What is Mercury Retrograde?

Our need to slow down and rest a bit is similar to a planet’s retrograde passage.

speeding, retrograde, planets orbit

What is Retrograde (℞)?

From a physics standpoint, retrograde is the appearance of the planet moving backward in reference to Earth. This is an illusion, or really our perception, due to our point of view on Earth, orbiting at a different speed around the Sun. It is analogous to when you speed past a slower car on the highway… from your rear-view mirror, it now appears as if they are traveling in reverse.

☿️ Mercury is the messenger planet.

Before we talk about what happens during Mercury Retrograde (☿️℞), let’s talk about Mercury. ☿️ Mercury is the messenger planet. It rules communication, our conscious mind, thoughts, speech, and writing. To keep it simple I call it: Messenger Mercury. It also governs commerce, ground transportation (cars, trains, and buses), siblings, community and neighborhoods.

inner planets, mercury, venus, earth, mars

This tiny planet, closest to the sun, is the ruler of both ♍Virgo and ♊Gemini. Those of us born with the Sun in either of these signs are particularly affected by Mercury. Yet for everyone, where Mercury is by sign and house placement in our natal birth chart indicates how we communicate. Our style of communication. No small matter this!  

For example, a man with Mercury in Cancer in the 12th house may be shy about expressing himself, given to music, meditation, writing, and find his inner life to be rich with treasures to plunder. Rather different than the woman with Leo in the 10th house. She has no difficulty with self-expression, dotting her speech with humor and a boisterous laugh, and easily steps into the spotlight.  

A marked contrast between these two for sure!

Mercury Retrograde (☿️℞)

Just around the corner in early March, Mercury will turn retrograde for the first time in 2019. In fact, every calendar year, Mercury turns retrograde two to three times, for weeks each cycle.  In 2019, Mercury will be retrograde:  March 5-March 27th; July 7-August 1st, and October 31st to November 20th.

Some of us are aware of when this will occur and actually prepare for it as much as possible; others caught up in the midst of this activity wonder why their calls aren’t being returned, their tech devices are going haywire, their packages are delayed.

Here’s the deal: except for the Sun and Moon, all planets turn retrograde. Why? The cycle of natural order.

In modern life, very few of us like to slow down or hit snafus, delays in our push for progress. If every sector of our life pressed forward, constantly and unceasingly, we would exhaust ourselves.

Think of it this way: if you never slept, could you function? Adequately, or at all? Probably for a day or two, then your life may start to unravel. Decision making would become fuzzy, your body refusing to cooperate until it lay down for rest.

Our need to slow down and rest a bit is similar to a planet’s retrograde passage.

We have all experienced that sleepless night with our minds racing with thoughts, whether driven by problems at work, at home or certain relationships.

Mercury retrograde is the cosmos’ way of saying: let go, let your mind wander, get some necessary R and R. Since Mercury rules our rational/conscious mind, our thoughts and communication, it is essential that this facet of ourselves takes time off, gets a break every now and then.  

Best Practices During Mercury Retrograde

Best practices during Mercury retrograde involve any RE words: rest, research, reflect, review, restore, renew, revisit, remember, retreat, return, revive, refresh, reunion, and so on.  

These are excellent periods for cleaning out clutter from closets, cabinets, our residences; spending time in nature, preferably alone; going on RE treats; visiting with old RE-lationships; sleeping; spa time; playing hooky; journaling; puttering.

In short: any time spent letting the mind off the hook…

The following are suggested Do’s and Don’ts for Mercury Retrogrades. Remember, as always, we must live our lives, pay our bills and so forth. But if you find yourself in the mood for shopping, maybe wait a bit for Mercury to turn direct. You may end up with better merchandise bought on sale!


spa, retreat, vacation, relaxation
  • Rest and sleep

  • Research any major planned purchases (cars, homes, appliances, tech devices)

  • Research travel plans

  • Review major documents

  • Clean out closets, cabinets, files, basements, attics

  • Purge/donate/RE cycle what you no longer need

  • Spa visits

  • Nature walks in woodlands or on/around water

  • Vacation

  • Visit with relatives and old friends

  • RE treats

  • Meditation/yoga/journaling/spiritual endeavors


  • Buy any tech device: laptops, cell phones, tablets

  • Buy major items:  appliances, cars, homes

  • List a house for sale

  • Sign documents of major significance

  • Go on a first date

  • Get engaged or married

  • Launch a business

  • Book plans/make deposits on vacations and travel plans

Again, we need to live our lives… BUT with a little pre-planning, and keeping an eye on the stars, we may just be able to manage the planetary energies and avoid hiccups and delays in our lives.

AUTHOR: Hilary Harley is an OSYL Astrologer & Reiki Master. She offers astrological counseling and Reiki energy healing to help clients reach their highest potential. By understanding the role that planetary cycles play in their lives, they are empowered to make better decisions resulting in more rewarding and fulfilling lives.

Find out more about Hilary and her services HERE.