Today's star talk, as Mercury goes retrograde for the fourth and final time this yistock

And we’re back. Starting today (at exactly 5:55 AM, ET) until January 7 (4:43 AM, ET), the planet Mercury has retrograded itself—for the fourth and final time this year.

Astronomy-wise, it doesn’t mean much; it refers to the three or four times a year when the planet Mercury orbits Earth so quickly, it appears to be moving backwards, but isn’t actually. (Same concept as when you’re riding in a car on the highway, and a train speeds by so fast, it looks like it’s falling behind you).

But astrologically, this optical illusion means a great deal. For adherents, Mercury’s deceptive backwards motion forecasts a time to lay low, reflect on the past and refrain from making any big decisions. They believe miscommunication is rampant; correspondence often delayed, from emails that don’t get sent, to snail mail returned to sender. Astrologers warn against signing contracts, purchasing or using electronics or making travel plans. Essentially, it’s an excuse to space out and hibernate, which, you gotta admit, for this particular Retrograde, fits nicely with the season.

During the yearly retrograde periods, you’ll hear chatter, online and in real life, about its odious effects—both from hard-core believers and cynical skeptics, who can’t stand talk of it. Then there are the wishy-washy, flaky types who maybe don’t even read their daily or even monthly horoscope, but, conveniently, are ready to blame the planet if they spill wine or their computer or an important work email fails to send.


Here is a sampling of the usual conversation on Twitter and a new trend this year—as many liken 2016's bad fortune to a kind of yearlong case of Retrograde. Which group do you fall into?

The die-hard believers:

The eye-rolling skeptics:

The boys and girls who cry "Mercury Retrograde!"

The 2016 doomsdayers:

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