What is Mercury Retrograde?

Every astrological guru gives full warning when Mercury goes retrograde those few times per year. But what exactly IS Mercury retrograde? Why do we get so afraid of it? Let's dissect what this astrological change is and how we can properly navigate it to use it to our advantage. Below is your comprehensive guide to Mercury retrograde:

The most important thing to recognize about Mercury retrograde is that when we properly understand it and how to work with it - it isn't scary. In fact, it can be hugely beneficial.

What's actually happening out there in space is Mercury is slowing down its orbit - so much so that it appears to stop and move backward. (Backward meaning retrograde.) Mercury isn't actually moving backwards as this is just an optical illusion, but we still feel the effects of the change in Mercury's pattern. This happens roughly four times per year. This year it's happening all in the air signs (Gemini is now).

Mercury's domain is communication, (air signs domain is intellect) and this is often where we feel Mercury's wonky affects when it goes retrograde. You may miss emails, have a computer break down, crack your phone's screen - or even misinterpret direction from your boss. It can suck, but it definitely serves a purpose. This is what most people get hung up on, but there is a lot more to MR.


I tell people Mercury governs  all "re" words. Like, redo, revisit, rework, retry, reclaim, and so on. Under the influence of Mercury retrograde, it is a perfect time to go back and look over things you have done, scanning for mistakes or errors and potentially catching things you had missed. While your boss dumping a massive pile of work on your desk to redo, you might actually catch a really grave typo that could have been grounds for dismissal. (OH, THANKS MERCURY RETROGRADE! I WAS SO PISSED AT YOU AT FIRST.) While it will be really easy to get frustrated under MR's influence (and trust me; it will happen) remember to focus on the re.

And if communication between pals or loved ones seems to be testy, take an extra second to realize you're probably misinterpreting what's being conveyed (or they are misinterpreting what you're trying to say) instead of losing your cool. Frustration runs high under MR's influence but it doesn't have to.

Whether you're relearning how to use that software at work... and the computer craps out... remember the Universe is actually giving you a gift though the wrapping may look a little wonky. 

During MR, reflect on your life and goals and take a little time out to refocus on yourself. Don't make any new plans or sign any contracts under this influence because they probably won't work out and you'll need to revisit them anyway. Try not to travel, or book trips since you might be missing information, and will have to revisit bookings later.

And while Mercury affects all the signs a little differently, when it seems to go stagnant in the sky, it definitely affects everyone to some degree. Expect things to break down and communication to fizzle, but know that it is just a cycle with a secretly beneficial undertone.

Mercury retrograde is a great reminder to slow down, and assess things more thoroughly. Check out interview with our fave Mercury Retrograde guru, Lennon Mara of Moon + Quartz. And sign up for her FREE moon guides to learn about all things you in the cosmic realm. I know I love when they hit my inbox.