For the astrologically-inclined, the words "mercury" and "retrograde" can be downright fear-inspiring. Essentially considered the astrological time when even the best made plans go awry, the planetary transit is infamous for delays and misunderstandings. Activities like buying electronics or making expensive purchases, attending important meetings, signing contracts, and starting new partnerships or jobs, are all generally advised against when Mercury is retrograde.
These metaphysical roadblocks sound especially foreboding when it comes to travel. As astrologer and founder of Satori Shala, Marie Satori, once said, "During mercury retrograde, it is as if the planet responsible for getting from point A to point B is drunk." As travel often entails complex itineraries with strict schedules, multiple reservations, and cancellation fees, all of which make being on time of the utmost importance, the astrological phase makes travel feel daunting, to put it lightly.
Yet professional astrologers are adamant that the purpose of astrology is not to inspire fear or hold you back in life; rather, astrology is the empowering practice of attuning yourself to planetary influences in order to sync your intentions, actions, and decisions with the energetic momentum of the cosmos. Just because this phase is ideal for reviewing and reflecting on the past does not mean you should cancel your travel plans for the future. After all, your destination might just be the perfect place to recharge and re-assess, which are perfect activities for Mercury retrograde. That being said, it helps to be informed, prepared, and mentally protected for the journey that lies ahead.
What is Mercury Retrograde, Anyway?
"Mercury retrograde is the three-week period that refers to the apparent backward movement of [the planet] Mercury," says Alexandria Lettman, Resident Astrologer for The SoulUnity. "Of course, Mercury is not actually moving backwards—it's an illusion caused by the movement of Earth which makes Mercury appear as if it is travelling East to West instead of its typical West to East." Lettman describes the phenomenon as if you are sprinting alongside a partner who suddenly slows down. While you continue at the same speed, it might suddenly appear as if your partner is moving backward; in reality, they are just slowing down while you're continuing full-speed ahead.
Lettman points out that the unique placements of your astrological chart can determine how the phase impacts you. "Gemini or Virgo risings will find that they feel the effects of Mercury retrograde more than others, as Mercury is their chart ruler — they are Mercurial in energy," she says. "On top of this, people who were born whilst Mercury was retrograde — around a quarter of the population — tend to experience Mercury retrogrades to a greater magnitude." Experientially, this means that the feelings of impatience, frustration, being misunderstood, or being unable to accurately communicate your feelings, may be particularly poignant for you. Lettman adds that these individuals may be prone to over-thinking, delayed in their decision-making, or even heightened feelings of self-doubt and anxiety that arises when plans are interrupted.
How Mercury Retrograde Impacts Travel, Specifically.
Travel can be challenging even without planetary hindrances, but its reliance upon strict planning makes Mercury retrograde particularly challenging. "You can expect an increase in delays, technological errors, and disturbances in communication," Lettman says. "It's easier to get side-tracked, distracted, and generally confused whilst Mercury — the planet of the mind and intellect — is retrograde," she says.
She notes that mentally, it's important to try to be flexible and to detach from specific outcomes that are beyond your control. Interpersonally, you can give people the benefit of the doubt and practice laughing off their innocent mistakes or misunderstandings. "While there's no way to avoid Mercury retrograde, there are tools that can ease the experience for us," Lettman adds of the tips below. Sage & Salt also devotes a special section of their shop to Products for Mercury Retrograde to help.
Tips for Travelling During Mercury Retrograde
Final Words on Travelling During Mercury Retrograde
Remember, traveling during a retrograde is not the end of the world; think of it as an opportunity to attune more closely to the cosmic lessons to be found in instances of uncertainty and introspection. Your patience and self-compassion will be put to the test, but this extra practice will ultimately serve you in the long-run. "Retrogrades aren't about putting our lives on hold by holding off on traveling," Lettman assures Sage & Salt. "They are about slowing down and making sure that we are living intentionally… [The phase can] be used to develop our self-awareness by recharging, recovering and readjusting."
Lettman advises that Mercury will next station retrograde on May 29 at 24 degrees in Gemini, stationing direct once again on June 22. Keep in mind, however, that the retrograde phase possesses a pre- and post-transit shadow period in which the effects — such as clumsiness, poor listening, and difficulty communicating — may be felt by those that are particularly sensitive to mercurial influences. "The pre-retrograde shadow will begin on May 15, when Mercury moving direct passes 16 degrees Gemini, and the post-retrograde shadow will occur on July 7, when Mercury moving direct arrives back at 24 degrees where its retrograde began."
With the tools above, you should be prepped and ready to face whatever comes up—and to come out stronger on the other side, synced to the growth opportunities inherent in the planetary transit known as Mercury retrograde.