Mercury Retrogrades: Navigating Through the Air Signs

Written by CV Henriette of ART of the ZODIAC

Mercury 'Dreaded' Retrograde

Yes, friends, it;'s that time of year—again. Quick moving Mercury, planet of commerce and communication, appears to swim backwards through the Zodiac, and we all lose our shit/ have a convenient excuse for everything going haywire, from broken cars to misfired emails: that wasn't me. Mercury's in Retrograde.

Have you ever considered that maybe we've created a hype monster?

You may not want to hear this, but if you can get past the Mercury is out to ruin my plans paradigm of pop culture astrology, you just might find that the planet's three to four retrograde periods each year are actually sacred times when the Messenger God is, well, trying to deliver a message. If there's a problem, it might be that you're not listening.

Just like the monthly lunation cycle, Mercury's retrograde periods provide a potent opportunity for personal connection to the cosmos. While chaos may be the first word to surface when you hear retrograde, in truth, these cycles are eloquently ordered affairs. Each and every Retrograde period commences with Mercury as an Evening Star, crescendos with a conjunction to the Sun, and ends with Mercury emerging as a Morning Star.

These are times to work through your old junk, as you build a vision for the new. Any inconveniences you experience are reminders of what needs to be fixed, discarded or replaced. 

Decoding the Planetary Signal

Each of these periods is part of a larger elemental cycle. For example, 2020 wrapped up a series of Water cycles, while 2021 kicks off with a series of Air cycles. Think of the larger cycle as a story, with its individual retrogrades as chapters.

The first step to working with the Mercury Cycle is to identify the element of the period. This will tell us the mood of our story. Are we dealing with matters of material (Earth)? Emotion (water)? Passion (Fire)? Intellect (Air)?

The previous set of Mercury cycles happened in water signs, which made it a lot heavier for some of us. No doubt Mercury's trademark themes of communication were certainly at play—issues around technology, traveling, etc—but if you go back to look at the entire picture in 2020, you may find a story containing a lot more emotional depth than you might not otherwise associate with Mercury.

If you had financial issues, for instance, perhaps you were drawn to contemplate your personal relationship with material resources. Does your anxiety around money stem from fundamental security issues? Do you overspend as a way to self-soothe?

Let’s Get Personal: Working With the Cycle 

Once you've established the general mood of your Mercury experience, you'll want to identify the setting by looking to the specific sign Mercury is traveling through (each element rules three signs) and by locating the Zodiacal house in your chart Mercury is visiting. There are twelve of them. I'll explain.

The above example of financial issues is connected to the 2nd house. That's the part of your chart that deals with movable possessions. Like I said, there are twelve houses, and together they describe the whole of someone's life. A house for home, partnership, children (or not children), friends, career, etc. From birth to death, the wheel's got you covered!

The way you personally experience a Mercury Retrograde is determined by what topics Mercury sets off in your chart. 

The Air Cycle

At the end of January 2021, Mercury stations retrograde in Aquarius, beginning a new elemental cycle in Air. To keep it simple, let's contextualize it like this: The Water cycle of 2020 had us taking a deep dive into our psyches, pulling out all sorts of feeling from the way, way, down. The Air cycle of 2021 is where we make sense of it all. 

So maybe you are an emotional spender. What are you going to do about it? Now is the time for logical thought and the pursuit of innovative ideas and solutions—big Aquarian words! 

Your Mercury Story

Not everyone will experience a Mercury Retrograde in the same way. Below is a set of prompts for accessing your personal Mercury story as we begin a new cycle. Choose your own adventure to begin the process of listening, inquiring and gathering data, so you can jump into the action of your adventure once Mercury stations direct. 

If you know your Rising Sign, read for that. If you don’t know your Rising Sign, excellent! Read them all and see what resonates with you. 


My friends make me feel _______. I would describe my squad as ________ .  My friendship goals for 2021 are _______________________. 



I am _______ with my career.   If I could do anything for work, it would be __________. 



I’ve always wanted to study _________ . When this pandemic is over, I’d like to visit __________. 



I am ___________ with my credit cards. The word ‘budget’ makes me feel ________. I can save money by ____________. 



My relationship status is ____________. Thinking about my relationship status makes me feel _________. My relationship goals are ___________. 



I would describe my work/life balance as __________. I have routines that make me feel ________. I can make better use of my time by _________. 



I feel most creative and joyful when_____________. I am currently working on __________. In 2021, I will set aside time for myself to _________.



My relationship to my roots are ________. The place where I’m living makes me feel_________. I feel most at home________. 



Community is ________ to me. My neighborhood makes me feel. In 2021, I will make steps to connect to my surroundings by ___________. 



The things I value most are ___________. My relationship to money is ________. My financial goals for 2021 are _____________. 



I describe myself as _________. My relationship between my mind and body is _______. The parts of myself that no longer serve me are ________. 


In my dreams I _________. If I’m honest with myself ________________. I protect myself against others by __________.