We have a somewhat strange Mercury Retrograde occurring from January 14th to February 4th. Rather than backpedaling through one sign (which tends to cause enough cosmic mayhem), Mercury, the trickster, is going to double the dose and transit through two signs instead: first Aquarius (until the 24th) then Capricorn (until the 4th of February). Let’s look more closely at the aerodynamics of this retrograde to see what it has in store for us.
Retrogrades occur when a planet looks like it’s moving backwards in relation to us on Earth. Slower moving planets, like Saturn and Jupiter, have longer retrogrades, while Mercury, the fastest planet, has three to four reversals per year. In general, retrogrades are times of cosmic miscues, lapses, repetitions, delays, and glitches. In their more positive valence, we can think of them as periods to re-assess, re-consider, and re-work where we are at a given moment.
Mercury retrogrades in particular are pesky. They tend to involve problems with communication, commerce, cargo—things coming and going. This makes sense, as Mercury, also known as Hermes, was, mythologically speaking, the only God that could transit through all dimensions of the ancient cosmos, from Olympus, to Earth, to the dark realm of Hades. As such, Mercury is the planet associated with conveyances between things through words and wares.
Zooming in a bit more on the nature of a Mercury retrograde, we find that it might influence certain social types more than others. The Trickster Planet is known to be the protector of travelers, thieves, merchants, and orators. If you’re on the run or on the road, for instance, this retrograde might not be a good time for your travels or crimes. If you’re a professor, words might feel elusive during this period. If you ply wares, lost cargo and the like can be a problem, too.
Of course, certain signs will naturally be more impacted by this backspin than others. Mercury-ruled Gemini and Virgo will be more sensitive to its motion than, say, Taurus. It would behoove Virgos and Geminis to figure out where Mercury is transiting the next couple weeks in your individual chart to prepare for delays in those sectors.
These particularities aside, we will generally experience this retrograde as a moment where the brakes get pumped on big decisions (contracts especially) by astrological forces. How so?
Currently Mercury is moving toward a conjunction with Saturn in Aquarius. Saturn loves a Mercury energy in an air sign. Even though Mercury is fast, while Saturn is slow, the two together in Aquarius make for a kind of cosmic triple espresso shot: tons of intellectual energy and serious thought. A Mercury/Saturn conjunction also suggests a ripe moment for official documentation or long term decisions via contracts signed, mortgages started, business deals completed or entered into. Here’s the rub, though: just before Mercury hits that conjunction with Saturn, it begins its retrograde on January 14th backward through Aquarius to Capricorn. Anti-climax.
In other words, the machinery of the spheres is asking Mercury–and us–to practice due diligence, to read the fine print, whether we want to or not Once the Messenger starts going direct again on the 4th of February, the cosmic glitch period will un-stick. The Saturn-Mercury conjunction on March 2nd is a particularly good date to cement long term plans then rather than during this current moment of choppy air.
Looking forward from here, let’s prepare ourselves a bit because there will be two additional full Mercury retrogrades in 2022. They occur on May 13th to June 3rd and September 10th to October 2nd. Interestingly they will also be “double,” moving likewise from air signs to earth signs. Mark your dates.
In aviation, there is a phenomenon known as “mechanical turbulence” that perfectly captures this year’s Earth/Air retrograde dynamic. Mechanical turbulence occurs when something big on Earth–say, a mountain range–buckles the air that streams over it, producing a “mountain wave,” pushing turbulent pressure way high into the sky. In such moments, airplanes have nowhere to go to avoid atmospheric chop. It’s a situation that we, as terrified passengers, just have to ride out, digging our recently manicured nails into the sketch material of our seats. Think of the upcoming Mercury retrogrades this year as a kind of mechanical turbulence–they will be a bit rocky, but they will all smooth out eventually, chipped nails notwithstanding.