Mercury Retrograde Explained

With another Mercury retrograde occurring from 18th November until 7th December, now is the perfect time to demystify some of the narratives around Mercury retrograde.

According to proponents of astrology, when the planet Mercury enters retrograde motion, it coincides with misfortune on Earth. Retrograde motion is when a planet appears to reverse direction when watched from Earth. Of course, the solar system hasn't changed direction and this is solely due to an optical illusion. However, with Mercury said to be the planet to rule communication, it's not uncommon for astrologers to believe retrograde can create misunderstandings, scheduling problems and disagreements with friends. 

However, some astrologists believe a Mercury retrograde period is an ideal occasion to stop ‘over thinking’ and be in the slipstream - an opportunity to reset any hyperactivity that we may thrive on and experience a paradigm shift, a time to refresh and recharge. We spoke with Star Witch, Mikailah to demystify Mercury retrograde and find out how to prepare for the times that lie ahead...


Mercury retrograde alludes to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland! Before we embark on this curious, yet at times nonsensical journey, let us look at some facts around these periods. This is to appease our beautiful minds that love to read and explore the inside information. 

Mercury, the Messenger resides in the realm of communication ruling the logical, rational mind. In astrological terms, Mercury aka Hermes the Sacred Trickster, is an inner, personal planet and sheds light into how we process information. Mercury’s orbit is the closest to the sun and travels faster than any other planet hence the term ‘mercurial’ being synonymous with ever-changing, unpredictable, variable and flighty.

Mercury is the ruler of Gemini and Virgo, governing day to day celebrations, service of work, holistic healing, health, communication, translation, interpretation, short trips, travel, cars, computers, technology, contracts, early childhood, education and co-ordination. In our natal astrology charts the sign Mercury resides in will give an indication into how we approach the world through being introverted/extroverted or a combination of both - how we gather and assimilate information and data. It will also depend on what element the sign is in.

Earth – Practical
Air – Objective
Fire – Passionate
Water – Emotional

Retrograde describes the movement of a celestial body in the heavens. It is like an optical illusion and appears to be going ‘backwards’ in the sky. This is only because of the position of the planet involved and the orbit of the Earth in relation to the Sun. The astrological symbol for retrograde is Rx and the formula for any planetary retrograde cycle is to apply the following themes: rest; reflection; review; reset; recharge and release. Basically, any word with the prefix ‘re’. This will assist with gaining a deeper understanding of the energies involved.

For those that have Mercury retrograde in their natal chart it will mean that you are a deep thinker, and you may find these retrograde periods easier to deal with as you are naturally aware of these energies. Mercury retrogrades occur three to four times a year for around three weeks. We also need to allow for the shadow period of a couple of weeks either side. The shadow period means it is either slowing down towards a retrograde or starting to speed up afterwards.

Likewise, depending on what sign Mercury retrograde is in each time throughout the year it will affect different people in variable ways. This is why sometimes we experience it as an easier flowing time or equally challenging. The next Mercury Rx @ 13 degrees Sagittarius begins 18th November until 7th December when it moves direct again. However, it will not be out of the shadow till 25th December.

Sagittarius is the fire element of freedom, liberation and truth. Expansive in nature this energy of communication naturally searches and questions our higher aspirations in life. Personal truths are mutable and can change depending upon your experiences. This is a profound time to access your own inner wisdom and review old thought patterns or belief systems that do not align with your own authentic nature. So how do we prepare for these times and maintain a sense of calmness among the possible mayhem?

A great place to start is nature based with the elements; earth, air, fire and water to restore equilibrium and well-being.


Be practical and back up all computers and phones. If booking appointments,
meetings, flights or making travel arrangements double check all details. Keep
earthing yourself. Stretch the body and eat nourishing, wholesome foods. Allow for extra time when travelling and maybe book in the car for a service.


Enter in a light. objective way knowing that the Trickster is at play. There is
something to learn here as Mercury is trying to bring our attention to an issue that
needs readdressing. Engage in the creative act of journalling. Practice deep belly


Allow for time out - switch off mobile phone and devices. Connect with your creative passions in a different, organic way. Encourage your Inner Muse to come out and play.


Create space to relax and recharge. Spend time by the water or in a magnesium
bath. Allow the mind to settle and dream, releasing all distractions.

When we bring awareness to these cycles, we can create more joyful, mindful encounters that can minimalise the stresses. Mercury retrograde is an ideal time to balance the left and right sides of our brain, so we can deep dive into our inner worlds and allow more enchantment and self-reflection in our lives.


About our contributor

Mikailah is a star witch & earth poet who embodies ancient practices in a contemporary form.  She has been teaching earth-keeping skills for over twenty years. From these lived experiences, she has created her unique and eclectic style of astrology combined with earth wisdom.  She offers these sessions 1:1 either in-person or by video call for our global village.

Mikailah’s transpersonal work speaks to the creative, the free-spirited entrepreneur, the visionary and non-conformist.  She feels deeply called for our ravenous, passionate souls to create a sustainable footprint on our beautiful planet Earth.

To find out more or to connect with Mikailah, visit or connect on Facebook.