Breaking the Retrograde “Rules”


Common wisdom dictates that one should not start new things during an inner planet (Mercury, Mars, or Venus) retrograde. This is mostly true. I would not advise anyone to launch a business during Mercury retrograde, start a war with someone during Mars retrograde, or get married during a Venus retrograde. It’s not a sure sign of failure; it’s just not ideal. You’ll get off on the wrong foot. And yet. Maybe not. When it comes to smaller "launches," at least, sometimes the timing during a retrograde is right.

You have to know the rules before you can break them. The conventional rules for retrogrades are to go into the past (or embrace the present) and wait for the future, to do inner work rather than making external changes, to cleanse and clear so that you are ready for the action when it starts. But the one who knows the rules also knows that past/present/future and inner/outer are shaky constructs at best, and so doing stuff during retrogrades, even new stuff, can have its advantages if you are fully aware of what you are doing.

With this series of retrogrades and eclipses in my money, work, and career houses, I am seeing more potential clients and contracts come in during retrograde periods this year. This goes for both my freelance writing work and astrology. Old contacts get in touch with new work, past conversations are revived, finished projects can be leveraged to gain new contracts. Does communicating take longer and require more clarification? Yes. Are there technical glitches? Totally, and we would all benefit if big tech companies like Instagram didn’t try to change their APIs during Mars retrograde, but nonetheless we carry on. Do projects with contracts signed during Mercury Rx have more bugs? Occasionally, but freelance work being the gamble that it is, this can happen with Mercury direct, too. Signing a contract after Mercury stations direct is still ideal. If this is not possible, you just have to make sure you read it over carefully and clarify everything twice. The opportunities I have had during retrogrades have been game-changing for me, and that is only so because I seized them when they felt right, overriding the conventional wisdom of astrological timing.

This experience of the retrograde opportunity boomeranging back more than once has me thinking more deeply about my relationship to Mercury, and Mercury in retrograde. Mercury rules the slippery things in life, like words and symbols, which can be manipulated to various ends. If you are involved in Mercurial activities (freelancing, commerce, writing, tech, astrology, magic, communications), you are already playing the Trickster. So Mercury Rx may be less about hermiting and more game recognizing game. Why stop playing just because the game gets a little bit more challenging? There may actually be extra loopholes and little pockets in the fabric of space and time that can be worked to your advantage during a Mercury Rx period. I’m talking about choosing antifragility here.

Antifragility as explained through Mercury retrogrades:

Fragile: Your coworker who does not “believe” in astrology and continues to do business as usual, oblivious to all weather warnings, then loses important documents when her computer crashes. Also, people who know about Mercury Rx, but only read pop descriptions and live in fear / scapegoat Mercury for all of their own poor decisions.

Robust/Resilient: People who are aware of Mercury Retrograde and plan ahead by backing up the computer and scheduling deadlines around these dates. They then use the transit to do things like reflect, double check communications, and fix past errors. Robust/Resilient people are avoiding problems with Mercury retrograde while also recovering from mistakes and using the time to get some inner spring cleaning done. The changes resulting from a robust/resilient approach are small: no big risks and no big wins.

Antifragile: People who understand astrology but also understand that cycles are by definition nonlinear and Mercury Rx is common, so they game the retrograde to revive dead projects, reconnect with well-resourced friends from what feel like past lifetimes, and use the cosmic permeability to communicate on a spiritual level (where the official language is Trickster anyway). The antifragile astro-adept gains from the volatility of Mercury retrograde, taking some risks for potentially big rewards.

We are in Peak Retrograde with the Aquarius Lunar Eclipse on Mars Rx + Mercury Rx. After Mars stations direct on August 27th, we get one glorious month (September!) without a personal planet retrograde, although if you want to get technical about it, Mars is still in shadow. Then Venus retrogrades October 5th - November 16th, followed by Mercury retrograde from November 16th - December 6th. So the rest of the year is retrograde central.

If you have five months off and access to a monastery, good for you. The rest of us can cry about it or we can turn a bug into a feature. Game the season of the retrograde. You don't have to wait on everything; you just have to play the game well. Practice being antifragile for the rest of 2018.

Image Credit: Caduceus Grunge Symbol by Nicolas Raymond

Sagittarius New Moon: Saturn's Bridge

This new moon is at 26.31 Sagittarius on Monday, December 18th at 1:30 AM EST.

 NASA's Great Observatories Examine the Galactic Center Region - The core of the Milky Way at a distance of some 26,000 light years from Earth. Source: Wikimedia Commons via the Smithsonian Institution.

NASA's Great Observatories Examine the Galactic Center Region - The core of the Milky Way at a distance of some 26,000 light years from Earth. Source: Wikimedia Commons via the Smithsonian Institution.

The new moon this month is conjunct Saturn at the last degree of Sagittarius, just before he transitions into Capricorn on Tuesday. It’s also on the Galactic Center (the center of the Milky Way and the site of a supermassive black hole). Retrograde Mercury is at 15 Sag, near a mysterious gravitational anomaly called the Great Attractor. Saturn was at 15 Sagittarius in February - March, May, and November 2016. As this Mercury retrograde began conjunct Saturn and has been tracing the degrees of our recent Saturn cycle, it’s bringing up themes from the past three years.

All this is to say that we’re beginning a liminal moon cycle, a bridge between Saturn in Sagittarius and Saturn in Capricorn. Themes of Saturn in Sagittarius are intensified. Collectively, I think we’ve experienced Saturn in Sagittarius as a lesson about education (we need a better system), knowledge (what we think we know may not be the whole of it), and truth (we need to be careful about distributing false information). Morals and philosophy are also important Sagittarian themes. Usually, when the hard Saturn lessons come, it’s a result of our irresponsibility. We are currently very concerned with the a/moral actions of people in power. More than a few have failed the ethics course. On the other side of the coin, religious values can be cited as a reason for pushing through censorship or denying others’ rights. Saturn in Sagittarius has been overwhelming, a mess of consequences. Saturn in Capricorn is like the teacher coming back after a day with the sub, your parents coming home to find you’ve thrown a party in their absence, the new boss coming in to straighten out a failing company. To use the word of the moment, it is a kind of reckoning. It’s time to get down to business.

On a personal note, how has your philosophy, your idea of the truth, changed, solidified, or become more serious since December of 2014? What hard lessons have you learned in the area of life signified by the house of your chart where you have Sagittarius? Where have you become more responsible, and where have you felt the consequences of irresponsibility?

Saturn moves very slowly, which means this shift will happen incrementally, not all at once. This is a moon cycle for bridging that shift. The Sabian Symbol for this new moon is that of the degree of the Galactic Center: “The Sculptor’s Vision is Slowly but Surely Taking Form.” What form do you want your vision to take? This is something to meditate on in this dark moon period, just before Mercury stations direct on December 22nd. Sort out the lessons. Find the vision you’ve created through this mess. This is what you can sculpt over the next three years.

The Retrograde-fueled Full Moon in Gemini

This full moon is at 11.40 degrees of Gemini at 10:47 AM EST on December 3rd.

Mercury stations retrograde at 29.18 Sagittarius on December 3rd and stations direct at 13 Sagittarius on December 23rd.

 Photo uploaded to Flickr by Wade M, sourced from Wikimedia Commons

Photo uploaded to Flickr by Wade M, sourced from Wikimedia Commons

The aspects are intense and the holiday season timing is epically inconvenient, but here at Rebel Astrology we have the foresight to use even the most difficult astrology to our advantage. This supermoon reaches exact fullness just hours after Mercury stations retrograde at 29 Sagittarius tomorrow. Since Mercury rules Gemini, it’s going to be an extra spazzy retrograde.

Normally I don’t worry about Mercury’s shadow periods (the weeks before and after a retrograde), because I just don’t think they’re worth the fuss. But this one has been nuts for me since November 15th when the pre-shadow period started: tech issues, communication fails, major delays. If it’s the same for you, settle in. It’s our third time this year to take a deep breath, refresh, recharge, and rethink.

As far as the retrograde “Re’s” go, Re-thinking is the key to this full moon. Gemini is all about thought: coming up with ideas, talking, and writing are all in the realm of the Twins. On the other side of the axis, Sagittarius is also interested in knowledge, philosophy, and study. But while Gemini entertains many ideas without necessarily declaring loyalty to any of them, Sagittarius is on a search for truth. Gemini has variety and adaptability, and Sagittarius has deep knowledge. Gemini’s pitfall is duplicity, while Sagittarius runs the danger of becoming dogmatic. When the moon’s ruler stations retrograde in Sag, it’s time to investigate our own dogma. Expand your horizons. Seek out other perspectives in the areas where you have strong beliefs. One caveat: This is so not the time to find someone who disagrees with you and discuss your ideas with them. Don’t start sharing until after the retrograde. This is strictly a listening exercise.

Neptune at 11.30 Pisces is at the apex of an exact T-square with the full moon and the sun. Full moons are always opposite the sun, but the exact aspect with Neptune is unusual. Neptune here indicates illusion, delusion, and even dreams of a better world—one person’s utopia is another person’s fixer-upper. The full moon and Mercury prompt challenges to your beliefs. Dispel your own delusions. Entertain multiple possibilities at the same time.

Do you think your beliefs don’t need to be challenged? You’re enlightened, you’re progressive, you’re liberal, you’re one of the good guys, you’re on the right side of history? Liberal people have dogma too. There are never just two sides to any debate. I know we’re currently living through an insane, chaos-fueled nightmare of propaganda. I know some ideas are truly dangerous. I know. It makes me nervous to write this post, because of my “no debates during Mercury Rx” rule. So please understand that I’m not advocating a position. I’m only suggesting that we all go have a listen to someone who has another perspective to offer.

I say another perspective because I’m not talking about listening to your polar opposite. This is not a suggestion to read a neo-Nazi’s blog. Someone from the very large gray area between you and an active proponent of genocide will do just fine. This isn't about listening to arguments that defend dominant ideologies of patriarchy and white privilege at all. Those are currently the loudest voices. Resist the binary. What I'm concerned about is how we're so polarized right now that there only seem to be two categories to fit into: the resistance and the regime. What I'm concerned about is our collective tendency to react on the internet instead of taking the time to reflect, to label a person “problematic” instead of addressing the idea in question, to automatically shame and shun. Problematic means difficult, tricky, complex, controversial. If an idea is complex, it's worth deeper reflection.

So go within your own paradigm to find an alternative idea. If you’re a feminist, there is another smart, informed feminist who disagrees with you. If you’re an environmentalist, same thing. Find someone in your general subculture with a radical thought. Try reading their arguments. Listen. Radical ideas often draw on perspectives that have become taboo in the dominant ideological paradigm of any group. There are dominant ideological paradigms in liberal circles too. Right now it’s intersectional theory and deconstructionism applied to everything. These are useful ideas. They’re also not the only theories that ever apply to anything, and people who present other ways of seeing are not automatically bad, wrong, problem people. Ideas can coexist.

We all have some kind of invisible fence surrounding us that represents our version of reality, our philosophy, our cultural taboo. Most people don’t ever notice the fence. Use this full moon and Mercury retrograde to rethink part of your own paradigm. You don’t have to come to a conclusion about anything. You don’t have to advocate a position, side with anyone, boycott anyone, label yourself or anyone else. This is the way through December’s batty astrology. This is the advantage of the thoughtful person.