We’re stuck in the staccato rhythm of Mercury Retrograde for the next couple of weeks, and as daily life unfolds to this stop-start-stop-and-start again pattern, nervous systems struggle to maintain a steady grip. Life is unsettled—something we don’t need the stars to tell us—and in the sharp and often confusing pulse of this retrograde, moods are sure to turn edgy, irritable, and intolerant, making it difficult to whistle while you work.
Mercury begins its first retrograde phase of the year in a conjunction to Neptune, in the early degrees of Pisces. For those of you new to the astrological pantheon, Mercury represents all things related to the mind, from thoughts to language to writing to speaking; it is also the symbol for communication of every denomination. What’s more, its vast domain also includes travel. This is why Mercury Retrograde is a modern urban legend: When Mercury seemingly moves backwards, all the many areas of daily life that function within its territory seem to go a little screwy. All sorts of communiqués vanish; smart phones turn stupid; travel becomes a ring of hell that Dante couldn’t have imagined. Mercury Retrograde is not a good time to initiate new projects, if only because any progress will only be made against the tide and that could be exhausting. The best use of this or any Mercury Retrograde is to review, reflect, and refine what is already in motion.
Both Neptune and the Sign it rules, Pisces, represent sympathetic resonance, and their vast combined domain includes sensitivity, receptivity, intuition and imagination. They also signify boundaries—or the lack of them—a characteristic that often translates into boundary issues. Mercury, in Pisces, symbolizes heightened intuition. But there’s a problem with that wideband intuitive force: When Mercury and Neptune unite, fantasy proliferates, and because they both embody the Trickster, their perfect union points toward illusion, delusion, deception, and (my favorite) projection. Be careful, this week and next, not to make assumptions based on intuitive certainty. I’m not suggesting you doubt your intuition; I’m simply suggesting that you check your desire and opinions at the door. It’s far too easy to make up stories under this conjunction, and as many of us know, when we construct a narrative to assuage our anxieties, those stories are more about us than anything or anyone else.
Mercury will be retrograde until February 28, but don’t expect to breathe a sigh of relief anytime soon. On March 1, Mars begins a retrograde phase in Libra that lasts until May 19. But we have miles to go before that takes place, and plenty to take care of in the meantime.
We are also under the influence of Venus/Pluto conjunction, in Capricorn. Venus just ended her retrograde, and now as she “moves forward,” her appetite for love and sensual pleasure combines with Pluto’s deep sexual pull, which could cause many of us to experience an increase in sexual desire. Expect to be madly in love—emphasis on “madly.” But also be careful: As the fanaticism of Venus/Pluto—in all its sensual/sexual glory—combines with the powers of Mercury/Neptune—in all its imaginative glory—you may find yourself caught in a fantasy bond rather than an actual mutual and reciprocal encounter. Be aware that Jupiter, in Cancer, opposes the Venus/Pluto conjunction, and Jupiter, while beneficent, does tend toward excess and exaggeration. For those not inclined to spend this energy on amorous pursuits, this Venus/Pluto/Jupiter bundle fosters the desire to create beauty everywhere. Use this prodigious creativity to enliven, enhance, and enrich your environment.
This week and the next week are going to challenge each of us to find and maintain balance, especially in all those areas where we are tilting toward one extreme or another or where we are insisting on a specific outcome. Of course, if you push the river too hard, you’re likely to get swept away by the very currents you are trying to control. So instead of resisting the delays and detours of retrograde rhythms, let go and try to relax. Most importantly, even if you don’t want to, be kind to your fellow travelers. You never know when a helping hand or a gentle word can turn an entire situation in a more positive direction.
If you know your Ascendant and/or your Moon Sign, read that, too.Aries March 21-April 19
Mercury retrogrades back into your house of community, or what I like to call the sector of the chart where you share your gifts with the world. As Mercury revisits this arena, you’re likely to reconsider what you have to offer to others and how best to make that offering matter.
Taurus April 20-May 20
Mercury Retrograde reviews your career situation, providing you with an opportunity to reflect on your professional aspirations. Be clear about what you want as well as what you need. And then put Mercury to work identifying the details that need to be in place to actualize your goals.
Gemini May 21-June 21
Mercury turns your mood deeply philosophical, and while this shift in attitude is distracting at first, it does provide an opportunity to mull over recent decisions in need of refinement. Use this phase to fine tune personal and professional belief systems and you’ll use it wisely.
Cancer June 22-July 22
Mercury Retrograde asks you to review your personal money matters with an eye toward creating greater stability. This phase could also include financial interactions with significant others, personal or professional. Be rigorously honest about making improvements, and you’ll discover effective solutions.
Leo July 23-August 22
Mercury retrogrades back into the relationship sector of your chart inviting you to revisit partnerships, actual and imagined, practical and idealistic, personal and professional. Embrace this process, and you’ll weave the details your of interactions into a more refined pattern.
Virgo August 23-September 22
Mercury focuses on health, work, and service—key issues in anyone’s life. But because Mercury is your Ruling Planet, these themes are often foremost in your consciousness. Contemplate how you can refine and improve these areas and you’ll make the best use of this review.
Libra September 23-October 22
Mercury revisits the theme of self-expression, inviting you to review, reflect, and reconsider recent creative choices and their consequences. Use this retrograde to cull through the details to see what needs to shift in order for you to experience greater joy.
Scorpio October 23-November 21
Mercury Retrograde is all about home improvement, but before you start any actual major renovations, be sure to comb through all the details—it would be best to start construction after the retrograde. However, that caveat does not apply to inner home improvement—those changes can be implemented at any time.
Sagittarius November 22-December 21
Mercury retrogrades into the communication sector of your chart, and that presence is going to stir a need to talk about every little detail of every little thing. Listen closely to what you’re saying as well as to the responses of others and you’ll learn a lot about your true concerns.
Capricorn December 22-January 19
Mercury revisits financial issues, and as it reveals the details, you’re likely to feel the need to refine your approach to personal money matters. Don’t shy away from this process. Some of it may be painful, but most of this process will prove beneficial.
Aquarius January 20-February 18
Mercury Retrograde illuminates issues of perception, specifically how you want to be seen by others. This is an excellent phase for a makeover, but before you cut your hair or change its color, contemplate what you want the final result to be.
Pisces February 19-March 20
Mercury moves you into the vast waters of the unconscious, offering opportunities to identify several previously unidentified relationship themes. Pay attention to your dreams during this phase; they have the potential to deliver important and valuable information.