moon over the mountains

How to navigate Mercury retrograde in 2021

it’s the buzzword on everybody’s lips these days.

Whether you have no idea what it means, or you could do with some further intel, in this post you’ll learn:

  • What Mercury retrograde is and how it affects you
  • What to do and what to avoid during Mercury retrograde
  • What happens if you really can’t put off a decision till after Mercury retrograde

Let’s dive in.

What is Mercury retrograde?

I’m no astrology expert but to bring you this post I consulted Emma, an astrologer I have worked with before. Here is what she had to say.

In astrology, Mercury is known as the planet of communication and it rules day-to-day expression, travel and technology. It is the closest planet to the Sun and has dominion over 2 signs, Gemini and Virgo.

Three or four times a year, Mercury goes retrograde. The term “retrograde” refers to an optical illusion due to the fact that Mercury’s orbit is smaller and faster than the Earth’s. As Mercury catches up with and passes the Earth, it creates the illusion that it is moving backwards.

In addition to these retrograde periods, there are also shadow phases 2 weeks before, where we can begin to experience the retrograde effect, and 2 weeks after.

Does Mercury retrograde really affect us? 

When a planet goes retrograde, its effect is reversed and directed inwards. Although we mainly hear about Mercury retrograde, we actually experience at least one retrograde planet 80 per cent of the time. In addition, most people have a few retrograde planets in their birth chart, indicating how they are unique. “Unique” meaning “different” and not necessarily “extraordinary’. So yes, Mercury retrograde affects us in different ways depending on our level of sensitivity, consciousness and our birth chart.

What to do and what not to do during Mercury retrograde

Be mindful

  • Proofread everything you write or sign
  • Think twice before speaking
  • Listen carefully to others to avoid miscommunication

Avoid the following 

  • Initiating anything that is long-term
  • Buying electrical appliances
  • Making travel plans

Best time to

  • Catch up with old friends
  • Finish projects
  • Declutter and clean your home

What if you can’t put off decisions till later? 

At this point, you might think you can’t do much during Mercury retrograde without it potentially going pear-shaped. But don’t panic, you don’t need to put your life on hold. Just like any other retrograde period, experience it with consciousness. Thankfully, Mercury is a fast-moving planet and so the side effects of a retrograde are not life-changing. They can just be (very) annoying, so be prepared for that!

think outside of the box

2021 Mercury retrograde dates and their meaning

Every retrograde period is different, not only because they happen in different zodiac signs, but also because of all the other planetary transits at play. And for each of us, Mercury transits a different house in our natal chart so we are all affected in unique ways.

January 31st to February 20th 2021

Retrograde in Aquarius (pre retrograde from January 15th – post shadow until March 13th). Mercury retrograde in Aquarius affects technology, the internet, electricity, and all kinds of communications that require these tools. Be mindful of anything electricity-related (appliances and electrical installations, for example) and practise conscious communication to avoid unnecessary misunderstandings.

Try to avoid buying any electrical devices if you can. If you really have to, it doesn’t mean that something will go wrong but just be extra careful around this time. Personal anecdote: In the last mercury retrograde, I broke my beloved noise-cancelling headphones in a freak accident! 

May 29th to June 22nd 2021

Retrograde in Gemini (pre retrograde from May 14th – post shadow until July 7th). Mercury in Gemini involves day-to-day expression. The above recommendations apply, but you can also expect misunderstandings and communication delays when Mercury retrogrades in Gemini. Also, be mindful of gossiping which can be one of Gemini’s weaknesses (as well as Libra’s).

September 27th to October 18th 2021

Retrograde in Libra (pre retrograde from September 6th – post shadow until November 2nd). Libra’s ruler is Venus, the planet of beauty, linked to the house of relationships. Mercury in Libra looks for harmony and compromise but will tend to be indecisive, always seeking a middle ground but swinging from a pro to a con. A retrograde in Libra might emphasise this aspect.

How can you navigate Mercury retrograde?

Now that you know what not to do when Mercury is retrograde, there are several things you can do to make Mercury retrograde a smoother transition for you.

You could consider:

  • Getting closer to nature as an essential means to disconnect from technology.
  • Journaling and affirmations can be effective ways of exploring your inner self while letting the energy flow inwards.
  • Activating your right brain through arts, music, and other creative ways can help you cope with any unexpected event.
  • The Feminine/Yin effect of a Mercury retrograde in masculine Air signs in 2021, can prove useful to navigate and balance out internal perceptions and external communication.
rock in the sea

Why is Mercury retrograde a big deal?

It isn’t really. For the past couple of years, there has been a hype around “Mercury retrograde”, as exemplified by the growing interest in astrology and astrology-themed memes flourishing all over social media. This phenomenon may have a positive outcome by making people more aware and mindful about the way they act or express themselves. 

At the end of the day, be aware of Mercury retrograde but don’t let it rule your life either! There is so much going on at any given time, that Mercury retrograde is not the be-all and end-all! Remember the key lessons of this period, and you’ll be just fine: improve your communication, learn to take a break from your fast-paced environment, and connect to your inner self. If you feel there is chaos around you, it could be a reflection of what is going on inside.

What else to look out for

Each year, Mercury favours one element over the others. In 2021, Mercury will retrograde through Air signs. This is a significant shift from 2020 when Mercury went retrograde through Water signs. This means that in 2021, there will be lots of mental activity, communication, and social interaction. We will be given many opportunities to reconsider the way we think and interact with each other. 


So, are you a bit clearer on Mercury retrograde and what not to do? Comment below with any questions or tell me what resonated with you. And if you found this article helpful, please give it a like and forward it to a friend. Read the rest of my blog here.

This article was written in partnership with astrologer Emma T. For more Astrology insights, follow Emma on Instagram.  


*In a birth chart, each planet (Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto) is located at a certain degree of a zodiac sign. Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus can go retrograde. This retrograde is just an illusion, the planet does not go backwards. But the effects are different from when a planet goes direct. Mercury and Venus are called “inner planets” and are closely linked to the individual’s personality and psychology. For instance, with Venus retrograde in the natal chart, the person might have self-love issues and a different set of values regarding relationships.

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