To get to where you want to go, it’s crucial to look at where you’ve been.
Sounds obvious, but how many of us actually pause to reflect before moving forward into the new year?
Western hustle culture tells us to launch into the new year with a slate of goals or resolutions, but doesn’t encourage us to look back and review.
The irony is that when we do pause to reflect and review, we can usually get to where we want to go with greater ease.
Following the planets gives us a new paradigm for how to start the year.
This year starts with both Mercury and Mars in retrograde. These are two planets that play a significant role in driving us forward.
Mars will station direct on January 12, and Mercury will station direct on January 18. Until then, moving forward with any type of ease or flow will likely feel challenging — like trying to catch a sunset in the morning or setting sail at low tide with no wind.
This timing gives us the first few weeks of January to engage in a review of where we are going and the structures and systems we need in place to help us get there, before we dive into major action.
What does that look like, specifically?
Here’s a look at how we can leverage the energy of these planetary transits.
What’s a Retrograde?
Quite simply, a retrograde happens when, from our perspective on Earth, other planets appear to be traveling backward.
In ancient times, this appeared to be an ominous sign.
What Retrogrades Teach Us
Rather than think of it as something bad, we can look at retrogrades as opportunities to review the area of our life where the planet is retrograding, as well as the qualities associated with the planet in retrograde.
We are constantly mediating between past and future. If we try to move forward without reflecting on the past, we are more likely to make the same mistakes.
Retrogrades are our signals to pause, slow down, and engage in a period of reflection and review before picking up steam to move ahead.
How to Work With Planets in Retrograde
To understand how to work with each retrograde, we want to look at three pieces:
(1) the planet in retrograde and the significance of that planet
(2) the sign where the planet is retrograde and what that sign is about
(3) the area of your life (called a “house”) where the planet is retrograde
Even if you don’t know anything about your personal chart, the first 2 elements can give us a lot of information.
That’s where I’ll focus here.
Mars Retrograde in Gemini
Mars is the warrior planet. This is the archetype that represents our energy, drive, and initiative to take action on what matters most to us.
Mars is about our direction in life, and how to move things forward.
When Mars is in forward motion, it moves swiftly and helps us get things done. When it’s in retrograde, it can feel like we are stagnant, have low drive, and struggle to get traction.
All the time in the world means nothing if you don’t have the energy to use that time effectively.
With Mars retrograde, we get to examine where and how we direct our energy.
More specifically, Mars is retrograde in Gemini, a sign that is about communications, language, conversations, curiosities. Gemini is an air sign, which signals thoughts and ideas.
Mars retrograde in Gemini invites us to examine the energy we give to our thoughts, to exploring numerous topics and ideas, and to the conversations happening around us.
What does that mean in practice?
How Do You React to Information and Ideas?
Mars retrograde in Gemini invites us to look at how we respond or react to the opinions, ideas, comments, and suggestions from others, in whatever form they’re disseminated.
When we live in constant reaction to the ideas, comments, emails, and opinions of people around us, we lose sight of our desires and our direction in life.
If you don’t set your agenda and protect your energy, your day — and your life — will play out in reaction to other people’s demands, other people’s energy, or even trying to follow other people’s paths.
You’ll find you have little time for your own plans, and you may find yourself traveling down a path forged by someone else.
Mars represents the leader within us. Leaders lead. That may mean discarding others’ opinions and advice when they don’t align with your values.
Areas to Explore for Mars Retrograde in Gemini
- Are you letting the contents of your inbox or other people’s urgencies set your priorities?
- Do you allow your energy to get hijacked when you read social media posts from certain people?
- Do you find yourself fighting with a certain news anchor or podcast host in your head, because you love to debate?
- How much time and energy do you invest in crafting a response to a news article or social media post, just to make your point?
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t fall prey to this dynamic sometimes, myself included.
Sometimes I get inflamed with righteous anger when I read comments on social media or certain blog posts.
I notice how quickly the thoughts hijack my attention and knock me off track. Even worse is the anger (also a part of the Mars archetype), which causes my body to contract. In that state, I don’t get much done.
I invite you to consider these inquiries that I’ve posed to myself:
- How much energy do you consume being angry about something that you read online, at a cost to your personal health or focus? (Mars can also speak to anger, which is the fuel for war)
- Do you need to engage in every Twitter-bait (pick your social media of choice) or click on every headline?
- Do you need to respond to every comment or tweet?
Mars retrograde in Gemini invites us to get clear on where we leak energy and distract from our projects by engaging in wars of words — online or offline.
Mercury Retrograde in Capricorn
Mercury is the messenger, the communicator. It also governs travel, technology, and sales.
Mercury loves a system, and Mercury in retrograde will often show us what systems aren’t working in our lives.
Mercury is currently retrograde in Capricorn, a sign that is about long-term planning, structures, authority, and rules.
Reviewing Structures and Systems
Mercury retrograde in Capricorn invites us to review the systems and structures that we have in place to support us in achieving our long-term visions and goals.
These systems and structures include our environments and the people in them. Not just your office, but also your home life.
Capricorn sits across the zodiac from Cancer, which is about home, family, and lineage.
The two signs represent the axis of the private foundations and structures that support us in becoming visible in the world and achieving our goals.
It’s hard to move out into the world when we don’t have rooting in the safety of a home — whatever home means for you.
A stable home life, where we feel nurtured and cared for creates the foundation we need for achieving our goals in public.
What’s Holding You Back?
Mercury retrograde in Capricorn also encourages us to look at what is holding us back from pursuing and fulfilling our ambitions. Mercury is known as the “trickster” planet, and this is a period to review the delusions and limiting beliefs keeping you stuck.
By the way, Mercury is the planet that rules Gemini, so part of what’s keeping you stuck may show up in the Mars retrograde review (discussed above).
Areas to Explore for Mercury Retrograde in Capricorn:
- What systems and structures in your life are no longer working?
- Which systems do you want to dismantle completely and rebuild from scratch?
- Which of your daily practices need structures or systems to make them sustainable — or even possible?
- Where could you use more support in your life?
- What do you need to feel better nurtured and cared for, so that you can bring your best work to the world?
- What beliefs and behaviors are getting in your way?
Mars and Mercury in retrograde to start 2023 invite us to pause and reflect on
- what’s getting in the way of our achieving our goals and visions
- what structures and systems are no longer working for us
- what support we need to build sustainably.
When we take time to review and reflect, we can avoid making the same mistakes we’ve made in the past, and we can shore up our systems and structures to build a more sustainable future.