The Best Way to Get Through Mercury Retrograde Is to Relax

·5 min read
The Best Way to Get Through Mercury Retrograde Is to Relax


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When things go haywire, people often assume bad luck is causing their problems. As an astrologer, I tend to look toward Mercury retrograde as a potential explanation for my life's chaos.

About three or four times a year, Mercury goes "retrograde," which means it appears to go backwards in its orbit. In astrology, Mercury rules intellect and communication. Therefore, those who believe in astrology brace themselves for communication mishaps galore. During this four-week span, people might feel like they can't find the right words.

Below, find out everything you need to know about Mercury retrograde, including how to thrive during the one happening during this year’s action-packed Gemini season, from May 29 to June 22.

First things first. What is Mercury retrograde?

Simply put, Mercury retrograde is an astrological phenomenon that occurs when the fast-moving planet Mercury—which takes 88 days to orbit the Sun, as opposed to Earth’s 365—seems to slow down. Planets move from East to West around the Sun. During Mercury retrograde, Mercury appears to move "backwards," from West to East.

According to astrologers, this far-off celestial phenomenon has repercussions down on Earth. During this time of apparent backwards movement, the areas of life that Mercury tends to rule seamlessly—including travel, communication, and technology—are disrupted.

Mercury retrograde is actually an optical illusion.

Yes, you read that right: Mercury is not actually reversing its orbit or moving backwards. Planets always orbit the Sun in the same direction. The dreaded Mercury retrograde is merely an optical illusion caused by Mercury briefly overtaking Earth in its orbit around the Sun.

Farmer’s Almanac provides a useful image that illustrates the phenomenon: "Picture two cars on the highway going in the same direction in different lanes. If one car is driving faster than the other, the slower car will appear to go backward from the perspective of a person in the faster car, even though the slower car is still going pretty fast in the same direction."

In a way, it’s fitting that Mercury retrograde is an optical illusion, considering this transit affects perception.

What are the astrological effects of Mercury retrograde?

In the framework of astrology, Mercury governs all things related to communication and travel. When Mercury is in retrograde, people may experience trouble that falls within those realms. (Of course, it could also just be a coincidence.) A few examples of quintessential Mercury retrograde woes? Texts aren’t delivered. Secrets come out of the woodwork. Computers break down. Car batteries fail. Wires get crossed in every sense of the phrase. Fallouts with friends occur. Decisions seem impossible to make.

In addition to supposedly impacting events, Mercury retrograde also is said to have an impact on people’s minds and mental processing. People may experience symptoms like brain fogginess and high anxiety. During this time of "backwards" movement, it’s also common for people to grow nostalgic about their pasts—so you may encounter greetings from old friends and ex-lovers.

How can I thrive during Mercury retrograde?

As a professional astrologer, the one word of advice I can give is—drumroll, please—relax. Use this time of turmoil to pause and reflect. Identify the areas in your life that may need change after the retrograde has ended. Astrologically speaking, now is not the time to make big decisions.

Below, find a few tips for making this time of cosmic upheaval more bearable.

What does it mean if a person was born during Mercury retrograde?

Those born during Mercury retrograde may not be affected as severely by the transit. In fact, they may be able to think more clearly, act efficiently, and make better decisions because their natal Mercury will feel "at home" amongst the cosmic spin. Find out if you were born during this transit here.

What Is Mercury "retroshade"?

Mercury retrograde only lasts about three or four weeks—but the effects are longer because of something I named Mercury retroshade, a period that spans two weeks before Mercury goes retrograde and two weeks after. During Mercury retroshade, the planet traces the path in the sky that it will seem to retrace during Mercury retrograde.

Mercury's two "shadow" periods before and after the retrograde are subtly different. During the pre-retroshade, Mercury appears to slow down, bringing with it slight communication mishaps. As it does, people may become attuned to the emotional work that Mercury retrograde will bring. The post-retroshade phase is marked by a feeling of clarity and relief. People may be able to look back and understand the lessons that Mercury retrograde taught.

Check out this calendar for the next Mercury retrograde.

There will be three Mercury retrograde periods in 2021. All three will fall in air signs: Aquarius, Gemini, and Libra.

  • The first retrograde of 2021 spans from January 30 to February 20 in Aquarius.

  • The second time in 2021 that Mercury appears to cruise in reverse lasts from May 29 to June 22 in Gemini.

  • The third and final retrograde of 2021 lasts from September 27 to October 18 in Libra.

Put them together, and the three retrogrades of 2021 tell a story. The retrogrades in January/February and May/June are activated by Venus, planet of love and money (meaning Venus is in the same degree as Mercury when the retrograde begins). The retrograde in September/October will be in Libra, which is ruled by Venus, and activated by action planet Mars, also in Libra.

As a result, these three retrograde periods may bring up questions surrounding matters of money and romance. You may find yourself asking questions like: Do I want to revisit past relationships or deepen my connection to the person I'm with? Am I happy with my career and income?

Being that they’re all in air signs, these decisions may be fringed by anxiety. Remember: The best way to get through this time is to relax.

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