Mercury Retrograde

The Beginners Guide (Update 2020)

This is the ultimate guide has everything you need to know about the Mercury Retrograde in 2020.

Other than monthly news horoscopes and articles, solar eclipse, zodiac signs, Mercury Retrograde motions are one of the most well-known astrology phenomenons.

We cover what this retrograde motion 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.

Three or four times every year (depending on the year), everyone who knows anything 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 it perhaps sense something is going on.

Perhaps along the lines of;

“Everything is really weird at the moment”


Is Mercury Currently In Retrograde?

NO. Mercury is in currently in retrograde.  It is still in the shadow until the 6th December, however.

When is Mercury Next In Retrograde?

The next retrograde after the current one will be in March 2020.

What Are The Mercury Retrograde 2019 Dates?

We have all the up to date dates listed at the bottom of this article.

Is 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 position of planet Mercury in the night sky, photographed over a series of days.

In the photo, you can see it is in transit through this period.

What we should do is examine this from an astrological 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.  Check out some of the other retrogrades.

What Is Mercury Retrograde?

Mercury Retrograde (also written as Mercury Rx) happens when the planet Mercury passes between the Earth and the Sun. 

As it orbits around the sun, from earth, the planet Mercury appears to be moving backwards.  This is known as a retrograde motion.

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

The name is deceptive however, it isn’t moving back at all.

It is merely an optical illusion.

Below is a graphic showing you TWO Mercury retrogrades and the optical illusion as it would appear in a night sky.

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 in 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 the planet starts to speed 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 it creates when it retrogrades affects what we feel on Earth in our everyday lives.

How Long Is Mercury In Retrograde?

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

Below is an example of when Mercury turns 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 the retrograde influence can be felt, albeit, not as intense.

It would look like this.

Mercury Retrograde Shadow Periods

This margin either side of the actual retrograde is known as the Shadows Periods or retrograde periods. 

A Pre Retrograde Shadowwhich 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 – with the 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 full 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?

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

During Mercury Retrograde, 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.

Mercury Retrograde Magnet

This magnet theory could explain why our electronic, mechanical devices act weird and technological devices stutter but could also tell why our brain 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.

Mercury rules communication (an Air Zodiac Signs area is intellect). It is the ruler of the zodiac air sign Gemini, and also Virgo. It is primarily in the areas ruled by Mercury, where we feel the chaos effects when the planet 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 these retrograde periods are:

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

It’s a practice of listening to advice for your heart and consciousness. A personal practice that can bring great understanding.

What Happens In Mercury Retrograde Periods?

The effects of the Mercury Retrograde balance themselves between a perceptual event and one in the world outside our own brain.

A bit like a full moon or new moon.

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 bad luck, lost keys, late, lost or missed payments, disk drive failures and communication mishaps. Traffic Jams, car problems, chaos with 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 a false impression of meaning during these periods.

When the chances are you will learn information or facts you wish you had known sooner.

By now you probably know where you stand with this.

When mercury is retrograde, it 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
  • Mixed messages
  • Messaging the wrong person
  • Slow mail
  • Games of phone tag
  • Deleting or breaking your hard drive
  • Wrong directions
  • Missed appointments
  • Dead cell phone batteries

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 anything 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 the facts, 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 everything get weird, like misunderstandings, pick up the phone and clarify situations before it gets out of control.

5Past 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.

6Leave 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 anything 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 some activities at specific times.

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

Often what happens during a retrograde is when something seems 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 a contract
  • 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 plans to move quickly
  • Take anything for granted, especially information

When Mercury is retrograde, if you buy anything, make sure not to be too attached to it, or expect a break-in period, while you work out the bugs. Sometimes, our ideas and plans 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.

Mercury Retrograde: Signing Contracts

Let’s take signing for anything 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 or discover information or facts you wish you had known sooner.

When you sign a contract, 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?

When Mercury is retrograde, it 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 review everything 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 zodiac sign 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, the planet Mercury would be transiting through a particular Astrological House.  Make sure you examine your birth chart to find out which house it would be. 

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

Mercury Retrograde through the elements

1Mercury Retrograde in Fire Signs

This period is excellent to rethink ideas about your future, how you channel creativity, inspiration and intuition. Time to be inspired by a new direction and get out of old habits and ruts. Pay attention to the symbolic patterns of your life, how you play, dream, explore, as well as how you take the initiative.

2Mercury Retrograde in Earth Signs

A perfect opportunity to rethink how you relate to physical reality, deal with security issues and how you get your basic needs met. Pay attention to your health, home, job, and finances, as well as issues around feelings of self-worth. Resolve practical problems and assess your own resources. Both inner and outer resources.

3Mercury Retrograde in Air Signs

Take this time to rethink and re-examine your relationships, thought processes, how you communicate and how these influence how you relate connections with others. Pay attention to your words, speech, thoughts, how you connect, network and share thoughts and ideas.
It’s the perfect time to think things through meticulously and get greater clarity of mental clarity.

4Mercury Retrograde in Water Signs

Now is an excellent time to rethink your emotional habits and how your feelings contribute to the quality of your life. Time to let go of old emotional wounds and heal the past. Pay attention to your moods, emotions, sensitivities to food, stress, dreams, and emotional issues in relationships.


Okay, so now that we’re all up to date, 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 retrograde phase.

 Mercury Retrograde Dates 2019

Here are the Mercury Retrograde 2019 dates and retrograde periods:

Mercury Retrograde March 2019 Dates.

The first retrograde of 2019 begins with:

  • Pre-Shadow in Pisces (16°6″) on February 19, 2019, at 2:19 pm Universal Time*, 9:19 am EST, 6:19 am PST.
  • Mercury goes Retrograde in Pisces (296°39″) on March 28, 2019, at 6:19 pm Universal Time, 2:19 pm EDT and 11:19 am PDT.
  • The Direct Station occurs in Pisces  (16°06″) on March 28, 2019, at 1:59 pm Universal Time, 10:59 am EDT and 7:59 am PDT.
  • Mercury ends the Post-Shadow on August 15, 2019, at 6:51 am Universal Time, 2:51 am EDT and August 14, 11:51 pm PDT.


Mercury Retrograde July 2019 Dates.

The second retrograde of 2019 begins:

  • The month of June begins with the Pre-Shadow in Cancer (23°57″) on June 20, 2019 at 5:10 pm Universal Time*, 1:00 pm EDT, 10:10 am PDT.
  • Mercury turns Retrograde in Leo (4°28″) on July 7, 2019 at 11:14 pm Universal Time, 7:14 pm EDT and 4:14 pm PDT.
  • The Direct Station occurs in Cancer (23°57″) on August 1, 2019 at 3:58 am Universal Time, and on July 31, 11:58 pm EDT and 7:58 pm PDT.
  • Mercury ends the Post-Shadow on August 15, 2019 at 7:53 am Universal Time, 3:53 am EDT, 12:53 am PDT.


Mercury Retrograde November 2019 Dates.

The last retrograde of 2019 begins with:

  • the Pre-Shadow in Scorpio (11°35″) on October 11, 2019 at 10:49 pm Universal Time*, 6:49 pm EDT, 3:49 pm PDT.
  • Mercury turns Retrograde in Scorpio (27°38″) on October 31, 2019 at 3:41 pm Universal Time, 11:41 am EDT and 8:41 am PDT.
  • The Direct Station occurs in Scorpio (16°06″) on November 20, 2019 at 7:12 pm Universal Time, 3:12 pm EDT and 12:12 pm PDT.
  • Mercury ends the Post-Shadow on December 7, 2019 at 5:55 pm Universal Time, 1:55 pm EDT and August 14, 10:55 am PDT. 


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