What Does Mercury Retrograde Mean?

Mercury Retrograde

What Is It?

Many people have heard the phrase Mercury Retrograde, but may not be sure what it really means. It is not something to worry about, but it can be very helpful and save you from mix-ups and misadventures if you are aware of the dates it is in effect.

In astrology the planet Mercury is associated with the mind, the nervous system, speaking, learning, thinking, reasoning, memory, education, reading, information, communications, transportation, travel, commerce, buying and selling.

About three times a year from our perspective here on Earth, Mercury appears to slow down, stop, and then start to move backward and retrace its path in the sky. (It isn’t actually moving backwards, it just looks that way to us.) This apparent backward motion continues for about three weeks. During this period, we say Mercury is Retrograde (Rx). Then Mercury once again slows down, stops and resumes its forward movement, which is described as Mercury going Direct (Dir).

What to Do?

When Mercury is retrograde it is time to pause and go back over things, rather than begin something brand new. Be alert in all forms of communication, transportation, travel and mental activities. it does not mean that everything will get mixed up. It just means we need to be more aware and not take things for granted. Misunderstandings, miscalculations, mistakes, lost messages and delays can occur more easily. Things started now may need to be redone later. Be clear in all communications and double-check your information. Don’t assume that others perceive the situation in the same way as you do. Stay flexible and be prepared for some surprises. You may find out that something you thought would turn out one way ends up being totally different than you expected.

Mechanical and technological devices like your vehicle or your computer may be a little wacky or need repairs. Large systems involving communication, transportation and commerce may experience breakdowns or delays. However, it doesn’t mean all travel, technology and communications are affected, just that it is more likely now. Don’t take anything for granted. Drive cautiously. If you must sign something, be sure to read the fine print and verify that everyone understands and agrees on the terms. As long as you are clear and careful, you will be fine.

When Mercury is retrograde, stop and look around at your life. See what needs to be finished, repaired, researched, revised or reevaluated. It is also a good time for cleaning, sorting, organizing and clearing out. It can be a serendipitous time, too, when fun, surprising and exciting events happen.


The effects of Mercury Retrograde are often the strongest around the beginning and the end dates of the retrograde phase. The four days just before the retrograde phase begins and just after it ends can be quite unsettled. It also can take up to three weeks after the retrograde phase ends to tie up all the loose ends of the activities that occurred during the retrograde phase.


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