Here’s why people freak out when Mercury’s in retrograde

Maybe you’ve heard that Mercury is in retrograde for most of this month. And maybe you were like “I know Mercury’s a planet, I have no idea what retrograde means, I’m going to Google this later.” And then you FORGOT to Google it later. Don’t worry about it, I forget to Google things all the time, that’s why I never get any of the answers to Jeopardy right even when I try REALLY hard.

So, let’s do this one together.

What the what is happening?

“Mercury in retrograde” is both an actual astronomical event and a maybe-real-but-also-maybe-completely-fake astrological phenomenon, Let’s start with the astronomical, AKA the hard science stuff. “Mercury in retrograde” occurs 3-4 times a year when the planet Mercury slows down its orbit and appears to stop and move backwards (that’s where the ‘retrograde’ part comes from). It’s not ACTUALLY moving backwards, that’s not how planetary orbits work, it’s just an optical illusion. There is still forward momentum, but as the planet recedes it LOOKS like it is traveling backwards.

What does it mean astrologically?

So Mercury is in retrograde this month—from October 4th through October 25th—during which time it will pass by the constellations Scorpio and Libra.

Astrologically speaking, when a planet is in retrograde, there tends to be stress and difficulty surrounding the qualities which the planet represents. So Mercury is the Roman messenger god (remember, the dude with the wings on his sandals, yup, that guy) and so when Mercury is in retrograde, functional communication is said to go out the window.

How does any of this affect my life?

The results of the planetary shift supposedly ranges from your technology freaking out on you to your travel plans getting messed up to you getting in a fight with your bestie over the stupidest of misunderstandings. It’s not that people are absolutely incapable of communication when Mercury is in retrograde. It’s just a lot harder than when Mercury is doing its orbit like normal.

Of course all of this only applies if you believe in astrology. Which a lot of people do. Google “mercury in retrograde” right now and you’ll find everything from warnings about purchasing an iPhone 6 during this astrologically treacherous time period, to advice re:  how not to screw up your romantic relationship during the retrograde.

Again, all of this doesn’t matter if you don’t believe in astrology. But if you do, you might want to muscle through this month carefully.

I’m not buying any new technology this month. Or planning any big trips. I’m wording my  e-mails VERY carefully. Because just in case, on the off-chance some random planet being in a random part of its orbit does affect my life, I’m trying to look alive and play this thing, if not smart, than at least safe.

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