This article was originally published on September 19, 2016, and we're bringing it to your attention again to make sure you're prepared when Mercury turns retrograde this Saturday, August 12.
Was your flight delayed? Blame Mercury retrograde. Notice some suspicious charges on your credit card? Blame Mercury retrograde. Get into a shouting match with your partner? You can probably guess the pattern — and the culprit — by now.
Mercury retrograde, the phenomenon in which Mercury appears to change the direction of its orbit, has become the number-one scapegoat for general life chaos among the horoscope-reading set. We hold Mercury accountable for all aspects of communication in our lives. So when things start to go awry in that area (and Mercury's up there in the sky looking like it's doing something it doesn't normally do), we naturally think it's responsible for throwing things out of whack.
Of course, this has led to a bit of a vicious cycle. We only think the retrograde is a straight-up life-ruiner because of the negative connotations that we as a culture have placed on it. In reality, it comes down to the individual. Do you actually think the retrograde will affect you? If the answer is no, there are plenty of ways to defy the classic rules for coping. If you answered yes, then by all means proceed with caution.
Ahead, we present you with 31 retrograde-survival tips from some of our favorite astrologers, for believers and skeptics alike.
Let’s start with the basics. In the more traditional view of Mercury retrograde, this is a time to avoid big changes.
Angel Eyedealism told us to avoid the following three things: “No new projects…"
“...and definitely no new romantic relationships.”
But there are caveats to this. For example, not everyone is affected by Mercury retrograde equally. "If Mercury is the planet ruling your Sun (such as Gemini, Virgo), you feel it more!" Angel adds.
You also obviously can’t completely put your life on hold. But all this is to say that it is a risky time to start taking major leaps of faith or big decisions.
A common example of a “big decision”: "Retrogrades drum up the past, and a lot of people get the big idea that they should go get 'closure' with an ex or a toxic friend because they suddenly can’t stop thinking about them,” explains Tali Edut of the
Astrotwins. “Bad idea! Unless it was legit bad timing that broke things off, opening those doors during a retrograde can just bring another round of pain and obsession. Leave the past in the past."
Since you probably don’t want to make many new plans during this time, devote yourself instead to reviewing and refining ones you’ve already made.
"If there is tension with someone close to me, I try to talk it through before the retrograde, too..." Edut adds.
"…or put it on ice until AFTER the retrograde, when we are more likely to see eye to eye."
Communication is so important during this time, so it’s good to note that the effects of Mercury aren't limited to IRL convos and texts. "Clear your browser cache," Edut adds. Your (let's face it, embarrassing) search history is no one's business but your own. Clearing your cache now can make it so nothing awkward happens later.
Speaking of awkward, "go easy on the preaching or 'helpful hints' (and the straight-up dragging, too), because they could really hit a sensitive spot" for some, Edut explained. Even if they're said in private, when Mercury is in retrograde, these things have a funny way of becoming public.
On a similar note, remember to sign out of public computers — "Identity theft and hacks seem to worsen during Mercury retrogrades," Edut says.
Also be extra mindful of the security of your devices, including where you put them. When this retrograde first kicked off back in August, the AstroTwins
recommended getting a protective case for your phone and being wary of where you put it (or any of your other valuables) down.
And "back up important data before the retrograde," Edut warns.
“If I’ve been overusing a password, I change it,” Edut says.
All of the above are things that are traditionally must-dos. But Leslie McGuirk offers a slightly different approach for dealing with Mercury retrograde in her book,
. "I believe we should take Mercury retrograde periods seriously, but I don’t think we should use these times as an excuse for everything that is going wrong in our lives," she writes. The Power of Mercury For instance, instead of expecting the worst, McGuirk urges her readers to think about what their past experiences with the retrograde have been like. Maybe you’ll realize you’ve actually had great luck during the retrograde; maybe you’ll truly grasp just how chaotic it makes your personal life. This interpretation suggests that Mercury retrograde may not be a one-size-fits-all situation.
In order to follow McGuirk’s revolutionary interpretation, though, you still have to be prepared and know when the next retrograde is coming. Read your horoscope regularly or keep a reminder in your calendar, she writes.
According to McGuirk, we should think of the retrograde as a way of maintaining balance — you have to take the bad with the good, right? Try to focus on how you’ll feel when Mercury finally turns direct again.
Take a walk, McGuirk writes. No, really — getting out of your normal routine will keep you from stressing out about what could throw it off.
In that same vein, slow down and exercise self-care, McGuirk writes. Take a bath or sign up for that exercise class you’ve been meaning to try. Just because everything feels chaotic doesn't mean you should internalize that chaos.
And, according to McGuirk, when you take time to reflect, you’ll know yourself a little better — this makes it a great time to simply go with your gut. Don’t be afraid to rely on your instincts when communication gets murky.
Mind your manners — Mercury rules our self-expression, and things can easily get lost in translation, McQuirk writes.
Similar to Edut’s warning about technology, McGuirk agrees that getting a little old-school may help. Call your friends to chat, or even write them a letter. Slowing down communication leaves less room for errors and misunderstandings.
Or perhaps: Shut up. When all else fails, just don’t talk, McGuirk says.
Don’t sweat it if someone doesn’t get back to you right away, whether online, over the phone, or even IRL. EVERYONE is dealing with the retrograde’s effects, even if we each have our own experience of it, McGuirk explains.
And don’t play it up, McGuirk cautions. The more fear you invest in the retrograde, the more you’ll feel its effects.
Along those same lines, if a complication does arise, relax. Freaking out or blaming the retrograde probably won’t help undo whatever’s been done, McGuirk advises.
Get out of your own way. As McGuirk asks, “Will you give yourself a break? Can you stop trying to force everything?” As hard as it may be, your best shot at surviving the retrograde just might be going with it.
Like a car in neutral, McGuirk writes, you don’t have a ton of control over what direction you’re going to go in right now, but trying to fix something might end up being more trouble than it’s worth. Translation: Don’t do anything where you don’t know what the exact payoff will be.
And finally, treat it like a gift, McGuirk suggests. Sure, you may feel like you have less control, but this retrograde (or the next one, or the one after that) just might be a learning opportunity in disguise.
We'd be remiss if we didn't tell you that, even when Mercury exits the retrograde zone, you aren't totally out of the woods. You still have to survive a two-week
"shadow period," during which time Mercury fully transitions back to direct, and you can ease slowly back into your regular communication routine.