the zig-zag path: a primer for mercury retrograde
the january 2002 forecast
the responses to my survey suggest that the theme section of my forecast is what people have come to value. therefore, i will be dropping the “sun sign” portion so that i can focus more on the deeper level material of the theme article. - terry
as we turn the pages of the calendar to a new year, we can’t help but wonder what’s in store. our sense of what’s possible in the world has been changed. even though the astrology of the moment is “planets lite”, it never lasts for long. the end of december was eventful enough that it generated some movement, and we may thing that things are about to move forward without a hitch.
however, the fact that life rarely works that way should be a major clue that it is not likely to work that way now. the astrological clue we have to this reality is the fact that mercury is turning retrograde once again. mercury’s retrograde, although 22 to 24 days long, actually has a longer impact, especially if you’ve been counting on a straight-line life without any flaws in it. (incredibly, we seem to assume that this will be the case in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.)
what does mercury do?
in truth, mercury is always with us, but my experience is that it speaks louder to me during the retrograde transit. this comes as a relief to me, because i like things out in the open. because mercury doesn’t “cause” our problems; it merely reveals them. mercury is a vehicle, a messenger, but the messages he carries may be things we don’t want to hear or deal with, their source a voice from beyond.
this time, mercury will primarily carry the messages of neptune, the planet of imagination, illusion, idealism, and intoxication. it is also the planet of subtle influences and insidious threats. neptune acts by dissolving. when something dissolves, we don’t notice it at first. a lot of change may occur before we notice a shift, because it has crept up on us so slowly and imperceptibly. since mercury rules the conscious mind, we will become more aware of the influences of neptune during this retrograde. mercury’s contacts with neptune are on january 9th, january 26th, and february 23rd.
however, the rhythm associated with mercury’s retrograde really began on january 2nd, when mercury entered the retrograde shadow, the area of the zodiac which mercury will later traverse again during its retrograde period. usually, we don’t notice anything unusual then, but the things that we deal with after that point have to travel the “zig-zag path” in order to be resolved.
the “zig-zag path” is the way the universe works. we tend to think in straight lines: that the shortest path to our goals is the straight line. however, this is not the way it works, and perhaps the retrogrades reflect the fact that this is so.
so how should we deal with the energies during january?
first, don’t make mercury into a capital offender. one of the laws of mercury is the universal law of focus: what you focus on is what you get. so, if you expect mercury retrograde to be a big problem, it probably will be. if your focus is more “optimistic alert preparedness” (the attitude we should have all the time, in fact), then you will enhance the results you get from this transit.
second, be sensitive to the signals you may be receiving from january 2nd to 18th. these will tell you what you may be dealing with. the signals will be especially strong after january 10th, when mercury begins to slow down.
third, don’t expect circumstances and issues to turn out as expected if they came up after january 2nd. exercise calmness, patience, and (because of neptune) surrender.
fourth, once mercury turns retrograde, accept what comes your way with aplomb. that doesn’t mean to blindly accept it—far from it, the events of the retrograde often require vigorous response. however, these responses should not be made impulsively. take the time to assess your best path, waiting for clarity to emerge. impulsive actions often result in sinking yourself deeper into the quicksand of the situation in question.
last, don’t feel that, if something needs to happen during the retrograde that you should stop the presses to avoid it. embrace it: there is a reason for it. if you are confused, or you feel you must respond because people are pushing you, this is not the time to act. wait until you are clear, because chances are good that you will find hidden factors that were not at first apparent. once the way is clear, go ahead and act, without regard for the planetary events. the ones you act under will be supportive of what you need; if you are clear, it’s a good shot that the planets will work for you. the truth is, as any electional astrologer (one who plans auspicious times to begin important endeavors) will tell you, there are times every week when important events can be initiated. there may be only a couple of two-hour windows here and there, but they do exist. if you don’t have an electional chart handy, let your heart be your guide.
the role of neptune
if neptune is affecting a part of your chart, this mercury retrograde will also affect you, but it will help you deal with neptune by revealing what it has in mind for you. if you have planets between 28° capricorn and 14° aquarius, you will feel this retrograde. if you have planets in the early degrees of taurus, leo, and scorpio, you will also notice an affect. only if your planets are between 8° and 11° of fixed signs (taurus, leo, scorpio, and aquarius) will neptune’s influence be especially strong.
the theme of this retrograde will be surrendering in patience. this does not mean self-annihilation, nor does it mean a permanent giving in. it just means to step away from confusing or tumultuous circumstances until the way through them becomes clear. this may mean waiting longer than you want to, and this is part of the lesson. the wait may only be a few hours or days, but it could be until after the retrograde has taken its course. there may be hidden issues, factors and problems that emerge during the retrograde.
one other thing that happens during mercury retrograde is that the weather patterns usually “freeze” in place. that is, the jet stream doesn’t shift so that the storm track moves to different parts of the countryside. rather, the same area will get the same weather for about three weeks. often, there is a bombardment of a particular region by storm after storm. since neptune rules obscuring influences, we can look for fog and snow to create difficulties.
other factors to watch for
on the 23rd, neptune and saturn trine each other, the 2nd of three connects. the first occurred june 24, 2001; the third will be on april 1. this is a subtle influence that has to do with the way that ideals become real in the world around us. it will have a generally stabilizing influence on our experiences for the first half of the year.
the sun conjoins neptune on january 28th, initiating the new yearly neptune cycle. occurring two days after the 2nd mercury-neptune conjunction and the day after the sun and mercury conjoin, we have a three-way interaction that will signal the pinnacle of the mercury retrograde period. there could be a blizzard that weekend; it is not a good time for travel.
no matter what, this month will bring some new excitement into our lives, but it doesn’t follow that there will be catastrophe. by listening to our strong inner voice, we will find our way through.