Mercury in Retrograde

Mercury in Retrograde

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Updated Oct 14, 2020 at 08:46AM EDT by shevyrolet.

Added Apr 04, 2018 at 02:00PM EDT by Matt.

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Mercury in Retrograde, or Mercury Retrograde, is a phenomenon in astrology in which Mercury orbits the sun faster than the Earth, making it appear as though it is moving backwards when viewed from Earth. In astrology, Mercury is the planet most associated with communication, so when Mercury moves in retrograde, those who believe in astrology blame the time period for misunderstandings and malfunctions in communication devices, such as electronics.


The use of the term retrograde in observance of the solar system dates back to 150 AD. Greek astronomer Ptolemy believed that the Earth was at the center of the solar system and used the terms "retrograde" and "prograde" to describe the movement of the planets.[1][2]


The earliest mentions of Mercury Retrograde was published in the British agricultural almanac Vox Stellarum: Or, a Loyal Alamack on December 19th, 1754.[3] At the time farmers believed that motions of the stars affected planting seasons. They wrote:

"Mercury is turn’d retrograde in Sagittarius, which brings him back to meet the Sun in Conjunction.”


In the late 19th century, spirituality and astrology grew in popularity. Publications of the period, such as The Astrologer's Magazine and The Science of the Stars, connected Mercury Retrograde to heavy rainfall, while other articles would describe it as a "ill omen."[4]

In April 1979, an article in The Baltimore Sun instructed, "Don’t start anything when Mercury is retrograde. A large communications organization notes that magnetic storms, disrupting messages, are prolonged when Mercury appears to be going backwards. Mercury, of course, is the planet associated with communication."

Historian of Cultural Astrology at the University of Wales says that in the 1980s, people began applying Mercury Retrograde to everything.[7]

On August 4th, 2009, the website launched. The website has a sole use, which is to let visitors know whether the planet is in retrograde or not.[5][6]

On September 18th, 2015, YouTubers Good Mythical Morning posted a video entitled "Testing Mercury in Retrograde." The post (shown below, left) received more than 1.8 million views in three years.

The following year, Vox published a video entited "Mercury retrograde, explained WITHOUT astrology." The post (shown below, right) received more than 662,000 views.

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Can of Beans
Can of Beans

in reply to Panuru

Mercury is associated with communication because it's named after the Roman god of communication Mercury (the Roman equivalent of Hermes). The reason it's named after Mercury is because it moves around the sky very fast (due to its fast orbit around the sun), much like the god Mercury's speed.

The article says "of course" because the association is obvious to anyone with a passing interest in Roman mythology.


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