Mercury is in retrograde again: here's what that actually means

From Thursday, October 13 to November 3, Mercury will be in retrograde. Here's what that means for you (and those around you)

How's it going? All good, or not so much? If you feel like your life is crumbling lately, it may be due to Mercury being in retrograde.

What is 'mercury in retrograde'?

Technically, 'Mercury in retrograde' is a planetary optical illusion. Retrograde means 'moving backwards', and in astrology, this means Mercury appears to be moving in the wrong direction.


Related: Here’s what your star sign says about your personality

In reality, it's just moving at a different speed than our planet Earth is. To put this into perspective, imagine you're on a fast train. A second train, on the tracks next to yours, is moving more slowly. As you speed by, the second train somehow appears to be moving backwards, even though it's going in the same direction as you are.

Causing chaos

According to astrology, Mercury in retrograde can cause chaos here on earth. The planet Mercury is named after the Roman God of the same name; he is the 'messenger' God and is the controller of all communications.

When the planet is in retrograde, astrologists believe all forms of communication are disrupted. This includes speech, technology and travel. Anything we do that communicates a message (or indeed, receives a message) will be affected by Mercury's movements.

Unfortunately for us, the planet goes into retrograde three times every year.

What to watch out for


This retrograde period is the third (and final) one of the year and it will end on November 3. During this time, astrologists warn people to be wary of making big decisions. According to Susan Miller, an astrologist at, “Mercury rules listening, speaking, learning, reading, negotiating, selling, and buying," as well as formal contracts and agreements, such as deeds, leases, and wills.

She warns, “Don’t make any important moves when Mercury is retrograde. Even if a decision is made, it will be subject to change. It’s not that the people you are dealing with are duplicitous. It’s just that nobody can fully predict what conditions will be like later.

"If you start a new job, it won’t necessarily be the position you thought it was when you accepted it..."

"If you start a new job, it won’t necessarily be the position you thought it was when you accepted it. If you are a manager, you'll have difficulty choosing the right candidate for the job, so, if you can, hold off on hiring anyone. If you buy a house, problems could crop up later that were completely unanticipated."

Impact on technology

Technology is also said to be impacted by planets in retrograde. Susan says, "Retrograde periods are notorious for causing computers to crash and for other electronic devices to show signs of wear, requiring urgent repair. Backup your computer in advance of any Mercury retrograde period," she warns.

"If you had planned to install new software on your personal computer (or, if you work in IT, on your network), wait until the retrograde period is over to do so."


Not just Mercury

Mercury isn't the only planet to go into retrograde. Mars and Venus are known to do it too; with Mars impacting our career and anger levels, while Venus plays with our love lives. For now, though, it's Mercury we must deal with. You've been warned.

Digital illustration by Laura Kenny.

Read more: Reading your horoscope is a lot more interesting since tech got involved

Read more: A skeptic's guide to reading tarot cards

Read more: This is what your star sign says about your personality

The image newsletter