When Mercury is in retrograde, it looks as if it’s moving backwards when observed from the Earth, but this is merely an optical illusion because of discrepancies in orbit. While this is a scientific explanation of Mercury retrograde, if you believe in astrology, there’s a greater impact that affects every one of us in a different way. Mercury enters retrograde when it passes earth in its orbit around the sun. Because Mercury is closer to the sun than Earth, it's orbit is smaller. In its orbit, it passes earth three times in one.

When Mercury is retrograde it is time to pause and go back over things, rather than begin something brand new. Be alert in all forms of communication, transportation, travel and mental activities. It does not mean that everything will get mixed up. It just means we need to be more aware and not take things for granted. When a planet retrogrades, astrologically it is in a resting or sleeping state. Therefore, while Mercury naps, the activities that it governs don’t have the benefit of a well-functioning, wide-awake planet to supervise them. Expect a certain degree of pandemonium to ensue!

What Does It Mean When Mercury Is In Retrograde Astrology

Unless you’re an astrology expert the term mercury retrograde may sound like a made-up term, but for those familiar with astrology this ideology may serve as an explanation. For followers and believers, mercury retrograde is something that effects everyone – not only can it increase your productivity, but it can relieve some of the frustrations you experience.

Mercury rules communication, clear thinking, truth and travel; therefore, when it’s said the planet goes retrograde that means it appears to be traveling backwards in the sky. The backwards motion is believed to tangle pathways and cause an imbalance. In astrology terms and logic, Mercury serves as the Messenger of the Gods – and is the ruler of Gemini and Virgo. In astrology, Mercury is the messenger as it is described in mythology. Mercury is considered the planet of daily expression and communication.

Three to four times a year Mercury appears to be moving backwards for a three-week time span. What’s key in understanding the science behind the motion is that is only looks like it’s moving backwards, technically it’s not because scientifically speaking no planet actually moves backward in their orbits around the sun. This illusion is the result from our view point on the Earth because the Earth is also orbiting the sun at a different speed in comparison to the other planets. Mercury turns retrograde more frequently than any other planet – it can be more than 28 degrees from the sun, and whenever it reaches its furthest distance from the sun it then changes direction.

Now that you understand the philosophy behind mercury retrograde it’s easier to comprehend how and why people become apprehensive over the event. Mercury essentially has rulership over key elements that we need in order to be productive and go about our day-to-day such as: speaking, negotiating, buying and selling, listening, formal contracts, documents, travel, mail processes, and other communication efforts. Moreover, when Mercury is in retrograde these actions, we take for granted, are dismembered and function at a slower rate. Think about it – are you a generally decisive person? Oftentimes, are you the decision maker in your household? Do you ever experience episodes when you feel somewhat sluggish and unproductive? Next time, these feelings are taking place, check to see whether or not there is a mercury retrograde taking place.

Astrology followers generally do not sign contracts, engage in important decision making or launch new businesses during this time period because they do not want to be careless with their money, personal information or paperwork while the retrograde is taking place. While it may sound superstitious, the thought of it’s better to be safe rather than sorry is a common process of logic.


Despite the need to press pause during a mercury retrograde, there is always a positive side to the occurrence. During this timeframe, it is highly recommended that people take advantage of this ‘down time’ and use it to reorganize and reflect on life – and ultimately, the events taking place. We all look at the world in a different way and possess a wide range of ideals and opinions; therefore, it’s important to take time to think about everything and return full circle. While others who do not follow or understand retrogrades, this is still a time to communicate with yourself and have that down time. During a mercury retrograde consider:

  • Heightening your inner awareness with simplistic meditations. You’ll find that setting 10 – 15 minutes each day (during the retrograde) that you’ll be able to clear your mind and ditch the baggage that’s holding you down.
  • Write your thoughts and concerns in a journal. A retrograde is an excellent time to self-reflect and get out your emotions on paper. Sometimes, we become so bogged down with our daily demands that we forget what’s really important in life – and from time-to-time often trick ourselves into thinking we’re completely okay, when the truth is we’re not. A journal is a great way to be honest with yourself and strategize a way to become a better version of yourself.
  • Reinvent your old plans with your rejuvenated thoughts. Did you have an idea that didn’t turn out like you imagined? Perhaps you thought of a great plan, but when you began to put it into motion you realized you didn’t have all of the elements ironed out? A retrograde is a wonderful opportunity to rehash and reshape your plan of action with new thoughts and a reconstructed platform. Sometimes the best ideas take time.
  • Get refreshed. Do you consider yourself to be an expert on a certain subject matter? Maybe you’re an expert carpenter or a fantastic writer. Oftentimes, we are so good at something that we forget there is still room for improvement. Remember, you’re never too good to become even better because there is always room to learn something. Try out a new technique or refresh your awareness on a particular element within your craft. Most times you’ll be surprised to discover how much more there is to learn and how it can improve your skillset.

Now keep in mind, while communication may be somewhat off course during a mercury retrograde, that doesn’t mean you must halt all work because of the cycle. It’s a great time to think out of the box. Pay close attention to what you say and communicate in general during a mercury retrograde. When planning out your itinerary of events and the agenda plan, take into considerations the cycles that correlate with that timing. Astrologers believe you’ll definitely change your mind once the station passes and that it’s best to avoid making important decisions during the retrograde. When a planet stations its energies create a very strong presence in our lives. So, when Mercury stations, communications have greater impacts and the negative ones can be felt more strongly. Nevertheless, it’s never a bad thing to take a break and reflect or consider new alternatives.

Angela Guzman is a Writer at Large for Beliefnet and a contributor for the Huffington Post.

Many of us are somewhat familiar with the astrological phenomenon known as Mercury retrograde periods, during which we're all more likely to hit unexpected traffic, send a text to the wrong group chat, or show up to the wrong bar for happy hour. If nothing else, most people know it as a good time to blame their troubles on astrology. But these infamous transits aren't just reserved for planet Mercury. All the planets in astrology (save for the sun and moon) have regularly-occurring retrograde periods — and each of them shake up our lives and teach us cosmic lessons in their own unique ways.

Retrogrades are one of the more dreaded of the common cosmic events. This is because planetary retrograde periods can bring all sorts of mix-ups, mishaps, and (sometimes unwelcome) blasts from the past, requiring us to slow down and reevaluate the paths we're on — something most of us resent being forced to do when we're just trying to live our lives. But in the name of keeping our enemies closer and understanding that which scares us, it's time to educate ourselves exactly what happens during a retrograde. Because really, what is a retrograde in astrology anyway, and how do they impact our lives?

How Do Retrogrades Work?

So, let's discuss what's literally going on when we say that a planet is retrograde. 'The word retrograde comes from a Latin word retogradus, which means ‘backward step,' astrologer Leslie Hale of Keen.com tells Bustle. 'When a planet ‘goes retrograde,’ it appears to be going backward.' This is why we sometimes call retrogrades a backspin.

We know that planets can't actually start moving backwards in their orbit all of a sudden — that's not how physics works. That said, the key word here is appears. 'Astronomers call this [retrograde movement] an ‘apparent backward motion,’ because it is an illusion, and the planet is not actually moving backward,' Hale says. It's simply a trick of eye that occurs from our vantage point here on earth when a planet's orbit aligns with ours in just the right way. It's similar to the way that when we're in a moving vehicle, a bus in the lane next to us might appear to move backwards momentarily when the speed and timing is just right.

How Often Do Retrogrades Happen?

What Does It Mean When Mercury Is In Retrograde Astrology

Retrogrades are actually a very commonplace occurrence in astrology. And as mentioned earlier, it's not just Mercury that retrogrades (although that's certainly the most discussed of all the planetary backspins). 'Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Neptune, Uranus and Saturn all retrograde,' Hale says. 'In fact, it is rare there is not a planet that is retrograde.' In addition to these major planets, we also have Pluto retrograde — and the asteroids in astrology go through retrograde periods, too.

As is true for all things in nature, retrogrades happen in cycles, and it's different for each planet. For example, Mercury retrogrades occur about three to four times per year, and each of those periods lasts for about three weeks. That's pretty frequent compared to other planets' cycles, which is partly why this particular transit gets so much attention. But then Mars, on the other hand, only retrogrades every two years, and for about two months or so at a time — so each planet has its own retrograde pattern. There is reportedly at least one planetary retrograde happening about 80% of the time, according to Astrology.com, so we're rarely living without one.

Horoscope Mercury Retrograde

The Astrological Meaning Of A Retrograde

Retrogrades in astronomy may refer to an optical illusion — but in astrology, the effects of these planetary transits are totally tangible. 'In astrology, the retrograde is much deeper and more complex [than in astronomy],' Hale says. Just as each planet appears to stop and move backwards on its cosmic path during a retrograde, we're asked to do the same thing within our own lives. It's a time to press 'pause' on our endeavors in the retrograding planet's jurisdiction, and slowly review the trajectory we've been on to check for errors and clean up our baggage.

'Retrogrades are periods of reassessment and redoing,' Hale continues. 'They frequently deal with the past — so things, situations, and even people from the past can re-appear.' During retrogrades, any issues that we've tried to skate over is ripe to come back to the surface, forcing us to deal with them whether we'd like to or not. Even issues that we thought were already dealt with and packed away (or information and feelings surrounding them) could bubble up again in some way, requiring us to come to new resolutions.

Hale also notes that retrogrades are 'connected with karmic events in life,' so we may find that the universe does a little bit of the path-adjustments for us. This is why we have a tendency to hit road blocks on projects, run into issues within relationships, or face personal crises and confusion (depending on the planet that's retrograde) during these periods — you can think of these struggles as the planets' way of nudging you toward doing the necessary retrograde work, rather than barreling forward without properly taking in these cosmic lessons.

What Does Each Retrograde Planet Mean For Us?

Each of the planets in astrology rules over a different part of our lives (you can read all about those meanings here), and it's within those parts of our life that we'll experience the retrograde-fueled effects during a given planet's backspin. So for example, Mercury is the planet of communication, timing, and technology — which is why Mercury retrograde periods are known for screwing with our schedules, confusing us communication-wise, and messing with our tech devices.

Virgo vedic astrology 2021. The same goes for each of the other major retrogrades. In the case of Venus retrograde (which is the planet of love and money), we'll often experience drama in our love life (like exes popping up in our DMs, or feeling confused about what we want from relationships), or may struggle to address issues around money (like revisiting our savings plans or having the urge to overspend).

Each planet's retrograde has something different to teach us, and offers us an opportunity to pause so we can review our decisions, assess where we're at, and make adjustments before moving forward again.

What's The Best Way To Survive A Retrograde Unscathed?

Contrary to popular belief, planetary retrogrades are not here to ruin our lives. While it's true that they can cause some confusion and standstills, it's all in the name of getting us to slow down and assess where we're at in life so we can make the necessary adjustments. 'When a planet does retrograde, it is time for us to take a step back quite literally and look back at what the retrograding planet represents in our life. And it's time to polish that part of our life rather than moving forward,' Hale says. 'Even if it seems like nothing is going on underneath the surface [in that part of your life], there is likely a lot going on.' In other words, retrogrades are a time for slowing down and doing some introspection.

These backspins are generally only a big problem if we refuse to slow our pace and do the work. Meaning that if we carry on with life as usual and refuse to address the things that surface, the planets will serve us the infamous retrograde snags. Of course, in our fast-paced and productivity-obsessed society, it can be difficult to press pause and take a breather. But if we're looking to align ourselves with the cosmos and facilitate some personal growth, then retrogrades are an ideal time to do just that.

Retroshade: The Lead Up & Come-Down Of The Retrograde

Last but not least, let's talk about preparing for a retrograde, and then re-adjusting after one. Because in addition to the retrograde itself (as if that wasn't enough!), every retrograde cycle also includes a pre- and post-retrograde shadow period — often called a retroshade for short, and referred to as stationary retrograde periods in astronomy. 'Retrogrades have a ‘stationary retrograde period,’ beforehand where the energy begins to shift, and they have a ‘stationary direct period,’ where energy begins to shift again before things go back to normal,' Hale says. These retrograde shadow periods occur when the planet is moving forward over the same portion of its orbit that it moves backward over during its actual retrograde. In the case of Mercury, for example, its retroshades last for about two weeks each before and after the retrograde itself.


During a pre-retrograde shadow period, we usually begin to feel the effects of the retrograde. It's a good time to start tying up loose ends in the areas of your life ruled by the soon-to-be-retrograding planet and start preparing yourself for the inward journey so you can avoid all the things you shouldn't do during a retrograde.

During the post-retrograde shadow period, on the other hand, it's a time to slowly transition back into normal life. The energy of the retrograde hasn't fully cleared, but it's beginning to move forward again — so we should take things slowly and make sure we're doing the personal work necessary to integrate the lessons retrogrades teach us.


Gemini Horoscope Retrograde

There you have it: everything you've ever wanted to know about planetary retrogrades. Now that you know the deal, it's not that scary, right? In fact, if we put a positive spin on things, we can actually use the slowed-down energy of planetary retrogrades to our advantage, so long as we're willing to slow down and work on ourselves. Next time someone moans about an upcoming Mercury retrograde, let them know you've got the inside scoop — and that there's nothing to be afraid of.