Note from Brigit: These days, hearing “Oh, it must be because it's Mercury Retrograde!” when a computer fails, a flight gets canceled or when someone from your past pops up unexpectedly is becoming increasingly normal. But what it is about Mercury Retrograde that sets us so on edge and how can we actually thrive during it? Well, I'm thrilled to have our good friend and Tarot and astrology expert Liz Worth here again to share her insights with us! Enjoy!
If the term “Mercury retrograde” makes your heart sink, don’t fret: Your guide to one of astrology’s most dreaded transits is here.
Out of all the astrological activity that happens throughout the year, Mercury retrograde steals a lot of the spotlight. But why, and what does it even mean?
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.
If you are feeling stuck in Mercury Retrograde in 2018, remember that astrology is here to help us.
Astrology is here to bring awareness to the energies and opportunities that we are moving through personally and collectively.
A golden rule with Mercury retrograde is to pay attention to the first two letters of the word – re.
Think: Review, reflect, revise, revisit, redo, relax. Sometimes, Mercury retrograde slows things down because we need ebbs and flows in our lives. Things can’t be go, go, go all the time.
You might feel confused or unclear during Mercury retrograde. Or you might realize that a project you’ve been working on needs some serious revisions. Or you might just need a good, long rest.
But don’t let Mercury retrograde stop you from living your life. Just as the planets sometimes change direction, our lives do, too. Think of these periods as times to check-in and reflect on where you’re at.
No astrological event will be entirely good or bad. It will work in tandem with many other forces, including free will, and can affect everyone in different ways.
Remember, too, that whatever sign Mercury is in at the time of a retrograde period will reflect the themes or areas of your life it will connect to.
In 2018, there are just three Mercury retrograde periods to keep track of. All of them occur in fire signs, challenging us to examine our relationships to creativity, drive, leadership, freedom, and more.
Keep track of all the Mercury Retrograde periods with the 2018 Biddy Tarot Planner. Get your copy here.
March 22 to April 15, 2018: Surviving Mercury Retrograde in Aries
Aries is the first sign of the zodiac, making it a natural leader. Themes of motivation, authority, confidence, leadership, and assertiveness can all come up for review at this time.
If Mercury retrograde brings things up for reassessment, consider this to be a period where you might need to examine how you stand up for yourself, or whether your own authority is feeling threatened somehow.
Aries is not shy. Mercury retrograde in this sign can prompt you to explore how you want to show up in the world. This can be a time to listen, tune in, and recalibrate so that you can forge ahead with newfound courage and confidence once Mercury stations direct on April 15.
Want to connect with tarot at this time for additional guidance? Ask the cards, “What kind of trailblazer can I be?”
July 26 to August 19, 2018: Mercury Retrograde in Leo
Leo is generous, social, and creative. It can be fun, bold, expressive, and proud. Ruled by the Sun, Leo can aim to have a “sunny disposition.”
Mercury retrograde in Leo can bring up questions around pride and ego, both of which can move us forward, or hold us back. You might have to ask yourself: “Do I need to be seen and heard more often?” Or, “Do I have to let someone else share the stage once in a while?”
These same questions can come up within your social circle, as Leo is so community-driven. You might find yourself re-evaluating a friendship or two, especially with anyone who dims your light.
Leo is also very creative, so pay attention to any old ideas or projects that come back around for you. Mercury retrograde has a way of bringing things out of the past, so if you’re inspired to resurrect a project that’s been shelved for a while, this period might bring you the inspiration you need to pick it up again.
Want to connect with tarot at this time for additional guidance? Ask the cards, “What is it time to shine the spotlight on?”
November 16 to December 6, 2018: Surviving Mercury retrograde in Sagittarius
The final Mercury retrograde of 2018 spends most of its time back spinning through Sagittarius, but it lands in watery Scorpio on December 1st and spends its final days there before stationing direct on December 6th.
First, let’s look at that Sagittarian energy. This sign is ruled by Jupiter, the planet of luck, opportunity, and expansion. Sagittarius does not like to be boxed in. You could find yourself seeking out new forms of freedom in your life.
Given that this retrograde comes so close to the end of the calendar year, it can be a great time to start planning for the New Year. Pay close attention to what you feel resentful of at this time, especially if you’re feeling restless for travel or new learning opportunities.
Sagittarius is all about new horizons, but that also goes for spiritual and philosophical pursuits. This Mercury retrograde might have you craving mind-expanding activities in a big way.
Once Mercury shifts back into Scorpio, that need for freedom might become even stronger. Scorpio connects to power, so be ready to examine any commitments that are keeping you from reaching new heights. You might feel called to reclaim a part of your life that has gone stagnant.
Want to connect with tarot at this time for additional guidance? Ask the cards, “How can I create more freedom in my life?”
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 2018, try approaching Mercury Retrograde as an opportunity for growth and you might just find that surviving the transit is easier than you thought.
About the Author: Liz Worth
Liz Worth thought her one and only career would be as a writer, but she started reading tarot in 2008 on the advice of an astrologer and her life has never been the same. Today she uses tarot and astrology as tools of truth, power, and clarity. She also continues to write and is the author of six books and counting. She has also written horoscopes for Flare Magazine and Spiral Nature, and has contributed to Little Red Tarot, Biddy Tarot, and the Numinous, among others. Her tarot book, Going Beyond the Little White Book: A Contemporary Guide to Tarot, is now available. Reach Liz at lizworth.com