Mercury retrograde • September 27 – October 18, 2021

2021 Mercury retrograde Survival Guide

It’s almost that time of year again– the often-dreaded Mercury retrograde. Dreaded why? Read on for a full exploration of what it means when the planet of communication appears to move backward. You’ll also find some notes on the mechanics of retrograde planets in general.

But you should know that every Mercury retrograde is not a nightmare. Mercury’s sign and connections to other planets help us tell the individual story of this one in particular.

Mercury retrograde forecast

September 22 – October 1, 2021

Mercury gets the ball rolling on the retrograde story early with a tense connection– a square to intense Pluto on September 22.

Wherever it is, regardless of whether it’s retrograde or not, Mercury tells us where the collective “mind” is. When Mercury connects with Pluto, that focus is on power. Pluto is the planet of life and death experiences, trauma, and transformation. Pluto is obsession.

We’re more interested in secrets, dark topics, people’s motivations, the story behind the story. Our own deep stuff influences our thinking and decisions. This makes it a great time for psychotherapy, inner work, or shadow work. Grab the bull by the horns and work out your own deeper whys.

Mercury has a connection with the wind and weather. You’ll often see stronger winds and strange weather patterns around these times, especially when Mercury squares Pluto. Potentially deadly weather.

This tension holds through October 1, when the Mercury-Pluto square completes and finally begins to separate and weaken. You may revisit some issue you’re dealing with now or bring it full circle around the third pass of Mercury square Pluto on November 1.

How does Mercury retrograde affect you?

Mercury retrograde at work

  • Text-astrophe! Double-check all outgoing messages before you seal the envelope or hit the “send” button.
  • Errors, typos, crossed wires, and other communication glitches may pop up. Look for fixes on the days marked with ☆ below.
  • Connectivity problems, traffic, and schedule changes are typical of Mercury retrograde. If you can, schedule light on days marked with ☂.
  • If you find it difficult to move forward on a writing or communication project, try going backward! Review, update, or edit your old work. This could be especially fruitful on days marked with ☆.
  • Look to the past notes and plans for answers. You may rediscover a valuable nugget in your old files, notes, and archives.

Mercury retrograde in close relationships

  • Common ground can be hard to find, especially in late September. A tangled situation that forms at this time may come up once again in early November.
  • You may reconnect with a friend or family member you haven’t seen in a while.

Mercury retrograde and your Health

  • If you are feeling unsure about a diagnosis or treatment plan, keep asking questions. Make sure you understand and agree with the plan before you move forward.
  • Use this period to research treatment options or get a second opinion. Especially on the days marked with a ☆ below.
  • Diagnostic tests may come up inconclusive or need repeating later.
  • If you’re sensitive to airborne toxins or allergens, change the air filters and take the precautions you need to protect yourself. Especially on the days marked with ☂ below.
  • Mercury rules children, siblings, and pets– the kids and critters may need extra attention.

Mercury retrograde fall 2021 key dates

  • Mercury enters its retrograde shadow: September 6
  • ☂ Mercury opposite Chiron (1): September 8
  • ☆ Mercury trine Jupiter (1): September 20
  • ☂ Mercury square Pluto (1): September 22
  • Mercury retrograde at 25° Libra: September 27
  • ☂ Mercury square Pluto (2): October 1
  • ☆ Mercury trine Jupiter (2): October 3
  • Sun conjunct Mercury: October 9
  • ☂ Mercury conjunct Mars: October 9
  • ☆ Mercury sextile Venus: October 16
  • Mercury direct at 10° Libra: October 18
  • ☆ Mercury trine Jupiter (3): November 1
  • ☂ Mercury square Pluto (3): November 2
  • Mercury exits its retrograde shadow: November 2
  • via Molly’s Astrology Calendar

What is Mercury retrograde?

mercury retrograde - spilled coffee
I think Mercury retrograde is probably the number one “gateway” event that pulls people into the realness of astrology beyond the horoscopes. I have not done a formal survey on this. But it’s one of the easiest astrological events to witness in real-time. For one thing, its influence on everyday things is very apparent. So that even people who aren’t “into” astrology can get on board with it. And it happens regularly, every four months. Like a familiar friend (or frenemy).

In astrology, Mercury represents communication, logistics, and everyday, mundane details. Mercury retrograde is the time when little things can become big things. The computer barfs. The car barfs. The cat barfs. The internet connection goes out. There’s confusion about the schedule. You can’t find that piece of paper you need. The traffic is horrendous. The cat barfs ON the computer… There are literally a million little details that can blow up and cause you to slow down, adjust, and look at things in a new way.

Don’t think of this as a flashing red light, instructing you to crawl into a hole and do nothing. Think of it as a flashing yellow light. Slow down. Take your time. Mercury is the planet of communication, transportation, and ideas, as well as the day-to-day logistics of our lives. So be flexible.

Many folks will tell you not to sign any contracts of any sort during Mercury retrograde. That’s kind of silly. But you do need to slow down and take your time. Read the fine print, and write any contingencies into the contract before signing. Take your time with major equipment or software upgrades, too.

The Magic of Mercury retrograde

The “backtracking” experience has its benefits. Use Mercury retrograde to revise a writing project or artistic work from the past. Or review your notes. Revisit plans for your house, your garden, whatever. Or look up an old friend. This is a great time for catching up.

If you can find space to slow down, let go of expectations, and go with the flow, you can get some very important work done. You could pick up an important thread from the past. Then you’ll come out on the other side well-informed, rehearsed, and ready to move forward once again.

Retrogrades draw the energy to the past.

A retrograde planet retraces its steps, revisiting the territory it covered before. Retrogrades draw your energy to the past. In the case of Mercury retrograde, it’s your thinking, communications, day to day activities. You might find an object you thought you had lost, catch up with an old friend or colleague, or rediscover something valuable in an old notebook or computer file.

(You could even go back and touch up your astrology skills with a review of the basics.)

Fill in the frameworks you created in the past when things were moving along at a faster rate. Develop those ideas. This isn’t the time to write new chapters. It’s time for a round of edits on the ones you have.

Retrogrades draw the energy inward.

Reliable information may be difficult to come by during Mercury retrograde, but you make up for it with inner awareness! Pay attention to the deeper issues during Mercury retrograde. Let your dreams and meditations inform you. Go back and ask the “why” questions. Look past the surface chaos to the inner root causes of the thorny issues.

In sports, Mercury retrograde gives the underdog an edge. I think the “underdog effect” must apply in other matters too.

Recalibration, reorientation

Woman dancing backward

Imagine Mercury as a character who must walk backward for a time. Moving backward is harder than forward because the pattern is contrary to your usual. You have to slow down and pay closer attention to what you’re doing and where you’re going.

What’s the upside of walking backward? You gain a new perspective. You use different muscles groups and neural pathways. It is much easier to see where you have been, and what you might have missed or overlooked along the way while you were moving faster in the other direction, with a different part of your mind switched on.

So take your time when Mercury is retrograde. Don’t rush to a decision or “bang the puzzle piece” to make it fit. If you try to barrel ahead at the same rate of speed that you normally do, you might fall on your butt! But if you respect the energy and work with it, you can get a lot of good out of Mercury retrograde.

What does it mean that Mercury is in retrograde?

mercury retrograde pattern
Middle dot: earth
Black dot: Sun
Red dot: Mercury.
Image: Wikimedia commons

A planet being in retrograde means that it appears to be going backward from our perspective here on Earth. The opposite of retrograde motion (or Rx for short) is direct motion. Of course, Mercury is not really going backward. It is an optical illusion. Take Mercury retrograde for example. Mercury travels around the Sun faster than we do. Every 4 months, it passes us. Here on earth, we witness Mercury appearing to move backward for three weeks.

When you were a kid, did you ever go on long car trips, lie in the back seat, and stick your feet out the window? If a big car or truck passed you, it felt like you were going backward. Retrograde motion is kind of like that.

More info on retrograde planets with diagrams: Retrograde planets

Mercury retrograde 2021 dates

  • January 30 – February 20
  • May 29 – June 22
  • September 27 – October 18

Mercury retrograde 2022 dates

  • January 14 – February 3
  • May 10 – June 3
  • September 9 – October 2
  • December 29 – January 18, 2023
  • source: Molly’s Astrology Calendar

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