election day, 2012 as mercury goes retrograde… and through previous (and future) U.S. general elections, part 1 of 2

It was about a week-and-a-half ago (10/22 apparently, from my posts on Twitter)… I was sitting at the dining table working on my laptop when I heard Erin call to me from her office, “Hey, when does Mercury go retrograde again?” Since we both have Mercury as the final dispositor of our charts (i.e., ruling planet), it’s an important question to ward off any potential verbal misunderstandings that may come up between us. We both tend to take a walk on the cerebral side a bit…

“Pretty soon I think,” I answered back… and then looked it up in the handy-dandy online ephemeris. I had no idea how soon though – it goes retrograde on November 6th… Election Day here in the U.S this year.

At first I thought ‘well, that’s interesting,’ and then, knowing what Mercury retrograde means and how it usually manifests – in mis-communications and misunderstandings with others and in routine transactions (including electronic malfunctions), a certain amount of confusion, delays in outcomes and decision-making, and a general feeling of things seeming to be blocked or of not being able to get much of anything accomplished – I revised that to an “uh-oh.”

[Understand, planets retrograde or in certain signs, houses, and aspects do not cause anything to ‘happen’, but rather suggest what types of events we may encounter and heighten our awareness of what actually does happen, bringing some clarity, hopefully, to our awareness of our own responses to events as they occur and what they might mean].

I wondered where else a Mercury retrograde might have occurred… and thought back to the election of November, 2000. You know… the one that ended up in the courts and was only resolved a month later in which George W. Bush was eventually declared the winner over Al Gore. Hanging chads, Florida, etc….  Since this is still somewhat fresh in most Americans’ minds, even after 12 years, I had a hunch, and it was a good place to start…

Of all astrological phenomena, Mercury retrograde is probably tied with knowing one’s Moon sign, or Ascendant, for second after the basic knowledge of one’s Sun sign. Sure enough, Mercury was also retrograde that year – moving from retrograde to stationary that exact day – November 7, 2000, the day of the election. What ensued after that was some full-blown research of how many times Mercury has been retrograde during our November general elections and looking at the birth chart of the United States.

Well, this is the kind of stuff that astrologers get excited about…

As far as which birth chart of the U.S. I use, I work from the Sagittarius rising birth chart – the Sibley chart (July 4, 1776, 5:11:30 p.m. EST, Philadelphia, Pa.) shown below, for many of the same reasons outlined by astrologer Dane Rudhyar in his article “The Riddle of the USA Horoscope.” I mention this because there is [still] some disagreement among astrologers as to whether the USA birth chart has Sagittarius or Gemini rising – I’ve had discussions with a few astrologers on this (a couple of them quite ‘spirited’) – and I want to lay that to rest here. Even as a constantly shifting ‘ambiguous collective,’ the character and personality of this country – as indicated by the Ascendant and 1st House – is still much more Jupiterian (optimistic, expansive, generous, and faith-based, i.e., religious, with a concern for getting at the truth) than it is Mercurial (intellectual, inquisitive, chameleon-like – changeable – and detail-oriented, i.e., factual-based). As a country, we tend to focus more on the ‘big’ picture and paint in broad strokes… and oftentimes overlook the small details (Mercury).

Birth Chart of the United States… rectified to 12 degrees, 40 minutes Sagittarius on the Ascendant… Note that Mercury is retrograde at 24 degrees in Cancer in the 8th House in the natal chart…

Once I’d compared the Election Day transit charts of this year with the one from 2000, and even before Hurricane Sandy began bearing down on the East Coast, the placement of retrograde Mercury at 4° Sagittarius in the 12th House suggested a high possibility/probability of delays in knowing the results of the election. Whether that would be days, weeks, or a full-blown repeat of what happened in 2000 wasn’t (isn’t) known, but figured, in a hotly contested, close and highly contentious Presidential race, it would be 2-5 days at the least and even up to 3 weeks if there were allegations of improprieties (fraud) and voting ‘anomalies’… longer if it went to the courts as in the 2000 election.

And then Hurricane Sandy, the ‘superstorm,’ did hit, taking the expected left turn into land and into the New Jersey shore on October 29th…

First of all, my thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by this storm, who have suffered and are still suffering now in the aftermath of Sandy – those who still have no power, no drinkable water, no food, no heat – particularly those on Staten Island – and now the long lines at the gas stations. May you, your families, and everyone stay safe and get all the help you need quickly

Flooded coastline of New Jersey on October 30th…

The images of devastation are truly amazing, humbling, and unimaginable. I was born on the Jersey coast (Asbury Park) and have family members in 7 of the states that have been hard hit by Sandy – 4 of my family evacuated from New York City and New Jersey a couple of days before the storm made landfall (they are now staying in various places in Pennsylvania, itself affected, though less, for the time being); all have been accounted for as of 10/31. As of this writing (Friday evening), the NYC marathon has been cancelled/postponed, as it should have been – there are far too many people who are stranded and need help NOW! The race can wait. Donations are being accepted through the American Red Cross…   Please give generously.

And yet, as the story continues to unfold on the Eastern seaboard, the machinery of the U.S. political process as we head into the election on Tuesday, rolls on. Here in Colorado, we’ve seen President Obama at least 4 or 5 times over the last month, Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee, will be here twice this weekend, and Gary Johnson (Libertarian) has also been here a couple of times in the last 2 weeks. We are a swing state this election and between Obama and Romney it’s too close to call here.

Many have wondered if the Nov. 6th election can and should be postponed. As of now, it has not… and is not likely to be postponed for the following reason: “Without passage of a new federal law, voting for president is required to take place on Tuesday, November 6 [the first Tuesday of November], as planned.” For the full article explaining this, click here.

A flooded tunnel in New York City on 10/31…

Personally, I believe the election should be postponed (if it still can be) or should have been postponed once the extent of the damage had been determined. What has happened the last few days on the East Coast is unprecedented, even aside from the fact that this takes place right before an election, and in the interest of fairness and greatest representation of the populace, the election should take place once power has been restored in all areas, but it would take a vote in Congress to do this now. It has been suggested that polling hours could be extended, but how much would that really help? Voting in the general election on Tuesday is, for many people at this point, probably the last thing on their minds as they’re just trying to survive and living with the uncertainty of one day at a time. We shall see…

Part I: Through the Past Darkly (with a flashlight)
Once the link between this election and the 2000 election had been established – both with transiting Mercury retrograde – I had to keep going with it… back through the 20th century, all the way back to the 19th century, eventually stopping at the general election of 1828. For purposes here, I stop at 1848 because that appears to be the first year that election day was affixed to the first Tuesday in November – before that, the general election appears to have taken place over the course of roughly a month-and-a-half. (1848 was also the last time in the U.S. that a “third-party” candidate… i.e., something other than Democrat or Republican… won the Presidential election – Zachary Taylor of the Whig Party, and since he died while in office, his successor, Millard Fillmore, also of the Whig Party at the time).

How many times has Mercury retrograde occurred at the same time as the general elections?

What was discovered – along with revisiting a lot of American History (because even though my knowledge of it is pretty good I think, things become a little sketchy on the other side of William McKinley and the election of 1896… just sayin’) – is that the occurrence of Mercury retrograde during the election happens every 20 years,  with the notable exception of 1920 (missing it by 3 days) and 2020, in which case it’s happening this year instead. The 20-year occurrence pattern also continues on into the future, starting up again 20 years from now in 2032 (more on this a little later).

A brief look back…


Year Sign House Winner – Party
2012 Sagittarius 12th ?????
2000 Scorpio 12th George W. Bush – Republican*
1980 Scorpio 11th Ronald Reagan – Republican
1960 Scorpio 11th John F. Kennedy – Democrat
1940 Scorpio 11th Franklin D. Roosevelt – Democrat
1908 Libra 11th William Howard Taft – Republican
1888 Scorpio 11th Benjamin Harrison – Republican
1868 Scorpio 12th Ulysses S. Grant – Republican
1848 Scorpio 12th Zachary Taylor – Whig

*  This marked only the fourth election in U.S. History in which the eventual winner failed to win the popular vote (the other elections being 1824, 1876, and 1888). The final electoral vote count was 271 for Bush, 266 for Gore. There was the controversy of the awarding of 25 electoral votes from the state of Florida, the hand recount process there, which ended up in the Florida Supreme Court. Bush was not declared the winner until over a month later when Al Gore conceded, on Dec. 13th (click here for a full timeline).

Observations:  So much of astrology is about looking at patterns and then interpreting the symbolic language to see what these patterns might actually mean for us. The 20-year pattern here seems to have a pretty clear and fixed sequence: 5 instances of Mercury retrograde (on U.S. Election Day) spaced apart every 20 years, followed by an instance 12 years later, then back to the 20-year cycles 5 times before another 12-spot. The only place where this doesn’t hold true was in 1920 when the general election was held on November 2nd and Mercury went retrograde on the 5th. Moving forward into the future and looking at the ephemeris, Mercury retrograde on Election Day happens 5 times – in 2032, 2052, 2072, 2092, and 2112 (not the Rush album), and then again 12 years later in 2124 (depending on when the 1st Tuesday in November falls on the calendar).

That Mercury is retrograde in the natal chart of the U.S. and, by transit, is retrograde on Election Day in a fairly consistent sequence suggests, at least to me, that this is something “built-in,” woven into the fabric of the unfolding of this country and its national destiny. There is a link here. There is also another astrological pattern that was discovered during the research and I’ll talk about that too.

If you’ve made it this far and you’re still with me, settle in – I know this is already quite lengthy, but there’s still a ways to go. If you’re wondering where I get to the part where there’s a ‘prediction’ for Tuesday’s election and you just want to skip ahead to “get to the point,” click here


“In 4 the Evening” is the second and current album from Nights on Venus and is available as a digital download on CDBabyiTunesAmazon.mp3Bandcamp and other fine online retailers. On CD through the NoV website.

Follow Craig and NoV on Twitter (@xlntsky) and Facebook.


Author: nightsonvenus

Musician and producer with the band Nights on Venus.

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