Your Ultimate Mercury Retrograde Survival Guide Is Here, and It’s Queer

Saving you from cosmically ruining your own life since '19.

If astrology is queer culture, then Mercury retrograde, a semi-regular astrological phenomenon in which the planet appears to move backwards in the night sky, is definitely a queer issue. Since Mercury governs unavoidable aspects of day-to-day life, like communication, travel, and contractual obligations, its retrograde periods can cause the ordinary to go extraordinarily haywire.

Mercury retrograde is said to affect signs of the zodiac differently. Unluckily for my fellow Geminis and Virgos, who are ruled by Mercury, the celestial body goes retrograde for the first time in 2019 this Tuesday, March 5, and will remain that way until Thursday, March 28. (Extra-bonus bad mojo: If you’re anything like me and have a lot of Gemini or Virgo in your chart, you might feel the effects of this phenomenon ahead of time.)

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Luckily for all of us, I’ve compiled my short-and-sweet list of tips and tricks to survive and maybe even thrive during this tumultuous time. I don’t profess to be an astrology expert (though there are plenty—Jessica Lanyadoo, Nadine Jane, and Banu Guler of Co-Star Astrology are some of my faves!), so beware, your mileage may vary.

At the very least, my gratuitous use of GIFs to illustrate my advice will make you laugh. You’re welcome.

  1. Think before you speak

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    Mercury governs communication in all its forms, from work emails to late-night Grindr messages, so when this planet isn’t direct (read: when Mercury goes retrograde), it’s best to choose your words carefully. This is a time when seemingly innocuous comments at work can be misconstrued, or toothless bickering with your partner can quickly escalate. Writers, you there? This piece of wisdom also applies to thinkpieces. You will not drop your magnum opus when Mercury goes retrograde, so save the hot take for another day or at least take it from “scalding” to “lukewarm.” I may as well have my foot permanently stitched to my mouth, but don’t just take my word for it: Mama Ru herself issued an official warning on Twitter for this month’s retrograde. Can I get a “Yikes!”?

  2. Budget extra time for travel or technical difficulties

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    Scored an interview for your dream job this month? Getting dinner with that hot-shot hottie you finally pinned down? Do yourself a favor and give yourself some wiggle room to comfortably get there on time. I’m talking 20-30 minutes of extra time. Double that if you’re relying on public transportation, and triple that if said hottie lives off the L train in Brooklyn. Mercury governs travel, so trust me, you’re gonna want to be intentional about how and when you get from Point A to Point B. Expert tip: This planet also rules technology, so wait until April to upgrade your iPhone. Your Insta feed can wait, I promise.

  3. Try to avoid signing long-term contracts

    Girl, I get it: You can’t put your life on hold for one planet’s shenanigans in the sky. Mercury is also said to rule formal contracts and agreements, though, so now might not be the best time to sign that lease that seems to good to be true, or start a new gig you’ll be bound to for months. Exercise some caution, and at the very least, double- and triple-check any and every legally binding document you sign. You should be doing this anyway, but let’s be honest, who has the freaking time?

  4. Please, for the sake of all that is holy: Don’t text your shitty ex!

    This tidbit plays off of my first piece of advice. Mercury going retrograde often prompts those who are astrologically inclined to reflect on the past (it’s called “retrograde” for a reason, after all.) This can actually be productive. Mercury retrograde is a fabulous time to finally finish that gay film you started on Netflix or see a half-finished work project to completion. However, reflection can also tempt us to reconnect with those who caused us harm or undue stress in the past. To this I say, don’t succumb to your nostalgic impulses and reach out to your mediocre ex-girlfriend/boyfriend/lover/BFF/Trump-supporting uncle/gossipy coworker. They’re not in your life for a reason. You’re better off, babe.

  5. Be patient with yourself

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    Unfortunately, you will have to say something to someone at some point this March, so there’s a chance you might make a bad impression, say the wrong thing, or take a piece of advice or criticism too personally. It’s good to be conscious of how you come off in social situations, but beware of being overly self-critical and scrutinizing your every move. Reflecting on the past is helpful—that is, until it stalls us in our tracks. Instead of fixating on a botched social interaction or questionable vodka-fueled choice, use the emo feels you may or may not be feeling (hey—it’s also Pisces season!) to meditate on your own journey. Get your feelings out of your head and onto the page. Maybe take up journaling, blogging, or threading obnoxiously on Twitter. Whatever works for you. Also, I’m not your therapist or your mom, but it bears repeating: Please don’t text your ex!

Brooklyn-based writer and editor. Probably drinking iced coffee or getting tattooed.
@_sammanzella