It's that time again! The planet Mercury appears to go backward, or retrograde in comparison with the Earth's movement roughly three to four times every year. We are already in the shadow of this retrograde, which starts about three weeks before the moment of retrograde which will happen later this week on Dec. 26th. We entered this shadow period on the 9th of December, so if things have already started to seem a little squirrely, this is probably why!
The planet Mercury rules all things concerning thought, speech, trade and communication, which can be everything from computers to shopping to conversations, and also can affect short-distance travel (long distance travel, such as overseas, is generally thought to be under the realm of Jupiter instead of Mercury) and has been known to wreak havoc with all things electronic and mechanical, including cell phones and cars.
(If you don't know what it means to be in the shadow of Mercury, here's a great graphical representation of that concept from Cafe Astrology.)
Beginning of Mercury's Shadow - Dec. 9th, 7:38 am - Mercury at 5 degrees Capricorn
Mercury goes Retrograde - Dec. 26th 9:32 am - Mercury at 21 degrees Capricorn
Mercury turns Direct - Jan. 15th, 9:48 am - Mercury at 5 degrees Capricorn
End of Mercury's Shadow - Feb. 4th, 12:04 am - Mercury at 21 degrees Capricorn
This retrograde comes to us in the already-stressful holiday season, piling on additional tension and difficulty, so it is good to remind ourselves to slow down, decompress and be extra extra patient with ourselves and the things and the people around us. In fact, since communication flare-ups can be so devastating during a retrograde, it is critical to our mental health that we keep in mind the external influences on our thought patterns right now! Communication with those we consider to be authorities or father figures, whether they are our blood relations or not, could be a little bit difficult this season, so be extra aware of the influence in that area when you are interacting with these types of people in your life. These could be parents, in laws, grandparents, supervisors or managers at work, policemen, judges, teachers, or anyone else of either sex who has authority over any part of our life.
The retrograde is happening with Mercury in the solid and stable Earth sign of Capricorn. Capricorn is the ultimate sign of doing one's duty, no matter what, so this retrograde may bring us things to deal with that we have been putting off. In fact, many people will be forced to deal with the things that they would rather not deal with, many times through the pressure of an external authority or governmental department. In other words, if you have been trying to avoid things such as unpaid parking tickets or un-filed tax returns, you may have little choice but to face them during this retrograde cycle. Capricorn is the stern taskmaster of the Zodiac and during this time he will be bringing out all those unpleasant but necessary duties that we have been trying so hard to put off. Since both Mercury and Capricorn influence our money and how we spend it, we may find ourselves having to pay for things we don't necessarily want to pay for, instead of using our extra cash for entertainment or fun. Capricorn commands us to set aside money for a rainy day, and this lesson may be driven home during the retrograde.
This retrograde doesn't have to be all hard work and negativity though, as retrogrades can bring us the opportunity to review our obligations, renew our commitment to our goals, and refresh our knowledge of subjects we have studied before. In fact, with this retrograde in the capable, organized sign of Capricorn and the upcoming full moon in Cancer at the New Year we have a great window of possibility to recommit ourselves to things we want to accomplish in the year ahead. This is a great time to review our lives and make note of the things we would like to change about it, and then to follow through to make some solid and concrete plans to help those things happen, so of course it is a great energy to have for our annual Year Spell gathering! It's also a great time to get in touch with people from our past, from old school friends to relatives that we haven't been in contact with, reconnection with things and people that have gone before is a natural energy of a Mercury retrograde. Many times we can even find things that have gone missing during a retrograde period, and mementos and other items will often turn up as well. In a nod to the strict financial demands of Capricorn, this would also be a very good time to start a savings or investment account.
In order to make this retrograde easier on you, here are some areas to keep a close eye on:
1. Computers and important data should be backed up frequently and protected with a strong firewall and antivirus set of programs. Hard drives do wear out, even external ones, so you may wish to review the ages of your hard drives, they only last between 3-5 years on average.
2. Get your car tuned up and your oil and filters checked. Check on your tires for wear and if you don't have one, get your AAA card in case of breakdowns. Keep a heavy coat and boots in your car in case you get stuck in the cold.
3. Double-and triple-check any and all travel plans, and make sure to bring a change of clothes and important medications in your carry-on in case of delays or changes in schedules when flying.
4. Delay signing legal contracts, buying a home or purchasing expensive electronics, at the very least until Mercury goes direct on January 15th, and if possible, until after the shadow period has passed on February 4th.
5. Keep a close eye on your financial transactions during this time. Review your bank or credit accounts often, even daily, and keep track of all of your receipts for purchases and bank deposits.
Finally, during the next few weeks, try to approach any snafus, delays or frustrations with patience and tranquility. Cultivate and practice a "go with the flow" attitude. It can't hurt you and it might even help get you through this cycle with your sanity intact! This would be a perfect time to get yourself a set of meditation beads and learn how to use them. Remember to breathe and if it gets too much, you can always throw your hands up, embrace the chaos and say "Hail Eris!".