By leaning into the lessons of Mercury retrograde in Aquarius and Capricorn, you can take advantage of the communication planet's latest backward turn.
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The start of a new year always brings an industrious, take-charge vibe courtesy of Capricorn season. The industrious cardinal earth sign aims to set lofty goals and climb one slow, steady, pragmatic step at a time, which is undoubtedly in line with our societal push to tackle ambitious resolutions. But if you're finding it tough to build momentum or even get fired up enough to pinpoint an aspiration, you can blame not only one but two planets' retrogrades. Not only has Venus been retrograde in Capricorn — spurring slowdowns and inner work around relationships, beauty, and money — since December 19, but the first Mercury retrograde of 2022 begins on Friday, January 14 in the fixed air sign Aquarius, symbolized by the Water Bearer. Because Mercury only just went into Aquarius on January 2, it's still in the early degrees of the sign, so by Tuesday, January 25, it will move back into cardinal earth sign Capricorn, symbolized by the Sea Goat. Over the course of the entire three weeks — until Thursday, February 3 — the planet of communication, transportation, and technology will nudge you to go back to the drawing board on existing projects, require more self-reflection, and, yes, potentially fuel headache-inducing misunderstandings and delays.

No doubt, what you've heard or noticed about Mercury retrograde has been, for the most part, negative. Even before it "stations" retrograde — aka moves to nearly a standstill before turning backward — you may feel its frenetic, frustration-inducing vibes. It can feel like, in an attempt to one-up the slowdown or preempt its effects, you may push even harder to connect and to move ahead. Yet, the more you push, the more aggravation you'll experience. Texts disappear into the ether, you feel like you must be speaking a different language, and forget about trying to get anywhere or get anything done on time. That said, it can be heartening to remember that the messenger planet's backward turn isn't only about creating chaos, confusion, and delays.

Here's what you need to know about the first 2022 Mercury retrograde and how to not only cope but make the most of the moment (yes, it's possible).

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Credit: Alex Sandoval

A Quick Primer on Mercury Retrograde

The 101 on the often villainized astrological event: Whether tech is glitching out, exes are texting out of the blue, or you could have sworn you sent that all-too-important email only to find out it got stuck in your outbox, it's easy enough to blame Mercury retrograde, because it feels like it's happening all the damn time. The truth is that it does happen frequently. The planet of communication goes retrograde — aka it appears to be moving backward from our vantage point on Earth — approximately three to four times a year (and it'll be four times in 2022) for three weeks at a time. In other words, it's retrograde 18 percent of the time.

Plus, Mercury slows down before each retrograde, and then, has to get back up to speed afterward, so there are lead-in and lead-out periods — referred to as the "Mercury retrograde storm" — before and after every backward turn. Because it's the speediest planet in the solar system — it moves around the sun every 88 Earth days, traveling at nearly 112,000 mph — we can't help but feel the communication planet's slowdown and attempt to get back up to speed. (Reminder: The planet isn't actually stopping and reversing IRL, but simply appearing to do that from our viewpoint on Earth.) But the day you'll most feel its effects will be when it "stations" — aka actually goes — retrograde or direct.

But while Mercury loves to mess with all of the technology we're obsessed with, throw a wrench in travel plans, and set the stage for plenty of interpersonal confusion, the astrological occurrence — like most others — is not entirely negative. It's also an opportunity to look backward, to reflect, revise, review, and tie up loose ends before moving forward confidently and decisively. It serves as a reminder that, no matter how much you wish you could push forward 24/7/365, life wasn't designed to be lived with your foot on the gas pedal every day. In fact, by slowing down and checking yourself, you might ultimately get even further.

Themes of the First Mercury Retrograde of 2022

From January 14 to 25, the communication planet will be retrograde in Aquarius, which is the fixed (aka the most resolute or stubborn) air sign. Known for being humanitarian, contrarian, science-minded, and proudly eccentric, those born under the sign symbolized by the Water Bearer — or who have other planetary placements (meaning moon sign, rising, et al.) in Aquarius in their birth charts — aim to challenge the status quo, strike out against convention, and create and nurture connections that will ultimately make the world a better place for everyone. As an air sign, they're innately social and adore collaborating with a diverse group of friends and colleagues, but they also have the tendency to dig their heels in, especially when it comes to their world view and ideals. Ruled by Uranus, the planet of change and rebellion, they're progressive innovators who don't shy away from shaking things up. (Also read: The Best Astrology Apps — from Beginner to Advanced — According to a Pro Astrologer)

While Mercury is in Aquarius, we focus more on communal efforts and championing the greater good but also standing in your sense of self in an apologetically quirky way. That said, when Mercury is retrograde in the sign of the Water Bearer, you may be zeroed in on work alongside teammates to revise a group project or reflecting on how you can give back with a particular local charity.

And from January 25 to February 3, Mercury will back up into Capricorn, where it previously hung out from December 13 to January 2. Consider how you were thinking and communicating then, what you might have been working on, and the general feeling of your interactions, because you'll be retracing your steps and getting a second shot to complete any work that was put on hold or now requires a second look. "Work" is a key term to hold in mind, as Capricorn is perhaps one of the most driven signs of the zodiac, so Mercury's retrograde through the earth sign could inspire you to return to a previously started project, put your nose to the grindstone, and cross the finish line once and for all.

But astrological highlights of this particular Mercury retrograde put an emphasis on inner work just as much as external work. Around January 17, a full moon in sensitive water sign Cancer could require swimming in deep emotions that are coming up for you as Mercury turns your focus to reflecting on the past. And once Venus ends its retrograde on January 29, you could feel lessons you've learned since December 19 have made you better prepared to set healthy boundaries and limits in your relationships. A new moon in Aquarius on February 1 (Eastern time) can spur inventive brainstorming that could lead you down an unconventional path.

The Signs This Mercury Retrograde Will Affect the Most

Because the retrograde is happening in fixed Aquarius and cardinal Capricorn, people with strong Aquarius and Capricorn placements as well as the other fixed and cardinal signs across the other elements will feel this particular backward turn the most. That includes Taurus (fixed earth), Leo (fixed fire), and Scorpio (fixed water) as well as Aries (cardinal fire), Cancer (cardinal water), and Libra (cardinal air).

In addition, Geminis and Virgos generally feel all Mercury retrogrades more acutely than others, because both signs are ruled by the messenger planet.

Tips for Surviving Mercury Retrograde in Aquarius and Capricorn

By leaning into the lessons of the first Mercury retrograde of 2022, you can absolutely find ways to make the most of the moment. Consider making the following moves.

Join Forces with Friends and Colleagues

Because Aquarius rules the eleventh house of networking, the first phase of this Mercury retrograde will underline the importance of platonic and collegial bonds. Maybe you already feel super-connected to your team at work, or you're hoping to build that sense of camaraderie at a new job or with a different group of people. Either way, this retrograde will stir you to reflect on who you're working alongside and how these bonds can bolster — or may be hindering — long-term wish fulfillment.

Put Your Head Down and Just Do the Work

Mercury retrograde's time in Cap will serve as a reminder that if you really want to reach your endgame, then you'll do best to do it in an unapologetically pragmatic, gung-ho way. Capricorns don't have time for procrastination, griping, or hemming and hawing. They just pinpoint a goal and get after it. And whatever you've been putting off is going to require that kind of energy now, especially between January 25 to February 3. (Also read: What Your Astrological Midheaven Sign Says About Your Career and Professional Dreams)

Try to Stick to Rational, Pragmatic Thought

Aquarius tends to reject just about anything that hasn't been documented in a lab or peer-reviewed while down-to-earth Capricorn is all about what's practical and concrete. In other words, thinking in a rational, scientific, fact-based way is of utmost importance in both signs' views, so doing your best to hold that perspective in mind through the next three weeks could make for smoother sailing in business and relationships. (Pssst... here's how to decode zodiac sign compatibility.)

Embrace the Unconventional

Uranus-ruled Aquarius is not only cool with but prefers to be perceived as different, out there, bizarre, or eccentric. So while Mercury moves backward through the fixed air sign, you might be motivated to revise your approach in a way that goes against the status quo. Striking out on your own now could feel particularly empowering.

Lean Into Idealism

It's true that Mercury retrograde will bring plenty of confusion, mixups, and wrenches being thrown in the best-laid plans. But holding onto Aquarius' free-spirited, sociable, and innovative energy — and later, Capricorn's industrious, grounded vibe — should help you move through this occasionally bumpy period with confidence and grace. Keep an open mind about switching gears in the moment while staying true to your convictions, and instead of wreaking utter havoc for three-plus weeks, this Mercury retrograde could end up being shockingly fulfilling. (Next read:
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