In 2021, Mercury will be in apparent retrograde motion starting January 30 until February 21. On Saturday, January 30, Mercury (the planet of communication) goes reverse Aquarius, where it’s been since Friday, January 8, entering its first retrograde of 2021. When the quick-moving planet Mercury cruises backward, we can expect frustrating miscommunications, technological meltdowns, and travel mishaps. While the first Mercury retrograde of the year doesn’t officially start until Saturday, January 30, its shadow period begins on Friday, January 15. During this time, we begin to feel the effects of retrograde, although they are less intense than when things go full-swing.
What Is “Mercury Retrograde”?
Due to the way our planet’s orbit interacts with the orbits of the other planets, they sometimes appear to be traveling backward through the night sky with respect to the zodiac. This is, in fact, an illusion, which we call apparent retrograde motion.
Three times a year, it appears as if Mercury is traveling backwards in the sky. We refer to these periods as times when Mercury is in retrograde motion, or simply “Mercury retrograde.” These times in particular were traditionally associated with confusion, delay, and frustration. Think undelivered love letters, email blunders, and frazzled travel plans. Expect to have more or less energy than you’re used to, particularly of the nervous variety. Mercury retrograde could either sap you of your usual zest and leave you feeling lethargic, or fill you with chaotic, scattered energy that might have you feeling restless, unfocused and anxious.
You might be letting out a huge sigh of relief when Mercury Retrograde is over, but actually it’s not. Mercury Retrograde has a “shadow period” two weeks before and after its cycle. The Mercury Retrograde shadow period after the planet’s backspin is a time to reflect, whereas the two-week period before the event is a time to prepare. All retrogrades have a shadow period.
So, if you’ve thrown all of your Mercury Retrograde cautions to the wind, you might want to wait a few more weeks. The post-retrograde shadow period for Mercury is actually pretty tame, and it’s more of a time to have a “what have I learned” reflection. “What do you know now that you didn’t know before” How has this knowledge changed your perception of how to proceed? How can you change your direction (or your attitude) to take this new information into account? Or do you even need to change direction at all? Maybe you can resume the same course but with new knowledge and perceptions.”
This could be an excellent time to reflect on the past. It’s said that intuition is high during these periods, and coincidences can be extraordinary.
What You Could Do When Mercury is Retrograde
The planet Mercury rules communication in all forms—listening, writing, reading, speaking, and so on—as well as activities closely related to communication, like negotiations and contracts. It also rules travel, automobiles, shipping, and mail.
So, when Mercury is retrograde, try to remain flexible, patient, and understanding, allow extra time for travel, and avoid signing onto any new contracts that you’re unsure of. Double check your email responses and check in with reservations before you take that trip.
Review projects and plans at these times, but wait until Mercury is direct again to make any final decisions. You can’t stop your life, but plan ahead, have back-up plans, and be prepared for people’s shorter fuses and miscommunication. Take a closer look at your finances. Let go of old grudges. Back up all data to password-protected (or firewall-protected) storage, changing overused login codes, and making sure that all important bills are being paid in a timely fashion. Make sure your computer virus program is up to date.
Some Things You Might Not Want To Do When Mercury is Retrograde
Don’t sign any contracts or start new projects. Don’t speak without thinking things through completely. Don’t start or listen to gossip without fact checking.
Some blame Mercury retrograde for all chaos that happens in their lives. However, this is a good time to sit back and review what you put your energy toward.
For example, if family and faith are important to you, are you putting enough of your energy into them or have you become overextended in other areas such as your career or a hobby? Losing the balance between different parts of your life can cause all of them to suffer, so being aware of the connections between them—especially during Mercury retrograde—can help you to maintain or at least better understand how that balance works.
Take a moment to reflect. Mercury retrograde can be an excellent time to take a step back and reanalyze who you are and what you are doing—but do refrain from making any drastic changes until after retrograde has ended.
What good things can happen during retrograde?
Astrology isn’t a binary experience—so, in other words, that means nice stuff will definitely keep on happening to you during this time. Mercury retrograde can actually be a tremendously helpful, productive time. Pay attention to the word ‘retrograde,’ especially the first two letters.” That means it’s a time to revisit, reflect, revise and re-evaluate. Consider cleaning up your social media content, removing some of that off-brand stuff from years ago. Or taking some quiet time to consider whether where you’re at in life truly reflects who you are.
People from your past might also re-emerge during Mercury’s retrograde, and although it may not be someone you particularly want to reconnect with, this encounter may serve to remind you of how much you’ve changed. You might also want to reach out to old friends you’ve lost touch with. Contrary to what we often hear, people can have amazing journeys during Mercury retrograde—like life-changing trips where they revisit their ancestral roots, or have major breakthroughs about who they are.
There are so many other factors that influence us all the time—like our free will, our skills and our talents—and all of that doesn’t just go out the window because of the movement of one planet.
Decision-making skills may also be muddled, so avoid signing any major contracts during this period (although, if you must, be sure to thoroughly read the fine print). When it comes to technology, Mercury retrograde may be to blame for any massive electronic meltdowns, so it’s advisable to not buy any new gadgets for the next three weeks, and if you do, make sure they come with a warranty.
And if you’re going to travel, build in time for delays, cancellations, and wrong turns.
Mercury and the Zodiac
The type of influence you feel also depends on which of the 12 zodiac signs Earth is in when Mercury goes retrograde. A central theme surrounding the first Mercury retrograde of the year, is staying on top of correspondence. This retrograde is fueled by the unique spirit of Aquarius. This humanitarian sign, which is ruled by innovative Uranus, also has an aloof nature and can forget to text or call back, even with the help of messenger Mercury. When the communication planet goes backward, we’re more likely to space out and forget to respond to an important email or leave a lover hanging. However, Mercury is happy in this sign. The logical and intellectual air sign nature of Aquarius will help us step back and stay calm during any communication mishaps. Aquarians are often attracted careers in science and guess what? We will be having more trouble with getting the vaccination in peoples arms during this period inspite of President Bidens goal ! Aquarian thinkers fervently support “power to the people,” aspiring to change the world through radical social progress. … Aquarius is ruled by Uranus, the planet that governs innovation, technology, and surprising events. And Trump is being impeached. All this during Mercury retrograde and who knows what is going to happen !
Mercury Retrograde and the Zodiac Signs
When Mercury enters retrograde motion within the range of dates for a given astrological sign, be wary of the listed effects.
IN ARIES (Mar 21–Apr 19): Expect to be frustrated and frazzled. Assertive, impulsive Aries wants to move ahead, and all of the energy is going backward. Watch what you say and how you say it. Pay attention to what people say to you; you might be pleasantly surprised.
IN TAURUS (Apr 20–May 20): Take time to formulate your thoughts. Taurus, an unhurried sign, slows down the mental processes. He also governs banking, so delay money matters. Review financial matters, and position yourself for growth.
IN GEMINI (May 21–Jun 20): Because Gemini rules communications, be prepared for miscommunications when Mercury is in this sign. Expect lots of phone calls or none, and lost or misplaced mail. You may not articulate clearly, and gossip abounds. Old friends may reconnect.
IN CANCER (Jun 21–Jul 22): Expect annoyances at home with baking, gardening, and household duties under domesticated Cancer. Complete repair projects that weren’t finished or done correctly.
IN LEO (Jul 23–Aug 22): Avoid speculative investments. It is not a good time to buy and sell or do any trading. Instead, analyze your investment portfolio. Use your know-how and advisory skills to help friends and associates.
IN VIRGO (Aug 23–Sep 22): Challenging situations arise, especially in the workplace. Expect product delays and equipment breakdowns, as well as crankiness among coworkers under finicky, detail-oriented Virgo. Double-check your work before you call it finished.
IN LIBRA (Sep 23–Oct 22: Accept your physical attributes; do not have a makeover. Indecision reigns, so limit purchases—or risk returning them. Libra, representing beauty, grace, charm, and diplomacy, is out of balance. Refresh, relax, and rejuvenate.
IN SCORPIO (Oct 23–Nov 21): Emotions rule—not common sense—so beware. Avoid affairs of the heart. Passionate Scorpio is also secretive, and your secrets may seep out. Keep them in a diary.
IN SAGITTARIUS (Nov 22–Dec 21): It is not a time to travel, so reschedule or expect delays, lines, and lost directions. Instead, take care of local affairs. Patience and a sense of humor are needed.
IN CAPRICORN (Dec 22–Jan 19): Avoid buying, selling, or renting real estate under Capricorn, the sign that governs property matters. Expect problems with paperwork, packing, and movers. Reunite with family or vacation at home.
IN AQUARIUS (Jan 20–Feb 18): With Mercury retrograde in Aquarius, the sign that governs relationships, friendships are put at risk. Petty squabbles, misunderstandings, and miscommunications abound. Know who your friends are.
IN PISCES (Feb 19–Mar 20): Foggy thinking, daydreams, and escapism are the norm; day-to-day realities confound otherwise clear heads when Mercury, the planet that rules logic, is in Pisces, which governs illusion. Practice creative pursuits—writing, dancing, photography, film, or painting.