Astrology has been around for a long time. But it wasn't until this year that people really got into it, with monthly Zodiac predictions popping up everywhere and people really taking their sign compatibilities seriously. However, one concept that really caught our attention is the 'Mercury retrograde' phenomenon.
Almost everyone — whether in real life or on social media — suddenly began using this phrase in relation to a mishap or a minor inconvenience, much to the confusion of non-astrology fanatics. So with November being the last month of the year that will be hit by this phenomenon, we say it's time to get the 411 on Mercury Retrograde season.
Mercury = misfortune?
Before we actually talk about whether or not Mercury is actually an 'unlucky' planet, let's talk about astrological beliefs in general. Its age-old practice relates to the personality and lifestyle of individuals being led by heavenly bodies and the four main elements. Therefore, a change in the movements of these planets or stars, as well as the relationship of the elements with each other (water extinguishes fire and more), is said to affect how a person can relate to someone with a similar or a different sign.
But where does Mercury fall into all this? Being the planet mostly attributed to all types of communication, including non-verbal practices like buying or selling, Mercury going retrograde (a.k.a. moving backwards in the orbit) is seen as a sign of delay, confusion or miscommunication. It is also said to govern all forms of contracts and agreements, so this season is also said to be a bad time to strike a deal with someone. However, it's not all that negative. This phenomenon is also related to a lot of reflection and introspection, given that intuition is said to be sharper during this time. Interesting, right? But let's dive even deeper into its origins and actual scientific basis.
On science and mythology
If you're familiar with mythology (or the Percy Jackson books), Hermes, also known as Mercury, is the messenger of the gods. Aside from this, he is also known as the patron of travellers, merchants, poets, writers, and even thieves. He's also depicted as a prankster and the only god who can travel everywhere in the cosmos. So he may not be a major god like Zeus, Poseidon or Hades, but his influence towards mortals is widely believed during ancient times. This further translates to today's idea of Mercury retrograde.
Moving on to science: Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun and, therefore, orbits a lot shorter than the Earth. It doesn't really move backwards, but only gives the illusion of doing so at certain times of the year. Then, once the Earth reaches a certain point in its orbit, Mercury is seen to suddenly move forward. Now, imagine being an astronomer or astrologer 2,500 years ago (when astrology was created) and seeing this phenomenon and wondering about the inconsistencies of the heavenly body's movement. If eclipses were viewed as bad omens, just think of the panic this might have caused.
These days, people who still practice and believe in astrology attributes this astronomical illusion as Mercury's way of sending our plans and relationships in a whiplash. This sudden 'turbulence' in the movement of the guiding heavenly body is said to be what causes our daily experiences to go disarray.
How long does it last?
Mercury retrograde, much like the solstice or the seasonal patterns, does not have a distinct calendar schedule. It all depends on astronomical patterns and, therefore, varies every year. However, the usual span of this phenomenon is 20 days, often at the earlier days of a certain month leading to its peak. Many also try to track it in line with their Zodiacs, because it is believed that certain signs get affected even more when the retrograde strikes coinciding with their guiding stars.
What to do next
Whether this entire discussion convinced you to give importance to Mercury retrograde or not, it's all up to you. There's no harm in following a bit of superstition or astrology, similar to how we find joy in looking at predictions related to our star sign. However, at the end of the day, owning up to our decisions and taking care of our relationships are things that we should take responsibility for.
Need to satisfy your astrology fix? Check out the rest of our zodiac stories here!