trust it.” We’ve already had a very strong manifestation of this “quest degree” in the past week, as Wikileaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange surrendered himself to authorities. Governments all over the world are outraged by his disclosure of classified documents. In the aftermath, while he’s a hero to some, many questioned Assange’s character and motivations, not sure whether to trust the information he was disclosing.

Telling secrets for the greater good, telling difficult truths, hiding yourself while speaking on behalf of a greater power or cause: this is where we find ourselves at this Mercury retrograde. What’s holding you back from being your most honest self? What is obscuring your view and keeping you from seeing the whole truth? What are the secrets you’re holding onto, hoping you can write and speak and share your thoughts effectively without having to tip your hand and present yourself or others in an unflattering light? Some of these logs have the shape of the South Node in Cancer – a need for safety, security, and belonging, the idea that the world is a place that can be made safe and secure and predictable.

When Pluto comes to visit, he exposes all the secrets, and the flaws in all the philosophies that have brought you such comfort, and tosses them on a bonfire. During this Mercury retrograde period, it’s time to identify the ten logs, and then to surrender them to the bonfire. Only then can you make your journey all the way into the darker woods.

11 comments to " Mercury retrograde, Pluto, and the darker woods "

  • Deborah Hunter-Sullivan

    Even though I’m bashful to ask this question of you April, I wondered; how should the following be interpreted :
    This Pluto/tNN, and now Mercury; is actually conjunct my SN in Cap, and opposite my NN in Cancer. I know that it may be a stretch, and you may feel that this aspect would be viewed out of context without seeing my entire chart; but I’m massively struggling right now and can’t swing a complete reading. I’m talking hand-to-mouth, single mom with the other-parent-deceased, no holiday shopping whatsoever kind of poverty. I’m not looking for pity or a freebie, I just wondered if there was a concise and brief way to look at that transit. I’d love to hear that it was bringing welcome change to my life, but with Pluto involved… Anyway, my life’s been a veritable s**t-storm for the past eight years, could I be at least looking at it settling down enough so an earnest cleanup could ensue ?

    If you’re at all open to barter for your time, I have hand-dyed silk scarves and other one-of-a-kind items by me on FB at ‘Fifth Element Studio’. I don’t know, I just thought some insight might be empowering; I hope I’m not bothering you. Thanks for hearing me out, though. Be well !

    • Hi Deborah – Unfortunately I’m up to my ears at the moment with a book project, but when I can find a moment to draft a cogent reply, I’ll either post one here or create a blog post on the topic. You might also pop in to’s user forum and see if you can find some people there who can offer some support. In the meantime, remember the wise words of my teacher: “It’s a transit, it will pass.” With Pluto transits it feels the pain will never end. But trust me; eventually, it does. Sending you warmth and peace, A.

  • […] When suppressed or denied thoughts and feelings come into awareness, the experience is usually not comfortable or pleasant. But, as April Kent writes about the Mercury-Pluto conjunction, “Sometimes loss and shock and grief open up channels of communication that can’t be opened any other way” (Mercury Retrograde, Pluto and the Darker Woods). […]

  • love it. Thank you for this.

  • interesting this new moon sees me relocating to my east coast birthplace after 25 years of living in California…
    “why Philadelphia?” one might ask, as i have been asking myself; and the only answer my early Virgo rising can find is
    “a fourth house new moon transit aint a bad time to try it out” or so chimes in Venus at 6 Gemini on the MC as Saturn sits smugly at 21 Sagittarius saying ‘ah, we and our home issues meet again!’

  • I have always been a huge fan of astrology. This is my first time learning about mercury retrograde. I think that the topic is interesting because I believe that everything rotates around the stars to some degree. I always find it interesting when you research the stars to find your answers.

    This spoke loads of information to my heart because I am in the same boat. Thanks for sharing.

  • This is a wonderful summary of the energies at this turning point for Mercury, April. I agree that it can be a potent time for healing past wounds and opening up communication on needed issues. Donna Cunningham

    • Warm thanks, Donna. Was appreciating this energy more yesterday than I am today; I’m doing edits for my book and that’s definitely moved me into “darker woods” territory!

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