Mercury Retrograde Blues 

For the week of December 8-14, 2010.

Put away your fa-la-las — the planets aren't playing "Deck the Halls," and they certainly aren't singing "I'll Be Home for Christmas." (At least not without a few delays, detours, and layovers in airports far, far from home.) It's Mercury Retrograde time, again, and you know what that means: We're in for a great gnashing of teeth and grinding of gears, as Mercury, master of travel and communication, insists on a slow-motion, detailed review of recent (and in some cases ancient) history. Instead of caroling about comfort and joy, many of us are more likely to be singing our hearts out with frustration: Woke up this mornin', I was already late. Knew I'd never make it, the plane had left the gate. Battery died in my cell phone, battery died in my car. Battery in my watch stopped. It's a sorry day so far. Seems like nothing I do is right, though try with all my might ... got them Mercury Retrograde blues again.

Yes, it's a sad lament, especially this time of year, when most of us — not everyone, but most of us — want party plans to go smoothly and good cheer to infuse our seasonal festivities. Don't misunderstand: Mercury is not a pernicious planet. Mischievous, maybe, but not ill-intentioned. But its retrograde phases (there are three a year) are a drag because when Mercury seemingly turns around and retraces its recent path (which it will do until December 30), we experience problems with all things Mercury-related. Computers crash, servers go berserk, hard drives fail, e-mail and snail mail goes missing, and all sorts of other minor and major mishaps turn the regular routines of daily life upside down. Mercury is also the negotiator, and its retrograde phase can transform standard contracts into nightmares of particulars. Final exams, papers, and deadlines of every variety suffer during a retrograde phase.

The Mercury Retrograde rule of thumb warns against initiating anything new during this period. Instead, spend the retrograde phase reviewing, reflecting, and reconsidering the details of what's already in motion. Sounds good to me, especially given that this is the season of review. And given that there are only three weeks left to contemplate what has been a tremendous year of change, why not take a few extra minutes to think about all that has transpired. Three weeks might not even be enough time. After all, more happened to most people between April and September of this year than anyone expected or was prepared for. And we are still adjusting to those shifts.

Mercury goes retrograde in an exact sextile to Venus, a lovely, positive alignment that will produce words of love. Mercury also "turns around" in a conjunction with Mars, Pluto, and the North Node, all in Capricorn, a powerful bundle that produces the potential to fall in love, quickly, thinking that the attraction is "fated." But don't get married till after the retrograde. Sometimes we are drawn to someone because he or she provokes a deep emotional process, but that doesn't necessarily mean we are meant to inhabit that process for eternity.

As the week unfolds, do your best to manage Mercury Retrograde, but also be sure to have as much fun as possible. In spite of the "Mercury Retrograde Blues" lament, 'tis the season to be jolly.

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

ARIES No matter how tired you are or how driven to distraction, do not stray from your responsibilities. Stay focused on the details, and let nothing deter you from doing the best job possible.

TAURUS Mercury has you searching for new answers to old questions. I'm not suggesting you surrender all your deepest beliefs, but I am advising you to consider previously dismissed perspectives.

GEMINI It is all about the money, and by that I mean that it's important to use this retrograde to review your finances with an eye toward strengthening your overall fiscal situation.

CANCER Mercury provides a detailed retrospective on partnership, personal and professional. Reflect on the role of significant others, past or present, and you're guaranteed to learn a lot.

LEO Try not to overextend physically or psychically. Remember, Mercury may be the god of details, but you are not immortal. And while there is a lot to do, it's not worth risking your health to get it done.

VIRGO I would simply have fun during this retrograde. What? Enjoy a mess of tangled tendrils from projects gone amuck? Yes. And have a swell time untying the knots.

LIBRA Home is certainly where your heart is, so don't hesitate to spend Mercury's attention to detail on all the little tasks that need doing. Apply care and the things you love will flourish.

SCORPIO Mercury's got you talkin'. And what you're sayin' is surprisin' even you. So rather than try to hold back, let it flow. There will be plenty of opportunities to set the record straight, later.

SAGITTARIUS Read Gemini, and add this: Taking responsibility for your financial situation will lead to stable and reliable financial health.

CAPRICORN It's not that Mercury demands a complete makeover. But what this retrograde requires is the willingness to consider a new strategy for getting your needs met.

AQUARIUS As you ruminate over all that has transpired, avoid being too hard on yourself. This is a review, not an exercise in self-recrimination. Remember, you're learning.

PISCES While you may be craving quiet, Mercury has anything but solitude in mind. You don't have to say "yes" to every invitation, but there will be plenty of time later for a thorough review of the past.

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