Preparing for Mercury's Transit 11.11.19: this week on the Storyteller's Night Sky

Nov 4, 2019

Image of the 2016 Mercury Transit taken with a cell phone through a solar-filter telescope in Mackinaw City. The November 11, 2019 transit begins at 7:36 am est, just four minutes after the Sun rises, and it will take the planet five and one half hours to complete its apparent motion in front of the Sun.

If ever there was a time to prepare a ceremony of the stars, then this week is it! The Moon is a waxing gibbous through the midnight hour; Venus is putting on her evening gown; and Mars is keeping company with the star of abundance at dawn ~ but that’s not all.

Next Monday, November 11, the planet Mercury will have backed up all the way to the Sun in its retrograde path, and will then make a rare transit across the solar surface. Astronomers use this kind of event to measure things like the distance between Earth and Sun, but the storyteller seeks other ways of engagement!

In classical mythology, Mercury, known as Hermes to the Greeks, is also connected to Hermes Trismegistus, the thrice-great god associated with the ancient Egyptian god of wisdom. Mercury is the god of divine communications, a trickster god, the conductor of dreams, a being of stealth and cunning. He moves freely through the mortal and divine worlds, and in Aristotle’s conception of the universe, the sphere of Mercury was understood to be the region where the imaginations of the Moon sphere become their reality.

So this week it’s time to prepare for the sacred messenger’s transit with healthy and beautiful thoughts, by keeping in mind that Mercury loves the flower nymph Floris, who scatters flower petals across the dawn. Gather your favorite flowers, choose your favorite poem, pay attention to your dreams, and then when you get to your sunrise spot on Monday, November 11th, have an answer for these words of Mary Oliver, which I imagine are the question posed to all of us by mighty Mercury, when he blazes toward us from in front of the Sun:

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?