About three to four times a year, the planet Mercury appears to move backwards in our sky. This backward motion is just an optical illusion caused by Mercury’s orbit relative to the Earth’s. Mercury is the planet of information, communication and technology. Normally, Mercury helps us express and understand ideas through effective communication. But when Mercury turns retrograde, communication becomes nearly impossible.
These few weeks are usually punctuated by miscommunications, misunderstandings and mistakes. Clerical errors and technological issues cause travel delays, unexpected cancellations and endless setbacks. Computers go on the fritz, networks crash and cell phones malfunction. Technological glitches appear for no reason and disappear just as quickly with no explanation. By the time you get your frozen laptop to the Apple Store, it may just start working again on its own.
Generally, astrologers advise to avoid traveling during this period. So if you’re planning to get out of town this weekend or book a trip overseas, maybe opt for a stay-cation or delay the trip until after June 11th. If you absolutely must travel—maybe for business or your best friend’s poorly timed wedding—then proceed with the expectation that whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. Traveling during Mercury Retrograde means being emotionally prepared for every imaginable setback: flat tires, lost reservations, overbooked flights, etc. If you’re not ready to meet such setbacks with the serene calm of a Zen master, it’s best to stay at home.
It’s also not the best time to sign contracts of any kind—including wedding vows. While a relationship isn’t necessarily doomed if the wedding day falls during a Retrograde, the ceremony itself may certainly be interrupted or complicated in some way. A late caterer, a power outage, rain… pretty much anything but a hassle-free wedding day. Again, if you’ve already booked the venue and sent the invites, then just mentally prepare yourself to deal with some headaches on the big day.
Commitments of all kinds are a bad idea right now. Everything from signing a lease to finalizing a business deal should be put on hold during Retrograde. Most likely, there’s information you’re not privy to that will come to light after Mercury goes direct on June 11th. If you pull the trigger during the Retrograde, you may be missing critical information and you’ll likely end up regretting your decision. The new house you just bought could have termites. The business partner you got in bed with may be a con artist. Wait till Mercury goes direct so you have all the information you need to make the right decisions.
The no-contracts rule applies to big purchases too. Thinking of dropping a few grand on a fancy TV? Finally ready to buy that guitar you’ve been drooling over? Not so fast. Purchases during Mercury Retrograde may turn out to be mistakes later. Wait a few weeks to make sure that check really clears before you go spending your money on big ticket items that may give you buyer’s remorse.
Or maybe you’re like the vast majority of people during retrogrades: no travel snafus, no legally-binding mistakes, but just a pervasive sense of anxiety, that nagging feeling that something isn’t right. These few weeks can trigger anxiety, depression and needless worrying. You may start to feel like there are problems and complications everywhere you look and your world may appear bleak and gray. In actuality, it’s just that your mind is searching for something—anything—to blame the weird energy on. So you’re more likely to take it out on your spouse, your kids, your colleagues, mistaking outer circumstances for your own internal discomfort.
Try to keep your emotions contained. You might think you’re justified in going on a tirade against your cheating boyfriend, but you might discover later that the girl you caught him with is his long lost half-sister, so slow your roll. Consider that maybe the source of your anxiety is you, and not something or someone else. If something is really bothering you in regards to a relationship, wait till Mercury goes direct before confronting the issue. You may find that your emotions soften or that you simply misunderstood what was really happening. In any case, even if an important conversation must be had, you’ll have much stronger communication skills after June 11th, so you might as well wait to express yourself properly.
Mercury Retrograde can actually be quite positive. The travel delays and the lack of progress in business & romance can actually be a much needed break from the hectic pace of life. Take these three weeks to spend time with yourself and reflect on the progress you’ve made these past few months. What accomplishments are you proud of? What challenges remain? Where can you make adjustments going forward? What are some new goals for the coming cycle? These are all great questions to consider now and you may be surprised at the answers you find. If you reflect properly now, you’ll know exactly what needs to be done when Mercury goes direct and you’ll be ready to do it.
Yes, Mercury Retrograde is a total drag, but it’s like all medicine: it might taste bad but it’s good for you. Accept that delays and setbacks are par for the course now, so don’t be so hard on yourself for not moving forward. Stop and smell the roses, examine your life and how you can move forward, and take some much needed downtime. And when the anxiety starts to drive you up a wall, just close your eyes and take a deep breath: we’re almost out of the woods!