Mercury Retrograde links Boomers to Gen X & Millennials.
Here’s the astrology of how they all cohabitate in Scorpio.
Mercury retrograde is a phenomenon that occurs approximately 3 times per year, every year. It is technically not classified as a “big hitter” in astrology, but having gained recent popularity due to a surge of interest in spirituality amongst Millennials, it is now a catch phrase that encompasses all sorts of things going wrong.
This most recent retrograde phase (November 2019) however, was more than just a brilliant inferior passage between us and the Sun. Mercury stirred the generational pot, activating unconscious ties between Boomers, Gen X and Millennials. It triggered both their similarities and disparities, prompting an already existing aggravation that resulted in a surge of memes, articles and analysis online. It also birthed the expression, “OK Boomer!”
*Since posting this article in 2019, it is obvious that Mercury retrograding through any of the fixed signs activates this same dynamic. In February 2021 when Mercury retrograded through fixed sign Aquarius, these same issues were activated amidst the Saturn-Uranus square, also in fixed signs.
Mercury the Messenger
Being a planet so close to home Mercury impacts us daily. It shows up when we communicate in the myriad of 21st century forms, when we learn, purchase, negotiate, are logical and when we’re witty. Its retrograde motion can be experienced as frustration in the persistent forward motion of the cogs of Capitalism, blocking our usual speedy channels with miscommunication, glitches and reassessment.
While we all experience this thrice yearly, not all Mercury Retrograde cycles are created equal. In 2019, Mercury retrograded through the water triplicity: Pisces, followed by Cancer and recently, Scorpio. It’s this particular Scorpio cycle in October and November that has tugged at some collective unconscious connections; Mercury as messenger caused Boomers all the way through Millennials to rethink, renegotiate and reassess their generational roles and responsibilities.
The lay of the generational land.
Each planet from the Sun out through Saturn govern life’s domains. The Sun illuminates, paving the way for arrogance or pride. The swift motion of the Moon carries the mood and informs our emotional needs and habits. Venus rules the receptive nature of pleasure, joy and art, while Mars rouses us to fight or f*ck. Jupiter presides over justice and truth, while Saturn forever sits as the boundary line of our known world, impeding chaos with a stern hand.
Once we step beyond the containment of Saturn we encounter the outer planets Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. Leaving the confines of the inner, social planets we are no longer bound by the 9-5, four seasons establishment of order, and we disembark from the ordered system of traditional astrology.
Since the discovery of the outer planets, we have new ways of astrologically understanding the ever present potential of chaos, and the unknown. Symbolically, these outer planets speak to our confrontation with the great mystery of life, and death, and all that lies between and beyond.
Uranus, Neptune and Pluto shape generational narratives. Slow-moving, they influence great changes in society and culture; shifting trends, political policy and movements over extended periods of time. They are seen as generational planets because large numbers of people are born with these same planets in the same sign.
Most Boomers, Gen X and Millennials (anyone born between 1937-1995) have one outer planet in Scorpio, the sign recently activated by Mercury. When these deep, collective waters are stirred it can invoke a collective need for conversation and understanding of each generation. One problem though is that Scorpio is not the most easy going sign, and unconscious forces are just that; not something we may be aware of, or able to change.
Who are the outer planets, and how do they influence generations?
We’re all born into existing narratives and outer planets are said to set the generational stage. Uranus, the great awakener, is the first planet free from the bounds of Saturn. Disrupting the status quo with revolution, chaos and unconventional methods, it seeks freedom and change from what has bound and oppressed the collective.
Neptune is nebulous, difficult to grasp yet deeply sensitive and empathic. It seeks the ideal through religion, spirituality, projection and the veneer of illusion. It governs music, prayer, meditation and the ocean, all of which are limitless, beyond time and space with no beginning nor end.
While Neptune has the urge to merge, Pluto has the urge to purge. Currently our most outer planet and the one we know least about, Pluto is hidden in the darkness by its distance from the warmth of the Sun. It governs our deepest psychological motivations and primal urges that are hidden from conscious view. It is powerful, cutthroat and intense, associated with Hades in Greek mythology, the Phoenix rising from its own ashes and the Grim Reaper.
The tension between Boomers and Millennials is palpable.
Astrology reminds us that life is cyclic with a mutable adherence to straight lines and systemic categorisation. Just as Summer transitions to Autumn gradually, each generational classification has its nuances.
Baby Boomers are classified as those born between 1944-1964 (depending on whose statistics you consult), while Millennials are classified as those born between 1983-1995.
For the Boomers, astrologically there is a specific distinction that splits this group. Pluto, our most influential generational planet, transitioned from Leo to Virgo between 1956-1958, creating two different breeds of Boomers.
Love them or tolerate them, the generation born between 1937-1958 have contributed Leonine qualities to society on a grand scale; embodying the allure of youthful longevity and external appraisal, this generation steam rolled plastic surgery across the harsh Saturnian landmarks upon our bodies that once represented the arduous road toward ageing and wisdom. They have paved the road toward person centred psychology with gold, allotted fame as a viable personal goal and attribute, and given us bands that tour foreverrrrrrrrrrr. Think: Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Cher (who opens her Vegas show by asking the audience, “What’s your Grandma doing tonight?”), Elton John, Dolly Parton, Meryl Streep, Bruce Springsteen and Oprah. Icons, solid as an immovable rock, representing a generation with Leo flare!
Those born between 1956-1972 with Pluto in Virgo were born at a time of increased living standards. This resulted in more people attending University or College than ever before, without the weight of debt placed on students today. An educated generation, they were critically aware of what and who shaped society, for better or worse, and took their criticism to the street as they matured. It is from this generation that we inherit the “work hard and you will go far” moto that is inapplicable in today’s capitalistic climate. This sharp generational criticism is now found in the fine print of contracts, debates around health care and often targeted toward younger generations whose access to education and information is often found via social media, which many Boomers see as lacking the credibility they were privy to.
Millennials on the other hand have a large percentage of their generation born with Pluto in Scorpio, a sign that is constantly in a tense relationship with Leo. While only time will tell what this generation will do with what they have inherited, there is an undeniable presence of Scorpio shaping this generation’s landscape; issues of privacy, trust, invisible power, a black and white – no grey – approach producing cancel culture, call outs, gas-lighting, ghosting and public shaming online. This generation goes straight for the jugular. The apocalypse and zombies have become much more than a movie genre while “emo” as a subculture brings Pluto’s depth and intensity to the light of day.
Scorpio: The ties that bind
Each outer planet contributes its own nuance and influence. From 1955 to 1995 each of these outer planets passed through the 30 degrees of Scorpio. Between 1955 & 1970 Neptune was in Scorpio (Boomers), from 1974-1981 Uranus also passed through Scorpio’s lair (Gen X), and from 1983-1995 Pluto dug through the depths of Scorpio (Millennials). This means that a large number of people born within this timeframe have a significant outer, generational planet in the sign that Mercury recently retrograded through and activated.
Scorpio is a water sign; sharply perceptive, discrete and sensitive to betrayal. It dances on the razors’ edge between secrecy and privacy. Often associated with sex and death, Scorpio is correlated to Autumn where the energy of nature retreats, drawing inward in preparation for Winter. It represents the harsh reality that death needs to occur for life to prevail.
Existing below the surface, intrigued by the endless ties that bind, Scorpio lives in the threads that connect sex and life, which ultimately leads to death, which means that along the way we encounter relationships, which lead to intimacy, which requires trust, which can lead to betrayal…on and on and on. Scorpio is less interested in brunch on a Tuesday and more obsessed with eating your soul, being in complete and utter union beneath the surface of superficiality.
Any planet passing through this terrain in the Zodiac takes on these attributes and expresses them through their own planetary filter. Outer planets are like a superhero who maintains its powers wherever it goes but gains extra attributes by changing capes when it enters another sign. As generational themes are not something we can do alone, this recent Mercury retrograde in Scorpio caused us to rethink, renegotiate and reinstate our specific generational contributions, or contracts.
A quick Google search shows a recent rapid spike in dialogue based in these specific generational disparities. A deep, unconscious stirring washed through these three generations with regard to how they participate in social change (Uranus in Scorpio), how they view and manifest their ideals (Neptune in Scorpio) and how they deal with and execute power (Pluto in Scorpio).
As above, so below.
The outer planets each have their own rhythm and mood. Uranus takes 84 years to complete one lap of the Zodiac, staying in each sign for seven years. Neptune 164 years, staying 14 years in each sign, and Pluto 248 years with an elliptical orbit that can see it stay in one sign from anywhere between 10 and 20 years.
The slower a planet moves, the greater the influence. Watching the movement of outer planets and corresponding events helps us understand the issues and characteristics of specific generations.
Baby Boomers: Neptune in Scorpio 1955-1970
As Neptune transitioned out of diplomatic Libra in 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus in Montgomery, AL. It was the end of playing nice (Libra) and the beginning of a new era of intense social resistance and unbridled sexuality and spirituality (Scorpio).
This time frame encapsulates a collective release of emotions, sexuality and collective power, often referred to as “Sex, drugs and rock n’ roll.”
Elvis Presley was filmed only from the waist up because his swinging hips roused energies in young people the world over that had prior been quelled by religion and formalities. Footage of screaming teenagers show them holding onto their seats, unsure of what to do with this surge of primal energy. The boundlessness of Neptune poured through music, projecting its illusion onto Elvis, the Beatles, all the way through to the Summer of Love in 1969 where we transcended the limits imposed on relationships, love and sexuality. Concurrently, the Civil Rights Movement, Women’s Liberation and Vietnam War protests all utilised the intensity of Scorpio with peaceful protests that disclosed both the corruption and potential for transformation when we merge together for the greater good.
The blur of Neptune saturated all areas of life. In response to the intense upheaval and grief of the first and second World Wars, many people sought the calm, predictable life in the suburbs within the model of a nuclear family. In a post war boom, living standards increased and consumerism knew no bounds, peaking at an all-time high with the introduction of the first Diners Club Credit Card; invisible money. Power dynamics were buried in the home and workplace as sexual harassment and equal pay were silenced in the blur of Neptune’s ideal quest. We were taken out of this world landing a man on the Moon, adding “In God We Trust” to American currency and inventing products such as Teflon and disposable diapers, all of which now expose their toxic undersides.
The underbelly of power had pierced through any Neptunian deceit showing its flip side: despair. Politically, five countries battled over the boundary lines around water in the Suez Crisis and we came the closest we had been to nuclear war during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The limits were being redefined in the extreme as the Berlin Wall was built, MLK delivered his, “I have a dream” speech before both he and JFK were assassinated; the world collectively grieved the loss of the ideal Neptunian vision, understanding first-hand the intensity of Scorpio’s ability to bring the underworld to everyday life.
Generation X: Uranus in Scorpio 1974-1981
Uranus is the first planet beyond Saturn’s hold. It is free of both the safety and oppression of the ordered world. Breaking the rules and defying the establishment, it seeks liberation through upheaval, rebellion and new innovations in technology. Discovered in 1781, the emergence of this planet into our consciousness coincided with great revolutionary social changes; the American Revolution followed by The French Revolution. Uprisings are rarely glamorous and Uranus dispenses change with little sentimentality or emotional consideration. Uranus in Scorpio however, stirred deep emotions as a generation passionate about truth and freedom was born.
Civil disobedience is etched into the fibres of the generation born at this time. Blazing into Scorpio in 1974 the Vietnam War soon ended and everyday people could see the power of protest and mass assembly they had inherited. It signalled a dramatic shift from the past of World Wars and turned toward the beginning of a new, emerging era. Jaws the movie was released, illustrating our collective fear of what potentially lurks beneath the watery, emotional surface while this deep disruption of the status quo birthed punk rock!
Technological innovations profoundly transformed our lives with many firsts: BETA video, the 1st electronic calculator, the 1st Walkman, both Microsoft and Apple were established, the 1st test tube baby was conceived and birthed as contraception simultaneously became widely available, liberating millions by replacing obligation and duty with opportunity and choice overnight. Following the consumer boom under Neptune in Scorpio, this period saw an overwhelming number of home appliances become available, shifting the existing standards and expectations of what day to day living could entail.
Gen Y ~Millennials: Pluto in Scorpio 1983-1995
Pluto represents that which is out of reach to the conscious mind. Trends influence us subliminally, generational trauma contributes to our behaviour, and facing our own mortality can have profoundly transformative effects on the way we live our lives. With Pluto in Scorpio we get double deep: Pluto is associated with Hades, Lord of the Underworld and Scorpio is a Mars ruled sign that thrives on the intensity of the unknown. Together there is a concoction that produces hidden power, manipulation and the brutal truth about the mystery of this mortal coil existence.
Leaving Libra in 1983-84, Pluto had transformed relationships by carving the path between the bedroom and the courthouse. Pluto in Scorpio kids were the first generation en masse to experience the benefits and fallouts of divorce. Adults at the time were in new terrain in terms of custody, financial aid and power dynamics. Amongst many things, this resulted in parents using their children as pawns in bitter emotional disputes and children learning from an early age how to manipulate one person off the other. This generation has an intimate relationship with power and its hidden underbelly.
Pluto barrelling through Scorpio exposed raw wounds and remedies to heal them. Band Aid’s “Do they know it’s Christmas?” beamed images of famine in Ethiopia through home televisions and HIV-AIDS presented as a worldwide epidemic. What was once the transcendental ideal in the Summer of Love for the Neptune generation was now the brutal reality of the Pluto generation: having sex can kill you and being a minority can silence you. The Titanic was found on the ocean floor while the environmental impact of consumerism building since the 50’s started to show undeniable consequences. The devastation of Chernobyl seemed to manifest this already building anxiety, while the fear of Mad Cow disease spread right to the dinner table in the UK.
To say it was an intense time is an understatement. Politically, there was a rise in conservatism with both Thatcher (UK) and Reagan (USA) wielding uncompromising power and desecration of social services. Indira Ghandi was assassinated, the Iran-Iraq war boiled, simmered and cooled while globalisation of economies spread like wildfire.
In 1989, when the Saturn in Capricorn generation was born, the Cold War started to deescalate, the Berlin Wall came down and protesters in Tiananmen Square were shot down. Exxon Valdez tragically leaked gallons of oil in Alaskan waters while Hong Kong agreed on a transfer of power process. Pluto in Scorpio reminded us that transformation is rarely easy and often painful. It’s raw.
What motivates Scorpio is connection at a deep, fundamental level. Having the generational planets all in the same sign is like all three generations living on separate floors of a triplex that Scorpio owns; Uranus lives on the top floor, detached, planning the revolution. Neptune lives on the middle floor absorbing vibes from above & below, merging everything together while envisioning a better future, & Pluto is situated in the basement, below ground with little light, forced to unpack everything that is coming down the pipes from the generations above.
It’s a lot of energy when rent is due, which is what this recent Mercury Retrograde brought up. How do we all live together when we come from such differing backgrounds and therefore, have such different values, ideas, needs & responsibilities? Each generation inherits the world from the generations before and have their own own issues and responsibilities to grapple with. This year alone those differences have sparked friction at a new level.
This triplex is a hotbed of change & great transformation for humanity because so many of us alive today live in it. We need only to look at Iraq, Hong Kong or any city alight with intergenerational protests in 2019 to see the complexities and common goals. Scorpio feels alive with the intensity of connection and world events are calling on us as generations to each do our part. Pointing fingers of irritation, thinking we know better, is deviation from each generations responsibility.
In the 2019 remake, Boomers own this triplex and criticise Gen X and Millennials for not being able to pay rent. However, the foundations need replacing and the younger generations want to tear it down and start again. For many Boomers this energy is extremely confronting. They are a generation who pride themselves on being self-made; their identity is wrapped up in what they have created. The thought of destroying it all urges them to change in ways that feel destabilising, and change is not their strong suit. For Gen X change is their only option and for Millennials it’s the death and rebirth process that keeps them fuelled.
Our elders are the wisdom keepers. Older generations, regardless of outer planet placements, have an obligation to guide younger ones. That requires them to stand back and give them enough space to make their own mistakes, yet close enough to not burn the entire house down. Due to Pluto’s elliptical orbit, Millennials are dealing with issues at 30 that their Grandparents dealt with in their 60’s. Life has accelerated. Boomers are desperately trying to lead by example as they’ve been taught, but it’s difficult to do so when your audience says that your example doesn’t work anymore.
Adding fuel to the fire, the younger generations have reversed the respect process. Where Boomers respected their elders and now expect to be respected, Gen X and Millennials expect it to be earnt. Not approaching this situation with a win-win attitude or desire to understand, the more difficult aspects of Scorpio can emerge: stubbornness, vengeance, vindication and passive aggressive silent treatment. When trust is ensured, Scorpio can work through issues like light, not necessarily the pace of light, but the brilliance. It’s obvious that there are tensions, but the tension in these dynamics is unfortunately also the fuel of change. If nothing else, the exchanges will be dynamic.
While generational planets illustrate our differences, they’re also markers of growth. Astrologically, a transit occurs when two or more planets make contact via a specific mathematical equation called an aspect. When these outer planets aspect themselves we experience life changing and challenging times, as an entire generation.
Interestingly, each of these three generations are currently experiencing their generational planet aspecting itself, intensifying the focus on generational responsibilities and the challenges that Mercury retrograde highlighted.
Uranus in Taurus is currently opposing Uranus in Scorpio, guiding Gen X into their “mid-life crisis”. Neptune in Pisces trines Neptune in Scorpio, reflecting back on Boomer dreams gone by, while Pluto in Capricorn is currently sextile Pluto in Scorpio pulling Millennials through a testing time with great potential for growth.
Gen X – Uranus in Taurus opposite Uranus in Scorpio
Gen X are often portrayed as the middle child wedged between Boomers and Millennials. A generation with negotiation skills, for better or worse, Gen X have their own unique brand that does not desire to fit into any mould. The Uranus opposition takes this generation to a bridge we all cross, should we live long enough: the departure from the acceleration of youth toward the decline of ageing. While not an abrupt transition, the view of life and priorities shift accordingly, sometimes resulting in sudden urges to fulfil unlived goals that cling to the last straws of youth. This is a significant turning point in life unleashing potent creativity within this generation.
Boomers – Neptune in Pisces trine Neptune in Scorpio
Neptune is an egoless idealist. It dreams, envisions and sees beyond the slog of the mundane. Boomers are experiencing a transit of spiritual significance that only occurs after 50 years of living. It is only from this vantage point that we can look back upon the dreams we envisioned in our youth and view the results from a perspective that encompasses the whole of life. Compassion arises and the potential for a deeper spirituality or connection to the mystical forces opens up. Boomers are susceptible to change right now as their sensitivity is high and their vision broad.
Millennials –Pluto in Capricorn sextile Pluto in Scorpio
Pluto transits are as you would imagine; intense psychological purges that remove one thing to make way for the next. Millennials are going through a growth spurt that presents more opportunities than challenges with regard to their relationship to power and testing the waters of who they are against the external world. It is a time to probe beneath their own rigidity and seek deeper understanding of life and its workings. Having lived long enough now to understand consequences, this generation is equipped with tools for change. The test will be how responsible they are with using them and how well they assess and drop their defences in creating space for trust.
Closing the gap.
It’s clear that these three generations are seeking ways to understand each other. Whether it’s parent-child, employer-employee or government-protester dynamics, the depths of Scorpio share one common thread; each generation bears responsibility for finding ways to utilise their power for mutual gain, not division. Whether we tear it all down to start again, or strike a healthy balance that gives birth to a new paradigm, the one thing we can’t avoid is our need of one other.
There will always be a tension between Boomers and Millennials. Their generational planets will always provoke the other into change that feels uneasy, exposing their vulnerabilities and shadow sides. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a way through, it just means that change and challenge will be constant companions. In 40 years there will be an OK Boomer equivalent aimed at Millennials from the Pluto in Aquarius generation; the rigidity that frustrates Millennials about Boomers may be an apple that falls not too far from the tree.
The intensity that is mounting in the world right now evades nobody. It’s impossible to think of our own lives without awareness of how it impacts others, be it human or the natural world, communally or collectively. It’s fertile ground for great change. If Mercury can teach us anything through its thrice yearly retrograde cycle it’s that communication is paramount. Deepening our relationship with technology may or may not bring us closer together, yet whichever side of the screen you’re on, whichever generation you were born into, humanity is vying for connection. If each generation can stay in their lane and focus on what they’re here to do, listening before reacting, not attempting to mould the other into the shape they’d prefer, we just might just all end up as friends on social media.