Mercury Is Now In Retrograde, But It’s Not Just Any Retrograde…

Christina Mosti
Christina is the HBIC on all things editorial for 20something. This editress-in-chief manages a very large and very badass team of editors and contributors, working with them on all levels of content creation and editorial planning. She simultaneously directs and oversees all editorial strategy to continue developing 20something into a distinctive brand with a discernable personality by supplying fellow 20somethings with information we can use, trust, understand and enjoy. On a more personal level, Christina likes resting and scratch offs. She just doesn't understand how someone can say with 100% certainty that ghosts don't exist, and she is self-proclaimed as the friend you would be least surprised to learn is a witch.

If you’re a person who is alive, chances are you’ve heard people talk about that menacing lil’ Mercury who apparently steps in to take the fall for you being a dumb ass a few times a year when it goes into retrograde. Forgetting your keys and being really awkward in conversation may be your fault ~82% of the time, but this time it was totally Mercury!! Thx bb.

I would even venture so far to say that Mercurial retrograde is the most widely accepted and/or discussed astrological occurrence among 20somethings — the one thing that can bring a young, ambitious financial analyst and self-proclaimed witch who wears a pendant charged by the Alaskan moon around her neck, together.

That’s some pretty powerful stuff. What an unlikely duo! And this is all fine and great, but I found myself wondering, like why? Why do so many people all of a sudden become starry-eyed paper-people just drifting in the wind, waiting for the cosmos to give them purpose and direction during this particular event? I also found myself wondering who even knew what Mercurial retrograde is and why it affects us (if it even does at all).

I decided to investigate. I asked a few 20somethings about what they think is really happening when Mercury is in retrograde. The responses were insightful:

“I mean, what is even going on here? Aren’t we on Earth? I am on Earth. Is Mercury coming for me? Is mercury coming to Earth” – Lindsay, 25, law student on Adderall

Aside from making me want an Adderall prescription, Lindsay’s answer just reinforced my skepticism.

So I’m here to remove that veil of mystery and give you the real lowdown.

Because of Mercury’s positioning so close to the sun, it has a shorter orbit than us and a few times a year it speeds on by Earth like so:


During this time, it actually looks like Mercury is moving backwards briefly (which is why old-time scientists insisted it was in “retrograde”). But it’s really just an illusion that happens as the planets pass by each other. So before we move forward any more, I’d like to acknowledge that this entire retrograde phenomenon is based on an illusion and is not even a real thing. OK great, moving on.

Now, tb very h, I am actually a strong believer in all of this astrological nonsense. I know my daily horoscope is complete bullshit (though I do love picturing some disillusioned recent grad waking up exhausted every morning to go to the office, grab some coffee, discuss their weekend with coworkers, sit down at their desktop Mac and draft an equally intricate and vague horoscope just for me to use as adequate justification to yell at my boyfriend for cheating because my horoscope app suggested that “someone in my life may do something that upsets me”), but I do believe that we are at least somewhat affected by cosmological occurrences.

Like, that actually makes sense – we are “star stuff” after all. Carl Sagan told me so. And while this whole Mercury thing is based off an illusion, it’s still reasonable to acknowledge that Mercury is getting close to Earth and is thereby affecting us in some way. Ok yes, we can accept that without feeling too crazy. Moving on.

The next question is why this proximity fucks so much shit up. Who decides that Mercury doesn’t come close to Earth and blow us a lil’ kiss, and for a few days strangers inexplicably give you gifts and anyone who has ever failed to forward a chain letter is temporarily freed from their debt?

For this answer I consulted the very prominent astrology website Astrology Zone, who asserts that Mercury “rules” practically all of our basic functions — listening, speaking, learning and… formal agreements and contracts? See, you’re losing me again. Did Mercury decide it wanted to handle all of that or was this a trade off with the other planets? Like, to keep it fair if Mercury got all of the major stuff then it also had to take on the boring paperwork? What kind of scientific support can there possibly be for Mercury controlling my documents? Is it overseeing the new draft of my lease I’m receiving this week? So many questions.

So I did even more digging (even though my ability to research was supposed to be completely compromised by the retrograde. Showed you!!). Mercury is made up largely of iron, and, as most of you know, our brains function by using electrical signals that tell our bodies what to do. So in this situation, Mercury is basically a giant ass magnet fuckin’ with your brain’s electrical function and rendering you entirely useless (I’m paraphrasing) as it comes close to Earth.

That makes a little bit more sense.

But CURVE BALL, what makes this retrograde (April 28 – May 22) especially interesting? Five other planets are also in retrograde, which only happens once every decade or so. Jupiter, Saturn, Pluto (still a planet, IDGAF) and Mars are also “moving backwards,” which is both thrilling and terrifying for some reason. The alignment of so many retrogrades apparently makes for a rare moment in time that affects everyone a little differently, but signifies “change” (helpful, thank you).

I can provide some specifics regarding things we actually care about, though. Mars is in retrograde from April 17 – June 29, and only happens once every few years. According to Astrology Zone and Integral Astrology, Mars rules plastic surgery (ok seriously?), aggression, and is closely tied to sexuality.

So what does that mean? Are you in for more uncomfortable sexual encounters than usual?

To keep it brief, yes. The experts suggest you do not forge any new sexual relationships during the Mars retrograde.

So, to recap: Retrograde is just your eyes playing tricks, there is some sort of scientific explanation for why retrogrades affect us on Earth, stay vigilant since these planets are clearly planning some kind of mysterious coup and, because of this combo retrograde, you may want to keep it in your pants unless you want get totally screwed (heh, get it) on your upcoming salary negotiation & contract. You’re welcome!!!