Survival guide for Mercury Retrograde

 During the year Mercury, the planet of communication, technology and travel, appears to stop in its orbit and gives the illusion of the planet moving backwards in its orbit around the sun. Of course, it’s not actually going backwards, but as Mercury passes Earth during this time it can look like it is. This is called a retrograde.


Mercury goes retrograde for three weeks in total and whilst in the retrograde phase the areas that Mercury rules – communication, technology and travel – go a little crazy for us here on planet Earth! As if that wasn’t fun enough, we are also given what is known as a ‘shadow period’ where the effects of Mercury in retrograde are felt – even weeks – before and after the retrograde period. I’ve put together some tips to help you survive, what I and one of my fellow astrology geek’s have renamed, the “Mercury Terrorgrade”. That said if you are aware of the effect and allow them to happen, there is nothing to be scared of! You can even use this time to your advantage.

  • Allow extra time when travelling – Be prepared for delays as Mercury rules travel we can expect disruptions and delays. Check over itinerary before taking a trip and make sure you make it earlier to allow for changes to travel plans. I once got on the wrong train because I wasn’t paying enough attention (ironically I was on my phone because I had arrived with plenty of time to spare!) and added another hour to my trip when I was travelling to see a friend during this phase. Don’t let it happen to you, be extra vigilant!

  • Think twice – Before sending an e-mail, double-check all details, before you speak! Mercury also rules communication so all types like email, postal, verbal etc, are going to run haywire while in the retrograde phase. If in doubt don’t press send, open your mouth or leave the house. Only joking! Life has to go on, but seriously be aware to check details otherwise you might send that email telling your co-worker about how your dislike you boss to your boss!

Photo by Chris Lawton

  • Try not to make investments – This isn’t the time for big purchases, nor investing a large sum of money. Of course, you can do so, but be cautious that things aren’t always what they seem to be. You might think you have a great deal but in the long run, the item or investment make give you more hassle than it’s worth. When I bought my expensive laptop from an electronics retailer that had a cashback deal I couldn’t refuse, the only thing was that the purchase had to be made during the retrograde period. I went ahead with the purchase and got the cash back, however, a few months later I had to go to the manufacturers to get the motherboard replaced.

  • Avoid signing contracts – Perhaps you’re in the process of buying a house, or starting a new job? If you can, try an avoid it until Mercury has gone direct. I understand it may seem frustrating when you want to start a new job or move into your new house but when the universe has delayed this from happening, it’s a usually a good sign. Allow delays to take their course so you can sign contracts when Mercury says to. Starting a new job at this time isn’t advisable because once Mercury goes direct you may find that what was offered when you started turns out to be far from the truth. Again, if you sign contracts and move house during this time, you may find that the house you move into has all sorts of problems you weren’t aware of until your all moved in and Mercury has moved forward.

  • Don’t start anything new – It’s just not a good idea, this time is all about looking to the past, taking the time to process lessons and gain clarity before moving on when this time has passed. If you are wanting to launch a business or start a project, wait. Use this time to go through re-evaluate everything surrounding your project and business, so that when the planet moves forward, you can too with clarity and focus. I tend to notice my business slows down during retrograde and I have come to welcome this low ebb of energy so I can use my time to take care of other aspects of running my business like doing my accounts (boring!), re-organising my workspace and carrying out stocktakes. The tasks that I don’t manage to keep on top of when I’m busy with clients. This is also a great time to reflect on processes and tweaking working practices.

  • Be patient with technology – At times you will feel like you want to hurl your phone off a bridge or kick the TV until it works. During retrograde you electronics are going to have a mind of their own! I advise you to backup your phone, tablet, laptop and computers before Mercury goes retrograde. I stupidly reformatted my laptop during a Mercury Retrograde, being very careful to back up all my data. I checked everything, or so I thought. When it came to putting my files back on my laptop it appeared I had forgotten to backup my music files so I lost my entire music collection!

  • Your relationships are up for re-evaluation – As mentioned previously, Mercury rules communication and that means that your relationships won’t get off lightly either! You may bump into an old friend at the strangest moment, or an old lover will contact you out of the blue. It’s advised to think before you speak and I can’t stress that enough in relationships because arguments and misunderstandings can be more common during retrograde. Break-ups that happen tend to be short-lived so if you really want to break up with your other half, wait until Mercury has gone direct – though you may find by then you don’t want to break up after all! I find it’s a great time to reflect on what you want more of and want you would like less of in terms of your relationships.

  • Take time out – This by far is the most important of this list to get you through this period. Lots of people get scared by Mercury retrograde, but really it’s an excellent opportunity for us to review where we direct our energy and consider if we are doing so in a direction that honours our highest good. We are being called to slow down. Allow frustrations to flow through you – it’s ok to experience setbacks and delays because there is a greater plan at work. Take time out to read a book, take a bath, to be still in whatever way you can. When we are still, we can listen to our inner wisdom and gain insights at this time that will help us push forward when Mercury goes direct. Sleep a little extra and allow yourself to recharge.

In modern society we are so ‘busy’ we never switch off and simply be. When Mercury is in Retrograde we are being called to put down our smartphones, shut down the laptops and re-evaluate our lives. Are we using our technology a little too much in our lives (I put my hands up to this one!)? What do we appreciate and want more of in our relationships? Are we being impatient and want to progress whilst missing key details in the process? Can we surrender the control to the powers that be and learn from it? These are all things to consider over a nice cup of tea and a biscuit! Enjoy the change of pace – and try not to curse too much! – as much as you can.