Image: Action painting by Gutai artist Kazuo Shiraga c. 1955
To put it mildly, the last few years have normalized intensity and drama. And the most interesting part of 2024 is the way we are being asked to live in this funny newish world for a year, at the dawn of a new era, with all of the parts that are still in the process of crumbling and are treacherous, and all the little nascent parts that could become anything and are difficult to trust, and the parts that look almost exactly like the beforetime but are perhaps a little more dull and weathered… without any extraordinary or sustained levels of drama.
Instead, there seems to be room for dreaming.
Things will happen, as they do. Pluto will move back into Aquarius January 20 and remain most of the year, so we will keep deepening the ideological commitment we have to this 200-year long age of air that we have only just begun. Uranus will continue to move slowly through Taurus, demanding that we practice what we preach, and thereby providing an important foil to the ideological force of Pluto in Aquarius that I will be writing about a lot in the coming year. Saturn and Neptune will still be hanging out together in the oceanic everything that is Pisces, so reality itself will still feel rather hazy, conspiratorial, or unknowable.
But with a few notable exceptions, the bigger movements of the year will be driven by Jupiter wrapping up his stay in Taurus and entering Gemini. Jupiter’s job is to stabilize conditions and promote life and growth, so that’s encouraging news! Venus and Mars chug along nicely until Mars begins a retrograde through Leo at the very end of the year. And as ever, there will be three Mercury retrogrades. Last year was marked by Mercury spending an inordinate amount of time in earth signs, going through the deep, iterative work of getting literal shit together. In 2024, Mercury will be spending more than half of the days of the year in the fire signs of Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius. In fact, these retrograde periods in fire signs either leverage or punctuate almost all of the big moments of the year. I like this! Mercury is our minds, and our minds in this comparatively boring year will be in a place of passion, imagination, searching, and courageous action. I am reminded of the way the mind needs quiet and stability to roam. Maybe this year instead of reacting or responding to events on the ground, we will have the space to reflect on where we wound up, and throw ourselves into the boldest future we can dream.
And because Mercury is not just the mind but also the way we break a whole into its parts, maybe one way to repeat this to ourselves as the year progresses is to say that in 2024, God is in the details. The steps. The actions we take. Mercury is retrograde right now as I write this. So let’s look at the year in terms of the other three retrogrades in 2024. They so neatly contain the action, and I like the way this suggests that this year there are consistent opportunities to do something with what the sky is giving us.
April 1–25, 2024
Mercury’s retrograde through the last half of Aries is a time to start, restart, and start again. It’s about bold actions that are best thought of as iterative steps that of course you will get another crack at. Astrologers emphasize not starting new things, initiating contracts, and so forth during Mercury retrogrades, and I cannot think of a Mercury retrograde that challenges that advice more than this one. Aries is a martial sign that symbolizes shooting first and asking questions later. Often, this is exactly the energy you need to overcome the incredible inertia of starting a new project. And instead of looking at each email, proposal, plan, or deal as written in stone, it will be important to see them as steps forward that you must be able to amend, iterate, and otherwise play with as you just do it. Let speed around your words and transactions, and the need to be able to revise as you learn more, guide you because this April has some of the most powerful astrology all year. This Mercury retrograde is a prominent feature of the spring eclipse season, which begins with a lunar eclipse in Libra on March 25 that opposes Mercury in shadow, and ends with a total solar eclipse April 8 that will be visible throughout the United States, right alongside Mercury in Aries. Eclipses are always a quickening and intensification of the regular drumbeat of life, and this particular eclipse season will be informed by a persistently exciting, positive vibe, and a total bummer moment. Most of the month of April will be abuzz with lucky Jupiter’s conjunction with amplifying Uranus. This, like any astrology, could go sideways. Sometimes Jupiter Uranus just means big things going out of control. But Jupiter’s ability to stabilize and create the conditions of growth means that this is far more likely to be the beginning of something shockingly good. At the same time, on April 10 Mars, the god of war, will connect with the big brick wall that is Saturn. This restart of the cycle between Saturn and Mars happens every couple of years, and it’s a good way to track where we will find difficulty. The last time Saturn and Mars met in Aquarius in early April 2022, we were still dealing with the difficulty of intense change across the most stable parts of life. This time, Mars is meeting Saturn in the mutable sign of Pisces. Mutable signs hold the end of one season and the beginning of the next. This implies that change itself, or the discomfort of holding multiple truths, is the thing that will be hard for the next couple of years.
All of this suggests that the way forward this spring is any reasonably reversible action forward. Fuck the usual Mercury retrograde caution! Buy the plane ticket, send the email, sign anything that you can revise, buy the thing you need to get started, as long as you keep the box and the receipt. Get the ball rolling in some direction, knowing that the direction can and probably will change. Do this knowing you’re propelled by larger forces in the air. Maybe you are an Aries, Cancer, Libra, or Capricorn rising and the eclipses are describing big changes in your life. Move on these changes! Maybe you’re a Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, or Aquarius rising and Jupiter and Uranus are supersizing something important. Make progress that goes with this flow! Maybe you are a Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, or Pisces rising and Mars and Saturn are describing a new, enduring challenge. Take action in the face of it!
August 5–28, 2024
Mercury will retrograde through the late degrees of Leo and early ones of Virgo. This describes Mercury at its analytical best walking backwards and transforming into Mercury at its loudest, proudest, most loyal, and most heartfelt. And what is interesting is the way this process works alongside a fairly intense week or two, as Mars and Jupiter meet up in Gemini August 14. This then turns into the first tense standoff between Mars and Saturn in their new little cycle the very next day. And then Venus in Virgo gets involved in all this over the next few days, lengthening this moment until about August 22nd. What does all that mean? Well, imagine a big, potentially righteous conflict that clears the room, followed by many days of careful repair. Or acting hastily with great intentions and being denied, so you have to appeal to a bureaucratic system. Or a huge party that gets shut down by the police, and requires days of cleanup. This long moment is nothing like the whole month of April being pretty intense. But it could provide some insight into questions that we are really wrestling with right now, as we feel our way forward in this new world. How do we work collectively while accepting and accommodating multiple truths and lived experiences? What if neither “side” is “right?” What if we were wronged, and it is wrong to simply retaliate, and we just have to hold the anguish of that?
It is interesting that in this moment that looks, more than anything else, like a conflictunity, that Mercury, or our mouths, will be in Leo, the sign that you can imagine as a hearth that everybody can gather around for warmth, comfort, and maybe in this moment, a specific brand of reconciliation. Some of us will find ourselves listening to brave leaders who are asking us to come together despite substantial difference. And some of us will be that brave, heart-centered leader, who will keep trying to speak from their heart, even though the likelihood of being misunderstood is high. In this scenario, the great thing about Mercury being retrograde is the capacity to keep going, keep trying to communicate from the heart, keep working through all the shadow of Mercury in Leo, who occasionally forgets bravery and the truth of the heart and settles simply for attention. During this retrograde, whether you are in a listening or talking role, keep focusing on what the heart knows. The heart knows that everybody needs and deserves love. It knows that punishing someone else never gets rid of the pain, even if the punishment is fair. The heart knows that sometimes there’s a conflict even though everybody in the room is right and nobody is wrong.
It is interesting that this moment acts as a kind of foreshadowing of fall eclipse season, which features a preview eclipse across mutable signs Virgo and Pisces September 17, as well as a solar eclipse in the sign most interested in justice, Libra, October 2.
November 26–December 15 2024
The last Mercury retrograde in Sagittarius gives us a very long and lovely mutual reception between Jupiter in Mercury’s sign of Gemini and Mercury in Jupiter’s sign of Sagittarius. Jupiter and Mercury struggle in one another’s signs because Jupiter is all about the big picture and the immense meaningfulness of life, and Mercury is all about the little things–the way life can be gamified, summarized, and broken down into systems, tasks, and transactions. But something quite special happens when these two planets can help one another out through this “the whole is more than the sum of its parts” dilemma. I’ve seen this play out as a sort of Everyday Mysticism that goes out of its way to reject god but is keenly aware of the world of meaning that is communicated in the details of one gesture. Or that lingers on the intimate, potentially loving relationship between you and the crap you’re carrying in your pocket. Or that really does see the fact that words are how you cast spells.
Once again, this retrograde has an interesting context. It features not just this lovely and persistent relationship between Mercury and Jupiter, but consistent standoffs with Saturn playing the role of Mr. No in Pisces; a lovely connection to Mars stationing retrograde in Leo that almost happens; and Venus conjoining Pluto in Aquarius over in the background. It’s not huge, earth shattering astrological weather, or even a big week and a half. But there will be negations and limit setting. A process of interrogating our courage, our will, and our drive to violence will commence. There will be a moment of deep, serious love. And once again, while I would normally suggest caution around a retrograde Mercury in Sagittarius because that usually describes a big fat struggle to find the truth, this time the truth is in front of our eyes. As we face limits or restrictions, truth is in the way that the trip around the block is always a trip around the world. As we settle down to examine our actions, truth is in the way everything we say is just another way to say abracadabra. It is the way we cannot help but alchemically transmute our lies into our truths because lying is speaking and doing. It creates something. As we are hit with a powerful wave of deep love, the truth is that we express that love in the way we fold a napkin, or hold out our hand.
While the rest of the year is about using these Mercury retrogrades to propel brave action, I think this Mercury retrograde is best suited to brave acts of awareness and contemplation. You may or may not have the capacity to structure this awareness into twenty minutes of zazen or an hour long yoga nidra. That’s okay–that’s not exactly the flavor of this Mercury retrograde. While any hours you have clocked training your awareness muscles will certainly help, what it’s asking for is a deep look at the five minute walk to the corner store, and seeing the way the whole universe is here, in this five minute walk. It is asking you to see the power your words have to create. It’s asking you to see that the way you do anything is the way you do anything, and that kind attention to these details makes a huge difference.
And that, my friends, is an elegant place to leave us because 2025 starts with a bang and has big, interesting moves that you want tools and space to see! Stay tuned for lord of the year horoscopes that define your role and focus your action in the year ahead.
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