What Is Mercury Retrograde?

In astrology, the planet Mercury governs communication, intellect, memory, clear thinking and all forms of transportation. Mercury rules our thoughts, ideas and our mind.  It influences how we make sense of the world and our place in it…so it’s kind of a big deal.

Therefore, when it’s retrograde, we have to be ready for a slowdown in all of those areas. Things break. Projects stall. We lose things. Breakups happen. Schedules are thrown off. Thoughts are clouded.

When Mercury is stationed retrograde, our technology, communication, travel, logic, and information all get disrupted.  Therefore, understanding the gifts and lessons of a Mercury retrograde can help us navigate this scattered energy.

What Happens When Mercury Is Retrograde?

First, the name Retrograde is deceptive. Mercury retrograde describes an optical illusion during which the planet only appears to be moving backward from our viewpoint on Earth.  Three or four times a year, the planet Mercury stations retrograde… that is to say it moves in an opposite direction to our planet Earth. Planets move/travel from east to west around the sun, so when Mercury turns to move from west to east instead, that’s when Mercury is in retrograde.

In reality, this backwards movement is an illusion, similar to the one you experience when you are in a car on the road moving faster than another vehicle traveling alongside you. The other car appears to be moving backward, but it’s just moving more slowly than you are. The same thing happens when our planet passes Mercury in our orbit around the sun. Mercury is just moving more slowly than Earth.  This, therefore, causes the illusion that it is moving backward or in retrograde.

When Mercury Retrograde begins its backward tour through the sky, it is often used an excuse for whenever we are late, or a flight is delayed, texts/emails are sent to the wrong person, or documents do not get filed correctly.

Mercury’s reputation for really messing things up is real, but a lot of the blame can be placed on our fast-paced lifestyle that we are used to living. In our technology-focused society where emails, phone, texts, and reliable WIFI are available almost everywhere, Mercury, the planet of communication, has a big job.

Mercury isn’t the only planet to experience this. In fact, all planets undergo retrograde periods. The time can last for some weeks and others to months.  During this perceived backward motion, the things the retrograding planet is associated with are highlighted—and is no longer “on track.” That’s why we see upset with relationships, technology, or contracts when Mercury (the communication planet) turns retrograde.

Make Mercury Retrograde work for you…Gifts/Opportunities

While this period may feel like it is shaking up your entire world (why did my computer decide to die now!?), Mercury retrograde isn’t just a run of bad luck. The difficult side effects and lessons of this transit are generally things that are meant to happen…so we improve, are more focused, detailed oriented and in line with our goals.

Mercury Retrograde is the Universes way of using astrology as way of forcing us to reflect, recheck, and revisit events, topics, people etc. in our life and review if they are still needed for our best and highest good. Given that Mercury retrograde is not a time to start something new, it makes sense that we should slow down and recalibrate our lives. It is a time to go back, and finish projects started and make assessments of what is to stay.  Knowing what to do and expect ahead of time is one of the best ways to handle the inevitable surprises that Mercury brings.

Mercury Retrograde Survival Guide:

Mercury retrograde can be a rich period of completion of projects and connections; if you’re able to be flexible and avoid getting buried in the details, you’ll emerge without a scratch. I don’t stop living, I just use more patience and preparation.   That being said, you can sign contracts, make major financial decisions, or even start a new job in this time period, if you’re careful. Double checking everything, moving slowly, and following a list of “dos” and “don’ts” will keep you out of trouble.

Mercury Retrograde Dos and Don’ts


  1. Revisit projects not completed: This is the perfect time to go back, review and complete projects, spring clean, declutter, recycle.  Finish things you have been putting off.
  2. Stay updated/practice patience: Expect delays and cancellations while traveling. Plan ahead, go early and practice patience, anticipating a longer delay or wait time than normal.
  3. Be up to date with maintenance on your vehicle or home: Schedule maintenance appointments and have an alternate route for traffic. This is the perfect time to repair a vehicle, repaint/recarpet a room, or remodel.
  4. Back up technology: That means your computer and phone, be sure and update beforehand any technology that holds information.  You don’t want to lose important data or information because they shut down without warning. It is common to have files go missing, technology to crash, the call to drop, or zoom to fail.
  5. Revisit problems from the past: This is the perfect time to revisit things that you have been holding onto from the past, readdress it and try to resolve it once and for all.
  6. Reflect on past relationships: Take this time to do some self-reflection, so you do not return to past situationships or karmic partners…use this as an opportunity to work on closure and move on so that you get the healing you desire.
  7. Refrain from starting something new: Use this time to tie up loose ends and finish what you’ve started…a book, blog, or class/workshop, then you can prepare for new beginnings at the end of the retrograde cycle.



  1. Trust your memory: Have a backup planner and/or hard copy of numbers, appointments, presentations and important documents.
  2. Change your passwords or PINs: Technology mishaps are going to happen, limit the opportunity or chance of adding to the problem.
  3. Plan a big presentation: Or sign/draft important documents (especially legal documents). If you can’t avoid tasks like this, pay close attention to the details. Check, then recheck.
  4. Rely only on technology: If you have an important meeting coming up, write down or print out the information you’ll need. Have a backup plan if zoom calls/appointments get interrupted.
  5. Rush: Slowing down your pace can help eliminate frustration and avoid costly mistakes.
  6. Have unrealistic expectations: Because of misunderstandings and mix-ups, things may not turn out as you’d planned. Avoid disappointment by keeping expectations relatively low.


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