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, or station, and spin backward — otherwise known as 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 Mercury, is in this case, going backward.
In astrology, Mercury rules communication, travel, and technology — so all of these areas go haywire for about three weeks, with today (Jan. 21) marking the beginning of the chaos.
To top it off, Mercury retrograde also has what's called a "shadow period" so you may have already felt the retrograde a couple weeks before and after it actually happened.
So how NOT to have a nervous breakdown?
Don't start anything new. Review all your contracts before you sign. Renew your commitments, rather than making new ones. Prepare to repeat yourself often. It's like learning a new dance.
Mercury retrograde can crash electronic equipment! Back up your computer, calendar and cell phone address book. Expect delays if traveling, and pack a book to entertain yourself while you wait for that tardy bus or plane. Get in touch with old friends — and don't be surprised if people from your past track you down.
You might even hear from the most RANDOM exes and childhood classmates during retrogrades. Mercury also rules contracts, so think before you ink. Either wrap up important negotiations before the cycle starts, or wait to sign documents until Mercury goes direct.
If you were born during a Mercury retrograde (like we were), you may actually become sharper, clearer or more productive during this time. You won't be immune to Mercury's global impact (we once had a hard drive systematically erase itself right before our eyes), but you could also thrive in areas where others are flailing (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.
Here is a list of dos and don'ts for Mercury retrograde:
1. Review all contracts and legal documents before signing.
2. Pause and breathe before speaking and repeat yourself if necessary!
3. Read all emails and documents before you send.
4. Insure/track important mail and packages, since Mercury rules the postal system.
5. Get your vehicles (or bikes) tuned up and be sure to pack an emergency roadside kit.
6. Leave early for any travel and appointments, since Mercury can delay flights.
7. Renew your commitments instead of making new ones.
8. Focus on the prefix, re — which means to go backward — and 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 and walk down memory lane.
12. Practice forgiveness. Finish processing what's unresolved so you can let it go.
13. Confirm all dates, plans, meetings and appointments.
14. Think of the retrograde as a quarterly review period, a chance to pause and finish what you've started during that timeframe.
15. Back up your digital data (photos, contact lists and files) before the retrograde or ASAP, if it has already begun.
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 flights or appointments.
8. Start anything new before finishing what's next 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, or dash off hasty communications. Inspect to protect!
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 a chance to tie up 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, the better you'll survive this cycle.
This post was adapted from AstroStyle.com.