Mercury turns retrograde on January 21st where it will encourage us to look back rather than forwards and see where we need to reflect, retreat, relax, or revise. Mercury of course rules the mind and the way we communicate with others and generally process information, including the vehicles for that communication such as our technological devices and travel timetables.
Mercury retrograde is a mainstream concept now and even the New York Times, which as recently as 2006 pooh-poohed the idea that a planet appearing to move backwards could be a real thing. Times have changed, and I like to think that’s largely because of the explosion of REAL astrology on the Internet, and the most recent article in the New York Times is more supportive of the concept if not totally enthusiastic. The lack of enthusiasm can be blamed on astrology writers who admonish readers to put everything on hold while they hide from their lives until the retrograde is over, which is silly and unhelpful.
To understand the illusion of its movement means to realize that we are not at the center of things, that there is a reality beyond the one we see. (For astrology bloggers, this is less a problem than further evidence of the planet’s wiliness — as if its dangerous power is drawn less from what the planet actually does or is and more from the story of our confused efforts to understand it.)
There is a wisdom behind retrogrades that encourages us to take a breath and stop what we are doing, if only for a moment, and look back at our lives before forging ahead with something new. Mercury isn’t the only planet that retrogrades, but it does so more often and therefore is more newsworthy. Mercury will turn direct again on February 11th. Yes, there are shadow periods as Mercury slows down and invites us to slow down as well, but there is no magic number about when these start or how we will be affected by the retrograde. Finding time to be more present in our lives and cultivating a sense of humor when things go wonky, which they will, will go a long way towards helping us successfully navigate these times.
We also have a New Moon in Aquarius to precede Mercury’s retrograde turn. The modern ruler of Aquarius is Uranus, which I like to call the “higher octave” of Mercury. Where Mercury rules the human mind, Uranus rules the higher mind – intuition, awareness, consciousness. Aquarius is ruled by the higher mind – intuition and advanced consciousness are its domain. Under the Aquarian influence we are lifted far beyond the personal into a more transpersonal and transformational perspective that provides reason and knowledge.
This is the third New Moon in a row that has occurred at the very first degree of a sign, doubling the symbolic new beginning. The New Moon marks a new lunar cycle, and at zero degrees Aquarius there is a sense of being washed clean and emerging into a new awareness.
This New Moon aligns in a harmonious sextile with Saturn, helping to ground us and use that innovative inspiration in a more practical way. This New Moon opens up a window of consciousness that can help us to envision our lives completely differently, and with a new awareness that can begin opening doors for us. Mercury is stationary at the New Moon, at a complete standstill like a moment frozen in time. If we pay attention now, we can see all the way to infinity.