The Tatler Guide to Mercury Retrograde 2021
You've probably heard the phrase "Mercury in retrograde" a hundred times, whether it be from your friend who starts their day reading their horoscope and checking their astrology apps, or from celebrities such as Taylor Swift and Katy Perry contemplating whether Mercury retrograde is the reason behind their series of unfortunate luck.
(Related: Tatler's Weekly Horoscope: March 14 to 20)
It's likely that you've also wondered: What is Mercury retrograde and why does life seem to go wrong every time it happens? How can we avoid the ill-fated luck that it seems to always bring to us?
To answer these questions and more, we spoke with De Rui, a Hong Kong-based Western astrologer and founder of astrology service, Chart Life. Here, De helps us learn more about Mercury retrograde, along with explaining what we can expect from the remaining two Mercury retrogrades of 2021.
What is Mercury in retrograde?
In basic astronomy terms, retrograde motion is the optical illusion in the sky that a planet is moving backwards. It’s similar to the sensation while driving that when you speed up, the other cars go backwards, at least in relation to you. Of course, the cars are not actually going backwards––it’s merely an illusion that’s caused by your speeding up. In the same way, celestial bodies in the sky don’t move backwards in their orbits––it’s an illusion caused by the Earth’s orbit in relation to them.
Every planet retrogrades on a regular basis. During these periods the energies associated with that planet are not expressing in their usual, direct way. We are often pulled to revisit past events and reconsider their meaning in our lives.
How does Mercury in retrograde affect us? What are some things that could happen during this time?
Mercury retrogrades three or four times a year for a few weeks at a time, so we are coming in and out of these periods more often than for any other planet. Plus, the nature of Mercury is that it’s directly related to our rational thinking, daily plans, and communications––so no surprise that it’s going to feel pretty visceral for a lot of people. Mercury also rules over electrical circuitry and computer chips, and as the world goes even more digital––as technology gets interwoven into more aspects of our lives––Mercury’s motion will become more important.
The key things to watch out for are your plans going haywire and communications being misinterpreted. Messages will get lost or seem unclear. A command you input to your device will not elicit the correct response. That carefully timed drop-off you were organising, or that plan you made to meet up often won’t work out as you hope. Particularly any big gatherings with many moving parts––anything that depends on lots of fast and accurate messages going back and forth––could end up a disaster.
Are there any positives about it?
The energy of Mercury is more internally focused, so this is great for integrating information received earlier and maybe seeing new ways to put it to use. With the right amount of quiet, off-screen time for reflection and digestion, Mercury Retrograde can bring insight and new mental connections.
The logical functioning of those born under Mercury Retrograde (Mercury Rx) can sometimes appear to be challenged but these folks are really just operating on a different wavelength. Many brilliant musicians or artists were born in a Mercury Retrograde. Intuitive capacities can be very strong.
(Related: Tatler's Astrology Series: Your Horoscope For March 2021)
What happens when the period ends? What are some things we may notice afterwards?
Usually by the time Mercury appears to be moving forward again, the technical difficulties and logistical issues will lessen. Often, we emerge with new insights or new perspectives on the past. There is a “shadow period” before and after the actual retrograde dates when the effects can still be felt so if you’re scheduling an event, I would try to clear the start and end dates by a week at the least.
There are other influences that could bring slightly lesser, though similar, effects compared to Mercury Rx, including when Mercury and Neptune make certain harsh angles, or when Mercury is in Pisces, which we will experience from March 16 to April 2 this year.
What can we do during Mercury Retrograde to minimise our bad luck?
Double-checking communications, making plans with a comfortable margin of error, and just being aware of the energies will go a long way. Don’t cut it too close with time and resources, and expect that people will drop the ball or something unforeseen will rear its head. If you build in enough buffers, Mercury Rx doesn’t have to be anything to fear.
Some astrologers will tell you to refrain from signing contracts or legal documents at this time but considering Mercury retrogrades fairly often for weeks at a time, I don’t consider it necessary to put life on hold. If you do some extra due diligence and make sure you know what you’re getting into – probably what you should be doing anyway – the influence can definitely be mitigated.
What are some things that the first mercury retrograde brought us this year?
Mercury is a personal planet so its effects are more on the day-to-day level, and not so much reflected in world events. Think back to late January and the first half of February and see where things might have fallen through the cracks in your life, and what buffers you can build in next time.
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What to expect from the remaining two mercury retrogrades of 2021
May 29 to June 22
In the next retrograde period from May-June, Mercury will be moving backward in a sign it rules, Gemini. At a time when we would naturally be more cerebral and chatty, the energy is turned inward and our day-to-day organising can be impaired.
You could find yourself speaking up more in group chats or meetings, and yet not be very well understood. Meanwhile there will be several highly charged planetary events happening at that time, including a solar eclipse, Jupiter going into retrograde, and an exact squaring of Saturn and Uranus–– a confrontation between old ideas and new realities, also the key theme of 2021. It’s going to be a more intense period all things considered.
September 26 to October 18
The September-October retrograde is also happening in a fellow air sign, Libra, bringing challenges to communications, but at that time of year several major planets are going direct after their own retrograde periods. The usual Mercury Rx conditions will apply but the forward-moving energy with other planets will balance out the frustration we might experience with Mercury.