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Mercury is about to be in retrograde – here’s how it might affect you

Mercury Retrograde. (Getty Images)
What is mercury retrograde and how could it be affecting you? (Getty Images)

Mercury is about to be in retrograde once more, which might explain why you could feel a little 'meh' come September, or if you're butting heads with someone or things just haven't gone to plan.

Some people believe that the planets in our solar system can have a direct impact on our mood, or the things around us but others aren't so sure.

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So, whether you're a sucker for astrology, or are curious to find out more, read on for a closer look at how the smallest planet in our solar system might be impacting you in a bigger way than you realise.

What is mercury retrograde?

In a nutshell, mercury retrograde is an optical illusion that makes it look like the planet is moving backwards, from the perspective of Earth.

'Retrograde', as per the Cambridge Dictionary, literally means 'moving in the opposite direction to that of most other stars, planets, etc.:'. This is thought to be capable of shaking things up a little in our lives – and not typically in our favour.

Mercury. (Getty Images)
Mercury is the smallest but fastest planet in the solar system. (Getty Images)

When is mercury in retrograde?

Mercury tends to go into retrograde about three to four times per year.

Mercury retrograde 2022 dates

  • 21 April to 14 May

  • 23 August to 15 September

  • 13 December to 1 January, 2024

How can mercury retrograde affect us?

While all planets in the solar system are thought to 'retrograde' at some point each year, mercury (as the fastest moving planet) does the most often, and so is perceived as having the most impact.

As mercury rules communication, technology, transportation and memory, astrologers believe the shift in our solar system could especially disrupt the first three.

Had any misunderstandings or planning problems recently? Technical glitches? Travel nightmares? Or perhaps it's just a general feeling of 'humph'. You might want to blame it on the solar system, depending on your beliefs...

Sleep expert at Dreams, Sammy Margo, adds that mercury retrograde can also increase anxiety around bed time, trigger sleep walking, and make your dreams more vivid.

Man distressed using mobile phone. (Getty Images)
Been having a breakdown in communication recently? (Getty Images)

How can we respond to mercury retrograde?

While it may be causing more mishaps in our life than we like, it seems there is a way to harness its 'powerful effects' to our advantage, if we try.

"As Mercury retraces its steps through the zodiac, delays may take place as well as misunderstandings as Mercury rules communication," Annabel Gat, a senior astrologer at Vice and author of The Moon Sign Guide and The Astrology of Love & Sex emphasised to CNN Underscored.

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But, on the flip side, she added, "This can also be a fantastic time to revisit the past, and generally slow down. People may be more forgetful at this time; however, folks may also find objects that previously went missing. Conversations may be revisited; messages that had been lost may surface.

"Things may turn 'upside down' — but sometimes that reversal is exactly what you need!"

So, don't shy away from it, slow down and soak it all in, it might just work in your favour.

Woman meditating after yoga. (Getty Images)
Take a deep breath and embrace mercury retrograde this year. (Getty Images)

What does the science say?

First up, how is it possible for a planet to appear as though it is moving backwards, when in reality it isn't?

Explaining the science of mercury retrograde, Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, space scientist, science educator and author of The Sky At Night: Book Of The Moon – A Guide To Our Closest Neighbour, told Vogue, "If we look at Mercury, it sits closer to the sun than Earth and its orbit around the sun is much shorter, just 88 days compared with our 365.25. This means that Mercury travels around the sun over four times for every one of our orbits.

"When Earth and Mercury are on the same side of the sun in their orbits, Mercury appears to move through the sky from west to east. As Mercury overtakes Earth in its inner orbit, it looks as if Mercury has changed direction and is in retrograde. This generally happens about three times a year.”

And so is this optical illusion, according to the relative positions of Mercury and Earth, really to blame for our negative feelings and unlucky every day misfortunes? While it's nice to have potential explanation, it seems studies don't show any connection between the planets and us.

Plus, not all astrologers believe in the over-dramatisation of mercury retrograde. "It’s not tragic,” Susan Miller, behind the site Astrology Zone, told the New York Times, “It’s annoying.”

Astrologer Chani Nicholas echoed this with, "It’s given way too much emphasis generally."

Nevertheless, while there's no reason for fear, they still suggest erring on the side of caution. "Just keep your receipts," Nicholas added.

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