An Ear To The Ground

Posted by Len Wallick


When Mercury in Virgo enters its shadow (or echo) phase tomorrow, both its timing and position will imply an advantage for anybody who keeps a metaphorical ear to the ground. Len Wallick describes what an especially productive period this could be for gathering information that will help you make changes in your life.

There’s an old saying about keeping an ear to the ground. There is also a truth in the aphorism. Generally speaking, the denser the medium, the faster sound travels through it. That’s how actually placing your ear in contact with the ground can give you data before you could receive it through the air.


Maintaining an ear to the ground is also a figure of speech for being especially alert and attentive. As such, it’s an appropriate metaphor to employ when Mercury is moving through what astrologers call its first ‘shadow’ (or ‘echo’) phase prior to retrograde.

That phase begins shortly before 7:30 am EDT (11:23:43 UTC) tomorrow and continues until Mercury shifts into reverse on Aug. 30. You can think of the phenomenon in terms of both space and time.

Spatially, the shadow begins when Mercury in direct motion first passes the zodiac degree where its next retrograde will eventually come to an end (with a pivot back to direct motion again). To help you visualize it, think of a windshield wiper on an automobile. The wiper’s first swipe is the first shadow phase and the second swipe (which returns the wiper to its starting position) is the retrograde. That’s how it works on the zodiac.

Tomorrow, Mercury’s first swipe begins smack in the middle of Virgo. Mercury will then continue in direct motion until it reaches the very last degree of Virgo where its retrograde will begin. From there, Mercury will backtrack, returning to mid-Virgo on Sept. 22.

After that, a resumption of direct motion will carry Mercury over the second half of Virgo a third and final time. That will begin the concluding echo phase, before Mercury finally moves on to new territory (and into Libra) after Oct. 6.

In terms of time, the first of Mercury’s three swipes usually takes more than two weeks, but less than three. From an astrologer’s point of view, it’s typically a period you can put to good use if you have your ear to the ground for any foreshadowing (so to speak). Given the part of the zodiac Mercury is about to begin tracing and retracing, the results of monitoring events with extra care should be more than just typically productive.

First off, Virgo is one of two signs (along with Gemini) where Mercury is said to rule. That’s another way of saying that the earthly manifestations of Mercury can be expected to express strongly while Mercury is moving through Virgo. Among the many worldly phenomena associated with versatile Mercury is information.

What’s more, the midpoint of Virgo is the one degree in all of the zodiac where Mercury is exalted. In other words, the already strong expression of Mercury in Virgo can be expected to be even further amplified and most highly focused when Mercury is at that particularly sweet spot.

Additionally, consider the combination of element (earth) and quality (mutability) that distinguishes Virgo from the other eleven signs. Among other things, the specific amalgam of earth and mutability implies that any time Mercury spends in Virgo can be an especially productive period to gather information for the purpose of making changes in your life.

Finally, consider just two ways the beginning of Mercury’s shadow phase tomorrow connects holistically with the rest of the zodiac. Once again, employ concepts of space and time.

Spatially, Mercury at the midpoint of Virgo tomorrow will be in a precise trine aspect with Pluto in the cardinal earth sign Capricorn. A trine is a separation of 120 degrees.


Our exciting new 12-sign Midyear Reading on forthcoming astrology, including Jupiter in Libra (plus much more!) is available for pre-order. Get all 12 signs here for $57.

That particular geometric relationship clearly implies a flow of grounded and substantial power available to anybody who has an ear to the ground. In addition, the Moon (which entered Scorpio earlier today) will move to 90 degrees of separation (a square aspect) from the Leo Sun tomorrow for its first quarter phase — just seven hours after Mercury enters its shadow phase.

Among other things appropriate to accomplish during a lunar first quarter is a leveraging of your awareness. Doing so would include action on your part.

Specifically entailed would be your acting to become more conscious of what’s going on both inside and outside of you, and then putting that information to work to become stronger and more highly evolved once the square aspect has passed.

In view of the fact that the Moon moves rather swiftly, timing is important when it comes to lunar aspects. Any ear to the proverbial ground could thus make a big difference tomorrow, and even possibly result in an easier time for you during the rest of our current lunar cycle, which will end less than 48 hours after Mercury’s retrograde begins.

So do what you can to keep your eyes, ears and other senses more open and connected beginning tomorrow. Strive to keep yourself well informed. Try to be especially proactive when it comes to gathering information that strikes you as useful or advantageous as regards to addressing any unanswered questions or unresolved tensions you are left with after today.

Chances are that any effort you expend keeping your ear to the ground for the rest of this month will be returned to you as even more substantial insights once September begins.

Offered In Service

Posted in Columnist on | 3 comments
Len Wallick

About Len Wallick

Besides endeavoring to be of service to all of you here at Planet Waves, Len strives to live in Seattle while working as a professional astrologer. To contact him for an astrology reading you can send an e-mail to: His telephone number is 206-356-5467. In addition to his profession, Len contributes to the Seattle community without monetary compensation by serving as a Reiki practitioner and teacher through classes and outreach offered by the Seattle Reiki Mastery Series modality.

3 thoughts on “An Ear To The Ground

  1. chief niwot's sonchief niwot's son

    Thanks Len, an ear to the ground while traveling the West tomorrow. The timing of this Retro is significant, and appreciate knowing that it begins with Pluto in the huddle.

  2. aWord

    Understanding the Three Swipes Method of Mercury Retro is a great way to be sure about utilizing the power of the movement, Len. This is a compressed few weeks for me (I don’t know when it hasn’t been, but hey! I’m only observing the present moment) so your sage wisdom will welcome –and with thanks.

  3. Barbara Koehler

    I hear something Len. . . I know I do. It’s Mercury and you made it so. Fourteen Virgo on August 9th is where Mercury was when your piece was published, and fourteen Virgo is where Mercury will be on September 22 when he stations direct. I’ve not figured this all out yet, but at the time Mercury stations direct at 14+ Virgo he will be trine transiting Pluto at 14+ Capricorn retrograde.

    Transiting Mercury will also be semi-sextile the U.S. natal Sibly Saturn at 14+ Libra. Transiting Pluto will square the U.S. Sibly Saturn at 14+ Libra. Donald Trump’s natal Chiron-conjunct-Juno is also at 14+ Libra. Therefore, transiting Pluto will also square Donald’s Chiron and Juno!

    Transiting Mercury makes his 1st of 3 conjunctions to transiting Jupiter this month while moving in direct motion. Their 2nd conjunction in September happens during Mercury’s retrograde. Their 3rd and final conjunction happens in October, both planets direct and now in Libra. Transiting Pluto will still be at 14+ Capricorn (now direct), square the U.S. Saturn and square the Donald’s Chiron-conjunct-Juno. My thinking is that Mercury and Jupiter – in this new cycle that is taking many weeks to get under way – will be leading us through a healing process. Their 1st conjunction puts them opposite transiting Chiron.

    You know how Chiron forces us to become aware of a problem through pain and no doubt Donald is a pain to most of us, but this looks like Donald is trying (unconsciously of course) to heal a U.S. problem (via his natal Chiron-Juno) that is expressed through the symbolism of the U.S. Saturn. I believe this Mercury retrograde is going to double down on making the U.S. (all those who vote anyway) aware of what it is that needs healing in order to get rid of this gross wound on the U.S. body politic.

    I would think the place to start is (U.S.) Saturn symbolizing restriction. The U.S. Saturn is symbolic of the nation’s established order and my guess is that Donald’s Chiron and Juno symbolize the pain and the less-than-equal feeling his followers feel due to U.S. Saturn restriction (law). I believe that Mercury, specifically through the process of Mercury’s retrograde and his cycle with Jupiter, is making us (as a whole) conscious of what this ghastly open wound, symbolized by Donald Trump, represents. How to go about that is tantamount to re-fighting the Civil War.

    Interestingly, during the course of Mercury’s retrograde period, and the long overture of the new Mercury-Jupiter cycle, and Pluto’s (last) stay (and station direct) in the 14+ degree of Capricorn, will have the transiting nodes exactly square the U.S. Sibly chart’s ascendant-descendant axis. Right now I’m thinking that this North Node in Virgo, along with Mercury’s retrograde within the bounds of Virgo has much to say about overcoming this national dilemma.

    Finally, the semi-sextile such as the one between stationing-direct Mercury and U.S. Saturn, has an interesting interpretation by F. Sakoian and L. Acker in the book The Minor Aspects where they say. . .
    “the semi-sextile always links a positive masculine sign with a feminine-receptive sign, indicating a harmonizing influence between the masculine and feminine polarities in the individual’s expression. The individual is capable of initiating action and dealing with those conditions which he attracts without aggressive effort on his own part. There is the ability to express both of these qualities at the appropriate time and in the appropriate way.”

    If this is so, Mercury’s trine to Pluto (stationing direct 4 days after his own station direct) might be mitigating the devastation normally associated with a Pluto square (in this case Pluto’s square to the U.S. Saturn and Trump’s Chiron-Juno) as he (Mercury) semi-sextiles the U.S. Saturn. Will ponder this for a while and if you have any thoughts about it I’d love to hear them.

Leave a Reply