- Mercury is retrograde
- Mercury is in Sagittarius for most of this retrograde, where he is debilitated
- Mercury was combust (as it always is during part of the retrograde)
- Mercury squared Jupiter during this retrograde
Mercury retrograde is a debility, but traditionally, it is not nearly as bad as combustion, where a planet is within 7-8 degrees from the Sun. The idea here is that the Sun burns up the energy of whatever that planet is, making it pretty worthless. The exception to this is when the planet is only 17' of arc (about a quarter of a degree) from the heart of the Sun; no one seems to explain why, but I suspect that here the idea is that the Sun adds its energy to that of the planet, since they are in perfect alignment. This is considered a major dignity. Along with combustion is the designation "under the Sun's beams" which extends from about 8 degrees to about 15 degrees from the Sun. This is also a debility, as the planet is either moving toward or just moving out of combustion.
Though Mercury started the retrograde at 5 Capricorn, it has spent most of it in Sagittarius, which is opposite his own sign of Gemini. A planet opposite its own sign is like being in the enemy's territory and is considered a major debility.
Finally, for a few days, Mercury squared Jupiter, which is the planet that rules Sagittarius, the sign Mercury is in right now. While squaring Jupiter is not usually considered that difficult an aspect, Mercury and Jupiter are in many ways opposites. Mercury is cold and dry and is about distinguishing details, while Jupiter is warm and wet and is about growing and seeing the big picture. This is partly the reason why Mercury is debilitated in both of Jupiter's signs (Sagittarius and Pisces).
So there are a lot of factors this time making this a nasty cycle, but not for everyone. See my previous two posts for why this may be so. 1 2
I also wrote last year on the "shadow" period that most modern astrologers buy into. As I point out, this is a completely modern invention with no basis in Traditional astrology. If there are any effects left after Mercury (or any other planet) goes direct, it has nothing to do with the "shadow" and is simply because of events that happened during the retrograde which may still be playing out (e.g. the photocopier broke but hasn't yet been fixed).
In this particular cycle, it's helpful to remember that Mercury is still in Sagittarius, where he is debilitated, until January 13. So while there may still be some Mercury issues going on, most of it is probably attributable to this, rather than any imagined shadow period.
So chin up, all you victims of Mercury! The retrograde is coming to an end.