There are times in our lives when everything just feels like a chaotic mess. Cell phones break. We fight with our boyfriends. Planes get delayed. Our boss gets mad at us for no apparent reason.
Those moments of “what else could possibly go wrong” usually tend to fall during Mercury in retrograde.
Astrologers (and people who are looking for something to blame their series of bad days on) believe that Mercury retrograde can affect our lives in the areas of communication, clear thinking, travel, and truth. Because when this planet goes backwards, so does everything else.
The official retrograde period kicks off on January 30, 2021 and ends on February 21, 2021, and could come with a lot of irritating, chaotic moments. It’s basically going to feel like your mind isn’t functioning as well as it usually does for a few weeks.
While this might tempt you to hide in a hole until the astrological storm passes, there are ways to make it out of a retrograde alive.
What Is Mercury Retrograde?
Mercury retrograde occurs roughly three times per year, for periods of approximately 21 days. Retrograde refers to a planet appearing to move backward in orbit, specifically when viewed from Earth.
When a planet turns direct, it is essentially the opposite of retrograde; a planet moving in direct motion, or prograde motion, moves in the same direction as other bodies or planets.
Both before and after a planet turns retrograde, it enters into what is known as a shadow period, or shadow phase. This period for Mercury lasts approximately two weeks, both pre- and post-retrograde.
Pre-retrograde, Mercury slows down; post-retrograde and during its direct motion, Mercury regains speed. So, in its shadow period, Mercury moves along the same path it appeared to move backwards on, retracing the route it retrograded.
Mercury Retrograde Dates 2021
In 2021, Mercury retrograde occurs three times:
1. January 30 to February 21 in Aquarius
2. May 29 to June 22 in Gemini
3. September 27 to October 23 in Libra
Every Mercury retrograde in 2021 occurs in an Air sign.
Because communication is a strong personality trait of Air signs, during these Mercury retrograde periods, there will be a great deal of discussions occurring, specifically in areas of research.
Air signs are also analytical in nature, meaning you may come to conclusions you never thought of before, and act with an open mind.
The second retrograde from May 29 to June 22 occurs in Gemini, the sign ruled by Mercury.
Does Retrograde Really Mean Backward Motion?
Also referred to as apparent retrograde motion, the literal translation of “retrograde” is backward step.” But retrograde is when a planet appears to be moving backwards, not actually is.
Essentially, retrograding planets are an optical illusion. When a retrograding planet passes Earth, it appears to move backwards, when it’s actually still in its orbit.
Mercury Retrograde Effects
Mercury is the planet of communication, which includes speaking, learning, technology, and other facets of contact. It also involves documentation, like deeds and agreements.
It’s important to not make any drastic changes or decisions during Mercury retrograde, particularly signing contracts, beginning big projects, making expensive purchases, launching a business, starting a new job, sending valuable documents through the mail, and even getting cosmetic surgery. Be sure to double check the dates of any important meetings, elective surgeries, or future ventures.
Because technology is also affected by Mercury retrograde, many experience their electronic devices, phones or computers glitching or crashing. So, back up any important information before and after these retrograde periods.
But Mercury retrograde isn’t all bad! It’s actually a great time for opportunities to come your way. You may find yourself more open to planning ahead, making new plans, resolving old issues, reconnecting with old friends, and finding objects that had been missing.
How Does Mercury Retrograde Affect Zodiac Signs?
Aries (March 21 – April 19)
It’s time to slow down, Aries. While your sign might be in the mood to go at full speed, taking on too many projects, dinner dates, work assignments, and social outings could cause you to short circuit.
Instead of driving yourself nuts trying to multitask, use these few weeks as a time to simplify. Organize your home, your life, and figure out what you want to make a priority, and what can be put on the back burner. It will be nice to breathe for a change.
Taurus (April 20 – May 20)
You might feel like the only thing constant in your life right now is change. While that can be exciting, it’s easy to get caught up in the new and colorful things in your external world and forget to focus inward.
Use this retrograde as a chance to go deep and really process any emotions these changes have brought on. You might be indulging in self-destructive habits that you need to break, Taurus. See a therapist or talk to someone who knows you well.
Gemini (May 21 – June 20)
Get ready for a shake-up, Gemini. Retrogrades this year could leave you feeling out of sync with your inner circle.
Rather than freaking out and trying to make sure everyone sticks together, use this time to think about your friendships. Which ones are really worth putting an effort into? Is there anyone who has been bringing you down or holding you back?
This could be the exit you were looking for, casually letting communication with that person die down.
Cancer (June 21 – July 22)
The retrogrades in 2021 could mean a big change in your career path. While this could inevitably lead to something better or more suited towards your goals, there’s a chance the road there could be a bumpy one.
Cancer, prepare for the potential plot twists by keeping things in order and being wary of being misunderstood. Make sure you’re expressing what you want as clearly as possible. It could make all the difference.
Leo (July 23 – August 22)
Any plans you have made or are in the process of making could take longer than expected. This doesn’t mean it will never happen, Leo, but your big ideas need more work.
Take this time to reflect on what you want and identify any additional steps you need to take to get there. Remember: slow and steady wins the race.
Virgo (August 23 – September 22)
If you recently rushed into something, you might feel like you made the wrong decision. Issues with intimacy and finances could be making you feel this way, but don’t make your escape just yet.
Take stock of why you’re feeling the way you do, and make sure your feelings are unresolved from a previous issue. Give yourself time to breathe and give the situation a chance before you leave.
Libra (September 23 – October 22)
Your relationship could feel a little suffocating right now, Libra. While you might be yearning for freedom, that doesn’t mean you should totally indulge. Give each other room to breathe and you’ll probably realize that was all you needed.
This is also a time to heal from any old wounds that are resurfacing. Don’t sweep any bad moods under the rug; feel your feelings and let them go.
Scorpio (October 23 – November 21)
It’s time to get moving, Scorpio. While you might have some trouble at first, this could be the time you find your groove, especially when it comes to your workout regime.
It’s okay if the first one or two tries aren’t sticking; you’ll find your way. If you’re flexible with your routine, you’ll find success.
Sagittarius (November 22 – December 21)
You’re going to want to take it down a few notches, Sagittarius. These retrogrades will not be good for you if you stay in situations that get under your skin.
Make sure you’re not doing things just to get attention because it will backfire and make you look bad. Instead of engaging in a fight, focus on your long-term goals. This is a good time to plan.
Capricorn (December 22 – January 19)
It’s possible that these periods could change your living situation, Capricorn. Go with the flow, and if the place you’re living feels more chaotic and less like home, use this as an opportunity to find somewhere new.
You could also really benefit from a break in social media during Mercury retrograde. Get offline and get outside!
Aquarius (January 20 – February 18)
There’s a really good chance that someone from your past could come back. While it might be tempting to rekindle an old flame, think twice about opening this door, especially if this person left you a mess last time you spoke.
It’s an emotional time, so make sure you protect yourself. Guard your heart, Aquarius.
Pisces (February 19 – March 20)
If you’re thinking of taking a risk, don’t. These retrogrades are about planning and more planning, so anything that feels too much like a gamble should be avoided.
Pisces, also use this period to be careful with any big purchases or investments. It’s worth it to wait.
Emily Blackwood is a freelance writer, editor and journalist who covers astrology, pop culture, travel, and wellness topics.