Retrograde Rules 

For the week of February 29-March 6, 2012.

Start your backups, now. And don't procrastinate. On March 12, Mercury begins its first retrograde phase of 2012, a phase that lasts until April 4 and that runs concurrently with the continuing Mars Retrograde (which we already know doesn't end until ten days later, on April 14). Because Mercury and Mars drive the mechanics of daily life, we tend to feel the effect of their simultaneous retrogrades quite keenly — so keenly that non-believers often convert into astrological zealots. Mercury represents travel, transportation, commerce, and every little thing related to communication. Mars signifies mobility and movement, from moods to muscles to meetings. When they both seemingly travel in reverse, life on Earth resembles an obstacle course of technicalities and trivialities. Patience is a must during any retrograde phase, but especially this one. Skins, already thin from the grueling, yet subtle, effect of the last six weeks of Mars Retrograde, are likely to grow increasingly sensitive over the course of the coming weeks, as Mercury Retrograde kicks in.

While most of us know the Mercury Retrograde drill — review, reflect, and reconsider plans and projects already in motion — this Mercury Retrograde has a unique signature. Mercury goes retrograde in a conjunction to Uranus — a dynamic interaction that begins this week and continues for the first three weeks of March. I love this conjunction because it symbolizes the ability to "think differently." Uranus signifies invention, independence, and revolution; it catalyzes whatever is stagnant and in need of a creative shift. When it combines with Mercury, it stirs mental processes that help the mind to free itself from the shackles of convention. Until the retrograde begins on March 12, this conjunction is going to have minds moving at a breakneck pace. Just don't lose sight of the speed bumps ahead. By March 9, as Mercury starts to slow down in preparation for its "turn-around," many creative excursions could run into roadblocks.

This week, we are in the grip of a Sun/Mars opposition that is exact and separating on Saturday, which means we will be feeling its presence well into the beginning of the next workweek. This is a tense interaction that fuels egos and then temper tantrums as a way of assuaging frustrated ambitions. Unless it is really worth fighting over, just let it go — it will be good practice for the coming weeks, when frustration levels are certain to be challenged. Mars doesn't make direct contact with Mercury during their shared retrogrades, but we will still feel its assertive presence.

Use this week for preparation. Back up everything, and don't forget your tax information. Do whatever it is you do to maintain an even keel, and if possible, help your fellow travelers to do the same.

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

ARIES You're talking — a lot — and while you have much to say, you might also want to be circumspect about the promises you make. In all negotiations, be clear about what you need, but be equally clear about what you can provide.

TAURUS Remember the first rule of magic: Whatever you focus your attention on becomes your reality. You have a rare opportunity to witness the workings of your mind and to see how your thoughts create your moods and attitudes.

GEMINI You're looking for a new approach to a persistent pattern that won't shift, no matter how hard you try. Rather than forcing a specific outcome, try accepting the situation for what it is. That fresh perspective could enliven a creative solution.

CANCER Whether it's in the personal or professional arena, expect to be uncharacteristically outspoken, but also be prepared for your opinions to land you in the spotlight. Don't worry; this is just more attention than you're used to.

LEO The key to your success is the willingness to shed outdated beliefs, as you simultaneously have the confidence to take as much time as you need in finding a new perspective that's more congruent with what your heart knows to be true.

VIRGO Have the courage to honestly examine your motives, and you will find the courage to take a stand for what is most true for you. Just try not to confuse well-intentioned righteousness with self-righteousness.

LIBRA Relationship issues are the focus, and it doesn't matter what your partnership status is. Single or coupled, you're redefining what it means to relate to yourself and to another person while staying steadfast in your integrity.

SCORPIO Conventional astrological wisdom might advise you to prepare for surprising work developments. But you might also want to avail yourself of unexpected healing opportunities, physical, mental, and emotional.

SAGITTARIUS You're so plugged in to the great creative generator that you need to take special care with your nervous system, especially if you maintain a prolonged connection. The only danger is the possibility of being overwhelmed by your own talent.

CAPRICORN Spend time contemplating what you need to feel safe and secure. Is it money? Affection? Attention? Or a strong internal center based on a deep trust in your own worthiness and capabilities?

AQUARIUS Rather than using your energy holding back, just hold forth. Yes, some of what you say you might later regret, but the majority of your ideas need to be heard. So relax, and just allow the conversations to flow.

PISCES It looks like a financial issue, and it may be, but at the core it's all about self-esteem and self-confidence. Allow yourself to reexamine how you judge your ultimate worth. Remember: Money is never an accurate measure of the soul.

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