Astrologer Laura Craig

Mercury Retrograde in Cancer: Synchronicity and the Sacred Beetle

Egyptian Polychrome Painted Cartonnage, Winged Scarab

June 18 - July 12, 2020 (14 Cancer - 5 Cancer)

A new Mercury cycle is about to begin, this time in the sign of Cancer. As the quicksilver magician begins his backward descent, and does his do-si-do with the Sun, he is transforming our thoughts, words and perceptions into signs, symbols and synchronicities. As the alchemical ouroboros, he is the beginning and the end, the uniter of opposites—lunar and solar, masculine and feminine. And as messenger and psychopomp, he is traversing the membrane between the material plane and the imaginal realm: his language becomes metaphor and multivalence, archetype and intuition. There is magic afoot.

Carl Jung (who had natal Mercury at 13° Cancer), recounted the following story to illustrate the concept of synchronicity: 

“A young woman I was treating had, at a critical moment, a dream in which she was given a golden scarab. While she was telling me this dream, I sat with my back to the closed window. Suddenly I heard a noise behind me, like a gentle tapping. I turned round and saw a flying insect knocking against the window-pane from the outside. I opened the window and caught the creature in the air as it flew in. It was the nearest analogy to a golden scarab one finds in our latitudes, a scarabaeid beetle…which, contrary to its usual habits, had evidently felt the urge to get into a dark room at this particular moment.” 

Holy shit, right? If you’ve ever experienced a powerful synchronicity such as this yourself, you know the feeling of strangeness and awe it leaves you with. And speaking of holy shit…

The golden scarab was a powerful symbol to the ancient Egyptians, deified in the beetle-headed god of the rising sun, Khepri. Known also as the less auspiciously-named dung beetle, the female of the species will fastidiously roll a ball of dung, create a chamber within, lay her eggs, and bury it in a hole. When the larvae hatch, they consume the ball from the inside out and then emerge from their hole to begin the next generation. The Egyptians saw the humble dung beetle rolling its heavy ball as symbolic of Khepri rolling the Sun across the sky every day, and by extension, of the mysteries of birth, death and rebirth. Why is this relevant to now? To the Egyptians, the constellation we call Cancer was not the crab, as we know it, but the scarab: creatrix of the universal brood chamber which gives birth to the Sun and to us all.  

Interestingly, the word “scarab” and ”crab” both come from the same root word meaning “to scratch or engrave.” So does the word “carve.” In ancient Egypt, scarab amulets were widely used to bring luck or ward off evil for the living, and to help the dead navigate the afterlife. They were typically carved from soft stone and then fired to harden. Mercury-Hermes, during this retrograde into the Sun’s embrace, has us forging talismans and calling in omens, to remind us of the mysterious connectivity of all things, seen and unseen. During this time, what is inscribed, etched or written by hand may carry extra power (so be mindful). Listen to a song and hear the words speaking directly to you. Take note of your dream and watch it show up in symbol in the light of day. Dance or meditate to connect to your higher power. Visualize and manifest. And for what it’s worth, watch for insects or crustaceans as divine messengers: crab, beetle, ladybug or lobster, it matters not. If it has a hard shell and scuttles, then it counts. Find 5°-14° Cancer in your chart to see in what area of life you’ll feel this transit the most. And for the next month, bear in mind—the veil is thin and there are no coincidences. 

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