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Mercury retrograde, explained

Retrograde ends on Nov. 3

The planet Mercury is seen as a tiny dot above the mid-point of the sun during a transit across the face of the sun, partially obscured in clouds, Monday, Nov. 11, 2019, as seen from Seattle. Mercury and Venus are the only planets that can appear to pass in front of, or transit, the sun as seen from Earth. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
The planet Mercury is seen as a tiny dot above the mid-point of the sun during a transit across the face of the sun, partially obscured in clouds, Monday, Nov. 11, 2019, as seen from Seattle. Mercury and Venus are the only planets that can appear to pass in front of, or transit, the sun as seen from Earth. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson) (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Feel free to blame every single thing on Mercury for the foreseeable future.

If you have anyone in your life who reads their horoscope or asks you about your sign, you may be familiar with how rude Mercury is being right now.

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Are you feeling a little off today? Maybe you’re a little cloudy, tired, groggy or just not yourself? It could be that the entire world seems to be figuratively (and literally) on fire. Or it could be that Mercury is entering retrograde, and it’s super rude.

The last time the planet was in retrograde was in February, and it ended on March 10 -- the presidential primary in Michigan, and the day the state reported its first two COVID-19 cases.

This time, Mercury is in retrograde from Oct. 13 until Nov. 3 -- that’s right, another election. What does it all mean?!

What’s Mercury in Retrograde even mean?

Good question. According to the handy Farmer’s Almanac (which you should never trust for weather predictions), it’s essentially an optical illusion:

The term retrograde comes from the Latin word retrogradus, which literally means “backward step.”

As the name suggests, retrograde is when a planet appears to go backward in its orbit, as viewed from Earth. Astronomers refer to this as “apparent retrograde motion,” because it is an optical illusion.

The opposite of retrograde is direct or prograde motion. Prograde motion is the term astronomers prefer, while astrologers are more prone to use the term “direct” motion.

How does this impact us?

It depends who you ask! Some truly believe they are less energetic and foggy-headed when Mercury is doing this nonsense. The idea has its roots in astrology, of course:

Astrologers believe that the Moon, stars, planets, and Sun affect happenings here on Earth, and that each planet in our Solar System rules a different aspect of life.

Like the Greek messenger god it was named for, Mercury is said to govern transportation and communication.

Those who dread Mercury’s retrograde motion say that, when the planet travels backward, its power to positively influence these domains is stifled, leading to chaos.

Believers in the malevolent power of Mercury retrograde blame the phenomenon for everything from arguments to lost mail or luggage to automobile accidents and warn people to hold back on conducting important business during this time.

So what should we believe?

Since there is no way of proving Mercury’s intentions, you’re free to believe whatever fits your agenda. It’s always nice to blame something that isn’t yourself, right? But I’m a Scorpio -- so what do I know?


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