Mercury retrograde is by far the most widely dreaded astrological transit. No, it's not all bad (and in fact, Rx memes always make me laugh). But still, the Swift Planet moonwalking through the sky can present serious challenges. Communication becomes a minefield, and the feeling that we're missing something casts a dark shadow over us (at least... it does for me). In all honesty, they're worth preparing for. So buckle up: The first Mercury retrograde of the year, in Aquarius, is starting on 30th January and will last until 20th February.
First, a reminder of why Mercury Rxs have a bad rep: Mercury is known as the Planet of Communication, and it has a hand in anything to do the transfer of information, including technology or plain ol' talking. When it moves backwards, it messes all that stuff up, says Leslie Hale, psychic astrologer at Keen.com: "Plans can be put on hold, miscommunication can occur, relationships can end or change, and any kind of machinery can break down at the most inopportune moment."
This specific Mercury retrograde is extra-important, says Narayana Montúfar, senior astrologer for Astrology.com. "It'll be a pivotal part of the super-charged lineup of planets called a stellium," she explains. "From 1st February to 17th February, the Sun, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, asteroid Pallas, and even February’s new moon will all be in Aquarius, and Mercury retrograde will conjunct all of them, one by one." Because of that, she says, this retrograde and its movements will pretty much define the entire astrology of February.
The fact that this retrograde is taking place in Aquarius is also a Thing. Aquarius is the most tech-y sign of the zodiac, and the speedy planet's retrograde is known to mess with our tech — so any gadget-related mishaps will probably be especially annoying. We should be extra-careful: Double-check emails and texts before sending, and always back up your work on your computer.
The mental exhaustion during this transit is going to be real. "Aquarius is an intellectual and very mental sign," Montúfar says. "Life will be moving at a rapid speed and big changes will be taking place on a societal level." In one way, the Rx will help us adapt to these changes. "We may not feel so attached to situations and people from an outside lens," says Lisa Stardust, an astrologer based in New York City. That disconnection can make us flexible, but it may come across to loved ones as spaciness — which could fuel squabbles and misunderstandings. We may also forget to make time for activities that nourish us, making us feel super-drained.
The sign of the water bearer is associated with altruism, collective good, and rebellion, Montúfar says, so this transit is set to bring major attention to humanitarian issues and concerns. "This retrograde is set to highlight the immense problems we are going through as a society, as well as the changes that are taking place," she says. "This is especially true as the first of three Saturn-Uranus squares happen during this retrograde time, on 17th February. [This square] is the defining astrological aspect of the year, and is set to change a lot of the structural foundations of our society as we know them."
In many ways, 2020 was defined by the fight for social justice, and many of us are happy to carry that energy into 2021. We're still living through a global pandemic and feeling the effects of a draining 2020. During this retrograde, and especially during the aforementioned square, activists and humanitarians will feel a boost in their motivation to call for more change, fight for the rights of others, and tear down the structures in society as we know them.
One suggestion: Prioritise reflection and planning during this period instead of action. After all, Mercury retrograde has a habit of messing with our actions, so focus on prep work now so you can nail the execution later. Hale says it's time to "re-write, re-organise, and re-think."
It's not all gloom and doom. Stardust says that on February 13, Mercury retrograde and Venus will align. "This is a time for big paybacks and rewards for past matters," she explains. You can take that literally or figuratively: Your flirtations might finally be reciprocated, for example.
Of course, this aspect can also encourage an ex or ex-friend to pop up in your life again — just in time for Valentine's Day. But we prefer to focus on the silver linings, here. Mercury Rx isn't all that bad, after all. And it doesn't last forever. By 20th February, it'll be over, and our schedules will start to return to normal.