Enhanced Color View of Mercury - NASA
Enhanced-color photo of Mercury, taken by cameras aboard spacecraft “Messenger.” NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

by C.H. Wells

Regular readers at The Millstone will likely have seen an article, three months ago, which addressed the astrological implications of a ‘Retrograde Mercury’ that occurred through September and October. You can refresh your memory, or catch up, here: https://millstonenews.com/2015/09/its-not-my-fault-mercurys-retrograde.html

As with most things galactic, retrogrades are cyclical. Just like the cat, invariably, they can be trusted to keep “coming back.” In Mercury’s case, a new retrograde begins about every four-and-a-half months, for a total of approximately three per year. [Owing to the earliness of 2016’s first retrograde, however, this year we will actually be experiencing our fourth retrograde as 2017 dawns.]

The very first retrograde of 2016 officially begins January 5 (and runs till January 25, inclusive). Truth be told, however, due to the “halo” period, its associated challenges are likely to have already been felt by the time it starts its ‘backward’ journey. The halos occur even while Mercury is still in “direct” motion, as it appears to slow, for a few weeks prior to a retrograde, and take its time, for a couple of weeks after, before hitting its proper pace again. [During those brief moments when it appears to stand still in the heavens, a planet is referred to as “stationary.”]

Retrograde Mercury phases don’t occur in the same months, always, but advance by about two weeks with each new year. On this occasion, Mercury will have just entered the sign of Aquarius [according to the “tropical” zodiac**], before it quickly backs out and reverses its path into Capricorn. Capricorn, both an “earth” and a “cardinal” sign, is strongly associated with things that are themselves down-to-earth and ambitious. Among others, it relates to business, government, politics, buildings, construction, paternal figures or institutions, and social standing in the public eye. So watch for notable events in these matters, especially, as Mercury retrogrades, here.

And, yes, it’s traditionally expected that folks born under the sign of Capricorn will be likely to experience just a wee bit more of what the retrograde has to offer this time, as it passes over that person’s natal sun position, and possibly over their natal Mercury as well.

Those born under Capricorn’s opposite sign, Cancer, may feel a greater amount of stress or strife as well; likewise for the two “squares” – signs at 90-degree angles to Capricorn – Aries and Libra. This is the case with every retrograde as it passes through a new sign, or signs, each time. If it’s moving through “your sign,” or its opposite or squares, you may expect you’ll be a tad more susceptible than usual to the retrograde’s quirks.

But, though some may experience any given retrograde a little more intensely than others, we all go through them every time. They are part of a series of natural cycles that shape the flow of time and life. Astrologers see the solar system as a great timepiece: learn how to read it, and you begin to understand those cycles, and when they might be expected to shift again.

In astrology, Mercury corresponds to communication, travel, learning, even to our way of thinking. When these things slow down or turn backward, or inward, as signaled by the retrogrades, there’s a tendency to end up tripping over your own feet, or having the wrong words come out.

Contracts, whether written or verbal – “Okay, see you at noon on Friday, then!” – are unlikely to to be fulfilled as planned. That “quick trip” you thought you were making turns out to take a lot longer than you expected. Great deals turn out to be not so great, and great ideas even less so.

By the end of a typical retrograde, weary and wary, you’ll likely feel certain that nothing – but absolutely nothing – is going to turn out the way you planned or expected it to. (And once you’re certain – absolutely, positively certain – that it’s not going to turn out the way you expect it to … it probably will!)

While most New Year’s Resolutions made under the retrograde this year are unlikely to be kept, it might be well to make an extra special effort with your resolve to keep in mind the retro’s cardinal rules:

1) Don’t do anything you can’t undo!
2) When in doubt, don’t!

And do try to cut other people a bit of slack. Remember, they’re going through the retrograde, too.

Since any offer of ‘Best Wishes’ for a ‘Happy New Year’ is likely to produce unexpected/unintended results, allow me to simply offer “New Year Greetings!” to all of The Millstone’s readers.


**There are both “tropical” and “sidereal” zodiacs in use, the latter more closely corresponding to Earth’s present orientation to the constellations; the former still used by most astrologers, today. The dichotomy is caused by a wobble in the Earth’s axis of rotation and is referred to as the “precession of the equinoxes.” More complex explanation is probably best left for another time. [Unless, of course, you care to google.]