The QEuro, the ECB and Mercury go retrograde

On the 22nd of January 2015 the European Central Bank (ECB) is expected to announce so called QE (Quantitative Easing) at its Monetary Policy meeting. It’s expected by “The Market” to embark on a full blown Sovereign Bonds purchase adventure, which to a large degree already has been “priced in” to the exchange rate of the Euro. This is one reason why the Euro has weakened significantly lately, and this trend is expected to continue, especially if the market´s expectation comes true. But will it happen, is this really the decision that ECB is going to announce on Thursday the 22nd?

The same day, early in the morning at about 05:45 CET, Mercury starts a new 3 weeks retrograde journey through the Zodiac. An event that is rumoured to cause or be associated with interruptions in the flow of communications, causing delays of plans and breakage in tech generally, or trouble simply put. May this be an indication the decision, or message to be delivered on Thursday won’t be such a given as Mr. Market seems to believe? I will get back to answering that question as this article progresses. However, before continuing on the subject a few things need some clarification.

Firstly, you may read elsewhere that Mercury turns retrograde already on the 21st, which isn’t quite right but still not totally wrong.  The retrograde phase is preceded by a stationary one ongoing for about 30 hours. During this phase the planet is neither direct nor retrograde but simply stationary i.e. stands still at the same spot without movement. Some like to count this as part of the retrogradation, while I choose not to as I believe it has a significance of its own.

Secondly, understand that the astrology of this event cannot be pinned on this momentarily planetary phenomenon alone. While I believe it has a cosmic imprint of its own, we also need a chart serving as a stage where the drama can play out. This also means that an event like this doesn’t affect everyone – what a drama of chaos that would have been – only beings or organisms/organisations that has a close-to-the-degree connection with the event.

In this case, there are several possible alternatives of charts to use. Do we e.g. want a chart for the Euro or for ECB? I have chosen a chart for the Euro as it seems to be more subjected to the moment than the ECB itself and I will explain more on that relation later when talking about the Ascendant. The chart I prefer for the Euro, the official ceremony of the launch on the forex exchange market (at 04:00 on 4 Jan 1999 in Frankfurt), isn’t the one that is in use by most astrologers. Many seem to prefer the moment the Euro came into legal existence at 00.01 hours 1 Jan. 1999 – probably because that’s the chart singled out by Nicholas Campion in his excellent “The book of World Horoscopes”. I disagree and see that chart playing another role, but that is a side track I won’t follow up on in this text.

Part of my rationale for choosing this chart is that I feel it symbolises the moment of birth in a true sense, presented itself in the open for the first time, as when a baby leaves the protection of the womb. Timed events prior to that are rather like the conception and labour work. I also find it to work better for the Euro as such. There is an even later possible chart, the introduction of coins and notes at midnight on 1 January 2002 but I haven’t found that chart very significant. Instead, it does produce a few transiting aspects to my Euro chart, supporting the type of event as such. But that’s another side track I won’t follow up on here.

Astrological chart wheel of the official launch of The Euro currency The Euro - Official Launch

Mercury retrograde, as already said, is rumoured to be a troublemaker but it’s not the full story. In fact, it would be unfair to point out the retrograde side of Mercury as a ‘bad guy’, instead what comes to my mind giving the picture more depth is the well-known phrase “don’t kill the messenger”.  Because this is really who he is, being retrograde or not, and in this important role he sort of has a natural habit of crossing the line of fire. Thus, we often see Mercury involved in major global events, as well as personal ones, delivering the message that triggers the action which later turns out to be the beginning of a chain of events - usually played out by “the big guys” like Pluto, Saturn etc. This is also something we need to keep in mind here even when it’s not talked about.

The change of motion from direct to retrograde takes place a tad into 17 degrees of Aquarius where it creates a transiting square to the Euro Ascendant on 17 degrees in Scorpio. As mentioned earlier, with an event like this we need to have a close transiting aspect to an important sensitive point, in fact within 1 degree of orb, and there we have it. This is indeed the only aspect that retrograde Mercury makes to the Euro chart, which in my opinion only makes it clearer and even more significant.

The Ascendant is something of a charts “compere”, the master of ceremonies, who not only presents the chart, its internal working mechanism and decisions, to the public. It also functions as the first frontier handling public responses – does it sound alike something fitting in with a press conference and ECB acting as its representative? To me it does. I would say that with the Euro chart the Ascendant pretty much symbolises the Governing Council of the ECB in their role of dealing with Monetary Policy. This also includes their main tool for interacting with the public, the press conference following their Monetary Policy meeting. Note that the ECB also deals with other, non-monetary policy, matters so it would be wrong to apply an equal sign between them.

So, will retrograde Mercury put a spoke in the wheel of ECB’s QE bandwagon? I think it will, but it’s not really my decision to take. My purpose here is rather to surface what’s behind whatever decision they will make, even if I eventually arrive at a conclusion. The expressive power of Mercury in Aquarius may not be that overwhelming or overpowering, and keeping in mind that we are dealing with a Scorpio Ascendant here, certain matters may not come to surface at this occasion. It’s quite cunning though, keep that in mind.

The directly visual signs may just take the shape of delays, technical problems etc. although the potential for something bigger is absolutely there. They may announce QE, but, the final framework or implementation may not be in place yet, may not have been fully agreed up on yet etc. There may be reservations, dissents and there may even be legal complications. Of course, it’s hard to distinguish the sole implication of this planetary event when so much else is going on in the Euro chart, actually. If we expand our view to cover it all, it’s not hard to see that the Euro is in trouble. In this article, however, I will try to minimize that part and focus more on the working mechanism of Mercury to see if there is more going on than first meets the eye.

Initially I gave the impression that Mercury retrograde goes on for about 3 weeks, but that’s not entirely true. The impact of the planetary phenomenon as such actually goes on for about 2 months, during which it “processes” an area of about 16 degrees (of the Zodiac), while passing it 3 times. In fact, at large Mercury spends more time in this kind of “processing” than not, which can be important to notice when evaluating its impact in a chart. If we are lucky, and this time we are, it can even tell a little story of its own.

The start of this area, or zone, is the point where Mercury later ends its retrograde motion to station before moving in forward direction again. This is a tad into 1 degree Aquarius and the initial passage here happened already on the 5th of January this year. Fast forwarding now to have a peek in to the future; the final exit of the area, the closure, when Mercury in direct motion again passes 17 degrees of Aquarius, takes place on the 3rd of March – only 2 days before the next Monetary Policy meeting of the ECB’s Governing Council. I will get back to that, but now let’s first travel back in time.

The Euro exchange rate has been on a steady decline since the 8th of May 2014, which was triggered by the transiting Moon crossing the Euro chart’s Mc, the Sun crossing the charts Descendant, during a time when Neptune was already transiting its Ic (since Feb.) and Pluto is about to embrace the chart’s Sun. All these transits are by conjunction, if that isn’t clear. This isn’t directly related to the event we are primarily looking at here, but still connected as it represents the preceding development. It’s also important to understand that the passage of Mercury retrograde isn’t an isolated incident, even if in a way I’m looking at it as if it was. And of course, I am aware the Euro crises didn’t start there but these and earlier defining moments don´t belong in this article.

Returning to present time, almost, Mercury entered into the retrograde zone beginning at 1 degree Aquarius on the 5th of January. What haven’t been said so far is that on this degree we also find the Euro chart’s “native” Neptune. So, by entering in to this zone Mercury also makes a transiting aspect to Neptune by conjunction.

So what happened on this day and the ones following? News of inflation data came out of Germany, which just wasn’t good but also worse than expected – immediately weakening the Euro. News in media about polls putting left wing party Syriza well in the lead for the 25th of January Greece elections – raising fears again about the so called “Grexit”, a catchy short form for Greece exiting the EMU (European Monetary Union aka. the Eurozone). At the same time, news articles appear with officials saying that a Grexit would now be manageable – adding confusion to the picture. All expressions we can easily associate with the planetary combination of Mercury and Neptune.

Moving forward to the 14/15th of January, Mercury is now passing over (conjunct) native Uranus and what happens? The Swiss National Bank (SNB) has since 3 ½ years maintained a so called peg, a “promise” that by no means allow the Euro to weaken more than to 1.20 Euro per 1 Swiss Franc. And as late as the 5th of January (cough cough) the SNB vice chair was out in media telling that the peg “was the pillar of SNB’s monetary policy”. Well, that was obviously a (Neptune) lie, because early Thursday morning financial markets were shocked by a demolition ball smashing that pillar in one surprising blow as SNB removed the peg! The decision, though, seems to have been taken on Wednesday. The result: The Euro lost as much as 30% of its value against “The Swiss” and about 15-20% against other major currencies like the Dollar, Pound etc. A massive turmoil in the forex market with lots of people losing money. Not only people, but several forex brokers and so called hedge funds were flushed down the drain. In fact, the damage of this event is far from accounted for at this point in time. Again we are given a message that is a perfect match with the planets involved, and one showing its worst side.

The action by SNB obviously came as a pre-emptive/preventive move to the one expected by ECB the upcoming Thursday. While this move certainly had repercussions far beyond the Euro, which still are to surface in due time, that is outside the scope of this text. However, the Euro embodied by the Eurozone nations makes up the world’s largest common market as well as being the second largest economy in the world, thus, the aftermatch effects are likely to be larger than a salvo from a single barrel gun. Time will tell more on that subject and don’t forget that Mercury yet has to cross this point twice before hasting forward to its next assignment.

This brings us back to the centreline of the drama, the Mercury stationary holdup followed by its retreat on the 21st and 22nd of January, and the decision by ECB about to QE or not to QE? Yes, I have already asked that question once and gave some sort of answer, but just as I don’t believe they will give a simple yes or no, nor will I do it here. Of course, the decision about QE or not doesn’t boil down alone to the events taking place or developments during this Mercury retrograde phase, although I believe they play an important role when it comes to the timing. Indeed, here I’m truly more interested in the process than the answer, although I am going to come to a conclusion.

It’s not my intention to have a closer look at the Euro chart as such in this article, but to get a more complete picture we need to know that native Saturn aspects all of Venus, Mercury and Mars. It does so by square, trine and opposition in mentioned planetary order. We have here something of a blue print for ECB’s policy decisions, often to be early in the assessment and outspoken about that they will act if need be, but when reality catches up their actions always seem to be behind the curve, so to speak. Of course, it’s not to wonder when you have 18, now 19, individuals that need to reach an agreement before taking action.

It’s worth mentioning here that while decisions indeed are taken by a vote with simple majority, ECB has an unwritten codex to strive for consensus. While more transparency seems to be on its way, for a long time the ECB, in form of the Euro’s director, truly have lived by and behind the secret nature of its Scorpio Ascendant. Often proudly close to bragging about this uniformity of consensus, but we can tell from the chart’s Uranus/Moon opposition this has never really been the case. It has just been contained, up till now. Not until Mr. Draghi took over as Chair have we heard of things like “lively discussions”.

Come Thursday and we will most likely get a hybrid of decision. There may be an official decision about QE, pretty much not to further upset the markets – but the ECB is truly a stubborn body, so maybe not.  The real decision detailing the implementation will most likely not come until next meeting, though, after this “retro drama” will have played out. To be honest, there are really too many parameters involved, pulling in various directions, to be sure of anything.

ECB Monetary Policy meeting - Press conference 22-01-2015 ECB Monetary Policy meeting - Press conference 22-01-2015

All logic says it will be now, but I still lean towards later. Both ways, it will come and it will come with complications. The way I see it though is that it will come too late anyway. The Euro Ic has been wrapped in the mist of Neptune beginning a conjunction in the spring 2013 and it has just left it behind letting go of its weakening spell. This would have been the natural and most effective time for any type of measure like QE. Instead the ECB stubbornly choses a set of half measure compromises contributing to strengthening the currency, despite repeated bad news and a darkening economic picture. As a result it was left with a confusing imbalance, undermining and weakening governing systems, and even democracy, something that will take years to sort out.

In this respect I believe the ECB has failed miserably, although in all fairness, this also counts for the governments and politicians it ultimately serves. I will refrain from giving a verdict on the Euro as such and its future, in this article, but admittedly it doesn’t look so good. Staying with the more close range happenings, there are still a few more observations to be made, though.

Late on Wednesday evening, short off midnight, will the transiting Sun enter into the retrograde “battle zone”, meeting with native Neptune at the same time. This is probably nothing that will stir up shockwaves in a direct way. It may indicate a late meeting though, probably with purpose to make way for further “easing” - which is branch/bank talk for pouring more electronic money into the financial system. With Neptune being the watermark for weakness and undermining support, this is if nothing else a sign that the Euro exchange rate may weaken while the world is waiting for the ECB decision.

Looking forward, beyond the upcoming Thursday, we have Mercury sweeping back to pass over native Uranus again at midnight to Friday, 30 January. At the same time the Sun (Draghi?) is approaching the same point (place?) from the other direction, but arriving first early Saturday morning. However, in the middle of it all the 2 will meet during Friday afternoon, one leaving, one approaching as it appears. Well this is almost as a small planetary playful dance and maybe that’s all there is to it. However, we shouldn’t forget the Scorpio Ascendant that is the face of the Euro, and the ECB in its role as it “Master of ceremonies”. Meaning that many or most matters are handled in the unseen and certainly the most important ones. Make of it what you want but keep an eye on this weekend if the Euro is important to your living. Surprising things may happen that are no surprises at all.

It’s tempting to speculate about the outcome of various planetary influences, and that’s really all we can do. It’s nothing but a misconception that the planets involved in the astrological drama dictate what will materialize on the surface of the Earth. It’s more like they provide a scenery of certain energies available to our disposal. It is then up to us to use and make the best out of it by directing our own will. However, very much due to certain mechanisms in our human psyche it’s often possible to foresee a likely outcome as the influences of these energies tend to bend us in a certain way. In other words, astrology is not above the cosmic law of cause and effect in any way. In fact, it pretty much depends and counts on it.

Oh, I have almost forgotten - there are so many various parameters involved – that weekend transiting Mercury will also move into opposition with the Euro native Moon in Leo, indicating a powerful woman will also be involved, or one leading what she represents. The involvement will most likely be by distance and not in person at site, but she is obviously against or at least not on the same page. Now, who can that be and how much influence does she really has?

From another angle, the Moon can also represent a Nation or the expression of its people´s will. This awakes thoughts about Greece and their election of the 25th as a possible cause for weekend turmoil, but it doesn’t seem to have much of an impact on the Euro situation, from what I can see. Still may have to be managed in some way, but at least at this point it shouldn’t be more than a blip, at most.

So what will the weekend meeting be about, and what does it add to the picture when transiting Uranus squares the Euro chart’s Sun on 1st of February, followed by the transiting Sun on the 6th passing out through the 17 degrees Aquarius gate, disappearing into the future? The prerequisites for either something surprising or dramatic, drastic or even shocking, are certainly there. The symbolic picture reminds a lot of someone walking out the door, and not gently. Most likely by his/her own decision but indirectly giving way for a forceful pressure working in the background. As I didn’t want it to be the main subject of this text, earlier it was only mentioned briefly but behind it all we can see Pluto playing its power game of sort.

Pluto passed over (conjunct) the Euro Sun the first time in March 2014 and stayed close to it for 2 months as it also turned retrograde, to conjunct it again in May. The very first days of January 2015 it was back there again, now moving direct and at this time distancing itself with a few degrees. However, come late summer to autumn 2015 and it will be back for the last visit, be it for better or worse… It all comes down to how the ones involved in this power game will play their cards. With these dynamics in motion it makes more sense to have a closer look after the approaching events. It looks as something of a show down, but if it is an end game remains to be seen.

Mercury makes its last station before then turning direct again on the 9-10 February where it almost gets in a close up with the natal Neptune. Meaning it doesn’t really get all the way down to “touch” Neptune, just a really close by peek. This may indicate something to be a close call and actually something we will actually never come to hear about. However, if there is some kind of official statement or claim from a Euro official, you can be pretty sure that it’s close to the opposite or something of a so-called white lie. Maybe it will just be a rumour… By the way, it’s worth mentioning that there certainly can be lighter expressions as a result of these influences. However, the ongoing grinding in the background of Plutonic forces make this less likely.

We know what happened last time Mercury joined forces with Uranus in the Euro chart. Will something similar happen as they meet again on 26 February? Let’s hope not. Assuming we now have a very different situation than earlier, maybe someone gets a bright idea and does something good with the genius kind of energy these two are able to generate in pair. Although if still asleep, Uranus always has a way to wake you up!

I am approaching the end game, for this article, as Mercury on the 3 March is passing over that point in the Zodiac which marks the end of the retrograde zone. Normally, this shouldn’t be cause for a big drama as if all is well, at best we get a receipt for work well done. Otherwise, we may be noticed about details regarding items still undone on our to-do-list, and may get a chance to fix them. So what could possibly be left?

It was here, sort of, it all took centre stage… I mean, will take centre stage, with reference back to the beginning of this text and the ECB Monetary Policy meeting with its following press conference, as mentioned in the beginning of this text. What I also talked about in the beginning was how Mercury at this position established a square aspect to the Euro chart’s Ascendant in Scorpio. However, if we are really nitty-gritty to the detail that transit didn’t really take place at that stage, because the Ascendant is a few arc minutes of a degree further on than where Mercury stations.

So it stops and then turns around, just short of making that first 90 degree exact contact. In fact, quite similar to what it later does with Neptune before turning direct again, except for the transit is by conjunction that time. Does it matter? I would say, both yes and no, especially in this situation. The aspects are certainly there both times and will have an impact. It’s close enough for that. However, there is a fine-tuned symbolic sophistication to the whole matter, as we will see, and which I also believe will come to show in real.

The final touch of this retrograde business, or what to call it, will likely come as Mercury now really establishes that square and does it just as the ECB sits down for its next Monetary Policy meeting on Cyprus the 5th of March. It’s almost one can come to believe that some master director is behind the whole thing! This shows these 2 meetings are closely connected with each other, and whatever is opened up or decided at the first one, will probably not be final and settled until the second one. So there may very well be a decision for QE in the first, if nothing else because the pressure for it is so high, but at the same time not, or with such ramifications and provisions that it’s not really clear what it is – but it may still be called QE. It may also be postponed altogether, but probably not without throwing a bone to the QE mob.

Finally, what is really going on behind that Scorpio Ascendant may remain as anyone’s guess for still some time. There really isn’t any way to look through it, you simply have to wait until it decides to present itself. Well, we aren’t talking about a person here, more of a phenomenon, in the form of a currency. The ECB press conference is the Euro’s main way to express itself directly, and in a controlled way, in comparison to its exchange rate which is more a way of expression by reaction i.e. Moon related.

So while we are waiting for the press conference, which will possibly have us waiting for the next one to get a more complete answer, there is one more thing I believe adds something interesting to the picture. I am a big fan, and lucky owner, of late Dane Rudhyar’s book “An Astrological Mandala: The cycle of transformations and its 360 symbolic phases”, also known as the “Sabian symbols”. It lets us look at each individual degree in the Zodiacal circle, applying a situational image and while one shouldn’t always read them too literally, sometimes they are really down to the point.

If we look at the degrees involved here, we get some quite interesting pictures. In the book there are further explanations on the psychology behind the headline image, but I will only present the headline here. I leave the rest to your own imagination for an image really has its own story to tell for each of us.

So to begin with, for the first stationary hold in the retrograde process, 17 degree Aquarius (which is actually the 18th degree), we have “A man’s secret motives are being publicly unmasked”. Keep in mind, Mercury is still there at the time of the press conference. For the second station, where Mercury changes to a direct motion again, 1 degree Aquarius, we have “An unexpected thunderstorm”. The position of the transiting Sun at the time of the press conference on the 22nd, 2 degrees Aquarius gives us “A deserter from the navy”.

As for a time stamp on Thursday representing the expression or the voice of the ECB, it’s a hard call to make whether to choose the policy announcement message at 13.45 or the press conference at 14.30 as both have significance. But as the ECB have always been very punctual with the presser starting time, I have chosen the latter as it tends to have a stronger impact on the market and it’s also a “live” expression. This allows us to also pin down on such fast moving points as the Moon and Ascendant.

The Moon comes in at the 1st degree of Pieces and so does Mc, both then sharing the image “In a crowded marketplace farmers and middlemen display a great variety of products” and I leave that one without comment as well, even if I do feel very tempted. Instead, let’s finally have a look at the Ascendant at 3 degrees in Cancer – “A cat arguing with a mouse” – which is something of my personal favourite, not only because I’m a great admirer of cats.

I think the last one is quite crucial and to support my final conclusion I will also give the keynote from the book. It says “An attempt at self-justification” and to this I read in that the press conference will be much about ECB explaining and justifying its decision – or may it be its decision to not (to QE?)? Well, it makes sense. There are deeply rooted reasons why they haven’t done it already, during a period they should have, to get maximum effect. They have a history of being late, drag their feet or “kick the can” down the road.  A major reason is of course that the whole construct of the Euro, as currently implemented, goes against the nature in several ways.

Further so, with oil prices having declined drastically lately, and with the SNB put to remove the Euro peg just a week earlier, they have basically got a penalty kick to hit that can once again. Presenting everything as if it was ready and repeating their age-old mantra that “The ECB stands ready to act, if needed” which then possibly will be at the next meeting in Cyprus. A lot can happen in 6 weeks, and while I’m not ready to bet my house on it (which would be foolish anyway) as I may have read it all wrong – it seems very plausible to me.

ECB Monetary Policy Meeting - Press conference 5-3-2015 ECB Monetary Policy Meeting - Press conference 5-3-2015

Here it would be natural to switch over and look at some of these images for the Euro chart itself, but this article is already  quite long and they will also come handy in my next article, specifying more on the Euro, its history, its role for Europe as well for the world, and of course its future (fall?).

Joakim Schramm

Update: As the transiting Sun is passing over the Euro natal Neptune, happening right now, we see something that I may have missed above. A fiery injection of rumours and misleading/confusing information steaming around. The initial reaction of this was a drastic fall in the Euro, soon followed by a rapid appreciation and this will probably continue while we are approaching the time for the main event.

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The Euro - Official Launch Chart