Mercury retrograde from Capricorn to Sagittarius, 2016-2017


Uncanny Mercury retrograded around this time at the beginning of 2016, moving from the first few degrees of Aquarius on the 6th of January to station direct in conjunction with Pluto in Capricorn on the 26th. Now it begins on the 19th of December with the conjunction to Pluto and moves back into the last few degrees of Sagittarius on the 8th of January. Pluto moving through Capricorn has probably given the holiday season an extra dramatic edge since 2008, likely to bring up family and business dramas (capitalism dramas?) with the purpose of finally laying it all bare, at least incrementally. Throwing Mercury retrograde into the mix, Christmas could be chaotic this year, affecting electronic presents, transportation and short trips, event organising, income and money transferring, paperwork, or delivery services. As always, back everything up, try to get the bus or train early, double check times and dates, make sure everyone is on the same page, and read the fine print.

Capricorn season is when themes of family structure come up and Pluto is likely to be slowly corroding those structures, letting us build new ideas of kinship from the ground up. Ruled by Saturn, Capricorn is also shudderingly associated with the patriarch, the breadwinner. A Saturn transit has a similar feeling to being told to wait until your father comes home. Learning to respect limits is important, but as Pluto moves through Saturn’s first sign, we might begin to question the images of structured authority we’ve internalised so far. Christmas can highlight that shift as we do the work of creating different ideas of authority and belonging outside of nuclear families, blood ties, and patriarchal structures.

We also make New Years resolutions during Capricorn season as we become acutely aware of time and achievement, reflecting on all we have done and all we have yet to do. But this year’s Mercury retrograde does not favour new beginnings, so what do? Better to take time instead of deciding your resolutions on impulse and going all out on the 1st of Jan. Look at the habits you’ve already formed and see how those habits can be reinforced this year. Which mistakes do you want to grow from? How far have you come from the beginning of 2016? Mercury retrograde in Capricorn might soberly remind us that new beginnings are an illusion – working to accept and integrate the past is a vital part of being able to continue.

I went through a brief Eckhart Tolle phase this year (chalked up to my Pluto transits lol) but it can be helpful to see exactly how much of our idea of time is imagined. The past is only memories, the future only fantasies, both of which have tangible effects on the way we act (with experience from the past and knowledge of potential consequences in the future). But those imposed effects can only exist in the present, or as he calls it, the ‘Now’. It can be hard to move through a society rooted in a particular experience of time, as linear and foreboding, so it’s nice to sit sometimes and remember that the present is all that really exists. Capricorn is not always necessarily about linear progress. Capricorn is about collective, societal security, and the Capricorn symbol of the goat with the fish tail represents a security rooted in spirituality rather than success (which also explains the Capricorn sextile Pisces relationship). Mercury retrograde is one of the many ways astrology reminds us that growth is two steps forward, one step back — sometimes arduous, but possible.

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