On May 10, Mercury will go retrograde for the second time in 2022. During this stretch, which ends on June 2, you may hear all sorts of things being blamed on the planet of communication’s retrograde period, from technology mishaps to misunderstandings with friends and loved ones.
But what exactly is Mercury retrograde, why do people make such a big deal about it and is there anything that can be done to avoid its pitfalls and blunders?
What is Mercury retrograde?
“Three or four times a year,” says Annabel Gat, a senior astrologer at Vice and the author of The Moon Sign Guide and The Astrology of Love & Sex, “Mercury stops moving forward through the degrees of the zodiac and begins moving backward, or at least only appears to! Mercury is not actually moving backward in space, only in the ephemerides of astrologers.” The term “retrograde” refers to the appearance of the planet moving backward in the sky.
Effects of Mercury retrograde
You may have heard people warn of electronics going haywire during the Mercury retrograde period, and that’s because of the planet’s connection to all things involved in communication. “As Mercury retraces its steps through the zodiac, delays may take place as well as misunderstandings as Mercury rules communication,” Gat says.
Though it may sound like cause to head inside and lock the doors, Gat says there are some upsides to the turbulent Mercury retrograde period.
“This can also be a fantastic time to revisit the past, and generally slow down. People may be more forgetful at this time; however, folks may also find objects that previously went missing. Conversations may be revisited; messages that had been lost may surface. Things may turn “upside down” — but sometimes that reversal is exactly what you need!”
As 2022’s second Mercury retrograde period approaches, here are some things that can help you to navigate the chaos of technology gone awry and communication gone hinky, and to soothe you when inevitable disruptions occur.
$42 at Birthdate Candle Co.
Birthdate Co., the company that makes those super-popular customized birthday pillar candles, is back with a new limited-edition candle for the second Mercury retrograde of 2022. The 8.5-ounce single-wick candle comes in a calming bergamot cardamom scent.
$32 at Anthropologie
"Soothing" and "calming" are keywords to bear in mind during this time of upheaval. "Mercury retrograde is a great time to slow down," Gat says. "I’m not sure how bath products, pajamas or a beautiful journal to vent out your Mercury retrograde confusion could go wrong!"
$26 at Anthropologie
If baths aren't your thing, there are plenty of other ways to bring the relaxing experience of being at the spa into your home. Klei's facial steam is made from a blend of flowers and herbs that calm the mind and clear out pores. And if you decide a bath is for you after all, it can also be used as a bath soak.
$59 at Nordstrom
This particular retrograde period begins in May, when in many places the weather finally starts to turn warm after winter. This is a good time to upgrade or replace your pajamas with lighter versions like this summer-weight set that comes in five colorways perfect for spring.
$199 at Bearaby
A weighted blanket mimics the feeling of being held, which signals the brain that it is safe to release tension — which can be beneficial during times of stress. The Bearaby Napper's woven design allows for airflow, making it a perfect choice for people who find standard weighted blankets too hot, or for those who are looking for a warm weather alternative; our reviewer calls it "among the best weighed blankets we’ve ever tried."
$14 at Urban Outfitters
For a turn on traditional scrapbooking, this photo album journal is a great way to revisit the past during Mercury retrograde. Each page has a lined section for writing dates, names and captions, and a space to mount a corresponding instant photo.
$69.99 at Amazon
If you're looking for a Mercury retrograde gift idea, pairing the photo journal with a mini instant camera makes a thoughtful and surprising present for a stressed-out friend or loved one.
From $87.99 at Etsy
"Mercury retrograde may find us running into friends from the past, or even revisiting a retro style," Gat says. "A book about a scene or era from the past could be fun to peruse!" We're obsessed with Handiwork Wall Decor's beautiful and soothing retro-inspired macramé hangings.
$32.99 at Amazon
Because Mercury retrograde is a time to revisit the past, Gat suggests investing in a book or album's rerelease, like the 30th anniversary edition of Nirvana's "Nevermind." If grunge is an era you'd rather not revisit, this list of album rerelease dates can provide some inspiration.
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"Astrologers famously advise against making big purchases or electronics during Mercury retrograde," Gat says. "But if there is a purchase you have been itching to make for a long time, now could be a good time to reconsider purchasing it. Mercury retrograde is all about the 're' words, so revisiting those shoes you really wanted to buy but didn’t at the time may work out." Record player is, of course, an "re-" word and a necessary investment if you plan to purchase a rereleased album.
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Slowing down is a major theme of Mercury retrograde, and a period of quietude is also a great time to pick up a new hobby or devote yourself to the study of a new subject. "If someone who has been interested in learning more about astrology but hasn’t had the time for it decides they want to jump in during Mercury retrograde, why not check out my two books, 'The Moon Sign Guide' or 'The Astrology of Love & Sex,'" Gat suggests.
$14.99 at Amazon
A smart way to cope with the turmoil of Mercury retrograde is to slow way down. Go ahead and cancel plans you're not that excited about, or take some items off your to-do list. Use the reclaimed time to read or listen to music while relaxing with a cup of calming tea; look for teas made from herbs like lavender, lemon balm or mint that can help to soothe tattered nerves.
$30 at Etsy
If you're looking for a Mercury in retrograde gift idea, this spa-themed gift set fits the bill. The set features bath salts, a spray and a body oil, all of which are made with essential oils and crystals — everything you'd need to keep calm during Mercury's turbulent retrograde period.
$64 at Etsy
Mercury retrograde kits come in many forms! For those with a more spiritual bent, ritual kits offer a convenient introduction to protection jar rituals; this kit contains Palo Santo, crystals, materials for a Protection Jar Ritual and an instruction guide.
$14.95 at Etsy
If rituals aren't really your thing but you like the vibe of wellness and self-care products designed with Mercury retrograde in mind, this vibe spray is for you! Made from a combination of moon water and essential oils, this spray is formulated to aid communication, clear negative energy and keep you grounded. It can be used throughout the home to create a cleansed, calm atmosphere.
$16.99 at Etsy
Manifestation candles make a nice gift — if you want to make it a gift to self, no one will argue! This clove-scented manifestation candle is designed to provide grounding during uncertain and chaotic times.
$18.99 at Amazon
Massaging beauty rollers have become wildly popular, and if you've had your eye on one but haven't pulled the trigger, this is a great time to treat yourself. We especially like ice rollers, which reduce puffiness and calm inflamed skin in addition to providing a soothing, gentle facial massage.
$42.49 at Amazon
In keeping with Gat's advice regarding purchases during Mercury's retrograde period, if you've been considering adding a foot massager to your arsenal of self-care tools, go ahead and splurge. This heated shiatsu foot massager is the perfect way to show your feet some TLC, and to build some instant stress relief into a difficult time.
$12.99 at Amazon
Of course, one of the main themes of Mercury's retrograde period is technology mishaps — and no amount of calming teas will help when you have an accident involving an expensive piece of tech. If you're prone to clumsiness, protect your phone with a drop-tested military-grade phone case. This slim silicone phone case offers a lot of protection without the bulkiness of similar models, and it comes in 26 color options.
$49.99 at Amazon
As Gat says, this isn't the time to splurge on big new purchases, but it may be the time to buy items you've had your eye on. If you don't already have a portable phone charger, this is the time to get one; the Anker charger was our pick for best portable charger.
$129.99 at Amazon
Because technology mishaps are so common, another smart investment to make during Mercury retrograde is an external hard drive for backing up your important documents. Our reviewer gave My Passport high marks for storage space and its "stylish yet rugged package."