Mercury entered the sign of Aquarius on the 5th of January this year and will remain there until the 12th of March. During this period the planet will go retrograde from the 21st of January to the 11th of February back-peddling from 17° to 1° of this sign.
At the moment it is in what is known as its shadow period, that is, it is moving forward through the degrees of Aquarius that it will backtrack over during the retrograde movement.
What does that mean? It means that we will have to opportunity to re-think any ideas or decisions we make during this present time to see if they really fit into our life-style or if, in fact, they are at all feasible in every-day life.
Mercury in Aquarius will give us new visions, make us aware of new possibilities, allow us to envision an ideal world or society, which might be great as a theory, but much less so as a practicality. Aquarius is a fixed Air sign so here Mercury is at home in the mind and intellect but less so on a basic gut feeling level.
When Mercury goes retrograde in the Air signs it highlights our thinking and communicating patterns and how these patterns shape our life. Since how we communicate is fundamental to all types of relationships it may be to these where our head will be going now with questions such as “Where am I going in my relationships now” or “What is the meaning of the relationships I have in my life at this present moment?”. Mercury allows us to view these patterns from an “outside” observation point with less emotional involvement so this cycle is best used for clearing out complications particularly in relationships.
A Mercury retrograde period is also an excellent time for doing some research about any mechanical or technological devices we might need to purchase so that we will have gathered all the information we need when the planets starts its forward motion once again and we’ll be in a good position to find exactly what we’re looking for.
Many astrologers view a Mercury retrograde period as a time when communications of all types (telephone calls, emails, transport problems etc.) might go askew but it is also a good time to catch up on old correspondence or to go over previous plans to make sure they’re workable. However, it may not be a good idea to sign contracts or binding documents during a Mercury retrograde period or to book travel tickets because there could be some hindrance or complication in these tasks.
Mercury rules the signs of Gemini and Virgo so these will be particularly affected by the retrograde motion as will any planets you might have in your third house which is traditionally associated with Mercury.
A little bit of history:
Mercury in the Greek myth is associated with Hermes and he held an amazing number of roles here; thief, storyteller (aka liar), trickster, magician, craftsman, messenger of the gods, the god of boundaries, commerce, merchants, words and language among the many. He was the only god who had permission to travel freely between the Underworld and the heights of Olympus.
Mercury is so versatile that he can take on any of the archetypes represented by the other planets too and in this way he is also good at making deals or compromises and the house placement of Mercury in your chart will show where you’re good at this also.
Where is Mercury in your natal chart and which house has Aquarius on its cusp?
Tompkin S. (2006) The Contemporary Astrologer’s Handbook, pp 114-117, Flare Publications, London UK
Greene L. and Sasportas H. (1993) The Inner Planets, pp3-31, Samuel Weiser Inc, York Beach, ME, USA
Sullivan E. (1992), Retrograde Planets, pp45-70, Samuel Weiser Inc, York Beach, ME, USA