Mercury retrograde is on the horizon – here’s how to handle it

Mercury retrograde is a periodic cosmic event that astrologists believe disrupts our routine – and there’s one headed our way. Here’s how it can send you into a spin.

Picture this: It’s a Monday morning; your alarm doesn’t go off, trains are delayed – and just when you think things can’t get any worse, you arrive at work to find you’ve missed an important meeting because somehow it’s vanished from your calendar.

Alanis Morissette was wrong – it isn’t ironic; it’s Mercury retrograde.

While many simply chalk it up to an optical illusion in the planet’s orbit, astrologists hold the phenomenon accountable for a cascade of mishaps, misunderstandings and meltdowns, with everything from missed emails and misplaced house keys to stock market crashes the result of Mercury’s reverse dance routine.

But what exactly is Mercury retrograde, and why does the planetary cha-cha seem to wreak such havoc on our everyday lives?

What is Mercury retrograde?

Astrologer Natasha Weber says Mercury retrograde is an optical illusion that makes it appear as though Mercury, the fastest-moving planet in our solar system, slows down and starts travelling backward in its orbit; kind of like when you’re in a fast-moving train and you pass another train.

“While Mercury doesn’t actually go backwards through the sky, it does travel backwards through the zodiac,” Natasha says.

“Mercury rules communication, travel and technology so when it goes into retrograde, these areas in our lives are typically affected.”

When is the next Mercury retrograde?

We experience this phenomenon three to four times a year, with each phase lasting about three weeks.

Mercury will next be in retrograde from August 23 to September 14, 2023.

While each retrograde period is slightly different, Natasha says there are some constants between them.


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Common effects of Mercury retrograde

Natasha says this retrograde energy can cause us to experience some difficulties with what Mercury represents in astrology: communication, technology and travel.

“We might encounter misunderstandings, emails go missing, text messages being misinterpreted, or itinerary problems,” she explains.

“Every time is a little different depending on the sign it’s going through – this time, Mercury is rewinding through Virgo, which puts a unique spin on this event.”

Virgo is the zodiac sign that has an eye for detail, Natasha says, so this could mean you’re more likely to miss important details, particularly when signing documents – which she advises you hold off during this period where practical.

It’s also the sign of health – in particular, mental health – so this upcoming celestial backspin flags mental health concerns.

“Virgos are known as the critics – they’re a sign that can be really hard on themselves,” Natasha says.

“So during this retrograde phase, it’s really important to be mindful of our self-talk and our narrative.”

Does Mercury retrograde have any positives?

While it might seem like Mercury retrograde is all doom and gloom, Natasha says it’s also a potent time for introspection, spiritual growth, and personal evolution.

It’s an invitation from the universe to slow down, to go within, and to reflect on our life’s journey.

“Retrogrades are not a negative thing if you know how to use them,” she says.

“I like to see them as more of a learning curve, a tool for self-empowerment … to help us live our best lives.”

Natasha says the planets and their movements don’t cause events to happen – they merely provide the backdrop against which our life unfolds.

So, rather than fearing Mercury retrograde, she suggests we embrace its rhythms and adjust our sails accordingly.

“Going within, you can really tap into the rich rewards that each retrograde might hold,” Natasha says.


How to navigate the upcoming Mercury retrograde

Astrologer Jessica Adams says the weeks leading into and out of a retrograde – known as shadow periods – can also trigger similar events.

Jessica’s top tips for navigating the upcoming Mercury retrograde:

Double-check your communications

Misunderstandings are more likely during this time.

Reread your emails before hitting send; perhaps take a pause before responding to a message that triggers you.

It’s a time to practise patience and clear communication.

Avoid signing contracts

If you can, delay signing any major contracts.

If it’s unavoidable, read the terms extra carefully.

Mercury retrograde often brings overlooked details to light.

“Even people who don’t believe in astrology will avoid paperwork during this cycle,” Jessica, author of Astrolove, and 2020 Astrology – Your 5 Year Personal Horoscope Guide, says.

“Mercury rules communication, so people may go back on their word or attempt to deceive you in this cycle.”

Back up your tech

Our gadgets are prone to glitches during this phase.

“Make sure you have a back-up for your computer and put things in the Cloud,” Jessica says.

“It’s also a really good idea to have a spare key.”

Rethink major purchases

Especially tech-related ones – so, if you’ve been eyeing a new phone or laptop, maybe wait until Mercury goes direct.

You might find you’re not as satisfied with your purchase or there are unexpected complications.

Travel with extra care

If you’re traveling during a retrograde, expect delays and stay flexible with your plans.

“Pay more attention to details if you are travelling and double-check everything,” Jessica says.

“It can help to have a Plan B and Plan C.”

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Written by Tianna Nadalin.