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Mercury retrograde: It’s happening (again) but what does that mean for you?


By Sarah Finnan
10th May 2022

Callum Shaw / Unsplash

Mercury retrograde: It’s happening (again) but what does that mean for you?

To quote 'I Said What I Said' podcast co-host, Feyikemi Abudu, “Is mercury in lucozade? Because things are happening.”

Mercury retrograde is one of those phrases that people throw around in conversation on the regular… but do any of us really know what it means? 

Admittedly, I only had a vague idea of what it entailed – restlessness, things going wrong, general upheaval – and, up until very recently, probably couldn’t have given you a succinct synopsis of the concept. 

That all changed this morning when I decided to educate myself on the astrological phenomenon once and for all. Here’s what I learned. 

The second Mercury retrograde started today

Mercury is in retrograde once again (and will be until June 3). If the memes didn’t tip you off, the faint whisper of chaos on the air probably did. Things have a tendency to go wrong when Mercury is in retrograde and that’s never good news. However, this is a time to slow down, to listen and to tap into some self-care.

Explaining a little about the concept, Sisters Village – a popular astrology and wellness account run by Amy McDermott – notes that it’s important to prioritise reflection, reevaluation, resting, rejuvenation, relaxation and realignment during this time.

What does “retrograde” actually mean? Essentially the word retrograde means backwards. It’s a planetary optical illusion which, in astrology, means that Mercury appears to be moving in the wrong direction. The planets don’t actually begin to orbit backwards during retrograde though. No, what happens is that they slow down their orbit for a period of time which gives the optical illusion – at least from earth’s perspective – that the planet is moving backwards.

So what does that mean for us here on earth? “When this planet begins to orbit slower, our Mercurical themes (communication, technology, messages, travel transportation and logical thinking) start to slow down with the planet,” McDermott continues.

“Naturally for most people when this planet is retrograde you may find yourself struggling to really articulate what you’re trying to say. Which is why Mercury retrograde is known to cause a lot of disagreements and misunderstandings.”

What to know 

 

This month’s Mercury retrograde is in the sign of Gemini – it will move into Taurus on May 22 – meaning that all things regarding communication, transport and technology are likely to start acting a little haywire. According to Cosmopolitan, Geminis, Virgos, Sagittarians, and Pisceans will be “tossed around the most this retrograde”, while Libras and Aquarians will have an easier time of it. 

 

According to astrology, Mercury retrograde can cause widespread confusion and disarray 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… which explains why, when the planet is retrograde, communication can be disrupted. 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 four times this year – though, thankfully, we already have the first one of the year over us.

A lot of how Mercury retrograde affects you personally comes down to your birth chart. Some of you probably already know your sun, moon and rising signs, but a quick Google search will help you put yours together if not (all you need to know is where you were born and at what time). 

How to handle it

During this time, astrologists warn people to be wary of making big decisions. According to Susan Miller, an astrologist at AstrologyZone.com, “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 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.” Uh-oh.

Impact on technology

Technology is also said to be impacted when planets go into retrograde. “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,” Susan 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.”

The May Mercury retrograde

As The Cut put it, right now, the key is to slow down. Give yourself and others permission to be inefficient. Everyone deserves a grace period during this time, at least until June 3 when Mercury retrograde ends. 

This particular Mercury retrograde will help us understand the power that our words have, given that it starts in Gemini and then heads back into Taurus. So, choose your phrasing carefully in order to keep things running smoothly.

 As Gemini is an air sign and highly communicative, lots of discussion will need to take place, Miller notes. “Talk to a lot of people and poll their responses. Do a great deal of research, too. Air signs are analytical and modern – you may hear of a solution that is so new, you may not even have known it was possible. Use the answer that seems best for you after going through this process, and make sure you are objective and not emotional in choosing your answer,” Susan advises.

Later in the month, Mercury moves into Taurus, an earth sign, which calls for a different approach. “Be very practical about finding a solution, and strictly adhere to limits of time or budget. Money often plays a big part in both the problem and the answer when Mercury is retrograde.” 

It’s not all bad though, there’s a positive side to retrograde too. “Although these Mercury retrograde periods can be frustrating, they are often useful too, for they allow us to reassess, revisit, readdress, redo, and redesign our plans. Sometimes we rush along in life without fully considering our basic assumptions or actions. Mercury retrograde allows us to stop, look, listen, and redirect our energies more productively. Mercury also helps us find closure to certain situations.”

Reconnecting with old friends or relatives is also quite common during retrograde periods, so keep your phone off silent mode. 

“We can all benefit from taking a closer look at situations with greater depth, which happens when Mercury retrogrades. Mercury retrograde periods are like walking through glue, so they do tend to make us slow down, which at times can be a blessing,” Miller concludes.

In other words, the best way through is to just breathe and know that this too shall pass. Godspeed, my friends!