What is Mercury Retrograde and the 4 most common myths

Emma Vidgen explains what Mercury retrograde means for you, and dispels four of the most common myths surrounding this cosmic event. 

Every few months the internet, especially Twitter and Instagram, go into meltdown with memes predicting the impending doom caused by Mercury retrograde. But what is Mercury retrograde? Is it really cause to stay in your house, do nothing, speak to no one and throw your hair around in a huff? Ingrid Anderson, an astrologer from Sydney Astrology School, explains.

“Astrology is an observational science and there seems to be a correlation between the Mercury retrograde period, and things of a mercurial nature, going awol. Mercury governs communications of all kinds, technology, transportation, buying and selling,” explains Ingrid. “Mercury retrograde has the reputation for technological hiccups, travel snags, emails getting lost in cyberspace… friends standing you up, etc. And it’s true, these are classic Mercury retrograde happenings.”

It really isn’t a cause for freak out though, rather a cautionary sign that things may take a little longer, be a little more complicated or get muddled up during this time. “One of things I love about astrology is contained in the adage – ‘forewarned is forearmed’,” says Ingrid. “Knowing certain forces will be at play gives you the jump on how best to navigate. Life is such a joy when we go with the flow… and such hard work when we try and paddle upstream.” Here, Ingrid helps to debunk some very common misconceptions about the Mercury retrograde period.

Myth #1: Mercury changes direction and goes backward

Sceptics love to point this out as a major oversight in astrology, but actually no one is in under any misconception that Mercury is actually going in reverse. “Contrary to popular belief, Mercury never actually travels backwards, it’s just a matter of perspective. From where we sit on planet Earth, there are three times a year that for a period of between 19 and 25 days Mercury looks like it is traveling backwards,” says Ingrid.

Myth #2: Mercury retrograde is a rare occurrence

Given the amount of hype Mercury retrograde garners you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s a once a year, or once a decade phenomenon. But the truth is, they happen quite frequently. “Mercury is retrograde for 19-25 days, three times each year,” says Ingrid. Want to know when it’s next due to hit? Check out a full list of dates here all the way up to 2030.

Myth #3: Mercury Retrograde affects everyone the same way

“How poignant a Mercury retrograde period is really depends on how it plays into your birth chart,” says Ingrid. “This is an interesting thing to check out because it could be traveling over key places in your chart, making the effects more significant or dramatic for you.” If you’re not a total astro rookie you can check your chart on astro.com and see what area Mercury will be influencing. Or, as Ingrid suggests, “you can get your forecasting done by an astrologer”.

Myth #4: You should put your whole life on hold during Mercury retrograde

While most astrologers will tell you that buying a new laptop mightn’t be the best idea around this time, life doesn’t stop – nor should it. “Sometimes you need to make a move on things; you’ve found a place to rent, it’s perfect, and you need to sign the lease or you will miss out. Jump on it! Not going ahead with things because of Mercury retrograde is pure superstition,” says Ingrid. “The main thing is to thoroughly go over things during this period. For example, actually read the contract, when normally you might trust that it’s a standard agreement and just sign it. Check the condition report and be present when the agent performs it, rather than trusting everything will be fine. Knowing that things can get missed at this time, double checking things is always for the best.”

This article is a slightly edited version of one originally appeared on The Wayward and is republished here with permission.