The 'Good News' and The 'Bad News'


Let's get the bad news out of the way upfront, so you don't have to expectantly read any further: Mercury turns retrograde next Monday (Mar 12), remaining in apparent backwards motion through April 4.

Of course, I don't really believe Mercury retrograde must equal something bad (which is why 'good news' and 'bad news' are within quotation marks in this article's title). I try to resist such black-and-white value judgments on any astrological happening.

Yet, plenty of people still freak out—with some good reason—at reports of the latest Mercury retrograde, which is known to bring technological hiccups, communicative blunders, transport delays and paperwork mishaps. My usual warnings apply. Often, the worst Merc-retro problems are a result of our own impatient responses to a momentary glitch or uncertain pause: banging on the electronic device, blurting out a hasty statement, looking for a shortcut detour around the traffic. Mercury's a trickster that way. We cause the crash, the crossed signals or crazy snarl, by refusing to adjust ourselves to the alternate retrograde rhythms.

The best remedy for a Merc-retro headache is to calmly wait it out: stepping away from the malfunctioning computer, reading instructions three times over before proceeding, thinking before speaking, settling into the passing stall.

What may make this one slightly 'worse' news, alas, is the fact that Mars also remains retrograde for the duration of Mercury's reversal. (And if you're up-to-date on my recent file of complaints about Mars retrograde, you already know how that's been going.) Two personal planets retrograde at the same time—the rulers of the mind (Mercury) and the body (Mars)—surely increase the potential for madness. Our pace may seem off and the words come out wrong. Hardly any of our tricks (except, perhaps, genuinely friendly goodwill) can be relied upon as we might like. How do we not pull our hair out?

The always-apt reminder that this situation is temporary (one of the most perpetually appeasing bits of solace astrology provides) can hopefully inspire us not to force anything, if it doesn't appear to be functioning as we think it should. During this double-retrograde interval, certain reorganizational adjustments are being made in the cosmic fabric of our lives, important in ways unintelligible to us, sure, but nonetheless needing our support through our letting things happen.

Mercury turns retrograde in the early degrees of Aries, which means it will conjoin Uranus, the ambassador of eccentricity and unorthodoxy, twice in the course of the coming two weeks—first today (Mon Mar 5) while it's still direct, then again on Sun Mar 18 after the retrograde's begun. Due to the slowing-down-and-switching-apparent-direction process, Mercury will be essentially conjunct Uranus this entire time.

The combined influence of (1) the Aries sign-placement and (2) the Uranus conjunction is a highly erratic one (as we discussed when Venus was in a similar spot last month). We're liable to shock or short-circuit a situation by proffering too quick and/or self-focused a sentiment… and once it's out there, we can't take it back. One raw comment or slip-of-the-tongue, and, in a split second, everything can change. Maybe it's best that such unconsidered opinions or undercover motives get blown out of the water and into view? Worth noting, on the upside: Our unknowing minds can produce brilliant brainstorms and breakthroughs in much the same fashion, suddenly, out of the blue, gifting us an epiphany that changes the whole outlook. The potential disorderliness is an ideal breeding-ground for creative thought.

The full ramifications that might come from our putting into effect any such brainstorms, however, may not show themselves until after Mercury clears its retrograde shadow in the second half of April. I say this because, despite its prolonged conjunction with Uranus during the next couple weeks, Mercury won't complete the corresponding square to Pluto (Apr 25) until after its third Uranus conjunction (Apr 22). As I've written before, the long-term square between Uranus and Pluto is the defining aspect of these chaotic transformational times… and whenever any other planet wanders into their tangle, it introduces a more pronounced manifestation of this revolutionary energy.

That Mercury begins its 'tangle' now but doesn't finish it up for another month-and-a-half points to a sense of suspended animation… as if our fresh invigorating ideas are anxiously chomping at the bit to be actualized, yet don't fully become so until they contend with the Pluto-square pushback of consequences and then either sink or swim. And that Mars only returns to direct motion less than a couple weeks before that point (on Apr 13) seems to reiterate the likelihood of our feeling as if full-on progress is somewhat stunted before now and mid-April.

But in the meantime—and here's where the good news comes in—we are fortunate to be under the effect of an earth-sign grand trine (or triangle of planets in positive flow to one another) between Mars retrograde in Virgo, Jupiter in Taurus, and Pluto in Capricorn. Though this grand trine isn't exact until Mar 12-14, its magic is certainly already available to us. Yet, like all 'soft' aspects (and especially those between yin earth-signs), this configuration won't necessarily make anything happen, as much as it sets up a fortuitous environment in which the actions we take will receive an astrological helping-hand.

The synergistic tailwind provided by this grand earth trine is bound to Mars retrograde in Virgo, so its support is best applied to whatever reparative, reorganizational or other 'clean-up' efforts we're already engaged with. (Refresh yourself with my thoughts on 'doing Virgo'.) There exist in traditional astrology all sorts of discouragements against starting anything new while Mars is retrograde, as if our initial assertions of will are liable to have trouble 'getting off the ground'. I believe it is possible to 'outsmart' such rules… as long as you can conceive of your initiative-taking as a sort of remedial measure which addresses something already in existence that badly needs an overhaul. (I am a pragmatic-minded rebel that way.)

The blend of Jupiter's trine from Taurus to Pluto in Capricorn (which I wrote about last year) contributes a further tangibility to whatever we're doing, especially if it's motivated by somehow simplifying our relationship to the material (Jupiter in Taurus), as a way of furthering the difficult process of transforming our outdated structures of managing resources (Pluto in Capricorn). To get to 'the next level', in other words, may require rewiring our habits. It's one thing to alter our thinking to align it to different goals; but it's wholly another to actually instill these changes into our daily routine, in order for a seemingly modest move, made repeatedly one day after the next, to transform our standing. Beginning to take these small steps now—with both the fair expectation of a potentially shaky start and a commitment to keep it going anyway—will put the grand-trine energy to good use.

Venus's entry into Taurus today (Mon Mar 5) only sweetens the pot further… not just because this puts the goddess of good fortune in one of her happiest signs, but because it will also unite her with the other benefic planet, Jupiter, in a conjunction that's exact on Mar 13, right at the peak of the grand trine.

A Venus-Jupiter conjunction in itself is always a wonderful influence—it fosters a warm connectedness in our relationships, the potential to draw hope and inspiration from what our loved ones are up to, and an enhanced likelihood of being on the receiving-end of others' good graces, among other things. Factoring it in to an otherwise-already-fortuitous grand trine, then, shows us that perhaps the perfect way of activating this benevolent astrology involves (1) surrounding ourselves with those we appreciate the most and (2) sharing pleasurably sensate experiences with them. (This is why I earlier wrote that 'genuinely friendly goodwill' may presently be our only reliable 'trick'.) What more efficient method of paring down to what truly matters… quickly simplifying our priorities and pointing us in the right direction, to helpfully guide our Mars-retrograde-in-Virgo habit-fixing?