Just how fitting is it that Mercury stations retrograde in Aries today — April Fool’s Day? Between yesterday and today, I have experienced:

— Waking up from a dream that had me so frustrated and exasperated, I immediately launched into telling my half-asleep partner about it in great, energized detail (I’ll come back to this further down).

Mercury scrambling circuits in a fire sign? Well, actually just me playing with camera motion while photographing a fire engine on a foggy night in 2019. Photo by Amanda Painter.

— Inexplicably thinking, for at least a couple of hours, that it would only take about 30 minutes to drive to my mother’s house on Easter…despite the fact that I have made the drive countless times, and I know damn well it takes close to an hour. My partner even said at one point, “We should leave now,” and I was like, “Well, I am sure she’d be happy to see us half an hour early, but just let me finish what I’m doing.”

I didn’t register this mental time warp until I walked out the door to get in the car. WTF even happened there???

— Messaging a friend this morning to confirm our lunch plans for today, to which she apologized for forgetting and let me know she’s unexpectedly out of state for a funeral. (This one counts as a great example of “Standard Mercury Retrograde Protocol” rather than a snafu on my part: confirming plans and double- or triple-checking details, especially regarding transit and communication.)

Mercury is known as the Trickster, and its retrogrades often have a way of showing us how our own failures to focus can result in what feel like frustrating practical jokes from the universe, seemingly intended to cause distress. I think, however, that these hiccups are less about the cosmos playing tricks and more an opportunity to notice how we are (or are not) thinking and communicating.

We get a chance to review how our thoughts and words and choices have gotten us where we are, and perhaps be a little more deliberate in thinking through workarounds, solutions, and new choices.  Although, not everything that goes awry while Mercury appears to be dancing backwards is solely the result of our own distraction or confusion.

Tech glitches in particular are often out of our hands and hard to understand, except by the metaphysical mantra, “As above, so below” and its implication: that it makes a certain sense for the optical illusion of Mercury’s motion to be mirrored or mimicked in the gadgets that normally help us to think, communicate, make our ideas tangible, and get from point A to point B.

Each retrograde of Mercury has its own flavor, thanks to the sign(s) where it occurs, any planets or points within whispering distance as it stations, and other astrological events that may overlap its three weeks of quirk and kink. This one begins officially at 6:14 pm EDT tonight, lasts until April 25, and takes place entirely in the sign Aries.

Themes for Aries, a fire sign ruled by the planet Mars, include: self/identity, physical action, initiative, desire, will, and impulse. It’s an interesting and potentially very useful style of Mercury retrograde to have in the midst of eclipses, as we consider who we are in the process of becoming and how our choices align with that. Mercury’s retrograde also overlaps the culmination of the Jupiter-Uranus conjunction in Taurus (exact April 20-21).

In fact, today marks the exact halfway point between the March 25 Full Moon and lunar eclipse and the April 8 New Moon and total solar eclipse. I’ve mentioned before how eclipse zones can be really useful for shifting life patterns and aligning with your desired trajectory.

Yet it’s possible you might experience this station retrograde in action-loving Aries as a “one step forward, two steps back” kind of dynamic, which can be frustrating. Funny how sometimes that’s exactly the kind of interruption we need.

After all, what does it mean to “be in alignment,” anyway? At its most basic, it’s not about chakras or yoga poses or even thinking only positive thoughts all the time. It’s simply doing our best to make sure our actions reflect our desires, thoughts, and words. Are you doing what you say you need to do to get the results you want and reach the goal you desire?

It’s easy to slip. I slip all the time.

For example, saying that I want to go to bed earlier so I can get up earlier, so that I can use my days in a way that will better support the vision I have for my life. Yet recent weeks have seen me going to bed later and getting up later. It’s time for me to take a look at that equation and either bring more motivation and discipline to my bedtime and waking, or perhaps adjust my vision and goals to better accommodate how I actually move through my environment and my time.

I’m not sure there’s necessarily an across-the-board “right” or “wrong” way to address being out of alignment in this way. I do think that, regardless of which way you approach it, facing the truth of being out of alignment with oneself can be a hard conversation to have. Perhaps Mercury retrograding through Aries describes having more of the energy, motivation, and willpower needed to do so?

Which brings me to some details of the chart for Mercury’s station today. The description for the Sabian symbol that goes with 28 Aries, the degree where Mercury stations retrograde, speaks to how we handle the situation of disappointed expectations — those of others as well as our own towards ourselves.

What does it mean to be responsible for your impact on your environment? What does it mean to prepare maturely to carry out your promises, or to receive self-critique in a way that opens up your potential for self-development rather than squashing it?

To me, this all sounds a lot like reviewing how you are or are not in alignment with your intentions and goals. In other words, the prefect Sabian symbol themes for this particular Mercury retrograde, given the eclipses and Jupiter-Uranus.

At the time of Mercury’s apparent station, it’s in an exact aspect to Neptune in Pisces called a semi-sextile (30 degrees — or one whole sign — apart). Two of my astrology books call this aspect mildly beneficial, while a third calls it somewhat difficult.

To my mind, that suggests there may be a choice involved, reflective of personal circumstances. I would ask: what is your typical response to realizing you are out of alignment?

Do you tend to let it inspire you to rectify the situation creatively, tapping into your inner spiritual practices to show yourself some love and compassion through actions that are in right-relationship to your desires?

Or do you tend to slide into denial, impulsively doubling down on whatever you’re already doing, and getting reactive toward anyone who points out the discrepancy?

Trust me, I’ve demonstrated both responses in my life.

Finally, Mercury also happens to be stationing retrograde in an exact, harmonious trine to the Galactic Center: the core of our home galaxy, the Milky Way, often described as a “cosmic homing signal.” I would say that, for anyone inclined to listen, there may be some deeper messages coming through right now — even if they arrive via miscommunication, tech glitches, disordered thinking, or some other sign of being somehow out of alignment.

Challenging circumstances can make insights harder to perceive but they’re no less useful. Take, for example, my dream yesterday.

It was too involved to describe in detail here. But the symbolism was all so personally significant to me, and the frustration I felt so maddening, that I’ve come to understand it holds very clear messages for me.

Namely, that no matter how many interruptions and distractions I am encountering, no matter how much I am struggling to make space for what I want to do (what my soul is on this planet to do) and keep good boundaries, no matter how exasperated I may get with circumstances or with other people and with myself, it is up to me to simply find a way to continue taking action.

I am the only one who can bring myself back into alignment with my goals and vision and purpose, no matter how many times I have to make adjustments. Thankfully astrology offers plenty of assistance along the way (as do so many of the people who care about us) — inconvenient as it may sometimes be.

Here’s to all the interruptions, glitches, and annoyances designed to help us pay greater attention along the way! May you find them useful once the frustration subsides.

With love,


Simplified chart for Mercury stationing retrograde. Although I took out Mars in early Pisces, I left Saturn there because of the sextile it is receiving from the Moon, Pholus, and Ceres. There’s something there suggesting the potential for runaway emotional reactions (Moon-Pholus) especially in response to not feeling cared for, nourished, or safe (Ceres). Yet the placement in Capricorn and the contact with Saturn describes either the potential for a solid container to offer a helpful, creative outlet to that energy, or the potential to feel isolated and restricted if that container seems missing.

Comments are closed