Aquarium Age 

For the week of January 14-20, 2009.

It's Mercury Retrograde — and I'm glad. (Words I never thought I would write, but words that are true.) Glad because I feel as if I have complete permission to recuperate, not just from the opening days of the New Year, but more importantly, from the last two months of the old one. A lot has shifted since Mercury last enforced a review, and while the end of the year is usually the time for quiet reflection, for many of us too much was happening too quickly to simply sit during the Solstice season and do some very necessary thinking. Brooding, maybe, especially as the economic picture turned gloomier than even Dickens could have imagined. So I'm glad to have a Retrograde that will allow me to process through what still remains to be understood, digested, and metabolized into consciousness. And during this particular Retrograde, the possibilities for understanding and refining on the basis of that understanding are great.

For those of you new to astrology, Mercury signifies communication and travel. Three times a year, it appears as if it is moving backward across the sky. And when that occurs, it seems that all things related to communication and travel seem to go awry. It causes such a great gnashing of teeth, I'm sure they can hear the collective frustration on Mars. But despite the delays and hassles generally blamed on Mercury Retrograde, this phase does have a beneficial side: The pace of life slows down, which seems to provide the time to review, reflect, and reconsider what is already set in motion. Which is why I'm so glad it's here and that I have nearly three weeks — it lasts until February 1 — to hear myself think.

And here's what I'm thinking about this week, as Mars, the Planet of the Warrior, moves into a trine with Saturn, the Planet of Authority, as well as a sextile with Uranus, the Planet of Change, all of which coalesces into a strident "might for right" unless its force is channeled into non-violent efforts: November's election ended an eight-year "reign of the bullies," whose "bring it on" mentality just wanted a fight, and whose belligerence gave permission to all despots, powerful or petty, to exacerbate rather than soothe existing polarization. Now that we have a "convenor" in the White House, perhaps we can start to listen to disparate points of view and find creative, peaceful ways to settle our differences. The problem is settling down the bullies won't be easy, for what we know about bullies is that they are often more afraid than the rest of us. And given the current climate of anxiety, extra effort is needed to calm all of us down, not just those who are most afraid. A positive interaction between Mars, Saturn, and Uranus can supply an indefatigable effort to work for peace, especially if we are willing to slow down and practice patience with others and ourselves.

So rather than despair about the normal retrograde snafus, welcome Mercury's review and use it to think deeply about issues that concern you, both personal and collective.

If you know your Ascendant and/or your Moon Sign, read that too.

ARIES March 21-April 19

Mercury mulls over recent business interactions with an eye toward discovering any overlooked details. Embrace, rather than resent this review, and you'll be pleased with the results.

TAURUS April 20-May 20

Mercury revisits issues of faith, particularly your belief in you. As this phase unfolds, use this time to increase your awareness about how to improve your self-esteem.

GEMINI May 21-June 21

Mercury reviews "political" issues, personal or professional, with a focus on how to handle differences of value. The solution is not abandoning what matters to you; the remedy is being willing to contemplate why certain things matter to others.

CANCER June 22-July 22

As Mercury reexamines patterns with significant others, you may find several "old" relationships returning for reconsideration. Be open to the possibility of positive resolution, and you'll make good use of this time.

LEO July 23-August 22

Mercury reevaluates several situations at the workplace, a process that translates into you reconsidering certain choices. Avoid brooding over mistakes by learning the lesson and then, letting go.

VIRGO August 23-September 22

Mercury refocuses your attention on self-expression, and while that may seem like a frivolous theme, creativity is an essential part of transformation. Use this phase to focus on how you can better articulate your vision.

LIBRA September 23-October 22

Mercury reassesses "home" improvements and invites you to think about how you might renovate your lifestyle, internal and external, through time spent at "home," again, inside, in mediation, or outside, in the company of family.

SCORPIO October 23-November 21

As Mercury reconsiders several conversations, you may find yourself revisiting choices made in the heat of the moment. Instead of holding onto harsh words, think about how to make peace and reestablish your equilibrium.

SAGITTARIUS November 22-December 21

Mercury ponders how to reinvigorate your financial situation, so don't be afraid to look at the numbers. While you may not like what you see, you may also discover previously hidden ways to make improvements.

CAPRICORN December 22-January 19

This Mercury Retrograde phase is another dimension of your ongoing identity crisis and the emphasis is on how to redefine your physical appearance. So start with the basics and see what unfolds.

AQUARIUS January 20-February 18

As Mercury retraces its path, you may experience a need to retrace your own, especially joint financial decisions. This is not about dwelling on regrets; this reexamination is about improving your plan.

PISCES February 19-March 20

Mercury reviews old acquaintances, and you're tempted to revert to old habits. Resist that temptation by staying open to awareness of just how much you've grown.

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