Restraining the Overeager


Need I tell you again that new years don't automatically start out with a crisp, clean, refreshing vibe?

Even when our mindset is all gung-ho, page-flipped, or resolution-oriented, the actual astrological energies of a new year's opening weeks aren't necessarily dutifully in sync.

In 2016's case, we open our year on a somewhat befuddling note, with Mercury going retrograde during the first week out (on Jan 5), while, at the very same time, forming an exact square to Mars. Mercury just entered Aquarius a few days earlier (Jan 1), right before Mars also shifted signs into Scorpio (Jan 3). As such, both these faster-moving planets are temporarily wielding the fresh energy-injection of a sign-change… which would coincide pretty nicely with the typical new-year's itch to launch the latest endeavors and unroll the updated versions, if not for Mercury's retrograde.

For the record, I am not the type of astrologer who overhypes the potential catastrophes and crises supposedly caused by Mercury retrograde. That's not to say shit doesn't happen when Mercury is retrograde—especially in the realm of mangled communications, mixed-up paperwork, malfunctioning equipment and electronics, and travel detours and delays. But as basic knowledge of Mercury retrograde has further permeated mainstream awareness, a collective cloud of disproportionate fear seems to have arisen around the worst-case-scenario expressions of this fairly common astrological event.

Some perspective: Mercury is retrograde approximately 20% of the time (i.e., thrice a year, for three-to-four weeks), and I hardly think any of us can spare such a sizable proportion of our precious life on not traveling or doing business or having important conversations. Besides, many of the cruelest Mercury-retrograde snafus are caused by user error, often as a result of our too quickly overreacting to apparent (but not always real or especially significant) glitches in the matrix—and actually creating or worsening the problem with our supposed 'fix'.

Is it asking too much of ourselves to slow down, regroup, and/or reconsider when such 'apparent glitches' show up during these few Mercury-retrograde weeks ahead? Is it possible Mercury-retrograde periods might work to our advantage, in terms of offering a chance to revisit, revise, or reconfirm? (Check out this old favorite: 'An Alternate Take on Mercury Retrograde'.)

All that said, Mercury-Mars squares do try our patience, shorten our temper, up our communicative edginess, and amplify our willfulness… a combination which definitely increases the likelihood that our own refusals, resistances, rigidity or reactivity will wreak the dreaded havoc. The highest danger of such Mercury-Mars fallout occurs this week, in advance of Mercury retrograding back into Capricorn (on Jan 8). From that point, the square's tension gradually dissipates, while Mercury returns to its plan-making drawing-board, recalibrating any forward-thinking strategies first solidified during the last two weeks of December. Factor in the possibility of unexpected revelations or intense disclosures as Mercury approaches the end of its retrograde (on Jan 25), with the picture finally coming in clearer in the final days of January.

Mars is quite potent throughout this whole stretch, brandishing its full dignified strength in Scorpio, a sign it rules. Indeed, part of this tricky new-year's disconnect is the rhythmic mismatch between (1) Mars-in-Scorpio's powerfully inciting our drive to do whatever it takes to go for what we want and (2) retrograde Mercury's suggesting we pause and rethink.

Despite Mercury's retrograde, Mars in Scorpio still wants us to proactively take enterprising steps forward: Lay preparatory groundwork, slyly lining the ducks up in their row, not launching forth like a bat out of hell. Flirtatiously stoke the passions (yours and theirs), making your intentions near-irresistible to prospective co-participants, but don't dive all the way in together quite yet. Focus your work on items which take a long time to complete, toiling through the less-contested in-between stages; no official sign-offs on new commitments or final products. Embrace this flare-up in self-motivating initiative, yet without lurching ahead, restraining any overeager impulses to do it all now.

It's worth noting there will be no shortage of Mars activity in the months to come, as I mentioned in my year-ahead overview. Mars will remain dignified in Scorpio through early March, before going retrograde in mid-April… and then returns to Scorpio at the end of May, staying there beyond Mars's station back to direct motion (in late June) and into early August. (For those who are counting, that means four full months of Mars in Scorpio during '16.)

In fact, Mars will already enter its pre-retrograde shadow phase by the middle of February. In the short term, then, it's enough to know that any 'forward progress' made after that mid-February point may likely face subsequent redos or disruptions-in-momentum. Using this especially-robust-but-nonetheless-roguish Mars energy to its greatest advantage requires rightfully understanding these months ahead as a marathon, not a miscellany of short-sighted sprints. Ignore this advice, and you're liable to burn out, trip up, or sprain something.

Even Venus is in on the present plot to tempt our overeager selves to dash ahead, while simultaneously warning us against altogether giving in to the impulse. Venus is currently in Sagittarius (since Dec 29), where it craves novel excitements and boundary-pushing explorations in our relational dealings, pleasure-center pastimes, and creative goings-on. Yet, because Venus in Sagittarius gets caught up in the Saturn-Neptune square this week (squaring Neptune on Jan 5, conjoining Saturn on Jan 8), we face the corresponding caution: Don't delude yourself into believing any latest fantastic adventure can totally whisk you away from reality—not without its due consequences. Please enjoy the novelty, the interest, the stimulation… but reasonably.