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Patience and Introspection: Mercury Retrograde in Aquarius/Capricorn 2016

Outdoor statue of Great Showa Buddha, Yamazaki, Kuwahara, Aomori Prefecture, Japan;
photo by Fg2 via Wikimedia Commons.

Mercury Retrograde in Aquarius/Capricorn 
January 5-25, 2016

Dec 19, 2015   Enters Shadow
Jan 5, 2016      Stationary Retrograde
Jan 8, 2016      Mercury Enters Capricorn
Jan 14, 2016    Mercury Trine Jupiter and Conjunct Sun
Jan 22, 2016    Mercury Conjunct Pluto
Jan 25, 2016    Stationary Direct
Feb 14, 2016   Leaves Shadow

From Jan. 5 through 25, the planet Mercury will turn retrograde (it will appear to move backward) through tropical Aquarius and Capricorn. It will spend the majority of the retrograde cycle in Capricorn, but will station (stop moving) in Aquarius, spending roughly four days of the retrograde cycle in this sign. First off, Mercury turns retrograde every three months, three times a year. It’s the most common inner planetary retrograde. This isn’t a time to panic, worry or otherwise avoid carrying out your life as you usually do. However, Mercury retrograde is a time to modify the way you carry out your daily affairs and to be particularly mindful of your communications with others.

While Mercury is retrograde, you need to be aware that the three weeks of its retrograde cycle (and often the shadow periods, too) require versatility and flexibility. That means you should be open to the possibility that plans may change or sudden and unexpected setbacks may pop up, inviting you to alter your direction, goals, and strategies. When a planet turns retrograde, it changes the “normal” flow of things related to that archetype. We associate Mercury with the signs Gemini and Virgo. On the Gemini end, Mercury retrograde places emphasis on communication and how we go about our daily lives.

Be particularly mindful that what you’re saying is clear and understood. Serious and sometimes costly misunderstandings are common during Mercury retrograde (so double check the message or repeat and reiterate more than usual). The Gemini side of Mercury also associates with local travel, and that often has a perceived influence on cars or other means of transportation. The Virgo end of Mercury actually has more to do with the notorious issues involving machinery or equipment used to either enhance work performance or generally improve living conditions. In others words, a lot of stuff tends to break down during Mercury retrograde in an unusually higher frequency.

And the reason is because Mercury retrograde pokes perceptual holes (Gemini) and accentuates the faults (Virgo) in the things we rely upon to improve our lives. In other words, Mercury the trickster is trying to expand our conscious awareness by shedding light on issues we’ve been ignorant about or have chosen to ignore, but often in an annoying and irritating way. It can be a time of increased delays and setbacks. But the good news is that if you feel rushed to push forward with anything, the universe will support you more if you hold off and take your time to revise and double check your work.

That doesn’t mean that you should cancel all your plans or avoid moving forward with anything just because Mercury is retrograde. Check the signs and signals from your environment to discern what the cycle is telling you. Often, if you keep coming up against blockages or setbacks, it’s usually an indication to hold off and wait things out. But remember, a retrograde reverses the “normal” flow of things in a particular area (often associated with the house in your natal chart that Mercury will retrograde through). If things have been particularly stuck or stagnant, than Mercury retrograde can push things forward and expand your awareness of new directions; it will reverse the flow.

The last critical piece of Mercury retrograde combines the symbolism of both Gemini and Virgo. This relates to the expansion of your perceptual awareness which requires humility to change or alter your opinion or perception in the presence of information that challenges what you once knew or understood. These three weeks are a time to keep your mind loose, open and receptive to new input and information that could end up having a profound impact on your understanding of reality and could also turn out to be incredibly useful, practical and helpful. This is a time to review things, go over what you’re working on, and make adjustments where needed. You’ll actually have extra time to do this, so don’t feel rushed.

And as far as I know, there is no reliable way to predict whether a particular Mercury retrograde cycle will hit you hard or not (whether you will experience a high influx of technical problems or setbacks). I suppose you’ll just have to wait and be surprised. But if you approach this cycle with humility, open-mindedness, and consciousness of the need for versatility, you’ll be much better equipped to deal with problems should they arise. The trickster’s main intention is to lead us into new directions and to show us realities we are unaware of. Sometimes setbacks can be opportunities to notice things you would otherwise overlook. And that is the true gift of Mercury retrograde.

From Aquarius to Capricorn

Both signs Aquarius and Capricorn, are classically ruled by the planet Saturn. Aquarius is also seen to have a resonance with the planet Uranus—it’s modern planetary ruler. Mercury will only spend about four days in Aquarius and the majority of this cycle in the sign of Capricorn. On the Uranian end, Mercury in Aquarius seeks complete freedom of thought and expression. As it moves retrograde through this sign, Mercury may reveal problems in relation to some progressive ideas. In order for innovation to effectively take place, you must have a respect and understanding of what has come before.

You wouldn’t try innovating something without the hard work of learning about what preceded it, would you? For example, imagine you’ve taken a few yoga classes (without really studying it in depth) and suddenly you think of a new way of doing yoga, or you invent some new posture and then decide to you want to teach others and set up studios, while ignoring the fact that yoga is far more than just a physical exercise, and that it’s a tradition that’s been around for thousands of years. It might be a good idea to take some time, possibly many years, studying it before you should feel learned enough to change it. True innovation and genius must precede hard work, discipline and a willingness to master the techniques already perfected. 

While Mercury moves back into Capricorn for the rest of the retrograde cycle, this is an ideal time to review or reconsider a strategic plan of action, or to keep your mind open to the possibility of putting in some extra time to master certain techniques that have withstood the test of time. Whatever you want to move forward with will likely require that you go back and focus on the proper way of doing it. Since Saturn rules both signs, we can feel the weight of this planet, the master teacher, and stern disciplinarian, tainting this particular cycle.

Let’s say you’ve lost your way, or perhaps you’ve lost your ability to focus, or you’ve been lacking the motivation to plan ahead and strategize. Mercury retrograde through Capricorn is an ideal cycle to get yourself back on track, to go open your mind to new strategies or advice from those wiser or more experienced than yourself. This cycle may also urge you to spend some time alone or to embrace more solitude so that you can put in the necessary effort required to achieve something involving hard work and the ability to organize yourself.  Consider that this cycle may assist you in gaining more competence and the necessary discipline needed to withstand the tests and challenges that any great work must endure if it’s to come into full manifestation.

On Jan. 14, Mercury will conjoin the Sun which will symbolize the midpoint of the retrograde cycle. Typically, the time leading up to the midpoint is wrought with increased frustrations and experiences that urge you to deconstruct things or to notice what’s wrong with your strategy or plan of action. After the midpoint (Mercury/Sun conjunction), you may notice that solutions will arise and that you’re able to implement changes that eluded you before. On the day of the midpoint, Mercury and the Sun will both trine Jupiter, symbolizing a fleeting opportunity to move quickly into the direction of integration as well as the emergence of insights and clarity. Jupiter’s conjunction with the North Node also indicates that assistance from others may emerge which will help you further perfect what you’re focusing on.Be open to constructive criticism and feedback that could be helpful.

On Jan. 22, Mercury will align with the planet Pluto. The days surrounding this conjunction may bring up some uncomfortable truths or a reality check. The mind is turned inward during a retrograde, and Pluto always dredges up realizations that are often frightening or uncomfortable to the ego. In order to work effectively with Pluto, you must open your mind to the possibility that any problems encountered externally are manifestations of blockages within yourself. Psychological realizations are common under this aspect, as well as an opportunity to shed light on issues you’ve been ignoring or shoving aside. Take an honest look at yourself and the situations in your life; Pluto can help you see the bigger picture. This is a time of deep introspection and self-reflection.

This retrograde just happens to correlate to the start of the New Year. Astrologically speaking, the Gregorian New Year has no relation to natural cycles, but we can’t ignore its collective significance since we all agree on it. The New Year is often a time of setting “resolutions” or intentions to move forward in positive directions. This Mercury retrograde cycle encourages you to remain fully conscious and open to the idea that in order to move forward this year, you may need to step back to place yourself in a better position to succeed.

Whatever you plan on achieving this year will work out best if you take your time and align yourself with your priorities. Use the first three weeks of the New Year to pace yourself and make sure that you’re clear on what it is you want to move forward with. Since this is a particularly practical cycle, you’re likely to be more focused on real world concerns which require patience as well as a willingness to put the effort, time, and energy needed to bring something to completion. But if you put your mind to it, and humble yourself, you’ll eventually find that you have a strong foundation from which you can accomplish great things this year.