Sports drink memes aside, we’re in the midst of Mercury retrograde, and I think it’s important to talk a bit about what that means! At the very least I want to take the opportunity to address some of the typical questions people have about this astro phenomena. As a child born right before a Mercury retrograde, I definitely come from the perspective that life mostly continues on as usual for folx. There’s no need to panic or get worried about this, and knowledge gives you tools to prepare!
When astrologers say that “Mercury is retrograde”, that usually means that if you were to chart the course of Mercury across the skies every night, you’d notice it appearing to move “backwards”, in the opposite direction of the other planets. I’m sure that any humans who’ve spent time studying the stars might have freaked out about this at first, but if you study them long enough you learn that this is normal. In fact, Mercury has a retrograde phase 3 times each year, because of how close it is to the sun!
Mercury represents communication, information, small details, and travel. So if you think about Mercury slowing down, retracing its steps “backwards”, then going forward and resuming its path across the sky, we can apply this metaphorically to the topics Mercury represents. Communication can get swirly, you might need to go back and forth a lot over small details, or your travel plans may get disrupted or delayed. Technology also seems to be disrupted during this time, and in general any little delays can stack up to create a lot of frustration.
Repeating this cycle every four months or so means that Mercury retrograde tends to occur once every four signs of the Zodiac– this year it starts off in Pisces, Cancer, and Scorpio. If you’re familiar with the nature of these three signs, you might recall that they’re all Water signs! What a cool pattern, right? The Water signs are associated with our emotional life or with literal water. When you layer some of these meanings onto the frustrations, delays, etc. I discussed, you can see how this can make for a very emotionally turbulent time.
The first Mercury retrograde of 2020 follows this cycle:
February 2, 2020 – Mercury first covers the part of Pisces that it will later retrace. Things that happen during this period of time will likely need to be revisited, repeated, or redone. Yay.
February 16, 2020 – Mercury slows down, and on this day it appears to stand still in the sky. After this, it retraces it’s steps back through Pisces, and is said to be properly “retrograde” (not “in retrograde” or submersed in any sports drink liquids, just dipped back into the Piscean waters).
February 25, 2020 – Mercury gets swallowed by the Sun. Not really– but astrologers say it is in the “heart of the sun”, or “cazimi”. This means it’s at the same degree of the Zodiac as the sun! This is a turning point, and many issues will see major shifting in a direction toward resolution.
March 9, 2020 – Mercury slows down and appears to stand still again, this time turning back to its normal “direct” motion. This means it travels that same stretch of the Zodiac it covered twice already, one last time before moving on. Third time’s a charm… literally! Things get resolved, for better or for worse.
March 29, 2020 – Mercury finally leaves the area of the Zodiac it’s been crossing over and over again, and will move on to new topics, retrograde-free. Until Summer. Yay.
So, as you can see, the entire process lasts two months! And this repeats twice more in 2020! Rather than spending half the year panicking, let’s talk about what to actually expect from a Mercury retrograde period.
I asked for questions to write about, and y’all came up with some great ones! Let’s see what we can learn about together.
One piece of traditional advice from astrologers is not to start things during a Mercury retrograde period. While I’d agree that if you have a choice not to do something during this time, you shouldn’t, that’s not realistic for every choice. Also, on the spectrum of “oh god, oh god, what have I done” to “best life choice ever”, any actions taken during a Mercury retrograde are smack dab near the middle, along with all the other average actions you take over the course of your life. Mercury is the smallest planet, with the shortest orbit and some seriously short-lived impacts, on the whole. So the vast majority of us aren’t going to screw everything up based on one Mercury Retrograde.
What I have noticed about starting things during Mercury retrograde is that you tend to experience the following:
Delays! Everything seems to take longer, so the time between making a choice to do something and actually getting to do it is longer.
Clerical Errors! It’s not that you shouldn’t sign contracts or start a job during this time, but triple check your paperwork– even the smallest details might be comically wrong.
Repetition! If you’re interviewing for a job and you are asked to come back in or re-do an interview, this can actually be a good thing during a Mercury Retrograde. It could mean they’re taking their time or that the process has changed and they want to take a closer look at you as a candidate.
Surviving a Mercury Retrograde period really just requires patience and a change in expectations. Listen to the signs that tell you to slow down, if only so you avoid making a mistake or missing something important.
If you’re not familiar with the concept of a Twin Flame, the “tl;dr” version is that it’s like a soulmate but kind of toxic. Like– y’all are constantly playing the game of “they love me, they love me not”. This kind of question can come up a lot around Mercury Retrograde because another traditional piece of advice is that you can see your exes coming back into the picture. Receiving messages or phone calls from people you never thought (or maybe even wanted) to see again seems to be more likely!
If you’re having trouble deciding whether the relationship you have with someone is healthy or has healthy boundaries, this is a decision I’d definitely wait to act on until after the Retrograde period has passed. Use this time to gather more information, or take the time to talk about boundaries or expectations. Or scroll through their Instagram feed to remember all the things you love and the things you love to hate about them (just be careful not to accidentally “like” their super-old photos– what a classic Mercury Retrograde thing to do).
Since this retrograde happens mostly in Pisces, if you have any of the following in your chart you might be more prone to issues in this area during THIS particular Mercury Retrograde:
Virgo Rising – Pisces is your 7th house of Relationships… so Mercury is asking you to revisit issues from your relationships. Or, rather, Mercury is giving you the opportunity to do so, if you choose.
Mercury in your 7th House – If you normally have Mercury in your 7th house in your birth chart, Mercury automatically becomes more important in your closest relationships.
Pisces or Sagittarius Rising – Based on your chart, Mercury is responsible for your 7th house affairs, so it tends to the needs of your relationships. With Mercury distracted by its retrograde period, you might feel the impact on your relationships around this time.
At the end of the day, remember that you have the right to set boundaries in any relationship! If you’re looking for a cool, queer/inclusive resource on setting boundaries or making decisions about whether you should be with someone or not, this could help: The Relationship Bill of Rights, from More Than Two.
It’s not just exes that tend to come back during Mercury Retrograde periods… our chronic health issues can come back to haunt us, as well. At least these episodes tend to be shorter and less acute than usual, for most! Mercury isn’t typically associated with health, but there might be a few different chart placements that could get activated by this Retrograde:
Libra Rising – Pisces is your 6th house of health issues, so Mercury is asking you to review diagnoses, new or old information about your health, or communicate with others around your health.
Mercury in your 6th House – If Mercury is in your 6th house in your birth chart, then Mercury will be related to your health more closely.
Aries or Capricorn Rising – Mercury is responsible for your 6th house affairs, so just like with relationships, a distracted Mercury will take away some of your normal resources you use to manage your health, temporarily.
Moon in Pisces – If you have the Moon in Pisces in your chart, you also have a health connection there, so you could be prone to issues coming up during this Mercury Retrograde.
It’s important to note that NONE of this is professional medical advice. I am not a doctor. So, yeah, make sure you actually consult people other than me, especially if you’re having intense pain or suspect there’s a deeper issue. Like, seriously, take care of yourself!
If you’re not sure what your Rising sign is, or where your Mercury or Moon are, or if you have literally any other question, let me know! I love working with people on their charts, especially Mercury (I have a strong mercury in my own chart!) Every chart is unique, and everyone lives out their charts in different ways, so the best way to find out what Mercury Retrograde has in store for you is to learn about your chart.
I post sometimes on Instagram (@divineorbitastrology) and twitter (@BernalOrbit), and you can DM me there. I also offer readings on this website where we can work together to make sense of your chart!