It's Mercury Retrograde until February 11 and as its effects—delays, detours, and snafus of every variety—continue to dominate daily life by disturbing regular succumb to retrograde dyspepsia because you forgot to set the alarm, put gas in the car, or neglected to pay the bills on time, take a deep breath and just do what needs to be done. Try not to blame anyone for making the same or similar mistakes. And really make an effort to be kind to your fellow travelers—we could all use a little more tenderness and care.
It's Mercury Retrograde—first one of 2015—from today until February 11. And it's a doozy, if only because it's more emotionally charged than a retrograde is supposed to be, and those strong feelings tip the normal frustration of a retrograde to extremes. For those new to astrology, let me explain: Three times a year (and sometimes four), Mercury appears to be moving backwards in the sky relative to its orbit and our orbit around the Sun. Within the astrological system, Mercury symbolizes all things related to communication and language, as well as commerce and travel. So according to astrological wisdom, when Mercury seemingly retraces its path (as it does during a retrograde), all things contained within its vast domain tend to go a little strange.
Despite the possibility—no, make that probability—for strong emotions this week, the planets continue to offer the potential for inspiration and insight. They also align in an unusual configuration that provides the capacity for profound empathy, as it simultaneously opens wide the door for harsh criticism. This is what I find most interesting about astrology: All the symbols in this system play out along a spectrum from negative to positive, a spectrum that not only reflects the duality of life on Earth, but also a system that presents the wide range of free will choices, all the while defying the ossification of a one-view-and-one-view-only perspective.
The planetary patterns of the week offer opportunities to create a fresh start to a new year. And even though the sky isn't presenting a completely clean slate, this week's astral activity does provide the potential to shift certain situations. Embrace this possibility for improvement and allow it to infuse your outlook with a fresh, positive perspective. Of course there is still work to be done, and yes, we need sweeping reform in many areas of life, but many of those solutions will be found in the mundane tasks of daily life. So use this week to reaffirm your commitment to making "energetic progress in the good." (I-Ching, Hexagram 43.)
Whether it's ignorance, violence, greed, fear, or despair—yours or others'—you'll need a strong internal center that is vitally connected to a broader perspective that can contextualize local and global upheaval as part of a much larger process. I know I am preaching to the choir, but sometimes even the choir needs to review its parts, especially if it's trying to sing in the midst of so much shift.
Trying to condense this last week of an extraordinarily difficult and disturbing year into a pithy paragraph isn't possible—the skyscape is at odds with the seasonal landscape, and daily life reflects the tension. Currently, the planets are engaged in serious, often fractious interactions, and their intensity has the power to nullify traditional seasonal sentiments. Holding onto goodwill and glad-tidings toward all sentient beings requires a strong intention for peace coupled with an equally strong capacity to actualize a generous heart.
Try not to let the days and nights of this week evaporate in a rush of 10,000 details. We're still in the midst of significant passages that mark endings and beginnings, and it wouldn't do to hurry across these thresholds. The most important turning point is the winter solstice on Sunday, December 21, at 6:03 EST. In the northern hemisphere, the winter solstice delineates the return of the light. "Solstice" means the Sun's standstill, and if you were to mark the position of the Sun as it rises in the east and sets in the west, as our ancient ancestors did for as many years as it took to observe a pattern, you would notice that for approximately four days in a row, the Sun's position on the horizon is the same. The solstice point marks the moment it comes to a "halt" before it retraces its path for another year.
We're in liminal space for the next several weeks, as astral alignments form a series of thresholds, creating the in-between dimension necessary to move from one reality to another. And although regular routines still underpin the structure of daily life, those routines unfold through irregular rhythms, and the erratic pace could contribute to a loss of continuity. Managing this sense of dislocation requires a strong determination to stay present.
'Tis not the season to be jolly, although all festivities and celebrations with the power to lighten the psychic mood and lift a heavy heart are welcome. 'Tis the season to be conscious and thoughtful —very, very thoughtful—about these extraordinary times and the role each of us plays in the ongoing process of individual and collective transformation. We're less than two weeks away from the sixth Uranus/Pluto square that occurs just past midnight U.S. Eastern time on December 15.
Planetary congestion along the celestial superhighway could result in terrestrial gridlock over the coming weeks. It isn't really possible to avoid, dismiss, or deny these "traffic jams"—they are physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual—and they are certain to manifest in ordinary as well as extraordinary ways. Given that this time of year is already supercharged with a wide range of needs, expectations, and disappointments, handling this astral clog is going to take extreme patience. Of course, it would be wise to remember that this is the season of goodwill and good cheer, and with that knowledge, to practice, whenever possible, as much kindness as you can muster. Compassion is always a good antidote to overwhelm.