The Astrology of Election Day Looks Pretty Dire by Claire Lampen

Mercury retrograde ends on November 3… but we won’t be out of the clear.

Photo-Illustration: by Preeti Kinha; Photos: Getty Images

Election Day 2020 hasn’t even happened yet, and already, way too much plot! An underhanded, 11th-hour appointment to the nation’s highest bench, a coronavirus outbreak in the White House, hours-long lines outside early-voting sites — these are just a few of the more inauspicious incidents that occurred in October alone, and the pacing won’t slow for the final act. I mean, just consider the state of our country, and of the stars: Mercury has been retrograde since October 14 and will remain so until 12:50 p.m. ET on November 3.

Mercury retrograde may be the most infamous astrological transit in the world. Its hallmarks include big delays, miscommunications, and general chaos, and it happens three to four times a year when Mercury appears to scoot backward across the sky. People love to grouse about how Mercury retrograde ate that email and/or dredged up texts from a long-silent ex, and most astrologers will warn you to avoid signing contracts or basically starting anything new for the transit’s duration. Fittingly, this Mercury retrograde is “particularly not great, for sure,” according to astrologer, writer, and creative Kirah Tabourn, a.k.a. @thestrology. A real barn burner, astrologically speaking.

“It’s messy,” Tabourn says. “It’s very messy.”

Before we dive in, a note on understanding planetary motion and the zodiac: Think of the sky as a giant clock divided into 12 equally portioned segments, each belonging to a sign. Every planet orbits around the clock at its own pace, and when it moves from one sign’s wedge into another, its energy mixes with that of its temporary new home. Mercury is the planet of communication, and its retrograde started in Scorpio — a sign that may read as a red flag even for people who don’t buy into zodiacal stuff. “Intense fiends who love secrets and hate most people … a tiny knife between the ribs,” writer Rosa Lyster once described Scorpios, and whether or not that resonates with you, astrologer and writer Randon Rosenbohm (@good_horoscope) agreed that the sign’s involvement in this transit “just seems very, very shady.”

Scorpio “has no mouth, it cannot speak,” Rosenbohm explains. To her, this portends the possibility that ballots may go missing or that people may be “silenced by technical malfunctions.” An estimated 50 to 70 percent of votes will be cast by mail in this election; already, over 66 million people — roughly half as many as voted in 2016, period — have voted early, suggesting a mostly smooth civic process overall. Nonetheless, it has not been without hiccups: all those interminable lines, the slowing mail service, those fake drop boxes set out by California Republicans, ballots lost in Pennsylvania, the list goes on. This is the kind of thing Rosenbohm expects from Mercury retrograde in Scorpio, particularly because Scorpio is ruled by belligerent war planet Mars, which is also — ha! — retrograde, amplifying the total impact.

“This might be what astrologers have been bracing themselves for when they say autumn is ‘2020 part two,’” Rosenbohm mused. “Things just are really not working, things are totally abnormal, and people don’t know how to behave, either. People are misfiring their aggression and misbehaving and acting like babies.”

Yesterday, on October 28, Mercury slid back into Libra. Another worrying sign, astrologers say: While Mercury retrograde in Scorpio might mistakenly get its dick out on a Zoom call, Mercury retrograde in Libra will see you in court. Libra’s entry into the fray may signal that the election will have “to be decided by some sort of governing body,” Tabourn says. (Libra is symbolized by the scales of justice, after all.) And the celestial arrangement on November 3 — Mercury stationing direct in the late degrees of Libra — only underscores this suspicion for Tabourn because it mirrors, exactly, the chart for the 2000 election. You know, the one with all the ballot-related confusion out of Florida that culminated in SCOTUS installing George W. Bush in the White House despite Al Gore’s winning the popular vote. “I’m picturing another recount situation,” Rosenbohm agrees.

Good thing Mercury won’t be retrograde when the last of the ballots come in, you may be whimpering to yourself. True, but consider: According to Rosenbohm, the first and last days of retrograde are the toughest and most pronounced as “the motion of the planet comes to an apparent halt.” Also, because Mercury takes a week or two to regain her former speed, we can expect things to stay slow until the retrograde shadow period ends on November 19. But here comes the twister: On top of all that, two eclipses lie ahead, a lunar one in Gemini (corresponding heavily to Trump’s chart, Tabourn warns) on November 30 and a solar one on December 14, i.e., the day the Electoral College casts its vote. And finally, just for spice, Tabourn expects that a “gnarly” full moon in Taurus on Halloween may “shake things up in this way that you wouldn’t see coming.” That’s because the full moon — said to bring things to a climax, among other dramatic flourishes — will be sharing a sign with Uranus, a planet that loves “sudden twists and changes.”

Unfortunately, it seems unreasonable to expect anything but entropy from 2020’s last gasp. Some astrologers expect a shitstorm due to a harrowing conjunction in January between Pluto and Saturn: “As an archetype,” Rosenbohm notes, “basically totalitarianism, violence, pestilence.”

“We’ve been looking forward to 2020 for a really long time,” she says. “In one of my first astrology classes — this was before Trump was even elected — I remember someone said, Yeah, 2020’s gonna be like the last election ever. America’s over.”

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