6 Positive Actions to Take During Mercury Retrograde

6 Positive Actions to Take During Mercury Retrograde

Mercury retrograde gets a bad reputation in astrology. Here are six ways to turn negatives into positives whenever this potentially frustrating astrological event occurs.

What is Mercury Retrograde and how bad is it?

There are plenty of traditionally “ominous” astrological placements and events. Anything at all related to Saturn, for example – which I think is unfair, but we can talk about that at a later date.

However, nothing strikes fear into our fast-paced modern selves quite as much as the dreaded Mercury retrograde.

Even people who don’t particularly care about astrology have heard of it. But why is Mercury retrograde such a problem, and is it really as bad as we think it is?

In astrology, Mercury rules movement in all its forms. In Mercury retrograde, that movement becomes limited. But perception is key.

Mercury retrograde is all about a shift in perspective.

Mercury, like its mythical namesake, rules communication, travel, and our thought-processes – e.g. making choices, deciphering conversations and information, and the like. When this planet is retrograde, or appearing to move in a backward motion, it is said that all of the above are liable to go wrong.

And yes, sometimes it’s true. Already in this shadow period* I’ve experienced misunderstandings and travel issues. In fact, I nearly lost this very article between writing and editing it, due to a computer problem (these few weeks are not known for their kindness to technology). And I’m publishing it several days later than I intended to, for one reason and another.

But honestly, it’s not all doom and gloom. As with so many things in life, perspective might not be everything, but it counts for a lot.

*Mercury officially stationed retrograde on 17th February 2020, and goes direct again on 10th March 2020. However, the couple of weeks leading up to the change itself -and the two weeks after – carry a slightly watered-down version of the retrograde energy.

Working with the magical energy of Mercury retrograde for self-care

Mercury retrograde is an important part of my witchcraft practice. It happens three times a year whether we like it or not, so a few years ago I decided to learn to love it – and I thought it might be useful to share a few of my tried and tested retrograde-positive activities. Whether you’re a witch, simply interested in astrology, or looking for different self-care options, these are practical pauses you can apply to a busy life.

1. Mercury retrograde is not a time for speed. Slow down.

Mercury is associated with speed and accuracy: fast travel, quick responses, lightning wit and intellect.

If it’s going backwards, well, it can be a time when it’s best to do the opposite of that as much as you possibly can. At the very least, try to remember the value in not rushing things.

Sure, we all have responsibilities, so a full-on 3-6 week retreat three times a year isn’t usually an option for most people (unfortunately). But do you, for example, really need to be writing work-related emails at 11pm every night? If the answer is no, you could see what happens if you save it for the next day.

This pausing goes for any number of things – vacuuming the living room that one extra time in the evening when it could wait until the morning, agreeing to go somewhere you don’t want to go when you’re already feeling burnt out, and so on.

During the three weeks of Mercury retrograde,put off some small things that don’t have to be done right now. Do something relaxing or fun instead.

2. Focus on inner reflection when communication goes awry.

When outward communication is going haywire for everyone, inner journeys and contemplation work very well indeed.

You don’t need to conduct a regular meditation practice, or meditation in the strictest sense of the word. Just try spending time asking yourself how you are, checking in with you, rather than focusing on that constant back-and-forth with other people. Some people gravitate towards this type of break from peopling anyway. If this is you, you understand the positive impact on your wellbeing.

If you love communication (e.g. socialising, talking, emailing, twittering) and don’t spend time with yourself, Mercury retrograde is a good time to give it a go.

3. Mercury retrograde can be a bad time to make decisions. But it’s a good time to re-examine your priorities and plans.

While it’s ideal to slow down and take time for yourself in the here and now during Mercury retrograde, it’s also a good time to think about long-term priorities and goals in your life. The advice during these weeks is always to put off making major decisions. That is absolutely true – but while you’re not making big decisions or taking action in tangible ways, you can consider more deeply what your next big steps might be.

Are you thinking of changing jobs? Going back into education? Doing more creative work? Moving to a new house, or renovating the one you already live in? Mercury retrograde is a great time to plan how you’re going to do the excellent, life-changing thing! It’s the deliberate, intentional, unrushed thinking we’ve already covered that makes room for this.

It’s ok to plan and get excited, even if it might be best to not act on the thing until Mercury goes direct.

4. Use the time to create more space

Speaking of ‘making room’, Mercury retrograde is an excellent time to get rid of things you don’t want. You can come out the other side feeling refreshed, rather than needing to recover from what is really a fairly regular planetary movement.

This does not fall under big decisions – I don’t mean a huge declutter where you throw away your sentimental items after much consideration.

Think about much smaller ways of creating more space for yourself. You could recycle or donate obvious things you don’t use. Those things you’ve actually been meaning to clear out, but haven’t. You could delete the marketing emails you keep getting from that website you ordered from one time, or whatever.

Small positive actions add up to a pretty sizable sense of relief once they’re sorted out. While you’re being methodical and organised* this is a useful thing to do.

*Mercury is the ruling planet of quick-witted, fast-moving air sign Gemini, but let’s not forget the detail-oriented, conscientious earthy Virgo is also ruled by our speedy friend.

5. Things won’t go to plan during Mercury retrograde, so let go of outcomes.

Something huge I took away from seven years of Buddhist study and meditation is the notion that attaching strongly to desires and outcomes causes suffering, so one way to feel better is to hold on less tightly to specifics. During Mercury retrograde, this really comes in handy. For example, this article being finished and published later than I intended, and all the background reasons for that (poorly toddlers, lack of sleep, my own chronic pain flare, computer problems) – yes, it’s annoyed me, but will it make such an enormous difference if it’s Tuesday instead of Saturday? Honestly, no. It’s here. Things have a way of working out – sometimes you have to rearrange things, sometimes there are delays.

When Mercury retrograde plans don’t pan out exactly as intended, it’s a good chance to do things a different way. It’s good for growth to see a new perspective and learn a lesson from what’s been put in front of you.

6. Tie up previously loosened ends

This is maybe the most important one for me personally, and happens almost every single Mercury retrograde period. The gig I had to cancel due to illness; the travel expense I forgot to claim for my volunteering job; the poetry magazine that rejected my work, but told me to submit again and I never did. Well, it’s Mercury retrograde, so it’s time to put the muddled moments right.

For some reason, even though this period is well-known for causing unexpected problems, it’s also a time for solving things that went wrong in the months or even years before. It can be a great time to look at things you’ve put off, and getting them done.

My example for this time around is finally changing my surname on my mobile phone contract. Yes – after being divorced for ten years, and remarried for five! Perhaps it’s a result of some of the previous steps. The slowing down, the looking inward, the prioritising, and the space-making. My head is always much clearer for sorting out problems I’ve been ignoring when Mercury is causing havoc elsewhere.


Naturally these are just suggestions! You can take or leave them, but if even one idea helps you get more out of retrograde periods, that’s good enough for me.

I’ve been practicing witchcraft for a long old time, and the movements of the planets have always been an important part of magic for me. However, some of the movements have taken me longer to get to grips with than others! This piece is brought to you by the improvements in my own life thanks to learning to love Mercury retrograde.

If you decide to try working with it rather than against it, too – good luck! And if you already have any special Mercury retrograde practices of your own, feel free to share them with us.