What Happens When Mercury is in Retrograde?

Three to four times a year, every year, the planet Mercury goes into retrograde. In 2015, there are three occurrences of Mercury in retrograde, and all of them occur during air signs. The first retrograde is from January 21st through February 11th during Aquarius, the second May 19th through June 11th during Gemini, and the third September 17th through October 9th during Libra.

You may have heard your astrology-keen friend mention the phrase before, but do you know what the definition of Mercury going into retrograde actually is? We’ve got a primer set up for you with tips on how to survive the times below.

What Is Mercury in Retrograde?

Mercury’s path around the sun is more elliptical than any of the other planets in our solar system. Since its distance from the sun is not consistent, neither is the speed in which it travels. When Mercury is nearest to the sun, its orbit speeds up, and when it’s at its furthest distance, it slows down.

Now, here on Earth, we travel around the sun at a relatively consistent speed. So when Mercury slows down, we catch up and ultimately pass the planet’s orbit. This makes it appear as though the planet stalls, stops, then starts to move backwards. Of course, this is just an optical illusion and Mercury doesn’t really reverse its course.

Think about driving next to train tracks. You move along at 50 or 60 mph, but when the train, which is traveling faster, nears you, it makes it look as though everything else is slowing down. When the train passes, it can even appear as though you’re moving backwards. Mercury in retrograde has the same effect and creates a similar optical illusion.

What Happens When Mercury is in Retrograde?

The planet Mercury rules intelligence, the mind and memory, honesty, and all communication. It’s also responsible self-expression, travel, and commerce. In lore, Mercury (called Hermes by the Greeks) is the messenger for the gods. He is elusive and often described as a trickster.

Many people think Mercury in retrograde is bad luck, but it’s more that things are moving against their natural way (much like being in retrograde). It’s a time when plans tend to fall through, and many say that their mental faculties “go on vacation.” Communication tends to go haywire, both with misunderstandings and system failures.

Yet, when Mercury is in retrograde, it’s not all bad. It’s a time for introspection, and often people are able to see patterns in their past they were unable to recognize beforehand.

How Does Mercury in Retrograde Affect Me?

When Mercury is in retrograde, it’s important to know how it impacts you and those around you. Here are a few tips and pointers to help you get through the retrograde:

  • Be flexible. It’s important to be flexible when Mercury is in retrograde. Things will fall through left and right, and you’ll have to go with the flow to get anything accomplished. Try to manage your frustration by being flexible.
  • Postpone major decisions. When Mercury is in retrograde, it’s not a good time to finalize major decisions. You can make plans, but don’t set anything in stone. Most likely if those plans were made during the retrograde, you’ll change your mind once Mercury goes direct.
  • Save your documents. System failures are all too common of an occurrence when Mercury is in retrograde. Computers crash, documents get lost, and equipment fails. So before Mercury goes retrograde, make sure to back up your system and save any important documents, just in case.
  • Watch your tongue. Since Mercury rules communication, be prepared for some misunderstandings. People are more likely to mistake what you’re trying to say or take things the wrong way. In relationships, old fights often surface and tongues are sharp.
  • Be prepared for delays. If you travel when Mercury is in retrograde, bring a book along. There are often travel delays, from late planes to flat tires. Leave yourself extra time during commutes and have a plan B for long distance trips.
  • Slow down. Like the planet’s slower orbit, you too should show down when Mercury is in retrograde. Take some time to just be. When you take this temporary time out, the retrograde won’t make you as careless, mistake prone, or forgetful.
  • Contemplate. Mercury in retrograde is a time for contemplation. People are more introspective than normal and can often see things from a different perspective. For the creative among us, some of our most ground breaking ideas come during this contemplative time.
  • Meet old friends. When Mercury is in retrograde, coincidences are common and it is often the time of “fated” events. You’re more likely to run into old friends or hear from long-gone acquaintances. Keep your calendar open, because you may end up with a few last minute coffee dates to catch up with people you haven’t seen in ages.

Once the planet’s retrograde period is over and Mercury again goes direct, things tend to fall back into place. Your mind clears, your plans work out, and suddenly you and your partner can communicate again. A week or two after the retrograde has ceased, you’ll find yourself looking back and wondering if it had been a full moon.

Nope, that’s just Mercury in retrograde.



Molly Carter
Molly Carter
Molly is a freelance writer who talks about everything and anything from addiction, to sex. to skinning a deer. You can find her at MollyCarterWriter.com, or Facebook.