Mercury’s Summer Retrograde Is of Rare and Magical Nature

June 14, 2020

Mercury stations retrograde on June 17 at 14°46’ Cancer and will station direct on July 12 at 5°30’ Cancer.

Mercury doesn’t suffer any significant problems with dignity in Cancer, where he feels merely comfortable. So, while the usual retrograde issues with communication, movement, and commerce will be present, they won’t feel especially intense. Since we are navigating a water sign, these challenges may actually be going on more internally than externally. So, it may even be that you find yourself jousting windmills, creating problems where none really existed because of previous programming.

Watch especially for familial conditioning, as it could crop up in disguise, leading you down side-roads you thought you’d long since outgrown. As Cancer is a cardinal sign, much of the outer world tension may be around leadership and direction. If doubts exist about leaders or the direction they’re taking, these could become exacerbated now. This could ultimately be a good thing, provided the issue gets dealt with and cleared up.

When we look at some of the smaller divisions of the zodiac, Mercury actually rules over a couple of these sub-sections of Cancer, and this is caused to think this retrograde could even yield some productive results. The decans are ten-degree divisions that actually pre-date the existence of signs and so often point to both fated events and a kind of primordial magic that allows us to change these fates.

Because Mercury rules the second decan of Cancer (from 10-20°), and much of the retrograde occurs here, this represents a window where fate is more fluid. It may be that the things we felt were destined or fated to go a certain way can be changed. If you’ve given up on certain things as ill-fated, it may actually be worth giving them a second chance if things change and progress seems possible.

Additionally, there are smaller zones (called terms or bounds) within each sign where planets have an easier time because they have power of autonomy and can define the terms, limits, and rules of engagement. Mercury rules the terms or bounds from 13-19° of Cancer, and this is where the retrograde station occurs. We should read this as a mandate to challenge the conventional rules, terms, or limits at some point during this retrograde. Not only are rules made to be broken, and often have exceptions—but they also need to be changed and updated from time to time. As new information becomes available, the old rules are subsumed by new ones. And this is one of those times.

Mercury retrograde in Cancer 2020—Astrological aspects

May 28: Mercury first enters Cancer
June 4: Mercury at maximum elongation (begins to slow down)
June 18: Mercury stations retrograde at 14°46’ Cancer
June 30: Mercury conjunct the sun (closest to Earth)
July 12: Mercury stations direct at 5°30’ Cancer
July  22: Mercury at maximum elongation (begins to speed up)
August 5: Mercury finally leaves Cancer

Mercury retrograde in Cancer Meaning

Mercury repeats three aspects during this retrograde, all of them to volatile planets or stars. In the order of most to least challenging, there are three squares to Mars, three conjunctions to the fixed star Sirius, and three sextiles to Uranus. All of these provide opportunities, but we may have to work a lot harder for it with the first two.
First, let’s look at the three squares Mercury makes with Mars. The square is of a similar nature to Mars, that is, divisive and challenging. Because the first square is in a different sign, these three events are likely to carry a common theme—but one that occurs in two very different stages. Watch for any quarrels or challenges which arise around the first square on May 11, but don’t imagine there is an immediate solution. Instead, try to listen and understand very clearly what is, and what isn’t, going on.

Ask questions rather than make demands. Especially question the rules, limits, and terms of engagement, at least enough to buy some wiggle room. The other two squares in July (while retrograde on the 8 and in direct motion on the 27) seem to be about working out and working through the quarrel or challenge. Since the final square occurs with Mercury in its own decan and bounds, we can read this as the possibility for changing fate through a clever re-frame of the rules, limits or terms of engagement—which provides much more operating room going forward.
Another aspect repeated during this retrograde is three conjunctions to the brightest star in the sky, Sirius. In classic magical lore, Sirius is said to confer favor and bring peace and concord. During this retrograde, Mercury stations retrograde within a degree of Sirius.

This is a rare event that only happens this closely once every 79 years. This grants the ability both to make peace and to secure favor, but comes with the caution of getting too close or too attached to power and “burning out.” The first conjunction is on June 15, the second (in retrograde motion) is on June 21, and the final conjunction is later, on July 26.
The final aspect Mercury repeats during this retrograde is three sextiles to Uranus, the planet of technology. The sextile is a harmonious aspect and Uranus in Taurus is redefining technology as a basic resource. Those with access to the best technology are finding themselves with significant advantages in the new sharing economy. So, these three sextiles may show the need for technological updates, or in learning to get the most out of the technology you already have. In either case, reading the manual, taking a class, or talking to those knowledgeable about the tools you use most often will pay off in the long run.

Mercury retrograde effects

Most intense for water signs: Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces
Your identity, creativity, and philosophy have all been in flux for more than a year now. You should be used to it by now and have some pretty good ideas about where you’re going with these, and are currently in the testing mode. Trying out new options and creating backup plans sounds boring—until one of them doesn’t work at a crucial time. So, having a plan C is a great idea.

Most challenging for fire signs: Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius
You’ve been re-working things in the areas of home, shared resources, and spirituality over the last year or so. Hopefully, you’ve been taking it slow and keeping your cool and this has allowed you to deepen connections with members of your biological, marriage/business, and spiritual family or community. These connections are still tender, so don’t damage them now by pushing too hard or blowing up.

Practical magic to harness the best of this transit

Water is known as the universal solvent because of its ability to dissolve most substances. This means that wherever water goes it brings along earth—in the form of valuable chemicals, minerals, and nutrients, known as solutes. A related quality of water is revealed through the process of osmosis, where water tends to go from areas of low concentration of solutes to areas of higher concentration in order to equalize them.

Similarly, you may have an opportunity to dissolve a problem or challenge by completely saturating it with supportive emotional energy and letting this gently dissolve any fixed or stubborn qualities to make the resources trapped within more readily available or useful.

Conversely, you might find that by simply moving your attention away from scarcity (the problem) and toward places already high in concentration (where things are running relatively smoothly), you can actually serve to free up and balance psychic energy in a way that naturally flushes out whatever toxins or detritus was in the way. Then when you come back to the problem, it’s much more solve-able.

Horoscopes for Mercury retrograde in Cancer 2020


Hopefully, you’ve been able to improve or deepen relations with at least one family member over the last year. If it seems this has come at the cost of another relationship falling off a bit, I wouldn’t worry about it too much just yet. There’s still a chance things might even out of their own accord, so don’t create problems by trying too hard with someone who may simply just need some space. Stay with what’s working, unless someone reaches out.


Hopefully, you’ve been having some important conversations over the last year and are feeling more confident in your ability to be vulnerable. You might even try asking others if there’s anything they need to get off their chest as well. Just be sure you are committed to really being there for them because cutting out, giving unsolicited advice, or not really hearing them could muck up the new channel you’ve created.


Hopefully, you’ve discovered some new resources over the last year, particularly the intangible ones like patience, empathy and nurturing—particularly self-care. Whatever you’ve discovered within yourself, I’m sure there’s a lot more of it available to you than you realize. You may just need to clear some more space to let it bubble up from the depths.


Hopefully, you’ve been able to find a dark place to hide away and cast off your old shell over the last year. If so, then you could be feeling particularly vulnerable and can be forgiven for just wanting to hide away during this retrograde. But if your new shell feels comfortable already, then it could be time to get out and show it off a little—even if only to friends and family.


Hopefully, you’ve been carving out some moments to retreat and re-charge over the last year. If your spiritual practice is thriving, you may want to consider joining with others who share your particular path. As long as you leave enough space for adjustments, even traveling for this purpose may be rewarding at this time.


Hopefully, you’ve been making new friends and joining new groups over the last year—particularly ones that encourage your inner processes. You may find that this process is ready to go to the next level, where you learn to share even deeper and more intimate parts of yourself more readily and freely, without worries about judgment or not getting it right.


How is the career re-model coming along, dear Libra? You may have adjusted somewhat to the messiness, but are you getting what you want out of it? Remember, you have to live with it for another six to seven years, so be careful of allowing too much “good enough” to just get through and done with it. Call on a partner for help, if you need it.


With your ruler Mars squaring Mercury three times you may find yourself quite edgy—and you’re already known for that quality. You could use this tension to get a lot done and even push through into new territory. But be careful of over-doing it—especially if your body is telling you to slow down and rest. An unexpected mental health day or three may serve to remind people just how valuable you are.


It looks like there’s a considerable influx of creative or risk-taking energy available to you, especially in the later stages of this retrograde. So, hopefully, you’ve made some new business or investment contacts over the last year, because it looks like someone could be investing in your creativity or you could be investing some extra dough in hopes of making a quick buck.


It looks like there’s quite a bit of tension on the home-front and with relationships this time around. While staying late at the office (again) may be the simplest way to avoid conflicts in the short term, it’s probably not going to solve them in the long term. People need to know that you care enough to make them and their needs a priority—especially when it’s difficult.


It looks like you need to minimize distractions in order to get some work done, and yet the communications hot board is all lit up. Taking some e-mail and social media free days may help a little, but ultimately you need to pare down on unnecessary tasks that you can actually do without altogether. Create a list of what’s most important and try simply stopping doing one or more of the things at the bottom.


It looks like you may need to spend some money to make some money. Rather than just reactively playing whack-a-mole, I suggest you think through what investments are most likely to bring the best return and start there. And if something hasn’t been bringing in the return you want, don’t spend any more time or money on it than you have to—and that may be zero.

Gary P. Caton is a transdisciplinary astrologer who maintains an active sacred relationship with the living Sky as his temple. Initiated an astrologer by a magnificent dream in 1993, Gary is the author of Hermetica Triptycha: The Mercury Elemental Year, and host of the popular Hermetic Astrology Podcast. Find Gary online at 

Art by Ema Rodriguez