Whether or not you believe in astrology, all of us feel (on some level) the effects of planetary movements across the sky. Each year, mercury moves retrograde around three times. This year, all mercury retrogrades occur in the air signs of Aquarius, Gemini and Libra, highlighting strong themes around transcendence, justice, higher learning, wisdom and communication.
What does it mean when a planet moves 'Retrograde'?
A 'retrograde' happens when a planet passes earth, and for a time appears to be moving backwards (I love the analogy from the AstroTwins of two trains passing each other at close proximity). When a planet moves retrograde, it shines a light on a part of our lives or selves that may require a little more attention than normal, allowing for greater insights to integrate more meaningfully into our lives. The general rule of retrogrades is to avoid starting something new - rather, focus on the R's: rest, recharge, renew, revisit, release, rejuvenate, review.
What do I need to know for the First Retrograde of 2021?
Mercury, the planet associated with communication, travel, ideas and networking, moves retrograde for the first time this year from January 30th/31st until February 20th/21st (depending where you are). The first mercury retrograde of this year will be moving through Aquarius, bring insight around our need for changes, our social circles and our sense of freedom and individuality. You may feel frustrations more intensely around sudden changes or developments, especially if they are not what you initially had planned or thought.
During this time, we will have the Sun, Jupiter, Saturn, Mercury and Venus in Aquarius (known as a stellium in astrology), which amplifies this energy during this time and is likely to be felt globally. Expect big changes and movements around causes, beliefs, and outdated structures. Expect truth and insight to come in the most unexpected ways. Expect frustrations and hidden opportunities for growth around how we express our beliefs verbally and non-verbally, and tensions around needing to feel heard. Expect challenges in friendships, peer-relationships and communities. From these challenges and frustrations, be open to new and innovative ways of problem solving, tempering and diffusing heated discussion or disruptions. Expect new ways of thinking to emerge, re-evaluation of your own personal ideals, core beliefs and what really matters to you.
Some tension around the 10th of February might spark up some arguments, especially where you are feeling restricted or perhaps where your sense of freedom is feeling threatened. Make time to self soothe before lashing out as you may regret it later or make a bigger issue than what it is.
Around Valentine's day (14th February), expect news from an old friend, ex or past relationship to surface. As Mercury forms a harmonious aspect with Venus around this date, it can bring a breath of fresh air to relationships that feel a little old or stagnant. If you are single and ready to mingle, you might don fresh eyes with an old friend, peer or acquaintance. Around this time, Mercury also forms a conjunction with Jupiter, which may blow things out of proportion a little or fire up your dramatic side. Take a beat before arcing up (especially over your beliefs, causes and political or religious philosophies), and look for the similarity or common ground rather than arguing over differences of view or opinion. On the flip side, this energy can renew rusty relationships with a fresh wave of conversation, communication and ideas to spice things up. Try something new or a little out of your comfort zone, head to an art gallery or a new place. Plan a holiday to somewhere you would never consider. Try out a new look or transmute an old habit into a positive new habit. Say you are sorry and make things right to find closure.
Tips for a more mindful Mercury Retrograde this cycle:
Make time to rest - if your sleep is disrupted or you just can't get into some juicy REM's, give yourself permission to slow down, take a nap, or a time out with a good book, your favourite music or podcast, some meditation, or a gentle walk or swim in nature.
Revive and old flame or friendship (without drunk dialling your ex) - if someone has been on your mind from your past or if things were left unsaid, this is a great time to reach out and find closure. If a relationship (romantic or not) seems a little lacklustre, this is a great time to look at why and to breathe new life into it. If you struggle with communication during this time or finding the right words to express how you feel, show them through your actions. Even if they are not meant to stay in your life, this is a great chance to make things right and release those ties.
Avoid re-acting and allow curiosity - take a breath (or more) and look at why you are feeling triggered. What can this situation or person teach you right now? What are you really feeling in this moment? This is a great point with communication, especially when it comes to the art of listening to others. If you disagree with someone, can you allow their difference of opinion to coinhabit with your own? Is there merit to what they are saying? What experiences have shaped their reality of perception? When you allow yourself to be curious, you can find a deeper sense of connection and strength in the midst of those heated or passionate moments.
Re-invent yourself - Take a good look at what you are happy with and what you think needs improvement. Is it doable? A great way to learn more about yourself is to try something new. Push yourself out of your comfort zone a little. Let yourself feel vulnerable. Is there a lingering habit that you hate? Use this time to find ways to help shift it into a more positive one or let go of it completely. Have you pissed off someone lately and feel bad about it? Shock them and apologise. If there is something you want to change, take the smallest step today towards that goal.
Refine your current happenings - what needs a little work? what needs letting go of? what would you like to manifest or bring in? Now is a great time to ask these questions and find answers within.
Go gently friends! And remember that retrogrades are a beautiful time to find insight, inner peace and to catch your breath.