Yes, Mercury, Too

4.25.16


Amidst all the hoopla about Mars recently flipping to retrograde motion for 2 months, we mustn't neglect to discuss that Mercury will also be retrograde during the next few weeks (Apr 28-May 22).

Mercury's latest retrograde is less remarkable news, seeing as it endures this apparent backwards-tango routine three times a year. Mars, on the other hand, is only retrograde once every two years or so.

Still, to have both these fast-moving bodies simultaneously relegated to the temporary limbo of retracing their recent zodiac steps doubly emphasizes the 'pause, reconsider, regroup' themes associated with personal-planet retrogrades. If obvious forward advances and developments don't proceed as smoothly or swiftly over these weeks ahead, then, it would make perfect sense. Clearly, we have some unfinished business, unresolved tensions, lingering questions, and/or scrambled specifics to revisit first… and this is the ideal astrological time to do just that.

By now, any astrology follower is probably pretty familiar with the standard Merc-retro drill. Whenever our planetary messenger is retrograde, we're at a higher risk of messed-up communications, mangled transmissions, technological malfunctions, and transportational detours or delays. To best protect ourselves from such potentials, we must choose our words carefully (or postpone important conversations), double-check all critical details (especially related to agreements and contracts), practice patience with our seemingly-gone-haywire machines (for we often cause worse problems by overreacting to momentary glitches), and prepare for bumpier roads or longer travel-times (since the shortcuts and back-ways we think will rescue us usually prove to take even longer).

All that said, Mercury retrograde isn't necessarily as unilaterally awful an experience as fear-mongering astro-novices would contend… which is why I like to refer back to my decade-old piece 'An Alternate Take on Mercury Retrograde' as a timeless inspiration for mindfully reflecting on the positive possibilities it can offer us.

This go-around, Mercury's entire retrograde ensues within the fixed earth sign of Taurus, our stable-and-solid rock of predictable practicality, a steady-footed advocate for always making sure first. Taurean types rarely accept a premise based solely on 'what sounds like a good idea' or 'what feels right'. They seek tangible evidence, a concrete payoff, some grounding here in the earthly realm. Otherwise, it's mere folly, without any common-sense purpose. Therefore, Taurus is usually understood to be the slowest of the twelve signs: They take a while to make important decisions, to develop or to fracture loyalties, and to enact change. Some might call this 'consistency'; others grumblingly label it 'stubbornness'.

The contrast between Taurus and Sagittarius, the current sign of Mars's retrograde, couldn't be starker. If Taurus is unmistakably steady and consistent, Sagittarius expresses itself through variable surges of daring motion. While Taurus prefers to find its footing before launching off, Sagittarius throws caution to the wind in exchange for interest and adventure. As slowly and stubbornly as Taurus changes its mind or finalizes a judgment, Sagittarius is just as fast and faithful in choosing one option over another.

These contrasts logically follow the geometric relationship between these two signs, an inconjunct: Fixed-earth Taurus is tenaciously steadfast in how it safeguards our existing pragmatic concerns, while mutable-fire Sagittarius is bravely versatile in taking whatever actions will propel along our transitions to the next. Both guiding principles are vital to us, but they surely don't speak the same language.

Factoring in Mercury's retrograde alongside Mars's, we see emerging an even more striking astrological statement about appropriate pacing. Extending the symbolic representations of Mercury as 'mind' and Mars as 'might', we could say that our impatiently forward-lurching physicality ('come on, let's go, go, GO…!') is presently at odds with our risk-averse rationality ('… but show me the money FIRST!').

Though we may feel way-past-ready to leap ahead, our sensible survival-driven thoughts are suggesting we should still double-check the provisions, readjust our settings, and/or reconfirm our understanding of possible risks and ramifications before setting off. And if certain of our mental patterns apparently require a bit more coaxing and cajoling, if we expect them to evolve in accordance with the brighter horizons we're now headed towards, that's a totally worthy—and particularly timely—reason to linger here longer. Better to make it to the right place with all our critical bases covered (as best we can, that is) and our quietly worrisome questions concretely addressed than to hurry off in a general direction… and end up woefully underprepared, internally conflicted, and/or with a string of unattended-to details strewn in our dust.

Beautifully, benefic Venus will also enter Taurus (a sign it rules, and thus loves to occupy) the day after Mercury goes retrograde (on Fri Apr 29)… and remains there through the entire duration, not moving on until two days after Mercury's direct again (May 24). As such, Venus serves as this Mercury-retrograde's dispositor, an encouraging signification that deliberate materially-motivated slowdowns and second-thoughts are likely to work to our ultimate advantage.

The retrograde Mercury also creates synergistic trines to both Jupiter (and the Moon's north node) in Virgo and Pluto in Capricorn, framing a full earth-sign triangle that powerfully supports a tangibly-minded strengthening of our specific strategic intentions. The ongoing Jupiter-Pluto trine, which this Mercury-retrograde seeks to reinforce, first formed last October and now approaches its third-and-final exact hit in late June. As I described it in my 2016 year-ahead summary, 'Epic undertakings are comprised of many modest steps, each carried out with meticulous care and an eye ever fixed on the endgame, ready to adapt to changing conditions if necessary.'

Mercury's retrograde in Taurus is an excellent opportunity to carefully review which conditions have changed and/or are changing, to meticulously reconsider whether the modest steps we've lined out still make sense… and to just generally reconnect with the current state-of-affairs. Should we fixate too hungrily on only the 'endgame' (as retrograde Mars might desire), we miss what's happening right here right now—to our potential detriment.