2022 opens in the shadow phase of the forthcoming Mercury Retrograde in Aquarius – and it makes the point that this is full-on retrograde season as Venus is still in reverse gear in Capricorn. So what’s life like with two of the inner planets in backwards motion? Well, there’s definitely the feeling that. we’ve been here before as 2022 opens and – as the air-signs have such an affinity with the world of words, ideas and concepts the focus over the next few weeks may be on things that seem a little crazy. Aquarius is unconventional after all.
Aquarius is also associated with science, technology and society. With Mercury retrograde in Aquarius, taking a second look at how any of those issues affect our lives will be a feature during the Mercury retrograde period. Aquarius is one of the signs we associate with liberation and freedom – and during this Mercury retrograde we may find ourselves looking closely at what those two words actually mean for those who are most affected by this Mercury retrograde – and as a society too.
And that’s apart from the usual glitches and tech issues. We’ll be thinking about what works and what doesn’t work over the next few weeks and the challenge will be to create new structures to meet the new conditions we’ll need to work with. As Mercury retrogrades from Aquarius to Capricorn and back again, we will have the opportunity to ‘brainstorm’. It may be time for some ‘constructive de-construction’, so get your head around that.
Mercury Retrograde in Aquarius: The Retrograde Phase
Mercury turns retrograde on January 14th at 11:41 UT (10˚20′ Aquarius). When you look at the chart you can see that every planet – with the exception of Mars and Venus retrograde – is located in the eastern hemisphere of the chart, and every planet – with the exception of the Moon – is located in the southern hemisphere of the chart. This southern/eastern emphasis really underscores some of the things I set out in the introduction, as it foregrounds the social and collective nature of the chart together with openness, positivity and freedom.
So, this sets out an optimistic framework for Mercury retrograde in Aquarius – but what do Mercury’s aspects suggest? Mercury in Aquarius enjoys a trine from the Moon in fellow air sign Gemini, but the other two major aspects may not be so kind. A square aspect to that troublesome Uranus in Taurus may prove to be stressful and Mercury is, in any event, conjunct Saturn in Aquarius. We tend to think of Saturn in a negative sense, like he’s the party pooper of the Zodiac. However, the relationship between Mercury and Saturn is not necessarily a negative one, so let’s take a closer look at the aspects.
Mercury Conjunct Saturn
I’ll start with this one as the conjunction is the most powerful aspect. It also brings Saturn into the picture as this planet is also involved in all the other aspects Mercury makes. Mercury conjunct Saturn shows a serious frame of mind that can focus on the kind of mental hard work that accompanies serious debate and tough decision making. Saturn lends a practical and constructive cast to our mental processes, so expect to be confronted by the need to do exactly that at this time.
Of course that won’t seem like an easy option – especially at first. At a personal level, it means dealing with things you would prefer to avoid. Mercury-Saturn often indicates things that we’ve put on hold for a while. If you’ve done that with anything important in your life then this may be the time you need to re-visit that decision. Working through issues may be hard, but you may find that thinking things through with your ‘serious head’ on will give you a much better understanding about how you can move things forward in your life.
Those ‘crazy’ Mercury in Aquarius ideas you’ve been having will need to stand the test of time. That’s what this Mercury Retrograde in Aquarius will help you to do by helping you to evaluate what’s going to work for you – and what is not. Mentally it’s often a steadying influence and if you were thinking about racing ahead with some new project you had only half thought through, this Mercury retrograde will give you some time to reflect and refine your ideas – and Saturn will ensure you do the sensible thing too.
However, some people may need a little help to get out of a self-imposed rut. If that sounds like you, Mercury conjunct Saturn may be telling you it’s time to think seriously about why you are taking a limited or negative view of life. Aquarius is a progressive forward thinking sign – and you may be confronted with circumstances that force you to take a radically different approach than you otherwise would.
Moon Trines the Mercury-Saturn Conjunction
When the Moon trines Mercury it’s a gentle influence but it’s also one that suggests this is a time of emotionally based thinking – or a time when words elicit an emotional response. It’s also an aspect that emphasises emotional connections. The trine aspect suggests that it will be easy to connect emotionally at this time. However, we can’t disassociate the Moon-Mercury trine from Saturn – and Saturn’s presence always indicates the need to keep things on the level.
Blunt speech may feature during this Mercury retrograde period. You may find you need to be frank with someone (and it may pain you to do so) or you may be on the receiving end of some fairly uncompromising remarks – and become emotionally upset as a result. You may also hear some news that puts you in a low mood or some serious or important news that needs to be responded to in a dignified and emotionally controlled manner. Something may ‘stop you in your tracks’ and you may need a ‘time-out’ to process that as you feel uncertain about how to respond.
Broadly speaking, Saturn has two effects on our emotional nature – depressive or steadying – and at this time it’s possible that some of you will feel either (or both) of these. However, what Saturn’s presence suggests to me is this. Sometimes we have to be realistic – and some people find that hard to do. We have to remain calm even if circumstances suggest otherwise. During this Mercury retrograde in Aquarius period, your patience – both mentally and emotionally – may be sorely tested…
The Mercury – Saturn Conjunction Squares Uranus
…And this is the aspect that tests your patience more than most. Mercury retrograde squares Uranus – the outer planet that has been shaking up all of that Taurus-type stability for the past few years. Uranus is the planet associated with freedom and liberation and it’s been re-defining what we understand by those words for quite some time. Does ‘freedom’ mean freedom from collective responsibility? Or does your personal freedom give you the right to restrict someone else’s liberty? They are questions that may be in the public domain over the next few weeks.
This is, of course, nothing new. It may, however, be the final act in the Saturn square Uranus ‘stand-off’ that has been such a feature of the past twelve months. That square is now separating for good and, with Mercury retrograde in Aquarius joining that square, that’s giving us space to really think about the implications of what has been happening during that time. It may be time to start asking tough questions and Saturn’s presence would suggest that those questions may be part of some kind of official or legal enquiry in some cases.
At a personal level, the clash between Saturn and Uranus has seen many of us feel conflicted over the past year – probably about a number of issues. With Mercury retrograde, the suggestion is that there could be an acknowledgement of this, and a realisation of how stressful this period of time has been. The next few weeks may be a time to reflect on that, especially if there are signs that life may be returning to some kind of normal. The challenge – as this is still a square aspect – may be to define what that normal is. And it’s a challenge to think about on a personal level as well as on a societal one.
Taking some time to think seriously (Mercury, Saturn) about how you want to re-shape your life moving forwards (Aquarius) and create a new kind of stability (Uranus, Taurus) that will work better for you may be the best thing you can do over the next few weeks. Making solid plans to get yourself into a comfortable space may be what this Mercury retrograde is about. But don’t write off those tech glitches – this is a Mercury retrograde and, at the most basic level, Saturn and Uranus signify delays and breakdowns!
Mercury retrograde in Aquarius: Direct Phase
Mercury retrograde in Aquarius goes direct on February 4th at 04:13 UT (24˚22′ Capricorn). Looking at the chart, there is a similar eastern hemisphere emphasis as we saw in the retrograde chart, with all of the planets there – except Uranus. However, the other major chart emphasis is on the northern hemisphere with all of the planets on the dark side of the chart. The northern hemisphere is much more private and personal, so the overall message is one of personal positivity, optimism and freedom.
That sounds good to me, but do the aspects support that view? When Mercury retrograde goes direct it’s stationed conjunct Pluto in Capricorn and this conjunction makes one other aspect, to the conjunction of the Moon and Neptune in Pisces. I’ll be looking at those combinations in more detail in a moment, but the overall message seems to be a simple one. There may be an opportunity to clear the air and get on with the process of healing – and that’s probably as applicable personally as it is societally.
Mercury Conjunct Pluto
When Mercury stations conjunct Pluto as it returns to forward motion, it’s a time for great insights. It’s also the time for communicating the unvarnished truth and for drawing the line under some of the things that have been said – or done. That’s not to say that things can be swept under the carpet. As Mercury moves forward, the planet of information is conjunct the planet of revelation – as Pluto deals in secrets and bringing them to light – like those texts and emails you didn’t know about…
Are scandals, and secrets about to be made public? We may be gripped by news (Mercury) of crimes and misdemeanours (Pluto) at this time, and with Pluto’s involvement the rich and/or powerful are likely to be getting star billing. However, Mercury – Pluto themes also include things like verbal or mental manipulation so this may also be a feature of this Mercury retrograde. If there is something someone does not want you to know – it could be uncovered at this time.
Pluto also deals in other kinds of secrets and the things revealed on a personal basis may just as easily be the things you have kept hidden from yourself. Moments of insight are often a trigger for discovering what you really want out of life – whether it’s inner satisfaction or a change of direction. When it comes to drawing the line, that can be deeply personal too – and not always an easy process.
If you’ve taken time during the first part of the Mercury retrograde in Aquarius period to give yourself ‘a good talking to’ or given some serious thought to your own future – especially if events have made you feel ‘stuck’ – when Mercury moves forwards, this aspect can enable you to leave the past behind. Sometimes letting go is a deeply emotional process – and that can make it feel difficult to engage with. However, let go you must – and Mercury conjunct Pluto is a helpful aspect if you’re trying to do just that.
Mercury Sextile the Moon-Neptune Conjunction in Pisces
A sextile often represents an opportunity but, like any opportunity, it needs to be taken up or it simply passes by. Mercury and truth-dealing Pluto are in sextile aspect to the gentle combination of the Moon and Neptune in Pisces. That sounds great – but I have a couple of observations to make. First, Neptune has been transiting through its own sign of Pisces for some time now – and it’s been anything but a soft and easy ride.
Second, The Moon and Neptune are both sensitive and impressionable. So, what is the nature of the opportunity that is being presented to us? Is some powerful public speaker going to take the opportunity to deceive us? Maybe. Are we going to take the chance to draw a line over a difficult period, forgive and forget and move on? Possibly. There are many eventualities that lie in between those two extremes – but they will all bear the hallmarks of the planets involved in this aspect.
At a personal level, I would look at this aspect and see it as a real opportunity to draw the line under the past (Capricorn) and move forwards into a new place (Aquarius). However that relates to issues in your own life – and whatever your own issues are – it would a good time to let go of past hurts (or present concerns) and develop some hope for the future. Sometimes only faith and hope will get you through, so there may be a good reason to take hold of the opportunity to heal. If it comes your way? Take it with both hands.
© Sara Shipman 2022