How Your Sign Survives Mercury Retrograde

Photographed by Rochelle Brock.
Mercury, everyone's favorite agent of chaos, is retrograde. But, before you bury your head in the sand until it turns direct on March 28, you might not be in for all the inconveniences we're always warned about. According Leslie McGuirk, astrologer and author of The Power Of Mercury, every sign copes with Mercury retrograde differently — and, we promise, all 12 of them stand a chance at survival.
"Can you imagine if every time it rained, everyone freaked out?" McGuirk says, alluding to the fact that Mercury retrograde is a perfectly natural cosmic pattern. "All it means is you have the chance to just be a little bit more careful and little bit slower," she adds. In other words, it isn't inherently good or bad, but some signs handle these periods with a little more, er, grace than others.
One way to tell how a sign will cope with Mercury retrograde is to consider its symbol, McGuirk says. For example, Sagittarius, represented by the Archer or the Centaur, is heavily associated with forward movement. Mercury appears to be moving backward when it enters retrograde, so this sign may struggle with the sensation of delayed — or even reversed — movement. By that same token, a sign like Pisces, which is symbolized by the Fish, may have an easier time, since fish can swim in all directions, McGuirk explains.
Regardless of your sign, "look at this time as a blessing," McGuirk says. Even if you have to work through some initial frustrations — or a uniquely retrograde-induced trash fire in your personal life — having to slow down can be a good thing. Take it as an opportunity to unplug and perform the self-care you always think you're too busy to do. And, if nothing else, keep in mind that Mercury retrograde periods only last about three weeks.
Ahead, McGuirk explains what each of the signs can expect from Mercury's latest backspin.
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illustrated by Mallory Heyer.

"Patient," "easygoing," and "meticulous" are just about the last words that come to mind when we think of you. In reality, your firebrand personality makes you predisposed to struggle with Mercury retrogrades, Aries. "They don’t like to feel as if they’re not driving the vehicle," McGuirk says. "During Mercury retrograde, we all have to realize that we have to sit in the back sometimes." It might not be fun, but it'll be valuable to spend this period reexamining your relationship with control. Sure, you might want to call all the shots, but do you need to in every situation? Sitting back and enjoying the ride can be pretty pleasant now and then.
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illustrated by Mallory Heyer.

Feeling prepared is the name of the game for you, Bull. "Taurus people like to have instructions," McGuirk explains. "They can plod along better than anybody, as long as there’s a practical understanding of what to do." Of course, there are no hard and fast rules you should follow during a retrograde, but you'll make a smoother transition if you already know you may have to take your work and decisions at a slower pace than usual. McGuirk adds that these periods can be actually pretty rewarding if you're willing to lean into your sign's predisposition for sentimentality (retrogrades can bring up the past). Don't be afraid to break out the old scrapbooks if the mood strikes.
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illustrated by Mallory Heyer.

As you might already know, Mercury's your ruling planet, Gem — and you're so accustomed to its quirks and movements that you can usually take its retrogrades in stride. Thanks to your ruling element, air, you aren't afraid of sudden change and like to think on your feet. If anything, McGuirk says, you'll take the little communication glitches and timing setbacks of Mercury retrograde as a fun challenge.
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illustrated by Mallory Heyer.

Your shell is your friend during Mercury retrogrades, dear Crab. It's not a sign of weakness to retreat to your comfort zone if doing so means you save yourself from the needless stress that often accompanies these periods. McGuirk stresses that, as one of the Zodiac's more emotional signs, you might find it helpful to spend these three weeks in a familiar, homey setting. Having the chance to check in with yourself without any outside distractions is always beneficial to pensive Cancers, she says.
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illustrated by Mallory Heyer.

Let your regal side show, Leo. It's going to be your ace in the hole during Mercury's backspin. Not only will harnessing your sign's natural nobility help you keep your head high despite any faux pas you must endure, it'll also motivate you to help others who might struggle during retrograde periods. "They have that ability to hold space for other people," McGuirk says of Leos. "They know that it will all be okay and they don’t let [Mercury] get under their skin." You hate it when people call your sign snobby, but this is your chance to really act #AboveItAll, Leo.
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illustrated by Mallory Heyer.

Along with Gemini, you have a stronger bond with Mercury than most signs, Virgo. When it's direct, it imbues you with your signature wit and curiosity. When it enters retrograde, it gives you a free pass to relax for a little while — seriously. Your detail-oriented sign is known to sweat the small stuff, especially when you feel responsible for an error, but Mercury retrograde is your regularly scheduled reminder that you aren't expected to be perfect. In fact, under this transit, no one is.
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illustrated by Mallory Heyer.

You're the sign of harmony and symmetry, Libra — your worldview is pretty, but it might be in for an upset during Mercury retrograde. "[Libras] just want everything to be smooth...well, Mercury retrograde is not so smooth," McGuirk says. "It might tip their scales a little bit and make them feel a little wobbly." If you're feeling totally out of balance, don't stress: You're still an air sign, Libra, and harnessing that aspect of your sign will help you go with the flow, at least until Mercury is direct once again.
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illustrated by Mallory Heyer.

To put it gently, McGuirk says that you "do not particularly care for Mercury retrograde," Scorp. Your ruling planet, Pluto, represents the unknown and deep transformation, but that doesn't mean you're always willing to accept major changes. The kind of internal excavation that Mercury retrograde can ask of us takes time, and a Scorpio who feels like they're being rushed is a Scorpio who's going to lash out at the first person who looks at them wrong. Remember to take deep breaths, be patient, and to savor the secrets you eventually unearth (when you feel ready to do so).
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illustrated by Mallory Heyer.

If you were to ask us what the Sagittarian family motto was, we'd guess "Forward, ho!" Your freedom-loving sign hates feeling confined to one place, time, or frame of mind. In other words, you're downright allergic to the "stuck" feeling that usually accompanies Mercury retrograde. McGuirk's advice to you is simple: "Chill out." You can find comfort in moving slowly, Sag, even if that means delayed flights and banal conversations. These glacially paced periods will make your next adventure all the more exciting.
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illustrated by Mallory Heyer.

What is a Goat that can't charge to the top of the mountain in record time? According to McGuirk, that's a Goat who finally has the opportunity to look back and see how far they've already climbed. "We can’t understand the world and everything around us if we’re always going 150 miles an hour," she says. We know how much you value forward momentum and success, Cap, but you place nearly as high a premium on never making the same mistake twice. You'd be wise to spend Mercury's backspin reviewing and reevaluating past decisions — and seeing what you could do better next time around.
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illustrated by Mallory Heyer.

When the going gets weird, the weird get going — and no one knows this better than Aquarius, the tinkerer and bohemian of the Zodiac. Sure, it isn't exactly in your forward-thinking nature to want to spend time dwelling on the past, but McGuirk says Mercury retrograde periods can be great times to indulge your curiosity. Consider your past projects and work from a different perspective — it just might spark a whole new set of ideas. As it tends to be the case with Aquarians, if you can find the novelty in this period of time, you'll probably enjoy it more.
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illustrated by Mallory Heyer.

Think of your representative symbol, the two fish swimming in opposite directions. You're always looking ahead and behind you, Pisces. And that's the greatest advantage you can have during Mercury retrograde. McGuirk explains that your imagination and empathy can have more of a say in your decisions and work during this period. Not only will you have the time to listen to your subconscious, but you might learn something new from it, too.
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edited by Christopher Michael Beer; filmed by Jack Pearce; written by Justin Sedor; filmed by Kenny Wu.
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