What Is Mercury Retrograde?

Hello manifesters!

I’m sure most of you are familiar with this astrological transit by now, but I wanted to share my take on what this transit is and how it affects us, regardless of the astrological sign it may fall in, at any given time.

Astronomically, all the planets in our solar system follow the same direction in their orbit. Planets closer to the sun move faster than those farther away. There comes a point in their orbit when they seem to be going backwards, but this is merely an optical illusion from our perspective here on Earth. No, it doesn’t mean they are actually going backwards and changing their orbit, it just appears that way to us.

Astrologically, when Mercury is in apparent retrograde motion, it has its energetic implifications. How so? When this happens, its energy appears to slow down. We live in a VERY fast paced life, we are always running from here to there, our mind is busy with too many tasks at once, our focus being pulled into our daily life as well as external stimuli. This makes it somewhat hard to really just BE. To listen to one’s self, to our intuition, to listen to our hearts, to refocus our thoughts, to just have some time alone with our thoughts! Sometimes we have so much to do on a daily basis, that we forget to do our inner work, mindfully and consciously.

Mercury, the messenger, is the planet that rules the mind, how we communicate on a day to day basis, short distance travel, our thought processes, how we process ideas and make sense of things.

Mercury goes retrograde 3 to 4 times a year for aproximately 2 to 3 weeks. Now, let’s break it down.

The term “Mercury Retrograde” refers to one specific phase of this transit, but this transit has a pre-shadow phase, the actual retrograde phase, and the post-shadow phase. What do I mean by a shadow? Well, I like to compare it to any moon phase, the moon doesn’t go from full to new in a couple of days, does it? It goes through phases and changes gradually. Same for any planetary transits. They are steady movements that can take some time to be completed.

Image by Roman Oleh Yaworsky

Mercury Retrograde Pre-shadow:
This is where the planet seems to be slowing down from our point of view. This pre-shadow often give us glimpses of what this transit may bring to our attention; to our lives and to our personal process. It’s a little window to what themes, challenges or lessons we may be dealing with. It’s critical to pay attention and be very intuitive at this time because we can prepare. This phase lasts aproximately 3 weeks previous to the Mercury Retrograde station (or the date that Mercury goes retrograde). In this phase, it passes through the degrees and signs it will come back to while in retrograde.

KEYWORDS: Observe, listen to your intuition, pay attention to what’s going on in your life at this time.

The Mercury Retrograde Station is where the planet seems to completely stop before making its way back.

Mercury in Retrograde motion: This is where the planet seems to be making its way back through the signs and degrees it passed by in the pre-shadow phase. This is also the phase that has gotten a lot of “hype” and a bit of a bad reputation if you ask me, in recent years, mostly because things might not go as we had planned, scheduled or even thought.

Mercury doesn’t necessarily rule technology, however, since we use technology nowaddays as our primary form of communication, that’s why there can be glitches and breakdowns in that area. The retrograde energy can bring a little chaos or fog into our lives, but it serves a much bigger purpose.

Going back to what I wrote before, we are usually so consumed in our day to day habits and routines, that in order for us to observe and identify some things that we need to work on or perhaps others that aren’t really working for us, we have to be confronted with it, sometimes it takes a shock for us to wake up. All of a sudden, it’s in our face. Patterns, behaviors, habits, beliefs rise up to the surface so they may be seen. Unfinished business doesn’t stay buried forever.

This transit’s effect allows us to go a bit inward, to really see ourselves, how we think, how we feel, how we act, how we project ourselves. It makes us slow down and pay attention.

KEYWORDS: “Re” everything: Reevaluate, reasses, review, reflect, renew, restructure, reorganize, recheck, revisit, rekindle, recalibrate. Allow yourself to slow down for you to be able to see the lessons behind any obstacles or hardships you may be facing.

The Mercury Direct Station is where the planet seems to completely stop again before going direct.

Mercury Retrograde Post-shadow: This is where the planet seems to be speeding up again from our point of view. It’s also a great time to review what lessons and new perspectives we may have gained during the retrograde phase. To allow it to sink in so we may integrate the lessons and move forward with new information and clarity. If there is anything that might not have been handled in the best way, this is where we may start to want to resolve it. This phase lasts aproximately 3 weeks after the Mercury Direct station (or the date that Mercury goes direct).


Another thing to keep in mind is that the sign in which this transit is in, also imbues a certain energy to it, as well as other astrological transits at that time.

Remember how I mentioned that Mercury goes retrograde 3 to 4 times a year? Well, if you take into account the shadow phases, that can add up to 6 months of this energy. Can you imagine being terrified of even leaving the house for 6 months because something might not go the way you had planned? This is why I find that belief that Mercury Retrograde is something to dread, to be somewhat harmful.

This transit can be very beneficial and can have some profound effects for those who choose to see it as an empowering tool. Things don’t usually happen TO us, they happen FOR us. There is only growth beneath the surface but only if we choose to allow that process to begin. I’m not saying it’s easy, not at all. some retrogrades might hit harder than others, and it affects each individual on a different level or in a different area, but once you integrate the lessons they leave, you become a new version of yourself with every single one.

There’s a lot of pressure out there in not making any major life decisions, purchases, signing contracts, starting new things, when it comes to this transit. And while it can be true, I take it with a grain of salt. What I get from that is that you have to make sure you’re not rushing, read the fine print, listen to your intuition, to take your time to really evaluate if it’s the right moment, if it’s what you truly want, if things are what they seem. If you can’t avoid or prolong making any big decisions at this time, do it. Just make sure you’ve thought things through and have prepared well for it. That’s all. And if you’re still not sure, consult with a professional astrologer so you can get a better reading of all the energies and transits (both collective and personal) to see if it’s the best for you. And hey, even if you make a “wrong decision”, there’s still a lesson to be learned from it, and guess what? I will make you a bit wiser too.

Another bit of advice on a personal level: If we know that we may be dealing with ANY kind of miscommunication, it’s not a bad idea to be very mindful about what you say and especially about HOW you express it. Remember to always be as kind as you can when saying things. Also, think before you react. Some reactions usually come from an unbalanced emotional state, past trauma or old wounds, so really think before you take action and ask yourself what the best way to handle it is. Especially during Mercury Retrograde. Adapt, be flexible, be patient with yourself and others.

We are not mechanical machines. What can be seen as a breakdown, can easily be turned into a breakthrough. It’s all a matter of perspective.

Here are the Mercury Retrograde Dates and signs for 2020*:

Mercury Pre-shadow starts February 2nd
Mercury Retrograde: February 16th in Piscis
Mercury Re-enters Aquarius on March 4th
Mercury goes direct on March 9th in Aquarius
Mercury Post-shadow ends on March 29th

Mercury Pre-shadow starts June 1st
Mercury Retrograde: June 17th in Cancer
Mercury goes direct July 12th
Mercury Post-shadow ends on August 12th

Mercury Pre-shadow starts September 23rd
Mercury Retrograde: October 13th in Scorpio
Mercury Re-enters Libra on October 27th
Mercury goes direct on November 3rd in Libra
Mercury Post-shadow ends on November 19th

*Some dates may vary according to the specific time zone you are in. These dates are calculated using CST time zone

If you want to check on any planet’s retrograde motion in your time zone, this is a website I use frequently.

Stay safe, stay present, stay minfdul. Much love,



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