Mercury retrograde gets a lot of attention, and a bad rap, when it comes around. But what exactly is it, what does it do, and is there anything we can do to counter its effects?

What is Mercury retrograde?

Think of Mercury retrograde as being like a parent taking a nap.

Mercury rules over communication of all types, including things like computer code and even mail delivery. So when it’s not in retrograde, things generally go smoothly. But when it’s in retrograde, everything can go crazy, from tech problems like computers and phones glitching or even dying to having misunderstandings to having important mail getting lost or delayed.

This is because, like a parent, when Mercury isn’t in retrograde, they’re paying attention. They’re making sure things don’t get out of hand and run smoothly. But during retrograde, Mercury is napping. So the kids, in the form of communication and other things Mercury rules, are running wild and doing whatever they want – no matter what that means for you and me.

Scientifically, most people think that Mercury retrograde means Mercury is moving in the opposite direction, or backward, compared to usual. This is not actually the case, however. It has a shorter orbit than Earth’s, so a few times a year, it ends up passing us. When it does, it appears to stop and then spin backward (retrograde). But it hasn’t actually changed direction at all.

What does Mercury retrograde DO?

Mercury rules over all forms of communication, travel, and technology, so it can affect things like things like the postal system, contracts, relationships, etc.

Most of the year, when it’s not in retrograde, life is smooth sailing aside from the normal bumps and glitches. During retrograde, though, things tend to go a little (or a lot) crazy.

Mercury retrograde tends to lead to problems with communication. This can mean misunderstandings, technology failures, things that start out promising only to take a downward turn, missed opportunities, travel delays, lost documents, and more. You might take a job, sign a contract, or start a new relationship during retrograde only to find that it’s not quite what you thought it would be once retrograde is over. You might get the offer of a lifetime but can’t accept because of one detail. Or you might find that despite explaining the same thing 10 different ways, you simply cannot get your partner, boss, or child to understand your point.

It can be a time of great frustration, confusion, doubt, and struggle. This can carry across all aspects of your life, from work to personal relationships to things like buying a house or new car. You might lose important files on your computer or have a total hard drive failure. You may find you argue more with your partner, or have a significant lack in communication. You might sign a contract to get a new credit card, car, or home, only to discover later that the terms of the deal are not what you thought and probably not in your best interests – or it falls apart completely.

Can you do anything to ease the effects?

Take advantage of the RE in retrograde – renew, reconsider, rekindle, rewind.

Don’t start new projects, relationships, contracts, jobs, etc. during Mercury retrograde. But do take the time to reflect on existing or past ones. Reconsider existing commitments and think about what works and what doesn’t.

Reconnect with old friends or family that you haven’t talked to in a while. While starting a new relationship is ill advised, rekindling an old one might happen – but keep in mind that it may not last.
Take some time for yourself. Renew your reserves and be prepared to be patient. You may find yourself repeating yourself a lot.

Be prepared for things like Facebook friend requests from someone you once dated or haven’t heard from in a long time. Or you might find you’re the one reaching out to an old flame or someone you haven’t talked to in ages.

A few more do’s and don’t’s

  1. If you can’t avoid starting something new, make sure that you read over all contracts and other legal documents before signing. Read them very carefully and ask questions if there’s something you don’t understand.
  2. Repeat yourself as often as you need to in order to be understood.
  3. If you’re traveling, leave early and be prepared for all possible problems. Keep a roadside kit and fully charged cell phone in your car, and check your spare tire. If you’re flying, take extra books (or a ebook device) for delays, and make sure you have copies of your passport and other identification in case the originals get lost.
  4. Be careful with texts, emails and other digital communications. You don’t want to send a personal message to a business contact, or confidential business info to a friend.
  5. If you need to mail anything important, make sure you insure it and get a tracking number.
  6. When you have plans, meeting, dates, or appointments, make sure you confirm them.
  7. Take a walk down memory lane. Get sentimental about good times. Forgive those who need it (including yourself!).
  8. Before Mecury retrograde, make sure you back up all important digital items. If possible, have multiple backup methods (external hard drive, cloud storage, etc.) to ensure it can’t be lost even if there are multiple failures.