Mercury Retrograde: How to Survive The 3-Week Communication Crisis

Brace yourself for breakdowns. Mercury retrograde happens 3-4 times a year.

When communication planet Mercury turns retrograde, truth bombs, travel snags and technology hiccups are on the horizon.

Ever have a moment when everything seems to go wrong? Your data disappears, people argue over nonsense, traffic is hellish, and your computer crashes as you’re putting the final touches on an important document. Plans change without warning and your friends stand you up. There’s drama, sure…but this is just BEYOND.

Chances are, you’re smack in the middle of Mercury Retrograde!

Mercury retrograde happens 3 to 4 times a yearPin
Mercury retrograde happens 3-4 times a year

What is Mercury retrograde?

Messenger Mercury is the planet of communication, social networks and data. When it flips into reverse three to four times each year, it affects our immediate, day-to-day lives. So popular is this transit that we’ve dubbed it the “pumpkin spice latte” of retrogrades!

It’s hard to be patient when digital devices break down, new friends ghost while old ones pop up out of the blue and appointments get canceled. Back up your important data and protect it with strong passwords. If you must sign a contract, review everything, even the finest print!

Mercury Retrograde dates

Mercury Retrogrades typically happen three or four times a year in various zodiac signs.

All the Mercury Retrogrades in 2024

You can always check here to see if Mercury is in retrograde right now

December 13, 2023 to January 1, 2024 in SAGITTARIUS

April 1-25, 2024 in ARIES

August 5-28, 2024 (Aug 5-14 in VIRGO and Aug. 14-28 in LEO)

November 25 to December 15, 2024 in SAGITTARIUS

Learn about all the 2024 Mercury retrogrades here.


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What to expect during Mercury Retrograde

During each Mercury Retrograde, the cosmic trickster will certain have some surprises up his sleeve. The truth inevitably comes boiling to the surface during this phase, as mysteries reveal and skeletons tumble out of the closets.

How does Mercury Retrograde affect you?

Mental Mercury also rules the transfer of information, and during this signal-jamming cycle, it’s wise to password-protect all sensitive data and back it up to the cloud. Since Mercury Retrograde can disrupt technology, take special precautions with your digital data. Back up all your important files and photos to the cloud. Mercury rules contracts, so think before you ink any deals. Either wrap up important negotiations before the cycle starts, or wait to sign documents until after Mercury goes direct.

Pro tip: To play it extra safe during Mercury’s backspin, keep beverages far away from your computer; this is the time when you could knock over a cup of coffee onto your keyboard or laptop. These are mistakes that can be avoided with a little extra caution until Mercury stations direct.

What signs are affected by Mercury retrograde?

All of them!

Three or four times a year, Mercury passes the earth in its orbit. As it rounds the bend, Mercury slows down and appears to stop (station) and spin backward (retrograde). Of course, it really ISN’T moving backward, but much like two trains or cars passing each other, this creates the optical illusion that one (Mercury, in this case) is going backward.

In astrology, Mercury rules communication, travel, and technology—so all of these areas can go haywire for about three weeks, for all of us, no matter your zodiac sign. If the Mercury retrograde occurs in your sign, you may feel its affects a little more. Always check your horoscope!

To top things off, Mercury retrograde also has what’s called a “shadow period,” so you may feel the #retroshade a couple of weeks before and after the official Mercury Retrograde dates. Great, right?

What to do during a Mercury Retrograde

Press Re-wind

Try not to start anything new. Focus on activities that start with the prefix “re-,” which means to go back. Review all your contracts before you sign. Renew your commitments, rather than making new ones. Prepare to repeat yourself often. Reunite with old friends. Redecorate a room. Rekindle a romance.

That last one should be taken with caution. Mercury Retrograde CAN bring back an old flame, but often it’s for the purpose of closure, not necessarily because this is the “one that got away.” Don’t be surprised if you get a Facebook friend request from someone you dated ages ago or a forgotten childhood friend. We’ve bumped into long-lost friends (and loves) on the street during Mercury Retrograde. Strange times!

What should I do during Mercury retrograde?

1. Review all contracts and legal documents before signing.

2. Pause and breathe before speaking. (Repeat yourself if necessary!)

3. Read all emails and documents before you send.

4. Insure/track important mail and packages (Mercury rules the postal system).

5. Get your vehicles (or bikes) tuned up, pack an emergency roadside kit.

6. Leave early for any travel and appointments, since Mercury Rx can delay flights.

7. Renew your commitments instead of making new ones.

8. Focus on the prefix re-, which means to go backward (renew, review, revamp, redecorate, et al.)

9. Plan reunions with old friends & loved ones (but prepare for possible mishaps!)

10. Expect to hear from/run into people from your past at the weirdest moments.

11. Get sentimental. Reconnect with your roots, walk down memory lane.

12. Practice forgiveness. Finish processing what’s unresolved so you can let it go.

13. Confirm all dates, plans, meetings, appointments.

14. Think of the retrograde as a quarterly review period, a chance to pause and finish what you’ve started.

15. Back up your digital data (photos, contact lists, files) before the retrograde or ASAP if it’s started.

What should I not do during Mercury retrograde?

1. Buy new vehicles, electronic equipment or gadgets (unless they come with a good return/repair policy).

2. Sign contracts without a thorough review (delay until Mercury turns direct if you can).

3. Fly off the handle or jump to conclusions if someone misunderstands you.

4. Run into the arms/bed of an ex without careful screening (Mercury reunions aren’t always meant to last).

5. Shoot the messenger if someone from your past comes around.

6. Put anything sketchy into an email or text (you could hit “Reply All” or send to the wrong person!).

7. Leave late for travel or appointments.

8. Start anything new on top before finishing what’s ahead on the to-do list.

9. Lead people on, give mixed messages or believe everything you hear (actions speak louder than words).

10. Spread rumors, rant on social media or share unconfirmed information.

11. Turn in sloppy or unchecked work, cut corners, dash off hasty communications. Inspect to protect!


How do you stay positive during Mercury Retrograde?

The silver lining?

Mercury retrograde is a great opportunity to handle unfinished business. Most of us start a million things that we don’t complete, never realizing how much psychic clutter this creates. The retrograde is like a quarterly review. It’s a chance to tie up those loose ends and create a clear vision for the future.

Take advantage of it, and you’ll emerge fresh and ready when Mercury goes direct. As the cliche goes, what you resist persists. So the more you can embrace chaos or a lack of control (and isn’t control an illusion, anyhow?), the better you’ll survive a Mercury Retrograde cycle!

Was I born during a Mercury Retrograde?

Enter your birthday into our handy calculator below to find out!

Find out if you were born during

Mercury Retrograde

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How does Mercury Retrograde affect your birth chart?

If you were born during a Mercury retrograde (which we were), you may actually become sharper, clearer or more productive during this time. But you won’t be immune to Mercury’s impact. We once had a hard drive erase itself right before our eyes during Mercury retrograde! But you could also thrive in areas where others are failing. Almost every big writing contract and book deal we’ve gotten was offered during Mercury retrograde. You might even become more psychic or dialed-in during Mercury’s backspin.

Find out if you were born during Mercury retrograde and which planets you have in the houses by doing a free chart.

Photo Credit: Stocksy


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Identical twin sisters Ophira and Tali Edut, known as The AstroTwins, are the founders of and the authors of multiple bestselling astrology books. Their horoscopes reach millions here and through their resident astrologer column at ELLE Magazine.