Mercury retrograde is a real drag — from missed flights to mixed messages, this planetary phenomenon seemingly has the power to ruin relationships and wipe hard drives (that reminds us — have you properly backed up your computer lately?). Thankfully by now, we’re well versed in knowing what to expect from the “swift planet,” but (as is often the case with astrology) there’s more to the story. Since we all have a unique natal chart that tells us exactly where in the sky the sun, moon, planets, and stars were at the precise moment we were born, knowing our Mercury sign gives us even more understanding on how the planet (and its retrograde) affects us personally.

woman on phone in cafe

Mercury sign — communication and intellect

All planets have a retrograde period, but because Mercury is the planet closest to the sun, it also has the quickest orbit time — 88 days to be exact. That’s why we see its retrograde come by three or four times within our 365 days. Retrograde makes a planet appear as though it’s moving backward, although it’s merely slowed down. In astrological terms, this perceived backward motion means that we experience the dysfunctional aspects of that planet’s domain, rather than the functional aspects when its stationed direct.

Mercury rules communication and the transmission of knowledge. Understanding our Mercury signs means understanding how we best learn, teach, and communicate with those around us. Someone with Mercury in Leo will have a vastly different experience within a conversation than someone with Mercury in Cancer, and knowing that about ourselves (and those closest to us) gives us the opportunity to strengthen and refine our interpersonal skills. Additionally, understanding how we personally experience retrograde can leave us feeling in control of the cosmic event, rather than at its mercy.

the meaning of each mercury zodiac sign

Aries: With Mercury in Aries, you’re bound to be an enthusiastic speaker who doesn’t know the meaning of stage fright. And whether it’s at work or school, you’re consistently chosen as a group leader for your fearless confidence. This bravery can sometimes descend into impulsiveness if you don’t check it (AKA speaking before you think). This impulsiveness is especially acute during Mercury retrograde, so take extra care to slow down when you’re talking with others.

Taurus: The people around you know they can depend on you to be a patient, thoughtful listener, Taurus, and you’re always there with reliable, reasonable advice when they need it. It’s that practical Earthiness of yours! And this comes as no surprise, we know, but yes — you can be super stubborn, especially if you think you’re being criticized. Just remember (especially during retrograde!) that your steadfast ways can go one of two ways — either uncompromising or committed — and we suggest holding onto the latter.

Gemini: Mercury is your home planet, Gemini, so you feel 100 percent at ease here. Your mind moves a mile a minute and you’ve got an insatiable curiosity to learn, experience, and discover everything life has to offer. During Mercury retrograde periods, this innate inquisitiveness can veer into careless mistakes and inattention to detail, so you may want to proofread your emails twice before hitting send!

Cancer: Some may call you shy, Cancer, but you simply prefer warming to a room before making your presence known. Your method of communication relies heavily on observation, consideration, and mutual respect, and you’re always a step away from retreating into your shell if you feel threatened or uncomfortable. Your sensitivity is especially heightened during Mercury retrograde, so be sure to schedule in extra self-care time every week and keep your stress levels low.

Leo: You own every room you walk into, Leo, and you’ve never met a stranger. You’ve got a gregarious, outgoing personality that draws people into your orbit like a magnet — you’re wildly social and could write a book on networking. With that said, be sure not to become overbearing during retrograde — it’s a time when your intensity can easily be mistaken as pompousness, which isn’t a good look for anyone, even a proud lioness like yourself.

Virgo: With Mercury as your ruling planet, Virgo, you’re pre-disposed to be an articulate speaker with an easy, engaging way about you. You may have chosen a career path in communications, whether as a journalist or professor, and love to get into the nitty-gritty of any topic. While you’re a natural communicator, you can come off as reserved and distant, although that’s just you working out the details in your mind. Whenever Mercury in retrograde comes around, take time to step outside the minutia in your mind and try to see the bigger picture. It’ll make you feel more connected to those around you, which is always a good thing!

Libra: Measured, thoughtful, and kind — that’s what Mercury in Libra will do for you. Libra is forever seeking balance and harmony, which makes you an excellent mediator who can always see all sides of a situation. Libra is also a social, relationship-driven sign by nature — communication is kind of your thing. And while this all means that having Libra in Mercury is an amazing asset, you can become indecisive and full of self-doubt during retrograde.

Scorpio: There’s no topic too dark for you to delve into, Scorpio, and you prefer to deal in cold, hard facts. You’re the kind of person who will research a topic into the ground if it interests you, just to get to the truth as you see it. You come off as mysterious to everyone except your inner circle and even then can have a secretive air about you. As for Mercury retrograde, beware anyone who crosses you, Scorpio. You’re quick with that stinger if you feel someone’s been disloyal or done you dirty in some way.

Sagittarius: Idealistic and open-hearted is your default state of being, Sag, much to the delight of everyone you meet. You’re generous with your time and attention and prefer deep, meaningful conversations over trivial small talk. With that said, you can sometimes promise more of your time than you can give and can inadvertently offend people at the expense of a good joke — especially during retrograde.

Capricorn: Straightforward, honest, and reliable, you’re not one for small talk or euphemisms, Cap. Your preferred method of communication is whatever will take the least amount of time with the most amount of information — it’s not that you don’t like people (you’re one of the most loyal signs we know!), you just have too much to do. Be sure to watch your candor during retrograde — while you may simply be trying to help, those around you may take your clipped tone or emotional distance as judgment or insult, which is bound to add confusion (and time) to whatever you’re trying to get done.

Aquarius: No one quite knows what to expect when they run into you, Aquarius — which is both your blessing and curse. You’re fun and spontaneous but can sometimes put your foot in your mouth if you aren’t careful. You’ve got a quirky way of thinking and your mind often makes sense to no one but yourself. We love that about you, but when it comes to retrograde, be sure to know your audience before saying something that could cause you unnecessary grief.

Pisces: Whether it’s an office conversation, new relationship, or bustling party, you prefer to enter quietly, absorbing the energy of the situation before inserting yourself into the dynamic, Pisces. It’s so easy for you to take on other people’s emotions, which makes you an empathetic, thoughtful friend — just don’t let this sensitivity get the best of you during retrograde. Be sure to find ways to keep yourself separate from any bad vibes out there — meditation and music are two simple tools that are particularly effective for you.

What do you do to mitigate any Mercury retrograde mishaps? Tweet us @BritandCo and tell us your tips!

(Photo via Getty)