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Mercury retrograde: how to make it work for you

Mercury retrograde Image Broken Mirror by Paul Apalkin.

On 29 May Mercury turned retrograde as it conjoined Venus at the end of Gemini. Mercury and Gemini conjoin regularly and this is always a good time for communication in close relationships. With Mercury retrograde communication will be especially intimate and inward-going. Time for a deep and meaningful! Mercury remains in retrograde motion until 23 June.

The way Mercury retrograde affects you is largely to do with how it triggers your natal chart, but it also has a lot to do with your own attitude and approach to this inward-going cycle. Astrologer Andrew Smith, who writes for the Cosmic Intelligence Agency, has this to say about Mercury retrograde:

“Largely misunderstood, Mercury retrograde periods are not challenging times wherein matter breaks, emails go missing, hard drives cease to work and your phone decides to incorrectly autocorrect your texts. I don’t believe that nature intended these pauses in time to be dominated by such trivial concerns as matter fighting back! Three times a year you are afforded an extended period of stillness and deep reflection so that you can move out of your mental body and into your heart. Stillness of heart is all that is needed so you can start to find your way out of the dark and into your heart energy.”

As long-time readers will already be aware I’m not one to get too worked up about Mercury retrograde periods. Sure it can bring crossed wires and malfunctions in communication, leading to annoying mishaps and delays as well as misunderstandings, but to my mind its benefits outweigh its challenges. In this fast paced, mind-dominated reality this transit prompts us to turn inwards and become reflective.

Why does Mercury retrograde affect some people more than others?

Certain transits affect us differently depending on what else we have going on in our charts. For example Mercury retrograde can cause absolute havoc in the life of someone who’s natal Mercury is badly aspected, or receiving a major transit from one of the outer planets, while another person will barely feel it at all.

I’m one of those people who experience very little in the way of discombobulated communications or technological mishaps during Mercury retrograde.

Like everything in astrology, we have to look at the chart, and the person, as an interconnected whole. Just because Mercury retrogrades doesn’t mean you’re going to experience it in the same way everyone else does. For this reason, blogging on astrology can be challenging – it’s difficult to convey the general energetic feel of a transit while also communicating the vast array of uniquely personal outcomes it can represent in each individual’s here and now.

Despite being so widely feared, Mercury retrograde is not a particularly heavy transit. In fact Mercury is retrograde about 18% of the time! Yes, clarity around communication, thinking and decision-making is reduced, but at the same time our capacity to see and understand our mental habit patterns, such as negative self-talk, is increased. It’s a time of turning inwards instead of outwards, for reflection, rather than action.

The purpose of Mercury retrograde

Despite its reputation Mercury retrograde has a purpose, as do all the planetary transits. That purpose will be clearer to you if you remain present and aware instead of allowing yourself to be caught up in the story. We humans are such melodramatic creatures!

In her excellent article The Wise Trickster Melanie Reinhart expresses the energy of Mercury retrograde beautifully: “If you are experiencing a Mercury Rx Cycle through a flurry of glitches and things mis-firing in general – try to just STOP your momentum, as in the phrase ‘Don’t just do something, sit there’! Very often, these Mercurial ‘signals’ are prompts to slow down (as Mercury does when turning), change gear, turn around (as he does) and be reflective rather than active for a while.”

When Mercury retrogrades we have an opportunity to clean up bugs in the intellectual system. It’s a time to clear out old ideas that no longer serve us, as well as any old clutter we’ve got stored up in our sub-conscious that is slowing us down. We can take a fresh look at our thoughts about ourselves, our life situation, in fact our entire reality and ask ourselves whether they are in alignment with our highest selves.

Then when Mercury goes direct we can make a new decision, a decision that truly reflects who we are and how we wish to respond to this moment Now. For as Andrew points out, this is a time when “the conditions are… ripe for molding and shaping a new way of being.”

With all the negative hype around some of you may dread the beginning of the Mercury retrograde cycle. But believe me there is nothing to fear. Mercury retrograde is an opportunity, a chance to turn inwards and examine our ideas, plans and opinions. It’s an important part of ensuring our minds don’t get cluttered with out-of-date or inaccurate perspectives on ourselves and the world we live in.

How will Mercury Retrograde affect you?

Mercury retrograde in Gemini will affect you most strongly if you have Mercury retrograde natally, have planets or points between 16 and 24 degrees of the Mutable signs (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius or Pisces) as well as anyone who is currently experiencing an outer planet transit to their natal Mercury.

The area of your life most likely to be affected by Mercury retrograde in Gemini can be seen by checking which house (or houses) lie within 16 to 24 degrees of Gemini in your natal chart.

If you don’t have one yet, you can get a free birth chart at To understand how to read your birth chart, and follow the transits in your own life, download my free ebook The Language of Astrology.

What about Natal Mercury Retrograde?

If you’re lucky enough to have Mercury retrograde in your natal chart you will probably be a person who is more reflective and introverted, less likely to share your thoughts and opinions.

However as Mercury retrograde only lasts around three weeks, it will turn direct in your Progressed Chart within the first 21 years of your life, at which point you will likely become much more chatty and communicative. For some people it works the other way too, with Mercury turning retrograde by progression in mid life.

Although some people associate natal Mercury retrograde with learning difficulties and social anxiety, I think this is likely only if Mercury is poorly placed by sign or house, or where there are heavy aspects to other planets.

How do you experience Mercury retrograde?

I love hearing how you are experiencing the transits of the planets and the transformations that are occurring in your lives. Join the conversation and share your thoughts on Mercury retrograde in the comments below.

1 Comment on Mercury retrograde: how to make it work for you

  1. Dinah Morris // June 16, 2020 at 7:26 pm // Reply

    Thanks for this…my Divine Masculine bf has North Node at 14 degrees Libra 8th House…Gosh! I wish he would just wake up to the Inconvenient Truth that I know stuff he doesn’t. Why is he so stubborn! Can’t we just join forces and be our best?
    Love to you for a really fantastic article full of so much helpful Insight.
    From a flying Kiwi living in Australia.

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