Featured Image: Mercury and Argus. Simone Canatarini, 1612-1648. Etching. The National Gallery of Art (public domain). Depicts Mercury lulling Argus to sleep with an enchanted flute.
Welcome to yet another Mercury retrograde season! Mercury will station to begin retrograde motion on February 16th and will end retrograde motion on March 10th (Pacific Time). The featured image for this article is an etching that depicts the mythical Mercury lulling Argus to sleep with an enchanted flute. Can’t think of a better way to convey the effects of a Mercury retrograde in Pisces. Pisces relates to rest, retreat, music, magic, hypnotism, dreams and altered states. But remember that Mercury is also a trickster planet. And similarly, the dark side of Pisces relates to trickery, falsehood and deception. In the myth, Mercury is enchanting Argus to sleep in order to kill him (so that Argus’ prisoner Io can be freed.) In a similar vein, this Mercury retrograde promises to be full of the potential for magic and mysticism, but perhaps prone to a few illusions along the way.
Mercury Retrograde periods actually last a lot longer than just the time Mercury spends in retrograde motion. Regardless of what sign it is in, Mercury retrograde periods can be divided into three distinct stages:
- Entry into the shadow zone (forward motion).
- The actual retrograde motion (where Mercury appears to stop and go backwards through that same shadow zone)
- Forward motion through the shadow zone once again
As Mercury goes through the 3 stages, the same ground is covered 3 different times, and Mercury makes the same planetary aspects three different times. This creates the repetition or back-tracking effect of Mercury retrograde that tends to drive us so nuts.
So in our current case, Mercury will be travelling in retrograde motion from 12 degrees Pisces back to 28 degrees Aquarius. That means that Mercury enters the shadow zone for the first time on February 1st, 2020 when it hits 28 degrees Aquarius. Pay attention to what is developing in your life between now and February 16th because these issues will likely repeat two more times–once when Mercury goes retrograde back over this zone (after February 16th) and then again when Mercury goes direct (after March 10th). Particularly important are the days when Mercury is stationing in order to switch direction (February 16th and March 9th-10th). These days can be quite significant in their effects should they clash with other with planets and points in our natal charts. Mercury will finally be completely out of the shadow zone by March 29th and we will be totally free to move forward with new plans and ambitions once again.
While retrograde, Mercury will:
- sextile Mars and conjoin the Sun on Feb 26th
- sextile Uranus on Feb. 29th
- sextile Venus March 4th
On the whole, these are pretty mild and harmonious aspects so it looks like this Mercury Retrograde will not be exceptionally problematic unless it triggers troublesome spots in your personal natal chart. I foresee more problems coming from Venus this month, who will be in detriment in the sign of Aries and will conjunct Chiron and square Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto. So if your love life hits a pothole or if your finances go astray between February 9th and March 5th, you can blame Venus for that, and not Mercury retrograde.
enig·ma | \ i-ˈnig-mə , e- \
-Merriam Webster Dictionary
While the aspects Mercury makes will be somewhat benign, remember that Mercury is in both detriment and fall in the sign of Pisces, and therefore we can expect some issues when it comes to trying to think, read, write or communicate in a “left-brain” way. Our ability to use logic, reason and linear thinking will get muddled. Imagine the whole world suddenly getting brain fog. You and everyone around you will likely be more forgetful than usual. The chief Mercury retrograde problems will likely result from confusion, carelessness or sloppiness. We might forget to fact-check or check the details. Other problems could include misplaced faith and a temporary swell in self-delusion. Be cautious now–people who are looking to cheat or swindle others will find this a productive time because we are all a little more gullible now. People, ideas or situations might become shrouded in mystery or illusion. The usual advice for Pisces transits is especially relevant now: if someone or something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
We get a brief reprieve from the confusion when Mercury dips back into Aquarius between March 4th and March 16th. Mercury will gain dignity via Triplicity then and will provide us with some badly needed mental clarity and objectivity via his ruler, Saturn in Capricorn. We might even be able to repair some of the confusion or problems that developed while Mercury was in Pisces. But after March 16th, Mercury goes back into Pisces in direct motion, leaving most of us struggling for mental clarity once again until he leaves the sign of Pisces and enters Aries on April 11th of 2020.
For folks who already suffer from mental confusion, Mercury in the sign of Pisces could make things temporarily worse. People who already suffer from brain fog due to illnesses like fibromyaligia, ME/CFS, ADHD, depression, or dementia might have extra difficulties. People who are addicted to drugs or alcohol might also find this a particularly challenging time to stay sober. If you are a caregiver to someone with mental health issues or addiction issues, be prepared for your loved one to be a little more zoned out than usual, for as long as Mercury remains in the sign of Pisces.
Enchant Your World
For those of you who are artists, musicians, dancers, poets, filmmakers magicians or mystics however, you will likely experience a positive increase in creativity. Right-brained activities are highly favored under this transit. This Mercury retrograde period is an opportunity for us to break free from structured, conventional modes of thought and behavior in favor of a more free-form, intuitive and creative approach. Images, archetypes, emotions and feelings really come alive now–their ability to communicate will be felt far more deeply than using words, reason and logic. Listen to your hunches now–follow your intuition. Spend more time day dreaming, meditating or doing magic. You might reach realms you never could before when things were more “normal.”
The New Moon in Pisces on February 23, 2020 will significantly heighten the enchanting and enigmatic effects of Mercury retrograde, for better or for worse. As will the Full Moon in Virgo on March 9th which takes place with the Sun conjunct Neptune. If you want a break from all this heavy Capricorn energy of late and wish to achieve full lift off from planet Earth in order to commune with the mystical realms, those would be the days to do it.
As usual with any Mercury retrograde, be prepared to pause and retrace your steps for a few weeks, between February 16th and March 10th. It is not the right time to try to forge ahead in your life with new goals. Rather, it is a good time to back-track to previous projects in order to improve or complete them. For some, even working on previous projects could feel like too much of a challenge and they will need to simply tread water for a few weeks. And that is fine, too. Taking a break or a holiday now is a good idea, if you can swing it.
How will this Mercury retrograde affect you personally? Check your natal chart. Whichever house falls in the first half of Pisces and the tail end of Aquarius is the area of life that is asking you to finish something you previously started. Or, it is the area of life that is asking for a retreat–for you to take a break and rest in. Schedule some time for privacy and reflection. You can opt to consider this a brief fallow period — a time to rest, recuperate and recharge your creative juices so that when Mercury goes direct again, you will feel regenerated and can be productive once more. Take time to get in touch with your higher self again. Or take time to “dream a little dream.” Get in touch with your highest dreams and ideals again now–don’t try to implement anything yet–just use this time to get in touch with where your true ambitions lie and make plans for how you can implement them once Mercury goes direct again. Or at the very least, feel free to get lost in an escapist binge of fantasy-adventure shows on Netflix.
While this particular Mercury Retrograde might seem less problematic or frustrating than usual, enjoy this while it lasts. The next Mercury retrograde will be a doozy. The upcoming one in June will coincide with 5 additional planets in retrograde motion, including Venus. There will also be an annular solar eclipse during that time. Woo-hoo. Should be interesting.