Another year, another round of Mercury retrogrades. If you’re familiar with the term, odds are you don’t have good feelings about it. “Oh, no, not again!” is the usual reaction to learning that one is coming up. Take heart! Even if some people act as if the sky is falling, Mercury retrograde is not a freak occurrence, much less the end of the world. It’s a regular phenomenon that happens three or four times a year. We can’t stop it, but we can understand and work with it.
What does it mean?
First, the technicalities: Mercury is retrograde when it’s traveling backwards. That’s an optical illusion, of course, and happens when that planet’s orbital speed changes in comparison to the earth’s. It’s the planetary equivalent of speeding up on a highway, passing a car and seeing it fall far behind after you in the rear view mirror.
How this works: When Mercury is moving in reverse, the areas of life it governs do not play by the usual rules. Anything related to communication and travel requires extra attention. This includes phones, computers and electronic devices, the mail (remember that?), cars, public transportation and commutes.
The need for that extra attention often comes from things not working properly. The first line of attack involves our information flow. Messages go astray. Misunderstandings, confusion, half-truths and, sigh, deception abound. Both sides of a conversation may be using the same words, but those words may not have the same meaning at all. Or expectations and assumptions may differ. (Real-life example: an organization awarding a book contract on a Mercury retrograde and terminating it two retrograde cycles later, because the authors and the publisher never agreed on what the book was supposed to be about.)
Vehicles of communication also take hits. Machines or systems with an inherent instability hit the breaking point. Technology malfunctions. Websites and networks go down. Programs stop working. Tasks that should be ordinary turn into a gauntlet of error messages and trouble-shooting.
Challenges rain down on our vehicles for getting around, too. Traffic snarls. Travel gets delayed. Buses don’t arrive. Detours pop up and complicate your route.
What should you do?
Postpone launching major projects, signing major contracts and buying big-ticket items if possible. (You may not have complete or accurate information; the subject or purpose may not be what you think it is.) Double-check fine print, backup your data and allow lots of extra time when you’re on the road.
The good news? This is an excellent time to investigate and research, finish old business, clean up paperwork and get in touch with people you haven’t talked to in a while. Pay attention to who surfaces from the past, in person or in thoughts. Their reappearance could help tie up loose ends or resolve lingering business. Organize and prepare so you’ll be ready to move ahead when Mercury does!
Mercury retrogrades in 2016
January 5 - January 25, going from 1 Aquarius to 15 Capricorn
April 28 - May 22, going from 24 Taurus to 14 Taurus
August 30 - September 22, going from 29 Virgo to 15 Virgo
December 19 - January 8, 2017, going from 15 Capricorn to 29 Sagittarius
It’s common to feel communication and transportation matters start slowing a couple of days before a retrograde begins. Once it ends, the change is not instantaneous. Wait a few days before resuming business as usual, to give the planet time to get moving again.
All of this year’s Mercury retrogrades travel through earth signs.This creates a markedly different atmosphere than last year’s retrogrades. Those were retrogrades with a vengeance, because they were all entirely in air signs (the realm of logic and intellect) and whipped the possibilities of a retrograde, good and bad, to insane heights.
This year’s earth-based retrogrades bring their own challenges. The winged messenger is not comfortable in/on earth, which does not allow the pace and freedom of movement he prefers. For the first three of this year’s retrogrades, Jupiter will be in an easy flow to Mercury’s earth path and amplifying all the retrograde effects. Add even more cushions of time than you normally would. Be braced for slowdowns that defy credulity and patience. And be prepared for communication to get very, very bogged down.
Awareness of cost, consequences and practicalities will be a theme of the first retrograde, from January 5 - 25 in Capricorn. This may be the worst in terms of slowness and delays, as well as foggy communication. Once he clears Aquarius, Mercury will be under the command of Saturn, who takes his time and throws in obstacles to guard against hurried, unwise action. Unfortunately at present Saturn is in a protracted argument with Neptune and his cosmic fog machine, which is adding to confusion, misunderstandings, sleights of hand and deceit. The winged messenger is also in the same sign as Pluto, agent of unavoidable change and lord of primal, deep forces. Mercury will meet Pluto’s purifying scythe again on January 22-24, when Mercury stations at Pluto’s degree. More could come to light from their first meeting, on December 19, 2015, and again when Mercury speeds over the same degree January 27 - 30.
Expect a plodding vibe during the second retrograde, from April 28 - May 22, in Taurus. Since Mercury will be passing through Taurus with its ruler Venus in residence, lazy, languid thinking and talk will be natural as can be, like a cow chewing its cud. Money you’ve earned, your talents and possessions and your own worth could be issues, so paying attention will ... pay.
The pace should pick up during the third retrograde, which has Mercury in his Virgo home base from August 3 - September 22. Don’t drop your precautions, though. Keep that eye on the details. Jupiter will still be in Virgo until September 16, and he’ll be escalating all the usual retrograde attributes. His influence is great for the beneficial potentials. Nitpicking, analyzing, over-thinking and cleaning could bring important information to light and facilitate correcting mistakes (and catching lies).
The final retrograde, from December 19 - January 8, 2017, brings our information flow back to where it started at the beginning of the year. Most of this retrograde will have a similar quality to the first one, minus the extreme fogginess and the intensity. (Saturn will be done clashing with Neptune by then, and Mercury will not be crossing Pluto during the retrograde.) The few days in Sagittarius, from January 5 - 8, promise impatience, frustration and a high likelihood of mishaps, malfunctions and delays involving trains, planes and cable.
About the Author
Kathy Biehl has been a professional astrologer and psychic for more than 30 years. Book a private session with Kathy at EmpowermentUnlimited.net, where you can sign up for her newsletter, listen to her weekly podcasts, and purchase her recordings. You can also follow her daily insights and whimsical photos on Facebook, and find her at the Professional Aquarian YouTube channel.