For anyone who’s not exactly a believer in astrology, perhaps with the exception of reading their horoscope every now and then, “Mercury retrograde” is often treated like a bit of a punchline. Car break down? Mercury must be retrograde! Partner has no idea what you’re talking about? Blame Mercury! But look a bit closer at astrology, and you’ll notice that there’s a lot to learn from the aspect, which occurs three or four times a year for three weeks each time.
When Mercury’s retrograde, it appears from our vantage point on the Earth that it’s moving backward. As a result, the aspect slows down or throws a wrench in certain areas of life that Mercury “rules”: travel, communication, technology, transportation. Beginning on December 19, and lasting through January 9, Mercury is in its final retrograde of 2016 in the sign of Capricorn. So, if you’ve been experiencing delays or technological glitches galore, it’s just par for the course.
Yes, Mercury retrograde sounds like a recipe for a three-week-long headache, but it doesn’t have to be! Here are four ways you can actually take advantage of this particular retrograde.
1. It’s the perfect time to revisit that passion project you put on the backburner.
Capricorns tend to be the most notorious workaholics in all of the zodiac, but their ambition is not without just cause! The sign is ruled by the tenth house of career and professional achievement. Caps believe hard work will earn them well-deserved recognition, and they’ll devote their entire lives to this cause. (Just look at a Capricorn like Alexander Hamilton! Or the man who made him famous again in the 21st century, fellow Capricorn Lin-Manuel Miranda.)
This particular Mercury retrograde, in Capricorn, urges us to recall what drives us professionally. If there’s a project you worked long and hard on, but set aside for another day, consider returning to it before January 9. If there are former colleagues whom you believe you could benefit from networking with, shoot them an email. Starting new projects may be challenging now, but it’s the ideal time to tackle unfinished business. (That said, don’t be altogether discouraged—the energy around December 28 is influenced by a new moon in Capricorn, and new moons are always fantastic periods to plant seeds you want to see grow!)
2. Do your research.
As an Earth sign, Capricorn energy is pragmatic, determined, and rational. Capricorns believe in finding and applying cold, hard facts in order to do their best work and advance their careers. One expression you’ll often see in your horoscope leading up to Mercury retrogrades is that you ought to “get your ducks in a row” before the storm hits. Sure, that’s wise, but you can also use the three-week retrograde period to go back to the drawing board to learn more about anything you want to pursue in the future. Get more facts and data on school districts in the neighborhood you’re considering moving to. Read up on that prescription your doctor mentioned. You may also want to renew subscriptions to reputable news sources.
Bear in mind that Mercury retrograde has a way of bungling up information, spurring miscommunication, so double-checking all your data and making sure it’s coming from a reliable source (beware, fake news!) is especially critical now — but really, always.
3. Honor traditions from the past.
Capricorn is ruled by Saturn, which is associated with restriction, boundaries, responsibilities, but also tradition. It’s no wonder that every year, when the sun is in Capricorn from December 21 to January 20, we try to spend time with family, watch the same old holiday movies, participate in time-honored activities, like setting New Year’s resolutions. With Mercury retrograde in Capricorn, this energy is magnified.
Every retrograde brings moments where you find yourself going through old yearbooks or reconnecting with an old friend you haven’t talked to in decades. But this time especially, you’ll want to participate in activities that pay tribute to your past — like hitting up the old neighborhood bar with your high school friends on New Year’s Eve or making that pie your grandma told you has been passed down for generations. It’ll be not only an opportunity to reflect but to learn.
4. Allow yourself time to meditate on the past.
Fingers crossed it wasn’t so bad for you specifically, but just about everyone agrees that 2016 was a painful, cringe-worthy year in the scheme of things! Still, Mercury retrograde falling at the very end of the year, while we’re contemplating what New Year’s resolutions we want to set, is a nudge to think back on the past 12 months to better understand ourselves, our goals, and our relationships. Revisit the missteps you made, remember the wins. Then, take that information into consideration as you forge ahead. Mercury retrogrades aren’t altogether negative. After all, it never hurts to take a moment (or, you know, three weeks) to look back, tie up loose ends, and more thoroughly understand where you came from — in order to get a clearer vision of where you’re going.