If you’ve spent any time learning about astrology, you’ve probably heard the warnings about the dreaded Mercury Retrograde, those three week periods when the planet of the messenger god looks like its going backwards… at least from our perspective here on Earth. The effect is an optical illusion… and might hold a rather large cosmic hint as to the real meaning of these often maligned times.
The first retrograde for 2009 began on Sunday January 11th (along with a potent Full Moon in Cancer) and will last until February 1st – the first of an unusual four for the year. The next Mercury retrograde of this year will begin on May 6 and last until May 30, then there’s September 6 to September 29, with the final retrograde for the year beginning December 26th and running through the New Year until January 15, 2010.
The tone of the retrograde takes on the energies of the sign Mercury occupies… now in original, intellectual Aquarius. This can be expected to play out as a hyper focus on originality and independence… the sudden need to cast aside the conventions of society. When Mercury moves into earthy Capricorn on January 21st, there may be challenges involved in bringing knowledge or ideas into practical reality, as well as communication breakdown in organizations.
The speedy little planet will make its deepest foray into Capricorn at 27:45, turn direct by February 1st and begin moving forward again. The dates of the station, and the days leading up to them, can be especially powerful and potent. Most astrologers believe that until Mercury returns to the point where it first stopped, the influence of the period continues to be felt. The current retrograde won’t have Mercury back to 07:45 Aquarius until St. Valentines Day, February 14th.
It’s seems unfair that these 21 day periods have gotten such a reputation for bringing problems in transportation, communication, mail, the internet… as well as our thinking processes. Pay attention to the small print, we’re told, and be prepared that decisions you make during this time can be based on poor communication, misinformation or careless thinking. Recheck everything… expect detours and delays in travel. Try not to sign contracts or get married. Mechanical breakdowns are also likely and better safe than sorry… the wary among us usually do a computer backup, just in case.
Less obvious perhaps than the mechanical problems, Mercury’s involvement with communication makes these times when nothing goes without saying. People speak their mind… perhaps revealing things that otherwise would not be said. Don’t be surprised if you come to regret something you may have revealed during these weeks, so if you can hold back, do so. It’s also a good idea to review every email or voicemail message before you send it.
But as many challenges as these cycles bring (or get blamed for) they have an underappreciated and mostly unrecognized up side too. These are exceptional times to find, learn or see something that would have gone unnoticed before. Any activity that has a “re” at the beginning is a good bet… review, research, reorganize. Look for lost articles, find the perfect wallpaper, uncover information or resources, learn what you absolutely must know… all these are wonderful uses of the Mercury Retrograde energy.
Astrologer Rob Tillett has a rather well rounded take on the current cycle, as does Marguerite Manning who isn’t at all put off or ready to give ground to these regular, though oddball, astrological events. Rather than running for cover, these pros suggest being prepared for the minor breakdowns or detours, review carefully anything you must sign and use this time to revisit, retrieve or uncover data – a sort of cosmic second chance to find the answer.
How will Mercury Retrograde affect you? Astrologers suggest you look to the house in your own birth chart where the retrograde happens (in this case 07:45 Aquarius to 21:45 Capricorn) for the area of life likely to be affected. If you have a heavy Aquarian cast to your chart (your Sun, Moon or Rising signs are Aquarius) or the retrograde motion of Mercury passes over planets or key points on your chart, you might find the next 21 days more eventful or stressful.
By being aware of the astrological weather, you can be prepared for whatever comes and make the most of it.