“It is important from time to time to slow down, to go away by yourself, and simply be.” – Eileen Caddy

mercuryThe fundamental law of astrology is As above, so below — to get in sync with the cosmic forces, do as the planets do. And right now, we’re being called to slow down, turn inward and take a time-out.

Mercury is stationing — appearing to stand still in the sky — as he prepares to turn from Retrograde to Direct (forward) on Wednesday at 11:21pm PST. Mercury the Messenger — the speediest of the planetary pantheon (think Hermes with his winged feet) — rules communication, the mind, and short trips.

As I wrote in a previous post (Making the Darkness Conscious), this Mercury Retro period, which started December 10th, has been especially intense, requiring some deep-diving, transformational, healing, and potentially painful ruminations and conversations. Once Mercury gets up to speed again, it will be time to move forward and take action on the insights and revelations from this Retro period. (And yes, it will also be safe again to sign contracts, make long-term commitments and buy electronics.)

But for now, the Retro influence may be particularly acute.

Adding to the slow-down, action planet Mars is moving into a stressful square with Saturn, the principle of restriction and limitation. This aspect — often described as “driving with the brakes on” — will be exact the same day as Mercury’s reversal (7:29am PST).

marsFrustration, impatience and a crisis of confidence are some possible expressions of this influence. Pushing harder, forcing your will, and/or acting aggressively will probably not be helpful. Better to back off, rethink your goals and desires, and slow down.

Mars wants to go-go-go, but wise Saturn asks, Are you headed in the right direction? If so, this is a great time to strategize the best way forward. If not, it’s time to change course. Mars is now in Capricorn (the sign ruled by Saturn), so long-term goals, priorities and commitments are particularly up for evaluation. Saturn is now in Libra, bringing attention to partnerships of all kinds, and the necessity of creating balance.

The Mars-Saturn square can also trigger the fear (Saturn, Capricorn) of moving forward, taking risks and pursuing your desires (Mars). The trick here is to discern whether you’re stopping yourself from taking action for a valid, wise reason (like, it’s not the right time, or, you don’t really want that anyway, or, this won’t serve you in the long run), or if you’re stopping yourself out of plain old fear.

saturnIdeally, as we emerge from Mercury Retrograde, we’ve gained clarity about our inner truth, priorities, commitments and long-term goals. It might take a few days for the Retrograde hangover to dissipate — especially for Mercury-ruled Geminis and Virgos. (And, word to the wise, we won’t be fully out of the Retro influence until we exit the “shadow” period on January 18th.)

Clarity is what we want right now, as we approach the Solar Eclipse on January 4th, and head into the wild ride of 2011. A Solar Eclipse is a super-powerful New Moon, setting off a major new beginning that will unfold over the next six months and beyond. Slowing down, taking time to yourself, and connecting with your inner truth these next few days may be the best preparation for what’s ahead.

– Emily Trinkaus