Mercury Retrograde in Cancer: Introduction

Mercury Retrograde in Cancer 2020 is the icing on the cake of a year packed with planetary retrograde action, and as we know, it’s been a year unlike any other we have ever experienced. Putting aside the things we’ve all experienced recently with the big transits through Capricorn, I want to take a look at this Mercury Retrograde in Cancer with as fresh a pair of eyes as I can.

First of all, I want to think about the significance of Mercury in Cancer. Cancer is associated with our family, home, homeland and history. We associate mothers and children with Cancer too – and so far that all sounds cuddly and domestic. But with Mercury Retrograde in Cancer, there is a darker side to this we need to look at even if it’s uncomfortable for us. The nationalistic, populist attachment to ‘homeland’ and a partial view of history is being held up to us and we can’t avoid the issue now – even if we try.

We’re already in the first shadow phase of this retrograde period – and have been since June 2nd 2020 when Mercury began to slow down – and the world began to take a deep breath. What I’m going to do in this post, is to take a brief look at the first shadow phase followed by the retrograde and direct phases. One thing. Mercury is the planet of the mind. We use Mercury to process information and when Mercury is retrograde, we need to take a second look at a few things – so let’s do just that.

Mercury Retrograde in Cancer: Pre-shadow Phase

Mercury entered the pre-shadow phase of this summer’s Mercury Retrograde in Cancer on June 2nd 2020 at 04:51UTC. Just before that time, another pandemic had come to light, that of racism. As Mercury slowed, support for the Black Lives Matter protest movement spread and intensified. Let’s take a look at the chart to get an astrological perspective on that, and what we see are two aspects to Mercury – a sextile to Uranus and a square to Chiron.

mercury retrograde in cancer 2020 pre-shadow chart
chart courtesy of

Mercury Sextile Uranus

When we have Mercury and Uranus connecting like this, the door opens to words and communications that challenge those in power. Uranus is revolutionary and seeks to overturn the status quo. This is a restless aspect – and I think many of us can relate to that at the moment. For some of you, this aspect will represent an opportunity for liberation (Uranus) as some countries ease restrictions and you’re able to move around (Mercury) in your neighbourhoods or home countries (Cancer) at least.

However, it will not have escaped anyone’s attention that this restlessness, revolutionary mood and cry for liberation has had much more profound expressions too. The marches following the terrible murder of George Floyd have given voice to the long overdue need to revolutionise social attitudes and create a fair society. This is so Uranus, as are the counter protests from right wing supremacists and nationalists. Their attitudes and violence have shocked us in a very Uranian way. But truly? Shock is the thing that wakes us from our sleep.

Mercury Square Chiron

Chiron is not a body I refer to often but in this Mercury Retrograde in Cancer pre-shadow period, I feel this aspect to Chiron is very relevant. Chiron is known as ‘the wounded healer’ and shows where wounds that have been buried deep within need to be brought to light so the healing process can begin. This tense square aspect to Mercury demands action is taken – and I can see no more perfect description of the feelings being articulated now than those of collective deep seated wounds that are demanding to be healed.

And at a personal level? I think many of us have recognised, through the painful experience of being more isolated from our ‘normal lives’ (due to the coranavirus pandemic), that we have wounds and weaknesses that need healing too. The recognition that we need to do better in terms of our self care – as well as revolutionise our social structures – is likely to be one that occupies our minds more than it used to.

Mercury Retrograde in Cancer: Retrograde Phase

Mercury Retrograde in Cancer ‘proper’ begins on June 18th 2020 when Mercury moves into reverse gear at 14˚46″ Cancer. It has been such a combustible period in our history (and history is ruled by Cancer), so what can we expect to emerge when Mercury goes retrograde? Traditionally, Mercury Retrograde is associated with some form of reflection, a period of introspection and planning. So what does the chart point towards?

mercury retrograde in cancer 2020: retrograde chart
chart courtesy of

Mercury Retrograde: The Unaspected Planet

The chart shows that Mercury is an unaspected planet in the chart. This is unusual as Mercury is often close to the Sun and Venus and is often in conjunction with at least one of them. But no. This time Mercury is alone, so, we need to look at the significance of this. With Mercury Retrograde in Cancer unaspected, does this mean all protest, thought and conversation stops?

Not at all. During the retrograde phase, this strangely unaspected Mercury is sending us a clear message, free of background noise – and it’s this. Our challenge is to integrate the voices calling for change into a wider societal conversation. However, that mercurial energy – dynamic and insistent – needs to be focused in order be productive.

We are being reminded that we are in an unstable, chaotic and rapidly changing situation where the nature of information itself is being called into question. Cancer rules history and a big issue right now is whose history do we hear? History’s partiality is due to popular history being the history of the powerful, with the voices of the less powerful silenced.

Mercury Retrograde in Cancer brings this problem into view. It’s time, perhaps, to look at how we approach history and allow voices, marginalised for too long, a place in our history books and educational programs. It is often ignorance about historical facts and alternative histories that leads to prejudice and ignorance about lived experience in our present. This Mercury retrograde in Cancer gives us space to start redressing the balance.

At a personal level, as individuals, many of us will be considering our own stories. We are having time to reconsider plans and ideas and conceptions we may have had about our own futures. This is a time we can use well as many of us will need to reconsider what we want out of life, or even our life direction in an uncertain world. Many of us will want a secure home, green space and food security too. I expect those ideas will figure in many people’s plans for the future.

Mercury Retrograde in Cancer: Direct Phase

So, when Mercury Retrograde in Cancer turns direct on July 12th, where will your head be? I hope in a good and productive place but as I’ve done throughout this post, I want to take a wider, more global view. To do that I’m going to look at the direct phase chart, which sees Mercury Retrograde in Cancer move forward at 5˚30″ Cancer. Mercury moves forward in it’s second shadow phase until July 26th when it passes the degree at which it went retrograde. This will be an interesting time…

Mercury Retrograde in Cancer: June 18th - July 26th 2020 1
chart courtesy of

The first thing that strikes you about the chart is a big tense ‘tee-square’ with an opposition between planets in Cancer and Capricorn squared by the Moon in Aries. Mercury technically isn’t part of that configuration, however, the Moon is also conjunct Mars in Aries so the square aspect from Mercury to Mars and Mercury’s sextile to Uranus, does suggest that all is not about to be sweetness and light. Let’s take a closer look.

Mercury Square Mars

There is often a lot of anger expressed in a square aspect between Mercury and Mars. The tension and frustration in that aspect is verbally explosive. What is suggested is something emotive kicks things off here – and not necessarily in a good way. I think we can expect some ferocious arguments and heated responses – maybe more. Mars has associations with the military and male violence, and with that planet’s ingress into fiery and assertive Aries, it’s ruling sign, words could be inflammatory.

At a personal level, those of you who have this aspect in close contact with important points or planets in your chart, could experience arguments. Fights are never good – especially if they originate from a misunderstanding. However, some of you may also feel empowered to speak up about issues that concern you. Now may not be the time to remain silent and you may need to summon up your courage to make yourself heard.

Mercury Sextile Uranus

And we still have that sextile opening the door to revolutionary ideas. The thing is, there are so many revolutionary ideas out there. What we think are challenges to our perceived ideas could be eclipsed by something that further destabilises our world -an this could be political and economic as well as from the threat of the pandemic which is unlikely to have disappeared.

Earlier this year, I felt that the pandemic would be the biggest thing to hit us this year. (See the 2020 astrology forecast update) However, I feel it’s going to be but one of the major issues we are going to have to contend with in the coming months. If I sound apprehensive, then it’s because I am. However, I’m not without a ray of hope because

Earlier this year, I felt that the pandemic would be the biggest thing to hit us this year. (See the 2020 astrology forecast update) However, I feel it’s going to be but one of the major issues we are going to have to contend with in the coming months – and even years. If I sound apprehensive, then it’s because I am. However, I’m not without a ray of hope because where there is pressure for change there is the chance of improvement. Things will be different – but eventually? There are signs we will reach the point where meaningful dialogue and reform can take place.

© Sara Shipman 2020

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