The ancients said that when a planet retrogrades, it’s like a person taking ill to bed. From December 28th until January 18th, speedster Mercury is going to be calling in sick in serious Capricorn.
But we must say that compared to the cosmic flu season of 2022, during which Mercury was thrice bedded down with difficult, complicated, double-sign retrograde transits, Planet Text Message is going to feel only slightly under the weather this time. We may even welcome these slowed down sick days, with their minor symptoms. Why?
We know that a retrograde is a transit during which a planet seems to be moving backward relative to us on Earth. When this happens, the planet’s influence gets perverted. Venus retrograde, for example, can lead to mishaps in love, while a Mars retrograde can turn Planet Warmonger’s aggression inward toward our sense of self.
The Mercury Retrograde, our most common and frequent astrological ailment, tends to infect issues related to speaking, negotiating, buying and selling, listening, formal contracts, document-signing, travel, shipping and receiving. During these periods, deals don’t fall through, say, or our black Saint Laurent maxi shopping bag in quilted lambskin gets misplaced in the post.
The problem with last year was that all three Mercury retrogrades passed through two rather than one sign. Planet Speedy Delivery was exacerbating communication in quick Gemini one day (bad enough), then two days later muddying it up in slow Taurus (even worse). Experientially, these transits were extra wonky for us. They were like proverbial puzzles wrapped in enigmas.
Now, however, we have a simple, good old-fashioned retrograde in old-fashioned Capricorn. To return to our flu metaphor, we are going to be more immune to this less virulent retro-viral strain. Part of this immunity has much to do with the fact that Saturn rules Capricorn–and Mercury does well with the grim Taskmaster. How so?
Aleister Crowley, the strange black magic occultist (as well as mountaineer enthusiast), once referred to Mercury without Saturn as to be like an egg without salt.
What Crowley meant by this phrase is that Saturn/Salt, with its strictness and discipline, helps get the best out of Mercury/Egg, which, being the fastest planet in our solar system, can be too runny, i.e., changeable.
Speaking astrologically (rather than in culinary metaphor), Mercury rules the “lower” mind—how we perceive and interpret information that we receive from our environment, and how we relay that information to others. Saturn rules over the “higher” mind. It acts as a second order quality control over Mercury–helping to organise its freneticism.
How, then, should we make use of this transit in our daily life over the next couple weeks?
Ingest this astrological adderall
This transit will favour tasks that require sustained concentration and patience. We are not in the world of pinball wizardry at the moment. Focus on reading the fine print, understanding the minutiae of things, going through taxes or contracts. This isn’t a time to send or sign but rather scrutinise.
Don’t be tone deaf
The major difficulty with this aspect will be dwelling on negatives. Capricorn can be a carping sign–and Mercury retrograde can lead to wonky words and misunderstandings. There is the potential here, therefore, for fault-finding and arguing over ill communication. Beware of the tone we take when interacting with others. Capricorn is also acutely aware of hierarchies, which means that conversation may become more controlling than constructive.
Delay your New Year’s resolutions!
One way to think about the Mercury retrograde: it’s a time for rough drafts and editing–but not publishing our thoughts and findings to the world. Wait until January 18th, when Mercury goes direct, to officially drop your New Year’s resolutions. In the interim, use Capricorn’s no-frills influence to really set forth a set of goals with some heft and practicality. Not so good resolution: “Make out with Harry Styles at an after party.” Good resolution: “Make out how best to invest in some sensible, long term stock options.” When the 18th approaches, have a delayed New Year’s party with friends. You can exchange your grown-up resolutions then, because, alas, we aren’t getting any younger.