Hermetica Triptycha is a detailed treatise on Mercury’s complicated cyclic movements. Caton provides a well-organized presentation of his material. It is densely written but deeply thoughtful and readable.

Section One: The Mercury Elemental Year in the Birth Chart explains and delineates the possibilities inherent in Mercury’s retrogrades through the elements over a 6 – 7 year period. Caton focuses on particular points in Mercury’s orbit around the Sun: solar conjunctions and the two maximum elongations as a morning and evening star. These points of greatest visibility and invisibility help distinguish the interpretive characteristics of Mercury, particularly as it spends a year or so retrograding in each element. Each person is born during a year with Mercury retrograding in one of the four elements. The remainder of this section is a delineation of how pre-natal and post-natal Mercury retrogrades relate to the individual’s chart, by element and by chart sector. Numerous chart examples are used to show the life-long impact of Mercury’s annual process.

Section Two: The Mercury Elemental Year as a Transformative Process shifts the focus to the magical and alchemical aspects of the Mercury cycle. The primitive and ancient attributes of Hermes and Thoth become more apparent through Chapter 3. Mercury encapsulates the links between the spiritual self and the “talking” self (persona) that are lodged in a material vessel, the body. The process of breaking down problems and self-defeating aspects of personality and reconstituting the self to greater wholeness echo alchemical processes of nigredo, albedo, and rubedo. Caton relates the three different parts of the Mercury cycle to each of these processes, and offers exercises to illuminate the experience. In order to make the most of personal development opportunities, there are delineations of Mercury’s retrograde cycles in each element with advice for those born under the opposite element for integrating those qualities. Chapter 6 focuses on the macro-level of Mercury development over a 79-year period containing twelve elemental returns. Four stages of life, each with three Mercury retrograde returns, are separated into four alchemical stages of development.

The final Section 3 is an appendix, “Mercury Elemental Year Ephemeris.” These unique tables cover years from 1925 to 2052. Mercury retrogrades are presented in elemental groups with the maximum elongations as an evening and morning star, the inferior (Rx) conjunction, and any planet or star linked to that particular phase. This is a high-value reference section that’s immensely useful for chart delineations. End matter includes notes and a bibliography.

Hermetica Triptycha is a ground-breaking study of Mercury, the planet singularly best-qualified to facilitate journeys deep into the psyche and return with wisdom gained. Caton’s book demonstrates Mercury’s crucial role in long-term personal development and evolution. The book is a progressive tutorial that begins with a thorough exploration of Mercury’s short term cycles, followed by a broader and more holistic view into the long-term developmental arc through the lenses of alchemy, psychology, magic, and integral personal growth. This book is recommended for intermediate to advanced astrologers. Practitioners of both the traditional and evolutionary astrological camps will benefit from the insights this book provides. Well done!

~review by Elizabeth Hazel

Author: Gary Caton
2017, Rubedo Press
241 pages, $28.00