What is Mercury Retrograde and How Do You Survive It?

By now most people have seen the slight panic that surrounds a Mercury Retrograde. Even if you are just lingering on the outskirts of the metaphysical world, there is a good chance this concept has crossed your path at least once. But why is it such a big deal? In fact, what even is a retrograde? Let’s demystify this celestial event, so you can be prepared and understand how to work with the energy it brings, not against it.

What is a Retrograde?

Astrology is based on our perspective from here on Earth, with each planet moving across the sky and through the signs. As celestial bodies are moving along their normal path, they are considered to be “direct.” A retrograde period is when a planet appears to be moving backwards across the sky. Obviously, none of them are actually turning around and flying in the opposite direction, but they appear to be based on our view from Earth.

How/Why do Retrogrades Affect Us?

Energy behaves like water. When planets are direct, they support our movement, allowing us to float gently downstream. During retrograde periods, we can often feel as if we are paddling against the current. While it is still possible to make progress during these times, it may take more effort and be met with more setbacks and resistance than expected.

But What's so Special About Mercury?

Every planet retrogrades, so why does this one get so much hype? The main reason is that Mercury retrogrades the most, roughly 3-4 times per year. For all other planets, retrogrades only occur every 1-2 years. On top of that, Mercury retrogrades tend to affect every aspect of our life.
As the ruler of communication, and by extension technology, Mercury has a hand in everything we do. As a society we rely heavily on the sharing of information. From work emails, to plans with friends, to sharing memes online, we are constantly sending and receiving. When Mercury is in its retrograde period, open lines of communication may become tangled, and technology tends to go on the fritz. This can lead to miscommunications, struggles solidifying plans, and missed opportunities.

Now How Do I Survive It?

The first rule when it comes to surviving the mercury retrograde is DON’T PANIC! Take a deep breath, center yourself, and accept the fact that things may not happen exactly as you expect them too. Now is the time to conserve some of your energy so you can hit the ground running once Mercury goes direct. Check out some other things you can do to help minimize the impact of this period:

Remember the Three "Re's"

Revisit: Mercury Retrogrades are not the time for new endeavors. Instead, take a look at the things that may have fallen by the wayside. What have you learned that you may be able to apply to older situations?
Revise: Since the retrograde is great at pointing out flaws in the system, take a look at potential solutions to problems that arise. Are there safeguards you can put in place to prevent things from going wrong in the future? Can you expand on explanations to minimize misunderstandings going forward?
Redo: There is no shame in a fresh start! With mercury retrograde jumbling communication, a blank slate may provide the space you need to form a clear vision. Now, that is not to say you should throw everything out the window, but we learn a lot through experience. Take the knowledge you’ve gathered and try to apply it in different, more effective ways.

Use Rough Drafts

During this time, things tend to get lost in translation. To ensure you are understood, plan your words before you use them. Journaling can be an effective tool in these times. Not only does getting your thoughts and feelings out on paper help alleviate the feeling that you need to act immediately, but it also gives you the opportunity to review what was going through your head. Were you coming from a place of logic? Or emotion? Did you truly mean what you said? Or were you acting on impulse?

It may be helpful to pretend you are on the receiving end of the information before you share it. Practice the conversation in your head before you have it. Where did you get confused? What questions did you have that could be answered? How did the information make you feel? Naturally, things don’t have to be perfect, but what can you do now to make things easier for the future? 

Read the Fine Print - Then Read It Again

Because communications can be misleading during the retrograde, it’s important to read the fine print, both literally and figuratively. While on the surface something may look like a great idea, keep an eye out for information that is being hidden or omitted. Think about how the decision you are making now may impact you in the long run. If possible, it is a good idea to avoid making any major commitments during a Mercury Retrograde.

Use Crystals for Support

SodaliteSodalite aids in bringing a sense of clarity. As the retrograde scatters plans to the wind, this stone can help bring the picture back into focus, so you can turn your attention to the things that need it most. When you have a better understanding of a situation, it can help minimize feelings of panic and being overwhelmed, allowing you to find a solid path forward. Sodalite is also fantastic for supporting mindfulness and meditation. Allowing yourself a moment to breathe during times of stress can be more beneficial than you think.
Yellow JasperJaspers are fantastic crystals for stability. When everything feels like a strong breeze could send it crumbling, Jaspers are here to remind us that our footing is sure. While it may feel like everything is a mess right now, it is important to keep in mind that this moment will pass and our foundation will still be there to build upon. Yellow Jasper specifically can assist with adaptation, helping us go with the flow and be able to make changes on the fly.
ObsidianObsidian is one of the best grounding stones there is, since it holds no energy of its own. Mercury retrogrades are notorious for sending plans and ideas awry, and it’s easy to slip into a state of panic and stress. Obsidian can be a useful tool for dissipating those excess energies, removing the fog of “what-ifs” so you can approach situations with a clear point-of-view. It’s important to note the straight Black Obsidian can be overly grounding for some, especially those struggling with depression. In those cases, Mahogany Obsidian or Snowflake Obsidian can be great alternatives!
CitrineCitrine is primarily a stone of purification, but can also be a great supporter of inspiration and confidence. With Mercury throwing a wrench into everything, it’s important to remember that you got this! Now may be a time to look at other ways to relay information. What can you do to inspire yourself and others during this time?
AquamarineAs a throat chakra stone, Aquamarine is here to support all forms of communication. With its ability to promote emotional balance, this stone is extremely useful during periods of high stress. Just like Sodalite, Aquamarine can aid in meditation, allowing you a moment of peace when everything else feels hectic. It may also assist with tapping into, or controlling, your empathy. With the communication struggles the Mercury Retrograde brings, it may be helpful to put yourself in someone else’s shoes to ensure your message is being understood as you intended.

One Final Note

There is a school of thought that believes Retrogrades can teach us lessons that we can apply once it is over. As the saying goes, “Hindsight is 20/20.” By reflecting on the issues that arose we are able to see the ways in which those same issues may be avoided going forward. Keep in mind that retrogrades are only temporary and we will come out the other side knowing more than we did before.