blowout cover

Mercury Retrograde Cautionary Tale

As the proud owner of a Stationary Direct Mercury, I must say that in general, I’m fairly immune to Merc retro effects.  I guess it’s the stalwart, embedded stance of my natal Mercury, which turned direct within ninety minutes of my birth – nothing shakes it.  But the recent retrograde period was a notable exception, backed up by unfortunate asteroid placements, resulting in a blown tire the day of the station.

I say “blown” and not “flat” because this happened while in transit, not resulting from a nail or something I picked up enroute which created a slow leak and later deflated the tire.  No, this was a blow-out, of epic proportions, and in many ways, I’m lucky to have survived it without injury or serious damage to the car.

I was driving back from an overnight sleep study at a hospital annex, on a four-lane highway, doing about 70, when, at 5:34 AM on August 23rd, I hit something in the road as I changed lanes.  (Having a dashboard clock, and being an astrologer, it was no more than an instinctual act to glance at it and mentally record the time as the incident unfolded.)  There was a loud clang, some sound of ricocheting metal somewhere in the undercarriage, and then the tire pressure light came on, and I became aware that the car wasn’t handling properly.

It was quite a fix, as I had no cell phone on me.  This is ironic, at a minimum.  Those of you who know me well know I eschew such technologies as smartphones.  I do own one, though all I can do with it is make a call; I can’t text, retrieve a message, take a picture, or go online.  But that’s fine – the sole purpose for this smartphone in my life is for just such a situation – an accident or breakdown or medical emergency while out on the road, so I can summon aid.

But I didn’t have it with me that night.  Why?  Because the sleep study personnel specifically requested I not bring one, since it can interfere with their sensitive equipment.  This is literally the only time in the nine years I have owned this car that I used it without carrying a cell or smartphone, and it is literally the only time I have needed one!  Yes, the universe is an intensely perverse place.  (I recall now, that as I drove out of my garage, phoneless, on the previous evening, I was thinking that this would be the time I’d need it, and that realization is probably what doomed me.)

blowout LVHN
Lehigh Valley Hospital’s Bethlehem Township Health Center, where I underwent my sleep study before the accident, which occurred while driving home; the Mercury station conjoined my natal Moon (sleep, home) and widely opposed asteroid Lehigh, as well as Neptune, ruling hospitals

So here’s the quandary – it’s 5:30 AM and still dark, I have a blown tire and no way to call for help, I’m on a four-lane highway, no way to flag someone down for assistance without being run over.  Yes, a police officer might happen by soon and notice my predicament, but it might be hours before that happens.

What to do?  What could I do?  I kept driving.  Fortunately, I was just a spit from the Hecktown Road exit of Route 33, and I remembered there’s a new medical center there with an Emergency Room, which I reasoned would have to be open.  And hey!  This was an emergency, right?

So I took the exit, limped the final thousand yards or so to the facility and pulled into the ER parking lot.  What I saw when I examined the tire was appalling.  I was at once reminded of the narrator of “A Christmas Story”’s description of his father’s tires – “they were round, they had once been made of rubber.”  This thing was in literal shreds, just bits of vulcanized material still adhering to the steel core.  I have no idea how I got as far as I did.

I walked into the ER, which was empty, approached the front desk, and explained my plight.  Of course public phones are now a thing of the past, with the dominance and ubiquity of smartphones, but Brandi was very helpful.  She made the call to AAA for me, and allowed me to use her cell phone number as my callback number, since Amy at AAA refused to process my request without a number the tow truck driver could call to confirm my position.  Amy told me help would be there in two hours, so I settled in to the ER waiting room with a vending machine water (no public fountains since covid) and the book which I had packed for my sleep study.

Kevin showed up just forty-five minutes later, and as it turns out, I did have a spare tire, hidden in a long-forgotten compartment under the trunk.  It, too, was flat, not having been used in nearly a decade, but Kevin pumped it up, put it on, and I was on my way in minutes.  Miraculously, the rim was intact, no serious damage had been done, so I was just out the inconvenience and a $200 bill for a new tire.  But it was a close-run thing, and it could have been far, far worse.

blowout ER
The ER at LVHN’s Hecktown Oaks Health Center, where I found aid and succor after the blowout; asteroid Alex conjoins asteroid Oka (for “Oaks”), squaring asteroid Lehigh (for Lehigh Valley Hospital Network), while asteroid Quercus (scientific name for the oak genus) conjoins asteroid Heckmann (for Hecktown), in trine to Alex/Oka

Naturally, the first thing I did when I got home was run a chart for the event, and what I found was remarkable, if unsurprising, for someone who has been investigating this asteroid phenomenon for twenty years.

What jumps out at first glance for the chart set for 5:34 AM EDT on 23 August 2023 in Hecktown, PA, was the 20 Leo Ascendant.  It’s an exact match for my natal Uranus, ruling accidents!  One can only marvel at the precise timing of the cosmos, even when it impacts one negatively.  That natal Uranus (born 1:37 PM EDT 7/27/60, Bethlehem, PA) is accompanied by asteroid Nemesis 128 at 21 Leo and opposed by asteroid Achilles 588 at 21 Aquarius, raising the specter of ruin or self-undoing (Nemesis) and exposing my vulnerability in the moment (Achilles), thus placing these points in a strong angular position in the blowout chart.  (This natal grouping also speaks volumes about my tech aversion, with technology also Uranus-ruled; add in the conjunction with asteroid Sisyphus 1866 (endless repetition, pointless effort) and a square from Mars (the Lesser Malefic), and you have a good picture of my challenges in this arena.)  Natal Uranus is also undergoing a third quarter square from transit Uranus, currently at 23 Taurus, reigniting the “accident” theme.

The Sun had just ingressed into Virgo, and was bearing down on my natal Pluto (death, devastating outcomes) at 4 Virgo, opposed exactly by Saturn (death, loss, hardship, deprivation) at 4 Pisces, also opposing Damocles 5335 (the doom hanging unseen overhead) at 29 Aquarius, and exactly squared asteroid Miller 1826 (my surname) at 0 Gemini, putting me (Miller) in focus (Sun) for a looming (Damocles), potentially deadly (Saturn, Pluto) breakdown (Saturn).   A few days after the natal Pluto conjunction, the transit Sun will move on to conjoin natal asteroid Blow 19582 (for the blowout) at 8 Virgo; their conjunction shows an inherent potential for a deadly (Pluto) blowout (Blow), again signaling that the outcome of this incident could have been far worse.

blowout subaru
A white 2014 Subaru Impreza (in much better condition than mine); asteroid Tyr (phonetic match for “tire”) conjunct Blow (for blown) squared asteroid Carr (alternate spelling of car) conjunct asteroid Alexandra (feminine form of my first name)

Transit Nemesis at 13 Cancer was aligning with natal Mercury (cars, transportation) at 19 Cancer, exactly opposing natal Saturn at 13 Capricorn, also opposing natal asteroids Tyr 4092 (phonetic match for “tire”) and Alexander 296907 (my full adopted first name) at 10 and 14 Cap respectively.  Nemesis is also squaring asteroids Heckmann 1650 (for the Hecktown location) at 9 Libra, Blow at 15 Libra, and Tyr at 22 Libra.  Blow and Tyr further conjoin natal asteroid Alex 3367 at 20 Libra.

Although these Libran points are not fully conjoined each other, each is conjunct the successive one, and Tyr is exactly squared to asteroid Alexandra 54 (feminine equivalent of my first name) at 22 Capricorn, as well as asteroid Carr 3837 (alternate spelling of “car”) at 23 Cap and Pluto at 28 Cap.  Carr and Alexandra, therefore, oppose natal Mercury, with Alexandra also at station, turning direct on 31 August, but already at its station degree, signaling a major turning point for individuals resonating to that name.  A PNA (Personal-Named Asteroid) at station is often present in the passing chart of associated individuals, so again, I potentially dodged a bullet here.

Also at station is asteroid Alexander at 0 Taurus, exactly trine the Sun, turning retrograde on August 28th; and asteroid Amy 3375 at 6 Capricorn, the AAA operator, whose unyielding stance on the callback number issue may be related to her celestial referent’s immobility (Amy had turned direct just three days prior).

The 23rd, of course, was also the day of the Mercury retrograde station, which at 21 Virgo conjoins my natal Moon at 19 Virgo (I was enroute home – Moon – from the sleep – Moon – study) and opposed natal Miller at 23 Virgo.  It also squares my natal Jupiter at 24 Sagittarius, the Greater Benefic, a point of luck and positive outcomes, one of several mitigating factors that provided the best possible result, once the inimical die had been cast.

blowout hecktown
The Hecktown Road exit of Route 33, where the accident occurred; natal asteroid Heckmann (for Hecktown) was exactly conjoined by transit Jupiter, considerably improving the chances of survival and mitigating the negative effects; transit Heckmann squared asteroid Nemesis showed the potential for ruin at that location

Other supportive factors included transit Jupiter at 15 Taurus, prominent on the 12 Taurus midheaven, squaring Venus (the Lesser Benefic) at 14 Leo, which was exactly returned to its natal degree, albeit in a retrograde fashion, somewhat reducing its ability to grant boons.  Jupiter is exactly conjunct natal Heckmann, for maximum protection in the venue of the accident.  The Moon at 17 Scorpio conjoined the 12 Scorpio IC, opposing Jupiter and in a T-Square with Venus.  Asteroid Brandia 1168 (for ER front desk attendant Brandi) is here too, at 11 Scorpio on the IC, squaring Venus, making her an instrumental factor in the experience.

Asteroid Angel 11911, for my Guardian Angel (should you credit such things), appears at 21 Cancer, conjoined natal Mercury.  (In fact, when I went back into the ER after the tire was changed, to thank Brandi for her assistance, I called her my “angel” for the day.)  Natal Angel at 8 Cancer conjoined transit Nemesis, perhaps lessening its worst effects, and opposes natal Tyr at 10 Capricorn, in a synastric T-Square with transit Heckmann and Blow at 9 and 15 Libra, suggesting a positive role in these precise circumstances.

Natal asteroids Brandia and Kevin 23739 (the tow truck driver’s first name, and my given first name as well) are exactly conjunct each other at 0 Leo (on my 4 Leo natal Sun), exactly squared by Alexander at 0 Taurus on the day, strongly linking us three in the moment.  Transit Kevin at 2 Leo had just made its Return to its natal place.  Transit Alex at 11 Gemini conjoined natal Carr at 14 Gemini, broadly squared the stationing Mercury.

blowout easton auto body
Tow truck driver Kevin from Easton Auto Body came to my rescue, assisted by ER front desk attendant Brandi; natal asteroids Kevin and Brandia exactly conjoin each other, on my natal Sun; transit Kevin had just made its Return to its natal degree, while transit Brandia conjoined the Moon and the IC for the incident, opposing Jupiter and squaring natal Venus

There were also a few typical Mercury retrograde hiccups to the process, mostly on the AAA end.  Despite Amy’s insistence on that callback number, Kevin never did phone – instead he walked into the ER and went directly to Brandi’s desk, who referred him to me in the waiting room.  And it shouldn’t have been Kevin at all – given the choice of towing services, I had picked a garage in Stockertown, as closer to my location, but Kevin arrived from Easton Auto Body, the one I rejected as too far afield.  And finally, when he attached the spare, Kevin inadvertently broke a lug bolt, which we didn’t realize until my mechanic tried to put on the new tire.  He didn’t have one in stock, so what should have been a ten-minute fix at best, turned into a ninety-minute wait for the part.  Fortunately, I had forgotten to retrieve my book from the passenger seat, so I had something to while away the time.

All in all, a fortuitous ending to a dire beginning for the current Mercury retrograde period.  I can’t wait to see what else is in store!


27 August 2023

Since posting this article, I’ve heard from several readers with similar instances of flat tires during the same period, one on the same day. These involved slow or fast leaks, not blowouts, but the principle is the same. Of course, Tyr squared Carr and Pluto was there for everyone – the ease or difficulty of assimilating this energy would depend on natal factors, how the aspect fell in birth charts, as well as PNAs for those individuals in question on the day.

But I felt prompted to dig a little deeper when I heard Dave’s story, about a fast, but relatively controlled, leak, that ran his tire down from full to empty over the course of a mile. I found that asteroid Fast 27719 was exactly conjunct Mercury at 21 Virgo for its station, with asteroid Leakey 7958 in exact square from 21 Gemini. That’s about as plain as it gets in astro-English for “fast leak”! I realized that my blowout would also qualify for this pattern, albeit of a more extreme nature, as pretty much instantaneous.

The cosmos just continues to amaze…

Alex Miller is a professional writer and astrologer, author of The Black Hole Book, detailing deep space points in astrological interpretation, and the forthcoming Heaven on Earth, a comprehensive study of asteroids, both mythic and personal. Alex is a frequent contributor to “The Mountain Astrologer”, “Daykeeper Journal”, and NCGR’s Journals and “Enews Commentary”; his work has also appeared in “Aspects” magazine, “Dell Horoscope”, “Planetwaves”, “Neptune Café” and “Sasstrology.” He is a past president of Philadelphia Astrological Society, and a former board member for the Philadelphia Chapter of NCGR.

4 comments, add yours.


Glad you’re okay, Alex! What a Merc retro story!


Alex, First of all, I’m grateful you’re still with us and thankful it turned out as well as it did. I loved reading your detailed synopsis of the event unfolding – astrologically speaking. I have 18 Virgo Sun & 17 Scorpio Moon. 14 Leo Venus. So, I was riding along as you spoke! Thank your lucky stars for ‘Jupiter’ at MC, opposing asteroids Angel, Brandi & Kevin, key players in helping you. I may have mixed this up as Mercury is retrograde!


OMG, Alex, I’m so glad you were okay! Thank Jove/Jupiter and your guardian Angel! The asteroid connections are amazing as always. You always remind me to see what’s up with my PNA so I’m going to do that next. I so envy you your natal Mercury direct. I’m sure it’s what gives you the gift of writing and makes your work so entertaining. Take care in case these negative influences linger awhile!


Dude my Saturn is at 1’59 scorpio

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