When pesky little Mercury turns retrograde trouble often follows. Facts get fuzzy, messages muddled, and technology often turns balky during its thrice-annual 3-week retrograde periods. The communication planet turned backward on July 14 and stays in reverse until August 8, which overlaps with this year's Olympic games that run from July 27 until August 12. Thus far there haven't been any major glitches, although in an enterprise this large there are bound to be mistakes. Still, even Queen Elizabeth's faux parachute jump with James Bond went off without a hitch at the opening ceremony.
If Mercury's laying low, the real star of the show must be Mars. The planet of competition is present at every sports event, war or situation where bodies are in motion. It is now in comparing but sociable Libra, a sign better suited for peace than for war. Traditionally, this is not a comfortable place for aggressive Mars, which doesn't want its actions tempered by compromise that can get in the way of its assertive instincts. An upside of this transit is cooperation; a downside is insincerity.
What's especially interesting about athletic Mars' current position is its applying conjunction with Saturn. This significant aspect isn't exact until August 14, so its major impact will not be felt until this year's Olympics are over. Still, this union of the planets of action (Mars) and control (Saturn) can establish behavioral patterns that could last for up to two years when the next Mars-Saturn conjunction occurs.
Connections between Mars and Saturn are often interpreted negatively. The planet of "go" runs into the planet of "stop" and it can be like driving a car with one foot on the gas and the other on the brake. There is a contrast between mobile Mars and stationary Saturn that can be frustrating. Every step forward could be met with a new obstacle. Or the desire to maintain discipline runs into an impulse to act spontaneously. But when coordination between them is healthy we become highly efficient. That's because we're acting with a strong sense of purpose and a well-defined plan that conserves energy and produces constructive results.
It's likely that news of any major messes at the London games will be underplayed. It's typical of controlling Saturn to keep a lid on crises when it joins Mars. Nevertheless, all is not necessarily rosy. There's a Full Moon this week, and we're still in the early phases of the most powerful astrological pattern in years: The seven squares between transpersonal Uranus and Pluto that began this spring and finish in March 2015.
The big bad news about the economy and environment is not likely to disappear overnight, as deep structural changes in public and private institutions become more frequent during the next three years. But for the moment, at least, perhaps we're in a little magical Olympic bubble where even the trickery of pesky Mercury retrograde is put on hold so that the nations of the world can join together to celebrate the joys of healthy competition.