This Mercury Retrograde Happens in *2* Signs—Here’s What That Means

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Sometimes, revisiting the past is, ironically, the best way to move forward anew. And the astrological landscape for January is asking us to do just that by way of the first Mercury retrograde of the year (happening from January 14 to February 4). While you might know about these astrological transits for their ability to trigger snafus in all things communication, this upcoming Mercury retrograde is something of a double whammy: It occurs in two different signs, first moving through Aquarius and then shifting into Capricorn. As a result, the vibe could get even wonkier than usual.

Typically, Mercury retrogrades in signs of one astrological element (fire, earth, air, or water) in any given year—but some overlap tends to happen as it moves between them. “For example, in 2020, Mercury was retrograde in water signs, and ended up in air signs two out of three times; in 2021, it was only retrograde in air signs; and now, in 2022, it’ll retrograde in air signs, but will wind up in Earth signs each time, too,” says astrologer Leslie Hale of Crunch the numbers, and that means Mercury retrogrades in two signs only about 25 percent of the time.

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But before you throw up your hands and assume this double-trouble occurrence signifies some kind of fresh hell, know that it just means we’ll feel undercurrents of each sign as Mercury retrogrades through it.

“We can expect our ideas, minds, and attitudes to shift several times and in different directions during Mercury’s retrogrades this year.” —Leslie Hale, astrologer

To wit, as Mercury appears to move backward through Aquarius from January 14 to 27, we could feel the upheaval in terms of airy Aquarian themes, like how we process intellectual information and operate within the collective. But when the planet shifts into goals-oriented Capricorn through February 3, the retrograde shake-up will center more closely “around the practical nuts and bolts of life and how we define results and success,” says Hale.

With that in mind, there’s a definite whiplash effect in action here—which is common for any Mercury retrograde in two signs (since the signs directly next to each other on the zodiac wheel are always pretty different, thematically, from each other).

Below, astrologers share more detail on exactly what to expect from the current Mercury retrograde, first in Aquarius and then in Capricorn.

How this Mercury retrograde in two different signs (Aquarius and Capricorn) will take on themes from both

While Mercury retrograde is practically infamous for bringing about mishaps and misunderstandings, as this particular transit moves through intellect-driven Aquarius and Capricorn, some of that turbulence is bound to happen internally. “We can expect our ideas, minds, and attitudes to shift several times and in different directions during Mercury’s retrogrades this year,” says Hale. “In this case, we’ll spend the first part of the retrograde reaching out for new ways of doing things, and then shift back to the things that are tried and true, only to look in new directions once again, when Mercury returns to forward motion in Aquarius [in mid-February].”

To get more specific, the Aquarian portion of the retrograde is going to mix up our thoughts, sense of logic, and the way we vibe with our broader communities. “On a collective level, we will all be rethinking many things that benefit or don’t benefit society as a whole,” says Hale. “And at an individual level, you might be re-thinking matters concerning your close group of friends and re-considering who you spend your time with.”

Because Aquarius is the sign most closely linked with technology, this will also be a time when devices could go on the fritz, according to astrologer Ellen Bowles, author of Astrology SOS. “It’s a good idea to back up anything technological and pay close attention to how you communicate, as things are not always as they seem with Mercury retrograde in Aquarius,” she says.

“We may see the revealing of some uncomfortable truths around our current political structures and systems that appear outdated.” —Ellen Bowles, astrologer

As the planet shifts into Capricorn—the sign of tradition and responsibility—partway through the transit, expect the upheaval to move toward areas of work, government, and our relationship to authority, says Bowles: “Broadly, we may see the revealing of some uncomfortable truths around our current political structures and systems that appear outdated, which can have us questioning why we keep up certain traditions, and what they really represent.”

And on a more personal level, the shake-up may frustrate your sense of progress or forward momentum in your career. “You could have a difficult time trusting your creativity, feelings, or intuition or with taking leaps of faith, as Capricorn craves concrete results, which are not always possible to predict in this time,” says Hale.

But as with any retrograde, the push to slow down and reassess from Mercury retrograde can often prove beneficial in the long run. “Perhaps you have the opportunity to go back over ground you covered previously,” says Hale. (Think back to the events of December 2021, when Mercury was last in Capricorn, and January 2021, when it was last in Aquarius, for situations that could arise again.) “You could have a chance to make adjustments to your thinking about something, or realize that something you once thought was complete was actually missing a crucial piece,” she adds. “And at a time like this, you could receive that new information, which could be pertinent to your future decision-making.”

To stay sane amid the turbulence, Bowles recommends both practicing patience with those around you (misunderstandings are common during retros, after all), and also with yourself. “This is a time to prioritize your mental and emotional self-care as you process, and not to overextend yourself,” she says.

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