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Yeah, It’s Time for Mercury Retrograde Again

Photo-Illustration: Photo-Illustration: by Preeti Kinha; Photos: Getty Images

Well it’s that time of year again! Your quarterly opportunity to blame all of your troubles on Mercury retrograde. Beginning on Friday, April 21 (just a day after the solar eclipse in Aries and the start of Taurus season, for those of you keeping track), Mercury will do its apparent three-week moonwalk across the sky until May 14.

Since every Mercury retrograde is different — each has unique properties that shift the way we experience this calamity-prone transit — what you can expect from this upcoming Mercury retrograde isn’t the same as last time. But don’t panic! I’ve got you covered!

But first, what exactly is Mercury retrograde again?

Mercury moves fast — in fact, it takes Mercury only 88 days to complete an orbit around the sun — which is why Mercury was named after the Roman messenger god of commerce, who also governed communication, travel, and transportation. (Today, Mercury’s role has been expanded to include technology, digital expression, thoughts, and ideas.) Considering Mercury’s impressive scope, it’s no wonder we rely pretty heavily on this planet from an astrological perspective.

Not everything can run smoothly all the time of course, and, on an almost quarterly rotation, Mercury goes through a three-week-long retrograde cycle when the planet appears to stop, switch direction, and move backward in the sky — appears being the operative word, because retrograde motion is actually an optical illusion. Although the planet isn’t actually traveling in reverse, it just looks that way from our vantage on Earth.

Do not underestimate the chaos of an optical illusion though! Like funhouse mirrors, Mercury retrograde can definitely feel like a total mindfuck. Because so much of our day-to-day reality falls under Mercury’s purview, Mercury’s perceived backward spin wreaks havoc on all those areas of life … or, it feels that way, at least!

Okay, so what do I need to know about this one?

While Mercury retrograde might seem chaotic, it’s important to remember that you can always get ahead of it by knowing exactly which areas of life will be most impacted by this notorious astrological happening.

From April 21 through May 14, Mercury will be going reverse in the sign of Taurus. Symbolized by the bull, Taurus (the first earth sign of the zodiac) is associated with the material world: Objects, money, food, environmentalism, and resources of all kinds (including, um, financial institutions) are within its domain. Taurus is also known for its signature hardheadedness, which means this sign would prefer to maintain systems than shake them up.

When Mercury first entered this sign on April 3, you may have noticed an urge to double-down on certain beliefs and points of view, adopting a “my way or the highway” approach that feels a little … stifling? Or maybe even, ahem, insufferable? For example, maybe you’ve arbitrarily decided that you’ll never make the first move. Or your supervisor doesn’t understand you, so you’re not even going to bother trying to explain yourself. Listen, it’s great to have convictions, but in this economy, flexibility is everything! But don’t worry, Mercury retrograde will be help you get loose — after all, there’s always a method to the madness!

How should I prepare?

While Mercury retrograde may seem like a stressful time (i.e., getting on the wrong train, followed by sending your boss a text meant for your mom, all whilst slipping on a banana peel), there’s actually some really magnificent lessons baked into this astrological happening. For one, we learn to surrender. Because Mercury retrograde challenges our personal status quo, its backward motion through stubborn Taurus will implore us to think outside the box, embrace spontaneity, and go with the flow. And, while it may seem like a derailment, remember that these mystical optical illusions offer dynamic ways of looking at an old situation from a totally different point of view. During this Mercury retrograde through Taurus, we’ll realize that resting on laurels is never a good look: People can surprise us. Situations can change. Yes, unexpected circumstances may temporarily shake our equilibrium … but that’s okay. Over the next few weeks, you may discover that your perceptions surrounding a certain person or situation were actually wrong, and likewise, you’ll begin to shift your perspective. Remember, nothing is set in stone — especially when Mercury retrograde comes around.

Help! My Sun (Or Moon! Or Rising!) is in Taurus!

If you have personal planets (sun, moon, or rising, as well as Mercury, Venus, or Mars) in Taurus, you better buckle up. Over the next few weeks, Mercury will be slowly but surely rattling your chart, which can feel a bit destabilizing. In fact, you may start to feel like no one understands you — why is it so hard for you to get your point of view across? Hello … is anyone listening? And while this backward spin may have you seeing red, remember that you’re presented with some unique opportunities to grow and perhaps even … mature? For instance, maybe you can let someone else take the reins on planning, or be willing to change your mind about a complicated situation? Maybe, if you look at it from a different angle, you’ll discover that it’s actually nothing like you assumed! After all, Mercury is shifting — why shouldn’t you?

How should I prepare?

This Mercury retrograde pre-shadow period (when Mercury moves through the same degrees that it will subsequently retrograde) started on March 30 … so now you know why things have felt a little off over the past few weeks. But the more you can plan in advance for the backward motion, the better! If you’re traveling, make sure you give yourself plenty of time for delays, cancellations, and transportation snafus. If you’re planning on signing an important contract, be sure to read the fine print very carefully or ask for a second opinion if you need a different set of eyes. If you’re considering getting back with an ex … um, don’t. Mercury may be going backward, but that doesn’t mean you should! And keep in mind that while Mercury Retrograde will end on May 14, the shadow period will last through June 1, so be sure to remain vigilant. By the time this transit is over, don’t be surprised if you’ve adopted some radically different points of view. How exciting!

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Yeah, It’s Time for Mercury Retrograde Again