The Astrology Blog 1 February 2021
All times in GMT
“Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet.”
Maya Angelou – 4 April 1928 – 28 May 2014
“My boyfriend treat me bad too … he made me take heroin drugs. What about you Bridget? What did your bad boyfriend do?
Well, he didn’t stick up for me at this lawyer’s supper…”
Bridget Jones: the Edge of Reason – by Helen Fielding
MERCURY RETROGRADE IN AQUARIUS
Saturday 30 January
- Mercury turned retrograde 26 Aquarius 15.53
Mercury is retrograde three times a year for three weeks at a time. Planets of course do not literally stop in the sky and switch direction, but they appear to, as the real meaning of retrograde in the astronomical sense is a planet appearing to make a backward loop as watched from our place here on Earth.
As any planet starts (stationary retrograde) or stops (stationary direct) making these loops they appear to be at a standstill. These are therefore the moments to watch for turning points in our own lives.
Mercury’s retrograde periods work their way through the elements and, as we have three signs per element, we see all three in the space of a year. This year it’s the turn of air, element of the mind and everything related to the thinking function. As Mercury himself is the planet of communication it may be that we have even more to learn than usual in terms of our understanding, how we do or don’t communicate and how we problem solve.
Regular readers will be familiar with my usual list of “dos and don’ts” which you’ll find at the end of this blog, but the most important thing to remember as Mercury turns around is that nothing is set in stone, nothing is guaranteed. Things have a way of unraveling and going haywire during these times, or we have to “go back” to things and redo, rethink and regroup.
Here are the retrograde dates for this year – forewarned is forearmed, so put them in your diary!
- 30 Jan – retrograde at 26 Aquarius – Fixed Air
- 21 Feb – turns direct at 11 Aquarius
- 29 May – retrograde at 24 Gemini – Mutable Air
- 22 June – turns direct at 16 Gemini
- 27 Sept – turns retrograde at 25 Libra – Cardinal Air
- 18 Oct – turns direct at 10 Libra
Qualities that belong to the element of air include reason, logic, rationale and perspective, along with coolness and breeziness. Aquarius in particular is linked to intelligence, objectivity and the collective. That came home to me yesterday morning as the first thing I do before starting each week’s blog is to check the news, to see what events are reflecting the current themes.
I’d woken up in a low mood with a definite tinge of self pity, almost certainly like millions of others. Seeing world events and my own world astrologically is an incredibly helpful frame of reference but it’s not always an infallible safety net! I’ve been aware for some weeks now that, amongst other things, too much solitude was starting to get to me, but one look at the main headlines was enough for me to snap out of it. Our problems really are all relative. One of my other favourite Maya Angelou quotes is, “If everyone put their problems in a big pile in the middle of the room, you’d grab yours back.”
It seems clear to me that one of the first messages of this retrograde Mercury period is detachment in the healthy sense, as a way of remembering that we’re all in this crazy world together and as a way of holding onto our sanity. I remember writing last year that if you take this pandemic personally, you will suffer more. We are taught that other people’s problems don’t make ours any easier but, especially in this climate, I don’t think this is always or completely true (excluding bereavement). There’s a lot of wisdom in the old sayings and “count your blessings” is one to remember now more than ever.
THE POWER OF GRATITUDE
This isn’t just an abstract concept. Counting blessings works as there’s a huge positive knock-on effect in starting your day with “gratitudes” – such as naming three things that you are grateful for. Anything. If this idea is new to you then you can make an even more powerful start by writing them down and keeping a gratitude journal. This isn’t just something to make us feel better for a few minutes either. If you practice gratitudes daily the therapeutic effect gets stronger and stronger.
Psychology research shows that gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness, boosting self esteem, helping us to feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve health, reduce envy, depression or anxiety, deal with adversity and build strong relationships. There are physiological reasons too. Gratitude stimulates feel-good dopamine.
At the same time don’t forget the good old fashioned saying of being kind to yourself. Mercury retrograde in Aquarius can show as all head and no heart, brilliant and indisputable logic but lacking in empathy. We’re not robots. For example, it’s just human to worry, especially when information is scant –
“We’re wired to worry,” says Margaret Cochran, a psychotherapist based in San Jose, California. “It’s a survival mechanism; our brains have not evolved much over the last 10,000 years, and we still need to remember where the tiger is more than we need to remember where the blueberries are.”
You’ll find the full feature here on this link, well worth a read –
Back to my moment of self pity my first three gratitudes after reading the news were my dogs, my warm (oh life changing wood burner) safe home and my work. A lot to be grateful for. Humbling moments can bring back your sense of humour too. That iconic Bridget Jones Thailand women’s prison scene flashed into my mind so I just had to find the script, that moment where Bridget starts talking about being let down by boyfriend Mark Darcy (Colin Firth character). She realizes simultaneously how ridiculous her gripes are and that she’s about to lose all credibility with her crowds of abused inmates who are all hanging on her every word –
- Did he treat you bad?
- Yes, actually he did.
- My boyfriend treat me bad too … he made me take heroin drugs. What about you Bridget? What did your bad boyfriend do?
- Well, he didn’t stick up for me at this lawyer’s supper … (moment of mystified silence from the crowd) oh well, the same sort of things really, hitting me and making me take drugs, stealing all my money, and stuff … (Oh god, I am the world’s biggest fool ….)
Brilliant! Interestingly Helen Fielding has natal Mercury in Aquarius, often an indication of someone who has an interesting or unusual take on life, clever ideas, the gift of originality and mass appeal. Her character Bridget Jones captured the universal feminine big issues and spoke to millions of women.
News stories that are prominent at the time of these turning points reflect the unfolding of the events related to the particular symbolism. Last week Navalny returned to Moscow after recovering from a nerve agent assassination attempt and was immediately arrested, and I wrote about the protests across Russia. Tens of thousands of people rallied in some of the largest demonstrations held against President Vladimir Putin in years.
This has continued to escalate, to the extent that police have reportedly been struggling to find space in jail for supporters of the opposition leader. The authorities did everything they could to prevent Navalny supporters from gathering again, but failed, and journalists reported that the mood of rebellion was huge –
A 40-year-old protester in Moscow told Reuters she had attended despite having a panic attack the night before over the possible repercussions she could face for taking part. “I understand that I live in a totally lawless state. In a police state, with no independent courts. In a country ruled by corruption. I would like to live differently,” she said.
Certain individuals have been targeted, including Navalny’s wife Yulia who was detained on her way to a rally, and the chief editor of a Russian website specialising in human rights, Sergei Smirnov, who was arrested outside his home on Saturday.
Mercury is our voice. In Aquarius it’s the voice of the collective – a group, a country, the world – and it’s also the sign of humanitarianism. So this is a very clear showing of Mercury turning retrograde, the repression and attempted silencing of the masses. Navalny is no longer just an individual, he’s become the face and voice of a nation.
FINDING YOUR OWN VOICE?
Whilst you may not be taking to the streets to protest in sub zero conditions the Russian woman’s words “I would like to live differently” surely strike a chord in all of our hearts. When faced with the news from Russia we become like Bridget with her prison mates. Imagine telling someone from Moscow about feeling controlled by our governments?
So, however you want to live differently, you CAN still make a start. Yes we’ve been living in a world of constant delays and setbacks, a world in which what we want as an individual has in many ways ceased to count, and these themes are inevitably going to loom even larger over the next few weeks. But in terms of finding the positive then realizing how much freedom we do still actually have can be only a Good Thing.
In terms of kick starting our dwindling motivation, which nearly all of us are suffering from to one extent or another, try list making. I’ve yet to meet an Aquarian btw who doesn’t make lists so putting pen to paper is a great way of using this Mercury. In the process you will see what is still achievable or what ideas you can retrieve from the back burner. You might even realize that your “one day” aspirations include something you can action straight away. And apparently publishers are always looking for the next Helen Fielding. Got an idea for a book? Get writing!
If money is part of your problems make sure that you’re claiming everything to which you’re entitled, from the government or an employer, or renegotiate (retrograde Mercury = “re” words) monthly payments of any kind wherever possible. Credit cards or some loans for example have to freeze further interest charges once you notify the company that you can’t continue repayments.
WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING THIS WEEK?
I included the Sun – Mars square in last week’s blog as it’s the finale of a string of Solar aspects, being preceded by Sun conjunct Saturn, square Uranus and conjunct Jupiter which have all played out over the last 8 days –
Monday 1 February
- Sun 12 Aquarius square Mars 12 Taurus 10.35
- Venus ingress Aquarius 14.07
Venus now follows the Sun into Aquarius and is going to make the same sequence of aspects, the first two of which are the most challenging and which fall at the end of this week –
Saturday 6 February
- Venus conjunct Saturn 6 Aquarius 07.08
Sunday 7 February
- Venus 7 Aquarius square Uranus 7 Taurus 03.34
Staying with the Sun square (conflict) Mars for starters this aspect is exact this morning but it counts for the next couple of days and gets the week off to a tetchy start. It’s a painful or combative combination, a picture of feelings or situations that make us angry, restless or resentful, especially as both planets are in their signs of detriment – ie the signs in which they struggle to work.
Aquarius and Taurus respectively are the opposite to their signs of “dignity” and strength, so picture the Sun blazing away in Leo and Mars purposeful in that undercover way in determined Scorpio, and note how different that feels. The Sun can’t warm up in airy Aquarius and Mars in the sign of Fixed Earth is either punchy or stuck. If nothing else this aspect captures the struggle with inactivity, the couch potato blues and that lockdown mood. Whatever you can do in the way of more exercise is possibly your most proactive and beneficial step.
Mars as the god of war and the military clearly reflects the unrest in Russia and the police brutality shown in this weekend’s protests and the over the top arrests of more than 5000 people. Even these headlines have been overshadowed by another serious military crisis, the coup in Myanmar in the early hours of this morning –
All authority has been given to the top army commander and a one-year state of emergency has been declared, a statement on military TV said. The coup follows a landslide election win by Ms Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD).She urged her supporters “not to accept this” and “protest against the coup”.
Both situations reflecting the Sun – Mars symbolism and unfolding on Mercury’s turning point have a long way to go.
And a loved military figure, the 100-year-old Captain Sir Tom Moore who raised almost £33m for the NHS, has been admitted to hospital with coronavirus, but is not in intensive care. He wouldn’t be the first centenarian to recover from the virus, wishing him well.
The rest of the week is relatively quiet in terms of any other activity, but bear in mind that retrograde Mercury is ever present and we’re travelling the rocky road to Venus’ difficult aspects. Firstly, the conjunction with Saturn is, from a craft point of view, the more important as this union happens only once a year and Saturn being in dignity in Aquarius has the upper hand.
Venus Saturn combinations, like Moon – Saturn as well, are emotionally tough going. Venus is love and life pleasures, Saturn is the opposite – work, duty, responsibility and all things serious.
Saturn in action = barriers, boundaries, endings, effort, ambition, setting goals, knowing your limits, restrictions, frustration, illness, bereavement, events unfolding slowly or wishes being denied, the arrival of those who are of professional value to us, those with whom we develop a serious relationship or with whom we feel a karmic connection.
Saturn plays by the rules. Do NOT take risks. If nothing else the Venus – Saturn – Aquarius combination is the ultimate symbol for social distancing. This is heavily underlined by Venus moving on to square up to Uranus, the rebel and the rug puller.
Pandemic guidelines aside, these Venus aspects indicate a testing time for close relationships. This can run the whole spectrum from not getting what you want from a partner, a failed love affair, a new affair stuck on the starting blocks, standing strong to support a loved one through a hard time, feeling chronically single a la Bridget Jones, missing your girls nights out, that “why bother” when it comes to beauty and fashion, and so on. Either way it’s not a barrel of laughs.
Keep looking forwards! I’ve still got my eyes fastened on the Spring Equinox. It’s not that far away, the vaccinations campaign should be showing clear results by then – retrograde Mercury and distribution squabbles allowing! – and there are some bright spots in next week’s astrology which I’ll be talking about next time.
Until then, with love from Greece
YOUR RETROGRADE MERCURY SURVIVAL KIT
Regardless of what is going on in the world, here’s a reminder of the usual checklist of the kind of themes to look out for when Mercury (planet of communication, information and travel) is retrograde. Many of these themes will be even more obvious than usual, some you may already be experiencing and others may yet unfold during the next three weeks –
- Top theme with Mercury retrograde in Aquarius, sign of groups and technology, is to be careful in your use of social media. Avoid posting anything too personal or getting involved in any kind of angry debates. Also check privacy settings.
- Guard against trying to construct situations or distressing yourself with regard to anything beyond your control. Forcing any kind of round pegs into square holes won’t be worth the effort and could cost you dearly
- Adopt the mantra of one day at a time … going too far ahead creates anxiety, especially with problems which have no clear or immediate answers
- Know that there are things you don’t know – yet
- Try to operate by “re” words – review, revise, research, reappraise, rethink, repair, redress the balance and so on. Also remember rest and relaxation, give the brain some time off and try not to put yourself under unnecessary pressure
- Expect cancellations or rescheduling of appointments or personal arrangements
- Buy yourself time wherever needed – keep options open
- When in doubt, check it out – second hand opinions are a dead cert for getting hold of the wrong end of the stick – and don’t believe everything you hear
- Write things down and double check everything – forgetfulness, being distracted, inattention etc can be a troublesome theme
- Back up all your computer work
- Don’t delete any documents – you may need them at a later date
- Getting back to ideas on the back burner
- Getting back in touch with those who’ve been neglected or important to you in the past – let them know how much they matter
- Keep a close watch on all belongings – especially keys or anything linked to communication such as phones, laptops, tablets, cameras etc and don’t even think about buying new ones for the time being
- The same for cars – never buy any mode of transport under a retro Mercury
- Plan any journey with extra care, don’t trust to luck, don’t travel unless you have to and make sure tickets are covered on your insurance
- Kill your speed when driving – allow extra time for getting there slowly but safely
- Take extra care with form filling/signing on dotted lines – paperwork and admin of all kinds are a minefield
- Decide to ease the pain or cool the resentment. Write the letter you can’t send or you’ll never send – whether it’s to someone you’ve lost or to someone you want to strangle it’s great therapy
- Turning this the other way around you can also write a letter to yourself from someone you’ve lost – which is even greater therapy. I’ve done this in the past, from my twin Sue, and it was unbelievably powerful
- Stop trying to fix others – just focus on yourself. Changes starts with us, and within us, from the inside out, not the other way around
- Assume nothing. No matter how certain a situation might seem there is a good chance that it will morph into something else over the next couple of weeks – the “x” factor is at work …
- Reserve the right to change your mind/keep an open mind. As you start to see something from a different angle the truth, reality or logistics will evolve in a way that you couldn’t possibly have planned or expected
- KEEP A SENSE OF HUMOUR