March 22-April 15 2018 from 17-5 degrees Aries
Pre-Shadow March 8-22
Post-Shadow April 15 - May 3
Welcome to the first Mercury Retrograde of 2018. Fasten your seatbelts, folks. This one will be a ride...of some sort! Allow me to help you get acquainted.
Mercury retrograde is probably the astrological event that gets the most hype (you know, except for all of those SUPER MOONS, which I swear used to be rare but now seem to happen every month...hmmmm…). It would in fact seem that folks love a good reason to get dramatic. When that drama is combined with vast externalizations of power, however, well… I have to set the record straight. Astrology as a way to enhance a blame game is just a sad waste of a powerful tool. Astrology as a tool for taking ownership of your life and your decisions? Now we’re talking.
This Mercury retrograde might feel some of us feeling particularly...well, angry and impulsive. It’s very important to be aware of this and to figure out how to work with it. There is so much to be angry about in the world right now. Just be mindful about where and how you vent it.
Oh, and you might wanna watch for relationship stressors in particular. Buttons being pushed big time. So if you don’t read any further, what I’d say is this: when you feel impulsive anger, rage or disquiet stirring, try to be silent. Try to exert boundaries that bring your attention inwards. The Aries energy of this retrograde is trying to affirm our connection with ourselves, and our ability to channel the fire within. At some point in time, the energy I’m talking about would have been called a Daimon - your creative spark of genius. But it’s been skewed into Demon, and...well, sometimes this energy can in fact feel pretty volatile.
For those who want more? Let’s break it down.
What is Mercury?
Mercury is the planet of communication, short-distance travel, words, language and WHAT. The messenger of the gods, if you will. Why is that important? Because understanding Mercury in that way allows us to understand that they are the planetary deity who has the ability to travel all over the place -- the above, the below, and all of the in betweens.
Covering that much territory gives you a lot of insight into so many landscapes, and that’s what Mercury does best. They map, they learn, they gather information about all kinds of stuff and then put it to use. Corresponding with the Magician in the Tarot deck, Mercury gets all kinds of info through its rulership of Gemini, and then puts it all to use in intricate and detailed and practical ways through its rulership of Virgo.
What is a planetary retrograde?
A planetary retrograde is an optical illusion, really. Planets don’t suddenly just shift and move backwards. But from our position on the earth, it appears that way. And we’ve been projecting meaning onto that visual for a very long time, which makes it loaded with meaning and resonance.
All planets go retrograde. Weird, right? The outer planets -- Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto -- spend about half the year retrograde. Mars and Venus are the most rare of the retrogrades. Mercury’s, however, happens all the damned time. Usually three times a year (sometimes four), for three weeks each round. Add in the shadow period and it almost seems like we’re constantly in, recovering from or preparing for a Mercury retrograde.
Sooooooo...it’s probably best to just learn how to work with them, right? Right.
All of the Mercury retrogrades in a calendar year tend to fall in the same element. Tracking that helps us to tap into a theme for all of them. This year, Mercury is retrograding through fire signs (with the exception of the last one that moves from fire back into water), telling us it has something to do with vision. Inspiration. Art. Creativity. Self-expression. Initiative. Truth.
Pro-tips for Mercury Retrogrades in General
Retrogrades are good times for the “re” words. During Mercury retrograde, you wanna re-think, re-visit, re-imagine, re-view, re-vision.
Here’s how I’m relating to the Mercury retrogrades in the fire signs this year: in terms of re-visiting my vision. This is within the larger context of Saturn in Capricorn and what feels like a ramp up to some major astrology in 2020. If I contextualize THAT, it has to do with what happened in the 7 years of the Uranus/Pluto square (breakdown, breakthrough, volcanic upheaval, sudden insights, revolution, all that jazz) and now putting what was learned into play. In a kind of make or break way. Because things are getting real heavy in the world, and at the same time more surreal.
But during Aries, we get to focus on the “I”. A basic question, then, is: How do I fit in to the world around me?
For the Aries Merc Retrograde, it’s all about re-thinking our impulse to exist and to express, the ways we initiate change, the ways we initiate our plans and how we pioneer new paths forward. The house where 5-17 degrees of Aries is in your chart will help you to focus in on what area of life might need re-visioning, and any planetary or angular aspects will help you to hone in on the forces at play.
Solid wisdom for Mercury retrogrades regardless of the sign is to slow down, especially when it comes to communication. That means that if you have to have big conversations, you might want to really think them through beforehand and acknowledge that even with preparation, you might need to come and discuss it again after this period is over.
Technology is also a form of communication. This is part of why computers and such tend to go haywire during these periods, and why so many astro folks will tell you to remember to back-up your computer, make sure you save your files.
It’s not always possible to wait to sign a lease or book a flight or make a big purchase. If you can wait, wait. If you can’t, just make sure to go over things an extra time or three. Buy that warranty for that technology purchase. Go over the lease with the landlord but ask them if you can wait a week or two before signing.
If you can’t wait, do your due diligence. And recognize that there might be some piece you have to come back and re-visit again in the future.
Just watch for impulsiveness! Slow it down. Bring conscious awareness to what’s going on.
One more thing.
This Mercury retrograde period contains a pretty grouchy full moon in Libra on March 31. This also coincides with a conjunction between Mars and Saturn. Mars says, “GO GO GO FASTER GO!” Saturn says “slow down, you immature young fraud.” They’re in the sign of Capricorn, squaring the Full Moon and Squaring Mercury. Ouch.
Because the retrograde period starts off right next to Venus, we know that there’s something about who we are as individuals (Aries) within relationship (Libra) that needs revising and expressing.
This alignment also takes place near some of he hot spots from the Uranus/Pluto square of 2011-2015, which tends to re-trigger the themes from that period.
So what we have here is the potential for hot button issues at the personal and collective levels to come to a head. We also have a LOT of tempermental relationship energy pushing our buttons, challenging us to respond rather than react during a time when tempers might be flaring and communication is already difficult.
But look at that -- now you’re aware. So! Who do you want to be in times of pressure and crisis? How do you want to work with your anger? Where’s the compromise and what vision is it you’re working towards?
Oh, wait. I still have one more thing. Then I’ll stop.
From March 8-March 22 and April 15-May 3 we have the shadow phases of the Mercury retrograde. In the pre-shadow phase, Mercury is making its first trip through the degrees of the zodiac it’ll traverse during the retrograde itself (5-17 degrees of Aries). Here’s where you get a preview of what to expect.
From March 22-15, Mercury travels from 17 Aries back to 5, asking us to review whatever came up during the shadow period.
Then, from April 15-May 3, Mercury goes from 5 Aries back to 17 Aries, giving us time to implement the revised version of our plan. For the purists among us (ha!), it can be wise to wait until after May 3 to truly move forward.
You can generally anticipate that the days around the stations of Mercury (when it appears to stop int he sky) will be the “stormiest” -- so March 22 and April 15.
Hopefully that’s helpful. I myself probably need to just go ahead and make a Mercury retrograde Primer I can link to when writing about this stuff in the future. Hm. Yup! That’s a great idea!
As always, let me know if you have questions or would like help locating this transit in your chart.