Mercury Retrograde

What is Mercury Retrograde?

We’ve all heard people say, “It must be Mercury Retrograde!’ when something negative happens like; their car breaking down in the middle of a busy motorway, a business deal falling through at the last minute, or the heating in your home packing up right in the middle of winter.

But what does it actually mean and is it always related to negative situations? Or is it just a mere coincidence?

Mercury Retrograde – as it’s technically referred to – piqued the interest of astrologists dating as far back as the mid-eighteenth century. The information garnered about this phenomenon by these spiritual hobbyists became rather crucial for farmers when planning their planting schedules. Obviously, planting would be held off during these periods to avoid having a meagre harvest.

What is Mercury Retrograde?

It’s a phenomenon which takes place three or four times a year and lasts for about three weeks. During this time, things or plans go pear-shaped and life as we know it becomes chaotic. The effects of Mercury Retrograde doesn’t favour any zodiac sign and no one escapes getting embroiled in its devastation. Some astrologists may even go as far to say that you aren’t really out of the woods in the week running up to and after the Retrograde – so be on your toes!

But does Mercury really go backward physically?

To the avid stargazer, Mercury is perceived to be moving backwards when viewed from Earth but in actual fact it is not moving backwards at all. Mercury being the smallest planet in the galaxy has a much shorter orbit around the Sun than Earth. In the year that Earth orbits around the Sun, Mercury would have made four orbits around the Sun. And to add to that, Earth’s orbit is not identical to any of the other planets in the galaxy. So, when Mercury passes Earth three or four times a year it creates an illusion that it’s moving in the opposite direction because of its smaller trajectory. Imagine two trains travelling alongside each other, as one train speeds up the other one which is left behind will appear to be moving backwards.

During this time, you can expect: a home purchase to fall through, electronic disasters like losing your thesis because your computer just crashed, missed flights or petty arguments with your partner resulting in an unexpected breakup. 

What should you do during a Mercury Retrograde?

Life doesn’t have to come to a standstill during a Mercury Retrograde. There are many things you can do. I personally apply the 3 Rs: reflect, revisit and relax. Because Mercury is moving ‘backwards'(retrograde) the best thing you can do for yourself is to hit the pause button on actions that you have been planning to take. Take time to reflect on your plans or past events. It’s the perfect time to pick up flaws and refine plans. Revisit a situation from your past; take the opportunity to smooth out a miscommunication you had with a friend. If you are in sales or business; get in touch with your past clients – there will be a better chance of closing a deal there. Relax and take a holiday; visit family or old friends, a place from your childhood or even a place you have been to in your past which made you very happy.

There are precautionary measures you can take during Mercury Retrograde to minimise unwelcomed events:

  1. Avoid signing off to new contracts, legally binding documents, insurance policies, mortgages, deeds to a property or automobile and letter of appointments. If you must, read the fine print as many times as you possibly can. 
  2. Delay launching a business, website, product or service, advertising or PR campaign. Your efforts will not be met with the fanfare you expect if you proceed. 
  3. Travelling – if you must, triple check that you have all documents in place and note time of departures. Have backup travel plans should Plan A foil for whatever reason. Keep physical copies of maps in your car just in case your GPS crashes during your road trip. Ensure travel insurance policies are in place as soon as you book your travel tickets and accommodation.
  4. Backup all data frequently. This is a sensible action to take at any time. If a piece of electronic equipment appears dodgy prior to Mercury Retrograde have it checked out as soon as you can. The likelihood of things crashing on you will be higher during this time. And keep all mugs and cups away from your keyboards! 
  5. Follow up every mode of communication with another mode communication: make a phone call to the recipient of an email to check that they have received it, reiterate everything that was discussed during a meeting with a summary via email, back up any verbal agreements in writing.
  6. Avoid buying big-ticket items like a house, automobile or extravagant jewellery and watches. A house purchase made during this time would most likely have issues crop up later on. A car purchase could end up being recalled after the retrograde due to faulty parts.
  7. Postpone hiring staff or accepting job offers. Accepting a job offer, for example, could result in you having to face redundancy or have your job specification changed to something you aren’t happy with later on.
  8. Hold confrontation until after the retrograde. What you say could be misconstrued and possibly end up in the severing of relationships. Instead, mull over your exchange and reflect. A confrontation may become unnecessary after the retrograde has passed because you would have received an apology instead!
  9. Hold of surgeries or medical treatments. As it is a time of communication and electrical equipment going awry, blood results could get lost or medical equipment not being able to capture images correctly.

The key to getting through a Mercury Retrograde is simple. Avoid making any life-changing moves or decisions. Things are never clear during this time – you could be getting into something which could turn out quite the opposite of what you expect once Mercury goes forward. I have had instances of electricity tripping at home or the washing machine packing up right in the middle of a Mercury Retrograde. There is no scientific explanation for this, but I don’t feel the association is a coincidence. It’s happened far too many times! Reconnect with your past; revisit a business plan – it will become clear where you went wrong in the first place, zhuzh up an old story and send it off to a competition. It could turn out to be the most productive time. Hold on with the new till Mercury Retrograde passes and work on failures from the past.

Upcoming Mercury Retrograde dates:


30 January – 21 February in Aquarius

29 May – 22 June in Gemini

27 September – 18 October in Libra

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