Mercury has got to be one of the most popular planets, infamously known for being in Retrograde. Don’t worry, there’s no reason that you have to fear this transit. To help us understand and make the most out of Mercury Retrograde in 2020, our friend, Astrologer and Tarot reader, Liz Worth is sharing her expertise with us.
What is Mercury Retrograde?
Retrograde periods occur when planets appear to be moving backwards, at least from our vantage point here on Earth. According to NASA, planets typically move in a westward (prograde) motion. But when in retrograde motion, they seem to move eastward (retrograde) temporarily.
All of the planets have retrograde periods, some lasting for months at a time depending on the speed at which a planet travels. As a faster moving planet, Mercury has three to four retrograde periods a year, lasting about three weeks at a time.
Overall, Mercury has a cerebral energy that connects it to writing, conversation, technology, and our thinking. It’s the messenger planet of ideas, communication, and strategy. Mercury is the ruler of Gemini, which likes to talk, connect, socialize, and network. It also rules Virgo, a sign of efficiency and organization.
So, in keeping these themes in mind, it makes sense that things seem to go haywire during Mercury retrograde. Plans might fall through more often than usual. People are suddenly hard to get a hold of. Projects get stalled. Ideas dry up. Writer’s block sets in.
It seems like there are so many rules about what to do, and not to do, during these periods: Don’t sign any contracts unless you have to. Do triple-check every email you write. Don’t buy any new devices or book any travel.
It can be hard to know what to do with so much information out there.
The reality is that Mercury retrograde doesn’t mean catastrophe every time. There's been a lot of hype built up around Mercury retrograde periods as being inopportune times to make any major decisions, launch a product, or start a new project.
Be careful about getting superstitious about astrology, no matter what kind of transit we’re looking at. Travel delays, misunderstandings, and scheduling snafus happen all the time, no matter what Mercury is up to. You might not always be able to postpone a major decision.
Here’s how you can navigate this year’s Mercury retrogrades with Tarot:
Reflect on the 2019 Retrogrades
Take a moment and think back to 2019:
How did last year’s Mercury retrogrades impact you in March, July and October?
In 2019, Mercury retrograded through the water signs of Pisces, Cancer and Scorpio. I want you to think back to what surfaced last year because in 2020, Mercury is going to take you on a similar journey.
Yup, that’s right: Mercury is going to be retrograde through Pisces, Cancer and Scorpio again this year. Does it mean 2020 has to be a repeat of 2019? No way: Every year is different, and there are always other scenarios at play.
But if you had anything notable arise last year, or learned something during those retrogrades, then those experiences can help to equip you to ride the waves this year.
When Mercury is transiting through water signs, things can get a bit foggy – retrograde or not. Mercury rules the mind, and when this planet travels through watery energy, it can feel like your head has gone swimming.
Brain fog, confusion, and distraction can run high. Water distorts things, so we are more likely to have misperceptions. Reality floats away into strange, otherworldly places.
In other words: Don’t expect life to be linear during these times.
Every Mercury retrograde period is a time to step back, reflect, review, and unwind. The problem is that for much of our lives we’re caught up in the order to keep things “business as usual.”
But astrology reminds you the universe doesn’t adhere to that same slogan.
Even the planets take a break, and you should, too.
If you learned something during last year’s Mercury retrograde periods, then try to apply it to your life this year.
- Step back from your devices if you need to.
- Give yourself some extra alone time.
- Sleep on it before firing off that angry email.
- Expect plans to fall through, because they usually do during these times.
- Make space for your imagination and let yourself do something you don’t normally make time for.
Get beyond the everyday, and change up your routine or your approach to something.
February 16 to March 9: Mercury retrograde in Pisces (ending in Aquarius)
Mercury is in its detriment in Pisces, which means it is challenged here.
That doesn’t mean that Mercury in Pisces is bad, just that Mercury has to work a lot differently than usual. Where Mercury typically wants to get to the point in plain language, Pisces teaches it to speak in poetry, energy, dreams and symbols.
What are your dreams telling you during this time?
Where have you become disconnected from your creative side?
Where might you need to find an imaginative or spiritual solution to an everyday problem?
You might feel particularly sensitive now as your receptivity can run high and everyone’s energies are spilling over. Just be mindful to have strong grounding practices: Carrying a dark stone like black tourmaline or doing a morning and evening meditation can be helpful.
Remember that this Mercury retrograde can skew people’s perceptions and misunderstandings can be more likely, so be aware of jumping to conclusions.
Mercury will slip back into Aquarius once March 4 rolls around, which will help to lighten the mood towards the end of this retrograde.
Here’s a three-card spread to help you navigate Mercury retrograde in Pisces:
1. What do I need to put aside right now?
2. What do I need to daydream about instead?
3. What can I learn when I stop and listen to the universe?
June 18 – July 12: Mercury retrograde in Cancer
June’s Mercury retrograde may have you wanting to pull back into your inner world a little more than usual.
If you can, earmark these few weeks for personal projects, downtime, and gentle plans. Making time to read, journal, or simply reconnect with yourself are good areas of focus.
Cancer can be known as the homebody in the zodiac, and so for some, prioritizing time with family or re-jigging your work-life balance can come into full force here.
You might find that leaky boundaries are sucking away precious time with your loved ones, or realize that your hectic schedule just doesn’t work for you anymore.
Use this time to make whatever changes are necessary to get back to yourself, and what matters most.
Here’s a tarot spread to help you connect with Mercury retrograde in Cancer:
1. What is most important to me right now?
2. How can I honour this?
3. How can I reset my boundaries to become more empowered?
October 13 to November 3: Mercury retrograde in Scorpio (ending in Libra)
Our final Mercury retrograde of 2020 starts in Scorpio. Scorpio is a truth-teller and speaks from the gut, making this a strong time for you to connect with your inner truth.
This Mercury retrograde may challenge you to dig deep into what matters most to you. Masks can come off during Mercury retrograde, and you might use this time to break away from a rut or an old pattern that no longer serves you.
Scorpio is not the most extroverted of the zodiac signs and these few weeks will be good ones to retreat into your own little world for a while. Make time for ritual, tarot, and whatever self-care feels necessary during this time so that you can root down into what feels most honest for you.
Here is a three-card spread you can use to navigate Mercury retrograde in Scorpio:
1. What truth needs to be acknowledged?
2. How can I transform as a result?
3. What action can I take to fully live this truth?
Mercury Retrograde can be a tricky time to navigate. There are so many things that are out of our control. But what we can control is how we react to any road blocks we may encounter this year. In 2020, try approaching Mercury Retrograde as an opportunity for shift and make space for growth and change in your life. Remember surviving the transit is easier than you think.