Mercury Retrograde

The Definitive Guide (Update 2018)

This is the ultimate guide has everything you need to know about the Mercury Retrograde in 2018.

Other than monthly horoscopes, solar eclipses, zodiac signs, Mercury Retrograde motion

We cover what a Mercury Retrograde is, how long it lasts, if and how it affects us here on earth and more importantly, what we can do about it.

Let’s dive right in.

Bottom line: If you want to understand the meaning of Mercury Retrogrades, you’ll love this guide.

Image of Saturn Return Graphic for Astrology 42

Three or four times every year (depending on the year), everyone who knows something about Astrology goes through a ritual called Mercury Retrograde.

Well, in truth, everyone gets to have the experience, whether they believe in Astrology or not. Those people that do not follow Astrology perhaps suspecting something is going on.

Something along the lines of;

“Everything is really weird at the moment”


Is Mercury Retrograde Real?

Is A Mercury Retrograde Real?

Yes, Mercury Retrograde is real.  It is happening up there in Space.

That is a fact. Check out this image.

The image shows the planet Mercury taken over a series of days.

In the photo, you can see it is in transit through a mercury retrograde period.

What we should look at is Mercury Retrograde from an Astrology point of view and examine possible connections between the actual movements of the planet above us and its possible influence on things down here on Earth.

So let’s look at questions the facts:

Planetary Retrogrades

FACT: All planets retrograde, from Mercury to Pluto. Normally, there is at least 1 active retrograde at any given time.

So let’s look at questions the facts about Mercury:

What Is Mercury Retrograde?

Mercury Retrograde happens when the planet Mercury passes between the Earth and the Sun. 

These retrogrades are also sometimes written as Mercury Rx.

As it orbits around the sun, from earth it ‘appears’ to be moving backwards.

What’s happening out there in space is Mercury is slowing down its orbit – so much so that it “appears” to stop and move backwards from our perspective here on Earth. (Backwards meaning retrograde)

However, Mercury isn’t running back at all.

It is merely an optical illusion.

That said, we supposedly feel the effects of the change in Mercury’s pattern down here on Earth.

Mercury is the planet situated closest to the Sun; its orbit is much shorter than Earth’s. So three or four times a year, Mercury speeds past Earth, and that is when we experience a Mercury retrograde period.  

Think of it like this;

If you were in a vehicle and another one passed you, you could tell it was going faster than you. But if it slowed down and you then moved past it, it would appear that that car was going backwards.
Then the other car speeds up and passes you again.

As Mercury speeds up, it is like a vehicle flying past, creating a robust, turbulent gust of “wind” in its wake.

Many believe that this disruption and turbulence that Mercury creates when it retrogrades affects what we feel on Earth in our everyday lives.

How Long Is Mercury In Retrograde?

How Long Does A Mercury Retrograde Last?

A Mercury Retrograde cycle typically lasts about 20 days to 22 Days or 3 weeks.

Below is an example of a Mercury Retrograde that takes place from 16th November 2018 to 6th December 2018.

What Is Mercury Retrograde Shadow? 

There is a two to three weeks margin on either side of the Mercury Retrograde phase, where Mercury’s retrograde influences can be felt, albeit, not as intense.

It would look something like this.

Mercury Retrograde Shadow Periods

This margin either side of the actual mercury retrograde is known as the Mercury Retrograde Shadows Periods.  

A Pre Retrograde Shadow, which is before and after the Mercury has passed, a Post Retrograde Shadow.

This image shows the calendar… now with the added shadows.

So the few weeks before the retrograde period is like turning the gas stove on. It’s there, but it not doing too much.

Then the retrograde itself is like two to three weeks of cooking.

Then 2 weeks after, is like you’ve finished cooking, but you still have the gas on.

The whole process – where Mercury is in its pre-shadow period, retrograde period and post-shadow period lasts for about two months.

So while Mercury is retrograde just 19% of the year, the retrograde effect can be felt about half the year. It’s the most concentrated around the days when Mercury changes direction.

These are called the stationary points, or stations retrograde and direct.

Because Mercury’s orbit is about 84 days, this happens three to four times a year.

What Does Mercury Retrograde Do?

Mercury Retrograde Magnet

Mercury Retrograde Effects

What Does Mercury Retrograde Do?

The planet Mercury is not only made of Mercury. Astronomers to believe that it’s made mostly of Iron. In fact, Mercury is considered to have the highest iron content of any planet in the Solar System.

During Mercury Retrogrades, this massive concentration of iron content would be like passing a large magnet between the Earth and the Sun, making its closest pass to our planet at the same time.

This magnet theory could explain why our electronic, mechanical devices act weird and technology stutters but could tell why the mind is cloudy in thought and judgement.

The tendency to lose things, or to think problems worse than they are.

All the nervous system runs on electricity. Our mind is a machine that is, at least on the physical plane, rooted in electricity and magnetism.

What Is Associated With A Mercury Retrograde?

In the world of Astrology, Mercury rules communication (Air Signs area is intellect). It is primarily in the areas ruled by Mercury, where we feel wonky effects when Mercury goes retrograde. Mainly it is communication, technology & travel.

When Mercury’s retrograde, you may miss calls or emails, have a computer break down, crack your phone’s screen – or even misinterpret a discussion with a friend or colleague. It can suck, but it serves a purpose. These purposes are what most people get hung up on, but there is a lot more to a Mercury Retrograde.

The most important thing to recognise about Mercury retrograde is this:

When we properly understand it, what it is doing and how to work with it – it isn’t scary. Harnessing its energy and purpose can be hugely beneficial.

What Happens In A Mercury Retrograde?

The effects of the Mercury Retrograde balance themselves between a perceptual event and one in the world outside the mind. These combined interactions are compelling because it interprets as “is this a reality or as an effect of the mind?”

The influence of Mercury seems to present itself in the form of lost keys, late, lost or missed payments, disk drive failures and communication mishaps. Traffic Jams, flight delays or cancellations are just a few other examples that happen more so during these periods than perhaps through others.

Mercury is a prankster of the mind.  People can read the wrong message or get the false impression of meaning during these periods. When the chances are you will learn something you wish you had known sooner. By now you probably know where you stand with this. Mercury Retrograde presents itself in some of the following examples:

Let’s look at some cases:

  • Angrier people
  • Crazy drivers
  • More accidents
  • Difficult time with miscommunication, verbally and digitally
  • Quarrels
  • Computer problems and breakdowns
  • Delays in all forms
  • More mistakes
  • Messaging the wrong person
  • Slow mail
  • Games of phone tag
  • Deleting or breaking your hard drive
  • Wrong directions
  • Missed appointments
  • Dead cell phone batteries
Mercury Retrograde Traffic Jams
Mercury Retrograde Delays
Mercury Retrograde Delays

How to handle a mercury retrograde?

Some things to make handling a Mercury easier to understand:

1Do Not Buy & Don’t Sign

If you can avoid it try not to buy or sign anything during this period. Often, you’ll find you don’t need or don’t use what you purchased. Sometimes it does not work, works strangely or does not do what you thought it was intended to do.  If you have to buy something during this time try not to be too attached to it, or expect a break-in period.  Most things can wait a week or two or three.

2Wait for the Truth:

The truth comes out goes into retrograde or direct. The truth comes out goes into retrograde or direct. Mercury has a way of shaking out information, especially when it ‘changes direction’. Answers appear and your vision and insight return. Work on things till the next Mercury station. This is one reason you want to wait before signing or buying.

3 Calm Communication

If communication is hit and miss, don’t assume you’re being ignored. Many people shoot off one email and expect a reply. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Give people a day or two to respond, and if they don’t, shoot a reminder.

4 Talking Truthfully

If communication gets antsy, be wary. It can be difficult to relay feelings, instructions or information simply with Mercury retrograde. The moment things get weird, like misunderstandings, pick up the phone and clarify before things get out of control.

5 Past And Future

The best use for Mercury retrograde is tidying, organising or addressing anything unresolved in the past. Sort your desk and files, contact old friends, recheck emails for missed info. Gather ideas and figure out what you’re going to do next in your life. Refine your plan over time, then plan a launch sometime after the station direct.

6 Leave Alone

If you can avoid it try not to buy or sign anything during this period. Often, you’ll find you don’t need or don’t use what you purchased. Sometimes it does not work, works strangely or does not do what you thought it was intended to do.  If you have to buy something during this time try not to be too attached to it, or expect a break-in period.  Most things can wait a week or two or three.

Mercury Retrograde – Don’ts

Mercury Retrograde: What to Avoid?

The truth is you can do anything you want whenever you want.

However, it’s better to somethings at specific times.

For example, swimming in the sea when the water is warmer as opposed to floating in it when it’s cold.

Often what happens during a retrograde is what things seem to be clear and distinct, but really, it’s like a 90% field of vision. When Mercury goes direct, we see things honestly for what they are again. Maybe liking having your vision or thinking impaired through that period.

List Of “Don’t’s” During A Mercury Retrograde:

  • Start anything new
  • Make important decisions
  • Buy computers, appliances, TVs, radios, etc.
  • Travel without backup plans
  • Sign contracts
  • Buy a car
  • Negotiate a deal or contract
  • File a lawsuit
  • Start a new job
  • Begin a new class
  • Go on a “first” date
  • Expect things to move quickly
  • Take anything for granted, especially information

If you buy something during a retrograde, try not to be too attached to it, or expect a break-in period, while you work out the bugs. Sometimes things will work out just fine, but most things could wait a week or two or three. If they cannot hold on, be extra conscious of all the factors involved.

Signing Contracts During Mercury Retrogrades

Let’s take signing for something as an example. The problem if you sign with Mercury in Retrograde, or about to retrograde, is that something is likely to reverse itself, or you will learn something you wish you had known sooner.

When signing contracts, it’s not always possible to determine when you sign your lease or make the deposit. Delay if you can. Plan and use what flexibility you have. It’s worth finagling this to your advantage when you can. The operative events are the first payment and the signature on the contract.

Some basic approaches can be applied, one of which is to understand what is in the contract or commitment precisely and not make any promise that you cannot keep.

Signing Contracts During Mercury Retrogrades

Mercury Retrograde – Do’s

Mercury Retrograde: What To Do?

The Mercury Retrograde is thought as a time of contemplation, time to reflect on what you’ve accomplished and where you want to redirect your energies in your daily routine. Take time to discover and reflect on your life and goals and take a little time out to refocus on yourself. We all need time to review and decide if we’re taking the right road. These days give us the opportunity to do so. 

It would be stupid to put your entire life on hold every time retrograde hits. So what can you do when you don’t have a choice?

How is Mercury Retrograde Good?

When Mercury Retrograde arrives, you can work with, rather than against, its energy. Remember there’s a “re” in retrograde. These weeks are good for re-doing just about anything. Catch up on all of the tasks you set aside, and also have a game-plan in place for when Mercury goes direct.

  • Re-contact past clients
  • Research, plan, organise
  • Go back over old long-term projects, unfinished business and ideas and take a second look at getting them resolved. Don’t start new ones.
  • Read, re-read and double check contracts. Have someone else look them over, too.
  • If you need to, ask questions over and over during negotiations.
  • If you are making purchases, keep your sales receipt and know the store’s return policy.
  • Allow more time than usual for travel

All “re” words. Like, redo, revisit, rework, retry, reclaim, and so on. 

During Mercury’s Retrograde, it is a perfect time to go back and look at things you have done, scanning for mistakes or errors and potentially catching things you had missed.

Are All Mercury Retrogrades The Same?

Yes and No.

While it is true that everything we’ve mentioned seems to happen at every Mercury Retrograde, there is a ‘theme’ for each Retrograde, depending on the Astrological sign of the Zodiac that Mercury is ‘retrograding’ though.

So a Mercury’s retrograde in a fire sign like fiery mars Aries, Leo or Sagittarius would be different from something possible more ‘beautiful’ in a Venus-ruled Libra or other air signs like Aquarius or Gemini.

Also, for each person, Mercury would be transiting through a particular Astrological House. 

These transits would be dependant on their Rising Sign/Ascendant and subsequent house placements.


Okay, so now that we’re all up to date with Mercury. Let’s just have a simple recap:

Try not to:

  • Instigate or initiate necessary decisions during this period if you can help it.  If you take decisions during a retrograde, make sure you’re meticulous thorough.
  • Assume you’re people are ignoring you. Give people the benefit of the doubt or a day or two to respond.
  • Fix something so fast; it may not be broke. Things seem broken or like they are malfunctioning but are not really.

Try to:

  • Develop a bunch of patience and relax for three weeks.
  • Resolve the past, plan the future.
  • Tidy up what you’ve left unresolved. Clean your desk and organise your stuff.
  • Collect your ideas and figure out what you’re going to do next.
  • Plot and scheme. Refine your plan over time, then plan a launch sometime after the Mercury Retrograde.

Mercury Retrograde Dates 2018

Retrograde Dates 2018

Here are the dates of the Mercury Retrograde:

November 2018 – December 2018.

Mercury rules Gemini, so its retrograde in Sagittarius, which acts as Gemini’s shadow. should prove interesting! In 2017, the December retrograde in Sagittarius presented a clash between the US and the United Nations.

  • The Pre-Shadow in Scorpio on October 28 at 8:50 pm EDT
  • Mercury Retrograde station occurs in Sagittarius (29°30″) at 1:33 am UTC* on November 17 / 9:33 pm EST on November 18
  • Mercury then goes direct at 9:22 pm UTC* on December 6  in Scorpio (27°16″)
  • The Post-Shadow ends on 24th December 2018 at 11:26 am UTC*

Please note that all times are approximate. The actual times are defined by the observer location and vary due to parallax.

 * Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) replaced Greenwich Mean Time in 1961. They are often used interchangeably.