Mercury Square Pluto Retrograde

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

Pondering the summer retrogrades, heralded and enfolded by Pluto’s long regression, I was struck by the mythological significance of the final aspect made to Pluto before he turns backwards. Today Mercury squares Pluto, prior to and holding position as Pluto comes to a stop for his annual retrograde. Mercury guides the souls to the underworld, the realm Pluto rules. What argument is taking place with Mercury square Pluto retrograde? In today’s astro-limerick, I explore the mythology and propose my interpretation.

See select Lunchtime Astro-Limericks here or all of them on my Instagram.

Friday, April 24, 2020 Lunchtime Astro-Limerick

Mercury squares off at the gates of hell
He guides out of life every soul who fell
Pluto fights
For burial rites
But the living find peace with the tales they tell

Summer 2020 Retrogrades

Tomorrow Pluto turns retrograde. During Pluto’s retrograde, Saturn, Venus, Jupiter, and Mercury each have a full retrograde cycle. Pluto ushers in this sequence, and sees it out again. These other four planets are in the embrace of Pluto’s retrograde, which backdrops their experience.

The Pluto retrograde cycle is an annual occurrence, and because he’s retrograde for over five months at a time, this retrograde cycle is a matter of course. Typical for the ruler of the underworld.

The mythological Pluto rules the underworld. He hoards the riches of the earth, precious metals and gems. He also hoards the souls of the dead, forbidding them to return to the daylit world above.

But there is the story of one who harrows the depths of hell and returns: Inanna, Persephone, Orpheus, Christ. Some are able to rescue souls from the underworld. The successful rescue or return adds the meaning of death and rebirth, or transformation, for this planet.

Mercury Square Pluto Retrograde

Mercury square Pluto retrograde pits the guide of souls against the Lord of the Underworld. What is their disagreement about? Get the bite-sized #lunchtimeastrolimerick and commentary.
Adolf Hirémy-Hirschl ( 1860 -1933), Souls on the Banks of the Acheron, 1898, Belvedere Palace and Museum, Vienna.

One interesting feature is that Mercury squares Pluto on the day of his retrograde. Mercury, the Greek Hermes, conflated with the Egyptian Anubis under the name Hermanubis, is the guide of souls into the underworld.

In this case, the one who guides the dead is in a standoff with the ruler of the dead. What does Mercury protest? Or is it Pluto who blocks the way in? Mythology tells us that Pluto fights for the right of every soul to have a proper burial. Pluto requires the rituals of the dead, which we are forced to omit in the current health cry-for-help.

Retrogrades are about returning, reviewing, redoing. And maybe there will be a chance to hold memorials, funerals, and burials during the season of the retrogrades. Retrogrades are also remembering.

To dismember is to break a body apart. To remember is to put it together again. Remembering the deceased makes them as whole as they’ll ever need to be to cross into the underworld, guided by the planet of words. Write, speak, and sing of the dead to send them to their rest.

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Joy Vernon
Joy Vernon

Joy Vernon is widely recognized as an expert tarot teacher and respected community leader. With over twenty-five years’ experience teaching energetic and esoteric modalities, Joy brings expertise and practiced familiarity to her specialty of esoteric tarot, which layers astrological and qabalistic symbolism onto the traditional tarot structure. Under her leadership, the Denver Tarot Meetup grew into one of the largest and most active tarot-specific meetups in the world. Now Joy runs the Greater Seattle Tarot Meetup. Joy works as a tarot reader, astrologer, and teacher in Burien, Washington. To learn more, please visit

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