Astrology Secrets Revealed by ERIC FRANCIS

Clarification on Anita Bryant's Retro Mercury


July 22, 2005 (with chart)


Hi Eric,


I've just read your Saturn in Leo articles [in this space, past two weeks], and one thing I really want answered that's been bugging me for years -- you talked about Anita Bryant and said that her Mercury retrograde in the 8th house makes her a delusional spokesperson for sex.


So does a retrograde planet basically create a monster/warped version of itself? I ask because I have Venus retrograde in Scorpio in my 2nd house, with the Sun and Uranus right on top of it. What does this retrograde Venus mean and how can I learn to make the best of it -- whatever it is? I've searched a lot and have never found anything that addresses natal retrograde planets.


Thanks very, very much,





Dear Julia,


Your question is a good opportunity to clarify the difference between a specific case of interpretation, and an astrological rule or principle. What I gave was an interpretation; there are more helpful and general guidelines that I've included in another edition of this column, which I've linked to below.


But monster-warped? NO!


Use these basic ideas for understanding a retrograde natal planet:


1. Something that points to the past (including past lives, if that's in your belief system).


2. A talent or skill that was turned off as a child so as not to threaten the caregivers.


3. A point at which the person is "hung up" or seeking to make progress that's not necessarily so easy.


4. A place where the client has gathered a lot of energy they need to express.


(For an interesting exercise studying a retrograde planet, look at the secondary progressions and see at what age the planet turned direct. There will be an interesting revelation about the retrograde planet at that age. Secondary progressions are the year per day method. If Mercury, for example, turned direct 12 days after the person was born, then inquire about their 12th year and you will get the story.)


As for Sun-Uranus-Venus retrograde in Scorpio 2nd: that sounds powerful. Very powerful. It sounds like your life is truly based on an inner search for values. Try the experiment above and see if and when Venus stationed direct for more information. Also, you need to understand the function of Mars and Pluto (rulers of Scorpio) to understand the story behind that Scorpio setup.


But I will give you a four-word translation: BE GENEROUS WITH YOURSELF. That is, give yourself to others. You have a lot to offer. But you won't know until you go for it. Of course, you've probably figured this out, in which case I would say that you need to learn to feel good about who you are and what you have to offer. You have plenty; and you're innovative and in a bizarre, unique Scorpio way, extremely free-spirited.


Just remember, that probably did not sit well with your parents with you were three years old, or 14 for that matter. So you may have been trying to tone it down your whole life. Forget it. Just be you.


Let's reconsider Anita's chart and why I made that comment -- which I would have been very reluctant to make had I not just read up on Anita Bryant's silly shenanigans (her monumentally large, national gay-bashing campaign back when you could get away with that in the mainstream media) -- and had there not been other significant factors in the chart which supported my statement.


Remember that factors you may share with her do not necessarily apply to you in the same way. They may; they may not; but you are a different person, and you handle your karma differently. This is true for all comments by all astrologers in all articles and books: take it as a commentary, an idea to consider; and check the ways it's true for you. Then check with other writers and see what they say.


For reference, here is the Wikipedia entry on Anita that gives her basic story, as well as great insight into her chart, if you make the connections.


For focus, let's just interpret her Mercury and look at all its various conditions. The method of reading the chart one planet at a time is a good way to sort through the potentially overwhelming amount of information that a chart presents.


We see Mercury just inside the 8th house. (Once again, to count the houses, you start with the one on the left just below the horizontal line and count anticlockwise.) The 8th slice of the chart contains a little green planet, which is Mercury, as well as a circle with an X, the Part of Fortune. The Sun is also in that house, which is significant, because it places a major life orientation on that house, which is the backdrop to everything.


My keywords for the 8th house are death, surrender, sex, jealousy, money, inheritance, power/control over others or which they have over us, secrets, and -- note this please -- partnerships where any of these themes come into play. Note as well: I've read recently that the 8th house had no direct association to sexual matters until Alan Leo, an eminent British astrologer born in 1860, noticed or ascribed that association. But at this point in history there can be no doubt that the 8th tells us a lot about sex; in the words of David Arner, one of my early teachers, "the sex you want."


Anita has Pisces on the 8th house cusp. That fact alone suggests she's either very sexy, very confused about sex, that sexuality is a really big factor, or some interesting combination. All of the above turn out to be true. There is also a mystical aspect to sex for her; we combine the mystical aspects of Pisces and the sexual aspects of the 8th. There is also a boundary issue; the 8th is all about associations and exchanges with others, and if there is a sign capable of having no boundaries at all, or compromised boundaries, it's Pisces. Not always -- but it's a real possibility (look where Pisces occupies your chart and see for yourself!). Pisces wants to bliss out and be one with everything, and for that, you can't have a lot of walls or concepts in the way.


The mighty Mercury occupying that house says that this is an important subject area for the lady; but retrograde in Pisces? Wow. It does not really know anything for sure, and is very susceptible to the influences of others. To their great benefit; the Part of Fortune is there.


Mercury is making an aspect -- a big one. It's opposite Neptune in the 2nd house. Neptune is in Virgo. The 2nd house is the house of self-esteem and personal values. It's also the house of our personal views on sexuality and our inner feelings about our sexuality. Virgo + Neptune in that house say there's a high likelihood of self-esteem issues on all these counts. Virgo itself is enough of a clue: Virgo can be ruthlessly self-critical, and when you see that combined with the 2nd house, keep an eye on it. However, with Neptune there, it's like there's a huge cloud, and also that sense of the mystical.


Wilhelm Reich, the one successor to Freud who really took up the cause of understanding sexuality, suggested that overdoing mysticism is the big substitute for truly embracing our sexuality. (He also said that when sex is repressed, this indescribable mystical feeling, astrologically represented by Neptune, is typically used by religion and tyrants to gain control over people.)


Note something interesting: Mercury rules her 2nd house, HER values. It is in Pisces in the 8th house, the house of other people's values. Neptune, conversely, is a ruler of Pisces, her 8th; it's in the 2nd house. The two planets are in mutual reception. She has quite a lot of confusion about what her values are and what belongs to others. This is why she is a "spokesperson" and not someone who expresses her own original ideas. This is why she was so worried about everyone ELSE'S sexuality.


From what I am reading, Fundamentalist Christianity was always her platform for making her anti-gay statements. We can see from her 9th house that she's basically on a religious trip (lots of planets there), and that it's an old one. She has Jupiter and the South Node present -- Jupiter and the 9th being about religion, and the South Node pointing you as far back in the past as you would like.


So we have the image of a kind of zealous religious mystic who has her mind on sex (Pisces Mercury retrograde, 8th) and probably feels quite guilty about it. I see a person who sends herself negative messages that she picked up as child (retrograde Mercury), which she then broadcasts. Her message is further complicated by having a low opinion of herself; by being based on a regressive (past-oriented) idea; and by being quite confused.


But she is also driven by a MOTIVE -- represented by the Mercury conjunct the Part of Fortune, which represents HER personal fortunes, which she thinks are going to come from outside her (8th house).


Would I have said all of this to a client with this same configuration? Never. But what I would have done -- assuming this person did not come in with a clear idea about what they wanted (unlikely, given the chart configuration) -- would be to check some Chiron transits to the alignment, and to other sensitive parts of her chart. The necessary information for a real conversation would have come out. In 1977, we have transiting Chiron exactly conjunct her Saturn in Taurus, for example.


This was the year she was hit by a pie in the face by a guy named Tom Higgins. That banana cream pie seems to have ended everything. She is lucky that people used kinder tactics on her than she did on them.


If you would like an example of an alternative interpretation, if you handed me this chart, I might say this is a person could be a sexual healer -- that's the high vibration side of that 2nd/8th configuration. Had she dealt with her own stuff, she would have made an AMAZING therapist and writer, because she has the power to really get inside people and understand them.


Or it's someone who will do something like gamble away a sizable inheritance in Las Vegas, or be a con artist. There is no actual sense of worth, just confusion about it. The retrograde status of Mercury points to the past, including her personal past; she was, at that time, a spokesperson for going back to Neanderthal values on the respect of other people and what they do. And the good lord only knows what happened to her as a child.


I've addressed retrograde natal planets several times before on this site, this link is to my Q+A retrograde special: There are also a few others there, if you poke around my archive page (go to the archive page, whose link is at the top of the page, and then use the "find" feature in your browser to find all the times retrograde is mentioned in an article title).