What is Mercury Retrograde and Should You Be Worried?

celestial night sky astrology image

You’ve probably heard of Mercury retrograde (aka Mercury rx) and maybe you’ve even blamed some unfortunate events (or even your own actions) on it. But what does Mercury retrograde really mean, what happens in the universe, how will it impact your life, and most importantly, should you be worried? We’re here to clear up any confusion and answer all of your questions about this infamous astrological event.

When is Mercury in Retrograde?

Mercury retrograde 2021 dates: January 30th to February 21st, May 29th to June 22nd, and September 27th to October 23rd

What is Mercury Retrograde

Retrograde is just a fancy term for “moving backward.” When Mercury is in retrograde, the planet appears to move backward in its usual direction of orbit. But here’s where things get interesting: it’s not actually moving backward. It’s all an optical illusion caused by the speed of Mercury’s orbit in relation to Earth’s orbit. All planets orbit the sun in the same direction, but at differing speeds. Because Mercury’s full orbit takes 88 days compared to Earth’s 365, multiple times a year (3-4 to be exact) Mercury laps the Earth, and this is what causes the optical illusion.

What Happens During Mercury Retrograde

In astrology, Mercury is the planet that rules communication, thinking, travel, and technology. This association comes from Mercury’s namesake, the Roman messenger god. While Mercury is in retrograde, astrologers believe that all aspects of your daily life that Mercury rules go haywire. Think technology hiccups like wifi problems and incorrect GPS directions, communication issues like someone taking your light hearted joke in the wrong way, and travel issues like major traffic and accidents. Since Mercury is the planet of thought, you might also experience some general brain fog. During Mercury retrograde, events from the past tend to resurface as well, which is why you may have heard the old cliché of your exes trying to communicate with you during Mercury rx. Editor’s note: don’t text them back, just trust me on this one.

Should You be Worried About Mercury Retrograde

If you’re panicking about Mercury retrograde, don’t. Like anything in life, Mercury rx has its positives and its negatives, and although it has an infamous reputation for inducing anxiety, there are plenty of good things about it too. Mercury rx offers us a chance to slow down, pay more attention to what’s happening in the moment, and reflect on the past in a way that can better your future. What isn’t working for you anymore, and what habitual behavior do you need to change in order to meet your goals? So don’t freak out, but also maybe don’t make any life altering decisions, and be prepared for things to not happen quite as you’re expecting them to.

Dos and Don’ts of Mercury Retrograde

  • Do slow down and double check all communications like emails and texts before you hit send
  • Don’t make any huge decisions like signing a lease or quitting your job
  • Do reflect on your past behavior and relationships to figure out what habits need to go and what cycles need to be broken
  • Don’t plan any huge trips
  • Do allow extra time for any travel
  • Don’t take miscommunications too personally
  • Do try to find closure from experiences that have hurt you in the past
  • Don’t fall back into toxic relationships 
  • Do expect the unexpected

Good luck during this upcoming Mercury retrograde and remember to slow down and remember: don’t freak out! It'll all be fine.