A restless wind blows through the first weeks of 2016 and settling down or settling into new routines, with or without resolutions, requires potent determination—and I’m not just talking about diets and exercise. This restlessness occurs on several levels simultaneously, making it hard for physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual bodies to relax or simply hold steady. Yes, Mercury is retrograde (more below about what that means), a position that always infuses daily life with hefty doses of frustration. But more importantly, making sense of our brave new world of 2016 is no small feat, and for many of us, completely overwhelming. Almost all aspects of life, all around the world, seem to be pinned to extremes, which makes holding an objective perspective nearly impossible. The middle ground is the best and safest place to be, so make “moderation” your mantra and aim your sights at balance.
Mercury began its first retrograde phase of 2016 yesterday, January 5. It goes direct on January 25 in the middle of the afternoon Pacific Time. For those already familiar with the trials and travails of Mercury Retrograde, skip the next two paragraphs. For those new to this idea, here’s the important information:
Mercury represents all aspects of human life related to mental processes, and that vast domain includes communication and travel, to name but two of Mercury’s facets. In our modern world, that translates into smartphones, computers, tablets, trains, planes, and mail of every denomination. Several times a year Mercury appears to be moving backwards relative to Earth’s orbit around the Sun, and when that happens, everything within its domain also seems to go backwards.
Mercury Retrograde is never a good time to initiate new projects because during its retrograde, all the areas of its domain, especially communication and travel, as well as conversation and negotiation simply go screwy. It is a very good time to review, reflect, and reconsider plans and projects already in motion.
Mercury Retrograde—and all of its delays, detours, and snafus—is gaining stature as a new urban sky myth. Its lore extends mostly to warnings: Don’t buy any new equipment, especially computer or computer-related hardware or software; back up every document and all your data twice; expect delays when traveling or even when making and booking future travel plans; anticipate email you thought you’d answered to keep re-appearing in your inbox; and text messages you wish you’d never sent or received to go viral. It is in no way related to marriage ceremonies. The most important tool for handling any Mercury Retrograde is patience and plenty of it. So take as many deep breaths as possible and just keep on keepin’ on.
This particular retrograde phase begins with a Mercury/Mars square. Squares are fractious interactions and their sparks tend to ignite bonfires that either quickly die down or suddenly ramp up. Mars is the planet through which we take a stand for ourselves, as well as a stand what we believe in, and when it clashes with Mercury’s ability to move freely from idea to idea, those bonfires tend to ignite a readiness to fight over differences of opinion. This square also amplifies a desire to quarrel over anything. Mercury is well known in mythology as a Trickster, and when it butts heads with Mars, Mars can become seriously frustrated over Mercury’s quicksilver ability to shift its position. We’ve been under the influence of this square since December 22; fortunately, it ends on January 10.
For those paying close attention to the subtle interplay of planetary signatures: This Mercury/Mars square is a precursor to the mid-April through mid-May phase when both Mercury and Mars are retrograde.
As this week unfolds, another square, this time between Uranus, in Aries, and a Sun/Pluto conjunction, in Capricorn, bruises ambitions and irritates egos. Sun/Pluto conjunctions are all about striving for power, whether that power is material or spiritual. Uranus symbolizes the revolutionary spirit always eager to fight for freedom. And given just how many people are oppressed, this Uranus/Sun/Pluto bundle is apt to ignite protest after protest after protest. I’m all for protesting injustice but, unfortunately, this interaction isn’t only about injustice. It’s about power and the capacity to gain and hold the leading position. It’s likely to turn candidates even more bellicose, especially Mr. Trump, who I call “FrankenTrump.” He’s the monster created by our collective fear, anxiety, and inability to digest and metabolize the great waves of change sweeping through our lives, the monster created by the glamorization of ignorance, the monster who has emerged during this time of extremes to remind us of just how much work still has to be done on both our individual and collective shadows.
Tomorrow, Jupiter begins its retrograde phase, a review that will last through May 9. As Jupiter revisits its recent path, we revisit ours, specifically events and encounters that occurred from October 2015 until now. Be prepared for familiar themes to dominate, as well as unresolved issues, especially issues of character, social standing, and spiritual beliefs and attitudes.
As the first weeks of the New Year unfold, do your best to be patient with yourself and others. It’s probable that finding the right personal pace for a year of mostly retrospective cycles will challenge old ways of doing things—and maybe that’s not so bad. As always, remember to be kind to your fellow travelers, especially those who aren’t familiar with any retrogrades, let alone the Mercury Retrograde Myth and will just be wondering what is going on.
Sun Bursts: If you know your Ascendant and/or your Moon Sign, read that too.
Aries March 21-April 19
Mercury goes retrograde in your Solar House of career, which means you are revisiting the facts and details of old negotiations. Rather than resent this process, embrace it as a time to refine those projects. Then let that ability to accept the inevitable transform into yet a deeper commitment to excellence.
Taurus April 20-May 20
Mercury Retrograde occurs in your Solar House of belief systems, so don’t be dismayed if you find yourself questioning everything—again. Refuse to let this turn into a negative process that just finds what’s wrong, and instead, allow yourself the intellectual freedom to explore various ideas in order to improve your understanding.
Gemini May 21-June 21
Mercury “turns around” in your Solar House of transformation, and as it revisits old techniques for personal growth, you could become impatient that the old ways just aren’t working. Use this phase as an opportunity to enhance your self-awareness. Even though it will be challenging, you’ll emerge from this phase with a stronger foundation for growth.
Cancer June 22-July 22
Mercury Retrograde takes place in your Solar House of relationships and relating, which means you can expect old partnerships and/or partners to resurface as part of your daily routines. Be aware that even if you aren’t encountering partners past, it’s probable you’re thinking about them. Use this time to review those interactions to see if there is still something more to learn.
Leo July 23-August 22
Mercury Retrograde reviews work and health patterns, inviting you to comb through the details of your habits and identify what works and what doesn’t. This isn’t simply about joining a gym (although if that works, have at it). This retrograde phase is about bringing better awareness to habitual routines so you can weed out what no longer serves.
Virgo August 23-September 22
Mercury Retrograde occurs in your Solar House of creativity, and as it reviews the many ways you express yourself, you’re likely to feel compelled to write, paint, dance, or sing about your personal process. Engage in any and all creative activities, knowing that the essence of this phase is in refining your gifts and talents through self-awareness.
Libra September 23-October 22
Mercury goes retrograde in the deepest sector of your Solar chart—the home. As it excites both your external and internal centers, you’re likely to find it hard to come to rest. Don’t worry—this isn’t about a permanent upset. This is an opportunity to gain greater clarity about what you still need to release to find a solid internal equilbirum.
Scorpio October 23-November 21
Mercury Retrograde happens in your Solar House of communication, which means you are talking—a lot, and to anyone who will listen. Use this phase well by reviewing previous conversations that might need additional information. Also take advantage of this retrograde by allowing yourself to reach for deeper intimacy in dialogues with those who matter.
Sagittarius November 22-December 21
Mercury goes retrograde in your Solar House of personal finance, which means the next several weeks are all about reviewing and refining money matters. As part of that retrospective, it might be wise to also review what money means to you. I realize that is esoteric, but that’s not a bad thing, and this review could help you to create greater financial stability.
Capricorn December 22-January 19
Mercury goes retrograde in your Sign, in your Solar House of personality, which activates an identify crisis. Don’t worry—this isn’t a negative review that focuses on all that’s wrong. Give yourself permission to reflect on how you can improve your “look”, inside and out, and this process could help you refine certain areas you’ve been wanting to change.
Aquarius January 20-February 18
Mercury Retrograde stirs your internal universe, stimulating dreams, visions, meditation, and sometimes a desire to live in another world. Pay attention: I’m not suggesting you space out; I am suggesting this process can be valuable, but only if you refuse to engage in negative thought patterns. Stay positive and this phase will prove valuable.
Pisces February 19-March 20
Mercury goes retrograde in your Solar House of community, which means you could be invited to revive past participation in group projects. Gladly join those endeavors that have meaning for you, and don’t be afraid to skip the ones that no longer matter. Ultimately, this retrograde phase is about gaining clarity about where you want to spend your mental energy.
Ralfee Finn specializes in Transformational Astrology. For readings, call 1-212-222-3232, write P.O. Box 343, New York, NY 10025, visit AquariumAge.com, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright © 2016 by Ralfee Finn