On Dec. 29, Mercury will go retrograde for the fourth and final time in 2022. During this stretch, which ends on Jan. 18, 2023, 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?
Constance Stellas, an astrologist and author of the Guided Astrological Journals, says, “Mercury retrograde describes a time period that comes 3 or 4 times a year when Mercury, the planet of communication, appears to be moving backwards in his orbit. In truth, it’s an optical illusion.” This illusion occurs because Mercury is the closest planet to earth, and its orbit is shorter than the earth’s orbit. “In the retrograde period,” Stellas explains, “Mercury speeds by the earth and like a fast car kicks up dust as it whizzes by. The “dust” or mental confusion can accompany this planetary motion.”
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.
“Let’s look at the meaning of Mercury and then see how we can use his mercurial power,” Stellas says. “Mercury was the messenger god and he ruled all communication and thought-filled connections between people as well as documents. Thinking clearly, thinking slowly, reaching for words, remembering names — all these functions are ruled by Mercury.
Though it may sound like cause to head inside and lock the doors, Stellas says there are some upsides to the turbulent Mercury retrograde period. “The message during retrogrades should be to slow down and take a mental vacation. Re-flect, re-do, re-imagine.”
As Mercury’s retrograde period approaches, here are our favorite gift ideas — for giving and for self-giving! — that can help you to navigate the chaos of technology gone awry and communication gone hinky, and to soothe you when inevitable disruptions occur.
“This retrograde period is in the sign of Capricorn. Pluto, god of the underworld, is also currently in Capricorn and will influence the tone of this retrograde period,” Stellas says. “Pluto urges us to transform, to uncover deep thoughts and insights into personal problems and global concerns.” The timing is spot-on, with this retrograde period falling at the start of a new year, with its “what will happen?” vibe.
To help you survive the turbulent retrograde period, “Get a personal crystal,” Stellas says. “You can find one at a mineral store or a new age shop. Go to the store and see if a quartz crystal “winks,” at you; if it feels comfortable in your left hand, or if it just appeals to you. If so, that is a personal crystal for you.” If you can’t make it to a new age shop, buy a crystal set and see which among them most speaks to you.
Manifestation candles make a nice gift — if you want to make it a gift to self, no one will argue! These 6 oz natural soy wax scented candles are hand-crafted with crystals and herbs, and are available in 5 variations: Love, Abundance, Sweet Dreams, Happiness or Healing.
“Soothing” and “calming” are key words to bear in mind during this time of upheaval. “Mercury retrograde is a great time to slow down,” says Annabel Gat, a senior astrologer at Vice and the author of “The Moon Sign Guide” and “The Astrology of Love & Sex.” “I’m not sure how bath products, pajamas or a beautiful journal to vent out your Mercury retrograde confusion could go wrong!”
Another entry in the “clever and useful” category of gifts is the Lost and Found Labels from Tile. Just stick them onto jackets, lunchboxes, water bottles or anything else easily left behind and loseable. Activate the labels with the Tile app, and then if anything is lost, people who have found the item can (hopefully!) scan the QR code and access the return details.
The popularity of weighted blankets inspired other uses for the anti-anxiety technology, like this weighted bathrobe for adults. The super soft, quilted robe comes in three weights — 12, 15 or 17 pounds — and a choice of soothing gray or calming navy.
To help you prepare for the year ahead, “Pick up a copy of The Llewellyn’s 2023 Daily Planetary Guide,” Stellas says. “It’s perfect for keeping track of what the planets are up to throughout the whole year.”
Anything that makes life a little easier will be welcome during mercury’s retrograde period. This little thing is such a handy tool, anyone will thank you for it! It has a tiny ceramic blade that precisely and easily cuts through boxes and packaging tape but is safe to the touch, and a built-in magnet so you can stick it on the fridge for easy access.
It may not look like much, but our associate manager of business development, Hayley Kinne, says of this back and neck massage tool, “I truly don’t know how I endured my regular shoulder stress spasms before this magical, massaging miracle device entered my life.”
“Another great practice during Mercury retrograde is a screen fast,” Stellas says, “or at least carving out times when you are not glued to the internet, computer and phone.” One way to start making a break from screens is to use a paper planner, like this weekly planner with plenty of room to jot down to-dos, goals and notes in addition to appointments and events.
“Don’t forget the value of journaling,” Stellas says. “If you’re looking for an individual guide, check out my Guided Astrological Journals for every sun sign.”
Mercury retrograde encourages us to slow down, and for many people that means tucking into a good book. For fans of reading in bed, this handy, bendable neck light is a game-changer. Complete with three color modes (yellow, warm white and cool white), three brightness levels and up to 80 hours of light from the included rechargeable battery, it’s also great for camping or hands-free repairs.
To usher in a new perspective, as well as to calm the mind, Stellas suggests buying a kaleidoscope. “Watching the different patterns as you turn the dial calms the mind,” she says.
This particular retrograde period begins at the very end of the year, when cold weather has set in in many places. This is a good time to upgrade or replace your pajamas with a winter-weight set that can take you through to the first chilly days of spring.
For a turn on traditional scrapbooking, this photo album journal is a great way to revisit the past during Mercury retrograde. Choose from white inside pages or black sheets with transparent photo insert bags.
Created for anyone who needs a good excuse to light a candle when things go wrong, Anecdote Candles’ Astrological Storming candle was created to smell like full moons and Mercury in retrograde. Top notes include hints of apple and pear, with bottom notes of exotic violet, sandalwood and incense.
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.
“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!” This gorgeous coffee table book about the art deco era certainly fits the bill!
“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.
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.
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.
Mercury retrograde kits come in many forms! For those with a more spiritual bent, ritual kits offer a convenient introduction to cleansing rituals; this kit contains cleansing botanicals and intention candles, plus a candle holder and abalone shell for the botanicals, and instructions for using them to create a ritual of your own during Mercury retrograde.
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.