The story of Mercury retrograde is practically a tale as old as time: You’ve been getting into petty disagreements with your S.O. lately, you recently committed the most atrocious error in an email to the *entire* office (including your boss), and on top of that, your flight was delayed—again! No, the cosmos aren’t out to get you. Chances are, you’re feeling the wrath of Mercury (the planet that rules communication and travel) during its routine retrograde.
You don’t need to be an astrology girlie to know that the cosmos—and Mercury, in particular—can sometimes throw things out of whack. Per astrology, the fast-moving planet is associated with our day-to-day communication, short-term traveling, and ideas. So, it makes sense why Mercury can be pesky roughly three or four times a year when it’s moving in reverse.
Meet the expert: Letao Wang is a spiritual counselor and astrologer.
But just because this transit has an arsenal of tricks up its sleeve, doesn’t mean you can’t be prepared! Because everyone (of every sign) is bound to have a wrench or two thrown into their plans, you’ll want to add the Mercury retrograde dates to your 2024 calendar ASAP.
What *is* Mercury retrograde?
Planets go retrograde when they appear to be going backward (but aren’t actually), which turns things upside down for those down on Earth, too.
Mercury, according to Roman mythology, was the messenger god who ruled over merchants and travelers. But his messages aren’t the only thing the swift god was known for, explains Letao Wang, a spiritual counselor and astrologer. Mercury is also a certified trickster.
Because Mercury rules everyone’s day-to-day operations, “when Mercury appears to hit the reverse gear from our perspective, life down here gets a little topsy-turvy,” says Wang, adding,“miscommunications crop up and tech gadgets act wonky."
But it’s not all doom and gloom! “The Mercury retrograde period is akin to a cosmic timeout,” explains Wang. “It’s the universe’s way of saying, ‘Slow down, reflect, reassess.’”
When does Mercury go retrograde in 2024?
Technically, Mercury was wrapping up its retrograde when the year started on January 1. But besides that, there are three Mercury retrogrades in 2024:
April 1 to April 24
August 4 to August 27
November 25 to December 15
How long does Mercury retrograde last?
Mercury goes retrograde typically three times a year (sometimes four!), and lasts approximately three weeks, says Wang. But if you’ve ever felt the Mercury retrograde blues set in before (or linger long after) its backspin, it’s because of its “shadow periods,” he explains.
“The pre-shadow phase starts approximately two weeks before Mercury officially goes retrograde, while the ‘post-shadow’ phase, or ‘retroshade’ extends for about two weeks after Mercury resumes its direct motion,” says Wang. It's like anticipating a festival, experiencing the high of the event, and then coming home—there’s time needed to readjust and get back into the swing of things. “Imagine this is the time when Mercury begins to slow down before the retrograde and recover its momentum after the retrograde,” adds Wang.
Pro tip: Each Mercury retrograde will have a different focus depending on which zodiac sign it’s orbiting. But regardless of where it’s orbiting, Wang says Mercury retrograde is the ideal time to practice patience and looking inward.
How will April 2024’s Mercury retrograde impact my life?
Swirling tension in the aggressive sign of Aries on April 1, 2024, April’s Mercury retrograde is inducing an identity crisis as the collective zodiac reevaluates who they are when nobody’s looking. Aries is the sign of the self, eager to learn—and make mistakes. “This period prompts a journey of self-discovery, encouraging us to tame our impulsive nature and embrace the virtue of patience,” explains Wang.
Easier said than done, but it’s important to consider all sides of a situation before making a significant decision, explains Wang. “A careful evaluation is key to sidestep potential future complications,” Wang says. Grounding practices, like writing your intentions and goals down, along with breathing exercises, can ease some of your impulses that will surely be tested by Mercury retrograde.
How will August 2024’s Mercury retrograde impact my life?
On August 4, Mercury retrograde will divvy up its time in both Virgo and Leo. While it orbits dutiful Virgo, you'll likely reconsider your diet, work life, and overall health and wellness, says Wang. That said, Mercury’s stint in the earth sign calls for a massive decluttering—and it won’t hurt to book that annual physical, either.
Once Mercury moves into Leo around August 14, the Mercurial vibe will shift and urge you to reevaluate how you engage with those you love, being that Leo rules the heart as well as your romantic escapades. “Express your thoughts and desires with clarity and tranquility during this time,” suggests Wang.
Those who’ll feel the brunt of August’s Mercury retrograde are Virgo, Leo, and Gemini, Wang says.
How will November 2024’s Mercury retrograde impact my life?
Mercury retrograde rocks the boat in optimistic Sagittarius on November 25. The final Mercury retrograde will leave everyone with plenty to reflect on in 2024. Sagittarius, per Wang, influences travel and mass media engagement, so expect these themes to be taken over during November’s Mercurial backspin.
“For those who wield influence on social platforms, caution is advised in public communication, given Mercury retrograde’s notoriety for inciting verbal missteps,” warns Wang. This retrograde’s intentions are to expand your knowledge into the world around you, so you may find yourself backtracking in beliefs you’ve held for so long or even uncover a perspective on a situation that changes your opinion of said matter. Regardless of how it’ll hit your zodiac sign specifically, Wang assures that above everything else, being authentic to yourself is the end game.
Though Mercury retrograde’s intentions may seem nefarious, it’s really a period of rest and reflection. No matter how this retrograde chooses to stir up cosmic drama, Wang explains that it’s a chance for us to mend fences and tie loose ends. The best way to secure your sanity through Mercury retrograde’s inevitable chaos? Surrender to the blunders and trust that you’ll come out of it on the other side a better, more mature version of yourself.
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