Mercury Retrograde
Photos: iStock

Today, November 16, marks the final Mercury Retrograde of 2018. You might have seen the headlines.

"Sorry, but Mercury Retrograde Is Back to Eff You Up Again," reads one from Cosmo.

Another, from Nylon, claims, "This Mercury Retrograde Is A Good Time To Watch What You Say."

And, Runner's World wants athletes to know that before they lace up their sneakers, they might feel "a bit foggy" for the next few weeks.


But what exactly does Mercury Retrograde mean, and is it really all it's amped up to be?

What is Mercury Retrograde?

Every four months or so, from our perspective, Mercury appears to be moving backward due to our different orbital speeds. This is called "apparent retrograde motion."

As Live Science reports, Mercury's orbit is "smaller and faster than Earth's. When its orbit catches up to and passes Earth, it creates the illusion that Mercury is backtracking."

It's an optical illusion that occurs three or four times a year (Mercury isn't actually moving backward).

Each Mercury Retrograde period is about three weeks long, and this most recent retrograde will reportedly end on December 6.  

For a more in-depth explanation, watch the video below: 

So, how does Mercury Retrograde affect us?

In astrology, it's believed that Mercury Retrograde affects all forms of communication on Earth. It interferes with, for instance, technology and travel. As it relates to Roman mythology, Mercury (known as Hermes) is the messenger god.

Taylor Swift told MTV News that Mercury Retrograde is a time when "everything is going to be completely wrong and messed up and miscommunicated. Your phone will break, or you'll send a text message and it won't go to the person it's supposed to go to, or your flight gets delayed. And so you can't blame yourself, you just have to blame Mercury."

Dramatic but true if you believe it.

"The idea is that during the weeks that Mercury is in retrograde, it brings this unharnessed energy to us on Earth, like a sweeping wave," professional tarot card reader Maisy Bristol tells Metro. "So everything from relationships to business contracts can get messed up."

Mercury Retrograde

(Yes, that image makes us cringe too.)

Astronomers aren't convinced. "The idea that the gravity from these very distant bodies affects our lives in some way just doesn't work in the framework of physics," planetary astronomer and professor at UCLA Jean-Luc Margot told Live Science.

But, if you are convinced, what does this mean for your everyday life?

"It's ill-advised to make any important, risky or entrepreneurial decisions during this period because Mercury's energy may swoop in and change its direction or speed," Bristol (@tarotbymaisy on Instagram) explains. "So, keep to yourself and make stable decisions during these next few weeks."

Dimi Nikiforides, yogi and owner of Holographic Hippie, says that Mercury Retrograde is "also a time to be mindful of our communication with others as things can easily be misunderstood or taken the wrong way."

Inner-reflection, she says, is something else to consider. "Now is a great time to do inner work, and return to old studies or hobbies we have drifted away from."

As with any belief, if you hold it to be true, you'll notice its apparent effects.

So, whether you're a true believer in Mercury Retrograde's looming influence, or you roll your eyes at the very thought of it, may the odds be ever in your favor.

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