Feeling A Little Off Lately? The Cause May Be in the Stars—But These Listens Will Set You Right
Audible editor Rachel digs into the meaning of "Mercury in retrograde" and suggests 8 astrological listens for maximum self-care.
The first time I ever heard about a planet being “in retrograde,” I was watching The Texas Chain Saw Massacre with a boy I had a crush on after the late shift at the bookstore where we worked. In one of the first scenes, a cute brunette named Pam is on a road trip with friends when she consults her copy of American Astrology—Your Daily Guide and learns that the “malefic” planet Saturn is in retrograde, likely to unleash its evil on the world. Sure enough, a horrible fate awaits them as they pick up a hitchhiker (why?!!) and end up fleeing a chainsaw-wielding maniac.
"They need to know what it means when someone complains that their boyfriend is such a Scorpio."
Since that evening 15 years ago, it’s become so much more common for someone to mention that “Mercury is in retrograde” whenever they’re having a bad day. It’s a useful shorthand to explain the feeling that everything’s just a little bit off, and it dovetails with the rising popularity of astrology—which is now more mainstream than ever. (I've even read that psychologists are studying up on star signs in order to better understand patients who bring them up in therapy! They need to know what it means when someone complains that their boyfriend is such a Scorpio.)
"What exactly is Mercury in retrograde, when is it, and what can you do about it?"
Whether or not you believe in things like tarot or the healing power of crystals, one thing is undeniable: stress and anxiety are at an all-time high, and it’s no wonder people are turning to mystical solutions for comfort. After all, there are far worse ways to self-soothe than burning cedar smudge sticks. It’s in this spirit of self-care that I decided to dig deeper into this astrological conundrum: What exactly is Mercury in retrograde, when is it, and what can you do about it?
First, let us save you from being corrected by a pedantic astrologist: the correct term is “Mercury is retrograde” (minus the “in”). About 3 to 4 times per year, Mercury appears to be traveling backwards in the sky. It's not actually traveling backwards, but whenever it laps Earth in its short orbit around the sun, it just looks that way. It's kind of like what happens when you pass another car on the highway and it looks like it's moving the wrong way for a few seconds.
Astrologers warn that things can get a little dicey while Mercury is retrograde: Mercury is named after the Roman god of transportation, commerce, and communication, and none of these things seem to run as smoothly while the planet is in this phase. Modern life is so dependent on all these things that "Mercury in retrograde" has become a catchall explanation for anything that goes wrong during these few weeks each year. Here’s when Mercury will be retrograde in 2020:
February 13 – March 9
June 17 – July 12
October 13 – November 13
If all this sounds stressful, the good news is that these are great times to slow down, reflect, and act with more intention. With that in mind, here are eight great listens to help you be your best self while Mercury is retrograde.