Until 15 September, the planet Mercury is in retrograde. Here’s what it may mean for you, and how you can cope with the astrological turmoil
The term ‘Mercury retrograde’ might not mean much to you, but for a growing cohort of astrology enthusiasts and the more ‘spiritually inclined’, the phenomenon is believed to play havoc with our day-to-day lives.
From horoscopes to tarot cards, astrology has become an increasingly prominent presence in many people’s lives. In fact, over 43% of those aged 18 to 34 believe in astrology, and would make a major life decision based on a horoscope or tarot card reading, according to a study by Business Wire. And with celebrities like Taylor Swift, Katy Perry and the entire cast of RHOBH (that’s The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills) all taking to social media to express their distain for Mercury retrograde, it’s no surprise many others have jumped on the bandwagon. Indeed, for many — particularly gen-z and millennials — the event has become a serious topic.
@threemoonwitches Taylor describing what happens when mercury is in retrograde perfectly 🤍 #taylor #taylorswift #taylorsversion #mercury #mercuryretrograde #universe #universemessage #planet #solarsystem #witch #witchtok #witchcraft #crystals #tarot #witchyvibes #magick #moon ♬ original sound – Three Moon Witches
So, what exactly does Mercury retrograde mean, and how can you cope with its supposed impact? We asked two astrologers for their advice…
What is Mercury retrograde?
According to certified astrologer Mirjam Schneider, the process of Mercury going in retrograde is actually an optical illusion. “All of the planets in our solar system go retrograde at some point,” she says. “From our perspective on Earth, when a planet goes retrograde, it looks like it’s moving backwards, but in actual fact, it’s overtaking the earth. This happens three to four times a year, and this is the time where you’ll most feel a difference in your day-to-day life.”
How will Mercury retrograde affect me?
In Roman mythology, Mercury (otherwise known as Hermes, in Greek mythology) was regarded as the messenger of the ancient gods. He ruled over wealth, commerce, travel, communication and delivery and it’s in these elements where may believe you’ll most feel the effects of Mercury retrograde.
“Mercury is a planet that rules expression and communication,” says Julian Venables, aka The London Astrologer. “You can expect Mercury retrograde to manifest itself in a number of ways, including issues with travel plans and communication issues (was it a coincidence that Europe was thrown into travel chaos last week?). This can mean anything from fallings out with friends to miscommunications in the workplace and other confusions and misfortune within your daily life.”
Many astrologers believe that Mercury retrograde can also contribute to physical symptoms, including increased anxiety, brain fog, tiredness and headaches, with the severity of symptoms dependent on how well you handle the astrological event.
How can I prepare for Mercury retrograde?
“The wrong way to do Mercury retrograde is to shy away from your usual activities,” says Julian. “Mercury retrograde gives us new information that isn’t a part of our logical mind — for example, things we wouldn’t normally think about on a day-to-day basis.”
Julian argues that the best thing to do is carry on with your day-to-day life as usual (no, he doesn’t recommend staying in bed until it’s over), but making more careful decisions and taking precautions. For example, he doesn’t recommend that you avoid travel, but that you should be prepared for delays — so plan appropriately.
Likewise, don’t shy away from social events — a drink with friends is, of course, fine, but perhaps wait until the morning to send that ultra-important text. “If you take care in the areas of your life where Mercury is prominent, it’s likely you’ll see things from a new perspective. In other words, embrace the shift. I like to describe Mercury retrograde as the process of our outer world catching up with our inner world,” says Julian.
Mercury retrograde has been known to cause an intense bout of nostalgia which can cause you to look into your past relationships, says Julian. “You can take this as an opportunity to remember comforts from your past. Reach out to old friends and rekindle old relationships that may have dwindled. You could also revisit former projects that may have felt overwhelming to you before — the retrograde will make you look at things in a different light,” he suggests.
“For those who are struggling, my advice is to avoid impulsive decisions, be prepared for delays whilst travelling, plan trips carefully and take time to review any new documents — such as business documents or new contracts — to avoid trouble further down the line,” he continues.
Luckily, Mercury will only go retrograde once more during 2023, from 13 December to 1 January 2024. Whether you want to use it for an excuse as to why you’re feeling slightly off, or instead as an opportunity to learn and grow, it’s important to remember that you’ve got through it before, and you’ll get through it again — in fact, Mercury goes retrograde three to four times per year, for roughly three weeks a time. Good luck!