Mercury Retrograde in Aries: Aims and Games

by Boots Hart, CAP on March 1, 2012

Mercury retrograde in Aries - aims and games

Planet Mercury goes retrograde at 6 Aries at 7:50am (UT/+0) on March 12. Aries being all about motivations, action and the general “who we are and know ourselves to be,” this is life hitting the “pause and reflect” button.

Whenever we see an astrological symbol in the first ten degrees of any sign (that would be degrees 0 through 9), we know this is the sign operating at a physical and personal level. If it’s Gemini, it’s about what we’re thinking, doing or choosing to work on. If it’s Libra, it’s how we’re acting in the presence of others and who we’re associating with. This retrograde being (or at least starting) in Aries, we know this is very literally about who we’re being and what we’re doing it (or what we’re aiming to do) because Aries—as a sign—is about the Self. It’s the physical body, the physicality of being, the “what you’re doing with your life” sign.

AriesThen we add the Mercury part. Mercury is associated with two signs: Gemini (thought, choice, planning, daily operations) and Virgo (how healthy or functional our life, actions, mind and sense of responsibility are).

Physically, a retrograde is about any planet being on the other side of the Sun from where the Earth is. Every planet except the Sun (which is really a star, but let’s not quibble) and the Moon (which orbits around Earth) at some point or other during the year ends up being on the other side of the Sun. How often they get there and how long that “other sidedness” lasts is all about relative speeds of planetary motion, their distance from the Sun, Earth following its own path (the ecliptic) around the Sun…that’s all technical stuff.

On the average, Mercury goes retrograde four times a year. And when it goes retrograde, famously things go kabloowie. Cars break down, messages go awry, the rate of misunderstandings goes up…and there are just generalized problems with thinking, getting things done, “moving ahead” in an everyday sort of way, and communications.

Mercury retrograde is basically a three-week process which supports the “doing your homework” and “getting organized” theorems and which discourages rushing in where angels fear to tread. During Mercury retrograde we may think we know everything. We don’t. From this we get the well-known advice never to “sign on the dotted line” under Mercury retrograde…the advice not to set things in concrete.

So long as what you do is part of a greater process, you’re fine. It’s great for learning, but not for committing yourself to betting the farm based on what you’ve learned thus far. It’s great for research and revising, wonderful for conversations which prove illuminating and in general, huge in the world of coming up with new options and sorting out ideas.

Because this Mercury retrograde is occurring—or shall I say, starting—in Aries, efforts now take a turn. Or maybe your thoughts on what to invest your time and efforts in takes a turn. Lack of clarity may hinder moving ahead…or not stop you from plunging on with something which isn’t going to go the way you want it to.

This last has a lot to do with how you come into Mercury retrograde. Though the week to ten days prior to Mercury’s station/retrograde tend to feel pressured, it’s worth paying attention to progress achieved more or less “naturally” versus progress that you feel you’re having to pull teeth to accomplish. The former is fine, the latter is often the indicator of something you need to work through during retrograde, lest you act in haste and repent in leisure, as they say.

Worth noting also is that Mercury going into retrograde in Aries’ first decanate (degrees 0 through 9) calls particular attention to associated physical issues—such as those you may have with thought/cognition (the brain), hands and feet or (through Mars as harmonic ruler of Aries), blood and/or vision.

Uranus also gets into this mix because Uranus will be at 3, 4 and 5 Aries during the time leading up to Mercury’s station/retrograde, the retrograde itself, and as Mercury comes out of retrograde. Considering Uranus’ association with “energy” and “impulse” (or impulsiveness), any of a list of physical issues leap to mind.

As a matter of fact, “leaping to mind” seems a highly apt concept here. There’s a physical side to this and being that the whole signature is Mercurial, a whole strain of “the idea of the thing” in the goulash. Rash actions, sudden realizations and focused bursts of energy (good or bad) are particularly likely to surface on March 3, March 10-14, March 18 and April 23—so pay attention!

With all that said, let’s take a bit of a closer look at things. Mercury comes to station (on March 10 and 11) involved in an interesting sort of do-si-do with Vesta, asteroid Hel and the metaphysical powder keg known as Uranus. Considering how 3 Aries has a reputation for pitting impulsivity against courage (and total anarchy against a peaceful status quo), those who come into this time with troubles brewing (declared or denied) will experience a definite uptick in their desire to maintain peace being upstaged by situations beyond their control.

Since Uranus demands flexibility and 3 Aries requires action/interaction, while the tendency may be to take a stand, chances are there are things which you can benefit from considering (yes, even if that means you have to admit you were wrong!). Uranus tends to exacerbate inconsistencies and point out chinks in plans in a very unsubtle way, so if something goes wrong now, heed the cosmic hint, lest it become a punishing sledgehammer. There is a quality to the degrees being affected here which can have a bearing on your path a goodly ways down the line, so try not to shortchange your future by thinking today doesn’t matter.

It does. Uranus/Mercury in this do-si-do kind of retrograde dance at these degrees sounds like an echo of situations passed (passed by? passed up? ignored?) which may now have lit a fuse. And in this case—better yours than someone else’s!

That none of this is precisely comfortable is indicated by asteroid Hel (personal challenges) also positioned at 3 Aries as Mercury conjuncts Uranus. So things are jumping, and haste (yours or that of someone else) may well trip you up.

Vesta—the other player in this astro-drama—sitting at 4 Aries cites “ideas which must be served” which for many will be just fine.

But let’s remember: Mars—the ruler of Aries (the sign in which all this is happening)—is still retrograde in Virgo. So the overall key to whatever is going now is “does it work?” or “is it workable?”

With Mars currently retrograde at 12 Virgo and conjunct Psyche (our mind), Arachne (entanglement) and Polyhymnia (reflections), while we may think that we have to respond to others now, a far better question may be how—or upon what basis we respond.

Twelve Virgo is a particularly “earthy” degree. It has a marked inclination towards sexuality—or anything which “entices” or “excites” us. Is that (or has that) compromised our functionality? In a thousand different ways we are now brought to think through how (or if) we are screwing ourselves up through succumbing to some lure. Or allure.

With Mars in retrograde, the “easy way out” (taking it or having taken it) is likely to figure now as stuff pops up like toadstools after a rain and Mercury’s turn to retrograde at 6 Aries underscores lack of authority, knowledge, ability and follow-through. This degree often manifests as failures brought on by lack of “quality control”—which would be the Mars/Virgo word which Mercury in Aries would rather call integrity.

Oh yes…Mars in Virgo adds a snarky not of “lack of morality and ethics,” too. There’s more than enough questioning to go around here, whether you’re the person creating the pickle, or one of the cucumbers in the brine with the important thing coming from doing not what comes easily to you, but what you do because you should or could—not that it might suit you in the short run.

  • As Mercury enters its station on March 10, “what may happen if…” is in focus.
  • Matters arising (or continuing) on March 12 (as Mercury goes retrograde) emphasize a need to know what you’re doing and choosing what to “do/not do” rationally, not as a “knee-jerk” response.
  • March 13 and 14 focus on “histories': how you come to where you are with an emphasis on how and why you make the choices you make.

Remembering that this is Mercury going retrograde, don’t be shocked if solutions, decisions—even responses get delayed until Mercury goes direct on April 4. For some, this retrograde gives them time to “chill out,” while others will fester, feeling foiled. Should you do whatever you can to “string things along”? In some cases, yes. There may be situations which have gone totally kaput or for which no real (or realistic) answer is as yet actually forthcoming.

Whatever externals are in play, the core or crux of the situation remains internal. And those why’s and how’s are really important pieces of your puzzle. Oftentimes there are multiple ways to reach the same end. Some will work. Others are wholly right or moral and supportable. Will you take the longer road? This isn’t about the “thing” (or issue) even if others are involved—this starts as being about the “Aries you” and as Mercury retrogrades back into Pisces (on March 23) though your feelings will be stirred by others—and maybe in uncomfortable ways—it’s worth remembering that ultimately, you have to live by what you really believe in.

And that may just be the problem. If you come into this time having compromised yourself, being noble isn’t going to get you where you want to go. Those “ideals” we all have…? They’re not the model of how life should be—they’re about who we believe we should be. And the distance between that “standard” and the one we live? That’s the distance by which we tend to consistently fail and disappoint ourselves.

Yes, it’s a struggle—one which may well now get us into playing games…and not with others, but with ourselves. Some of us will resign ourselves to “playing” a role (not being our genuine self). Others may be tempted to “play” like everything’s okay—even though in kidding ourselves we’re treating ourselves as some ignorant child who doesn’t know better. And yet we do. We do know better.

Can’t we just plaster realities with synthetic avoidances and complicated excuses to cover the fact we’re some distance along a wrong path? Doesn’t everybody do that?

MercuryI could say something glib here like “check their therapy bills and the divorce rate if you think that works,” but that’s not the whole issue. Heck, it’s not even the reality of the issue! The reality here—the Mercury-in-Aries of it all—is about knowing who we ARE. You may not be someone who can deal with the ills of the world. But who are you…and are you living up to your own fullest potential? This isn’t about money or love or whatever—this is about human essence…who you are. Life—and life’s events—are pointing out your need to know yourself. You need to recognize who you are—and aren’t—being. There will be challenges, mostly to those sections or segments of our life we have ignored or under-utilized. That’s the nature of asteroid Hel, a metaphysical point all about our struggles with Self.

In other words, we’re supposed to struggle once in a while! Life is not supposed to be bliss! If it were, we wouldn’t have any need to grow as growth requires struggle. Add in Mercury and we also know it requires thought, choice and—as part of reaching emotional satisfaction and peace within our own hearts, some degree of willingness to give up that which serves our individual aims in favor of a greater equilibrium. Mercury’s retrograde begins in Aries—a sign ruled by a Mars currently retrograde in Virgo…then Mercury will retrograde back into Pisces—putting it in opposition to Mars retrograde.

The conflict is with and in our souls. Our problem is with our Self and our ability to make sure what we take on we can do, and that we take on what we are capable of doing. At this time, the Mars/Mercury patterns speak to adjustments being made and confrontations being either with ourselves (representing the challenge being taken on willingly)…or with others (the challenge which denied by us is foisted upon us by external means).

Uranus in this picture tells us change and flexibility are needed. And for those inclined to defer, put things off or refuse personal responsibility, let’s remember that Mercury not only goes retrograde at 6 Aries but comes back to Uranus on March 18—by which time Uranus will be at 4 Aries, that degree of “instinct” Vesta was in as Mercury took its station.

Four Aries echoing the question “is it worth it?”—with Uranus astride—warns us not to squander our potential, our time, the goodwill of others…and most of all, our willingness to embrace our potential to get where we want to really be, not just where it’s easy enough to go.

Once Mercury goes direct (on April 4) it will catch up with Uranus for one last time as part of this cycle on April 23….and guess where Uranus will be? At 6 Aries! Yes, the degree Mercury goes station/retrograde at.

Getting the whole “cyclic” picture?

By April 23 Hybris will also have joined the troop; arrogance/entitlement (Hybris) will either surface…or be recognized. And here’s a newsflash: considering this is all taking place in Aries, it’s all about us: our arrogance and our entitlement. And since come April 25 Mercury will have moved on to 9 Aries (the desire to be first which is tripped up by haste) as asteroid Kassandra conjuncts Uranus, this would be a point when we all get caught with our proverbial hands in the cookie jar (after weeks of claiming we’re on a diet).

Remember the story of Kassandra? She was a prophet at Delphi in the service of Apollo, god of truth, enlightenment, medicine and music. Kassandra ticks Apollo off by refusing him…(sexually—shades of Mars at 12 Virgo at the start of Mercury retrograde!)…and by refusing to “service” the god of honesty  she is—in essence—rejecting truth, enlightenment, life’s music and the talents of the healer.

For this, Kassandra is sentenced by Apollo to forever know the truth and speak the truth…without anyone believing a word she says. Thus Kassandra/Uranus (change, breakthroughs) becomes the “rupturing of denial” or the discovery of that you didn’t want to know.

Some will try to “bend” the truth now. If this is you, be forewarned: this is a dangerous thing to do. Any truth now “bent” becomes a very brittle, fragile thing in your life…which pretty much goes back to the whole Mercury retrograde message: know who you are, don’t play games with yourself and do what it takes to be the most above-board you that you can be. Quality counts—do you want to be a flash-in-the-pan or a true and happy successful you?

One last (and not least) comment about this Mercury retrograde cycle. As Mercury goes into retrograde, the North Node is at 8 Sagittarius (putting the South Node at 8 Gemini). And while this doubles up on the idea that this Mercury retrograde is about finding/correcting glitches in the process, nodal involvement also clearly says that whatever is afoot is not a “private” matter. So though the Mercury/Aries thing is very you-and-personal, the having the Nodes involved very definitely brings in worldly interactions: relationships plus professional aims and goals.

The North Node will “perfect” its trine to Mercury’s station point on March 23—a date we  talked about as being when Mercury re-ingresses into Pisces, there connecting  with nobody’s favorite fixed star, Scheat. Expect your stance (your truth?) to encounter all sorts of unholy loud objections as this happens.

Will you give in? Should you? Part of the quandaries now are meant to put us in touch with feelings about our relationships…about having relationships. Yet behind this is a more esoteric quest—that of sorting out what the higher form of integrity and moral truth really are.

“Tis a puzzlement,” as Yul Brynner put it when playing the King of Siam in The King and I.

Since the Nodes will still sitting at 6 Sagittarius/Gemini when Mercury goes direct on April 4, it may be presumed that the working through our feelings and questions will take some time. Yet by the time Mercury clears its retrograde shadow on April 22 and then meets up with Uranus on April 23, those who have clarified the difference between aims and games—played with themselves most of all—those folks will move on feeling invigorated by an additional measure of internal solidity despite all costs which must be paid.

Life is costly—and not all such costs are paid with money.

One other “odd” note here: if you’re someone whose world came “totally apart” prior to Mercury going into retrograde…? You may or may not want to, but this would be when you could put things back together. Do you want to?

All and all, this Mercury cycle is life putting us on clear notice that we need to get straight with ourselves as to who we really are…and why we do what we do.

Would you be okay if someone else foisted your standards on you?

No matter how things go, don’t expect things to run smooth for too very long. Why not? Because come May 20 we’re in for a solar eclipse at 0 Gemini. And remember—Gemini is one of the two signs ruled by Mercurial harmonics. So this retrograde cycle is really laying the groundwork for what will happen during the pre-eclipse “breakdown” period…and thus, all which comes of our mentality and outlook for a full three years.

The opportunity is yours, mine…everyone’s. Are we willing to deal with our own (Aries) ego? Some of us need to mend broken self-images. Some of us need to recognize life isn’t something we dictate to, but which we are privileged to serve as a vehicle of. Either way, do you have the Aries courage to slay your own dragons and live closer to the truth simply because it is truth? That, like as not, will set a determinative pattern for much which lies ahead.

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