How to Handle Mercury Retrograde in 2020

If youre familiar with the term, Mercury retrograde, odds are you dont have good feelings about it. Oh, no, not again! is the usual reaction to learning that one is coming up.

Take heart! It doesnt mean the sky is falling. Mercury retrograde is not a freak occurrence, much less the end of the world. Its a regular phenomenon that happens three or four times a year. We cant stop it, but we can understand and work with it. Read on for how.

What does it mean?

First, the technicalities: Mercury is retrograde when it looks from the earth as if its traveling backwards. Thats an optical illusion, of course, and happens when Mercurys orbital speed changes in comparison to the earths. Its the planetary equivalent of speeding up on a highway, passing a car and seeing it fall far behind after you in the rear view mirror.

How this works: When Mercury is retrograde, the areas of life it governs do not play by the usual rules. Anything related to communication and travel requires extra attention. This includes phones, computers and electronic devices, mail, cars, public transportation and commutes.

Our information flow is always a casualty. Messages go astray. Misunderstandings, confusion, half-truths and deception are rampant. Both sides of a conversation may use the same words, but the words may not have the same meaning at all. Or expectations and assumptions may differ.

Vehicles of communication also misfire. Anything with an inherent instability hit the breaking point. Technology malfunctions. Websites and networks go down. Programs stop working. Tasks that should be ordinary turn into a gauntlet of error messages and trouble-shooting.

Getting around is also a challenge. Traffic snarls. Travel gets delayed. Buses dont arrive. Cars break down. Detours pop up and complicate your route.

What should you do?

Postpone launching major projects, signing major contracts and buying big-ticket items if possible. (You may not have complete or accurate information; the subject or purpose may not be what you think it is.) Double-check fine print, backup your data and allow lots of extra time when youre on the road.

Watch for opportunities for a do-over, which may initially show up as unraveling or restructuring. With this year’s retrogrades in water, emotions will play a role in tackling anything that comes up, or in the substance of what comes up. Mercury retrograde is also an excellent time to investigate and research, finish old business, clean up paperwork and get in touch with people you havent talked to in a while. Pay attention to who surfaces from the past, in person or in thought. Their reappearance could help tie up loose ends or resolve lingering business. Organize and prepare so youll be ready to move ahead when Mercury does.

Mercury retrogrades in 2020

First, the details. In 2020, Mercury is retrograde from:

February 16 – March 9, going from 12 Pisces to 28 Aquarius (and entering Aquarius on March 4);

June 18 – July 12, going from 14 Cancer to 5 Cancer; and

October 13 - November 3, going from 11 Scorpio to 25 Libra (and entering Libra on October 27).

Look for effects before and after these dates. Communication and transportation matters usually start slowing (or growing complicated) a couple of days before a retrograde begins. The day of the retrograde station (when Mercury appears to be motionless, as it appears to change direction) can feel as if time has stopped altogether.

The same sensation returns when Mercury stations direct. Communication and transportation matters dont suddenly speed up once the retrograde ends, either. Give the planet time to get moving again. Wait a few days after Mercury stations direct before resuming business as usual.

Almost all of Mercury’s 2020 retrogrades are in water signs. Water is not a natural, comfortable element for Mercury, because it hinders his preference for quick movement.

This year’s water retrogrades are emotional and not consistent with rational thought. This could heighten the potential for confusion and make people hear and react with emotions instead of their ears and minds. Expect information with emotional content, or emotions molding or interjecting into research and old business. Also expect a lot of emotional processing, of matters that occur during the retrograde as well as situations that resurface from the past.

The first and last retrogrades end with Mercury briefly back in air, which could cap weeks of emotionality with bouts of logic and intellectualizing.

The first retrograde, from February 16 March 9, from Pisces into Aquarius, starts with the promise of blurred boundaries, tenderness, sensitivity, nostalgia and magical thinking. Watch out for martyrdom, scapegoating and underdog issues. Creativity and forgiveness could soar, but some of the booming voices could belong to a guy working levers behind a curtain.

Distance from emotion and water comes when Mercury backs into Aquarius for the last five days of this retrograde. Abruptness and intellectual detachment could contribute to misunderstandings.

Dates to watch:

  • Know/love/forgive thyself” is the gift (and maybe challenge) when retrograde Mercury joins the Sun on February 25.
  • Opportunities to act on information or developments come when retrograde Mercury sextiles Mars February 26.
  • Lightning invites shaking things up when retrograde Mercury sextiles Uranus February 28.
  • Love, compassion, forgiveness and creativity are on offer when retrograde Mercury sextiles Venus March 4.

The second retrograde, from June 18 July 12, in Cancer, has sensitivity running high, taking comments personally, and a higher than usual degree of conversations about home, family, old days, nurturing, food and tribal definitions – including how radically so much of that is changing.

This stretch has us rethinking and revisiting a lot, because it overlaps with a veritable retrograde-arama. Four planets are already retrograde when Mercury stations -- Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto -- and Neptune will also go retrograde before Merctury turns direct.

Adding to the intensity are links to eclipse activity. The retrograde takes Mercury opposite the degree of December 2019’s new moon solar eclipse (dredging up unexpressed emotions about the cycle that launched then). Also, the retrograde starts at the degree where this summer’s Capricorn full moon lunar eclipse takes place (July 5), which could have us exploring issues that will be coming to a head, and chapters that will be closing, under that eclipse.

Dates to watch:

  • Lightning invites shaking things up (again) when retrograde Mercury sextiles Uranus June 30.
  • Processing and assimilating the personal meaning of emotional information occurs when retrograde Mercury meets the Sun June 30.
  • Thoughts and messages demand action when retrograde Mercury squares Mars July 8.

The final retrograde, from October 13 - November 3, from Scorpio into Libra, stirs power ploys, secrets, and undercover and behind-the-scenes dealings. Some of those could be salacious and scandalous and continue stories from a year ago, when Mercury’s retrograde in Scorpio ended at the degree where this one begins. This retrograde adds depth, intensity, tenacity and high stakes to the emotionality of the 2020 retrogrades.

The vibe lightens and takes on the appearance of harmony when Mercury returns to Libra October 27. Because Libra rules partnerships and legalities, issues of reckoning, balancing and litigating may arise.

Dates to watch:

  • Look for discomfort, and change in your field of vision, when retrograde Mercury opposes Uranus October 19.
  • Watch for obstacles, delays and demands for accountability and commitment when retrograde Mercury squares Saturn November 1. (Mercury direct will reinforce the message when he hits Saturn again almost immediately, on November 6.)

Learn more about the cosmic messenger in Kathy’s Mercury Intensive, available on demand.

Bio:  Kathy Biehl is a professional astrologer with more than 30 years experience. She has been translating astrology for the mainstream since high school and has a knack for combining humor and pop culture with her guidance. Visit to sign up for her mailing list, listen to her forecasts and book a session for her. Find her on Facebook at Empowerment Unlimited and the Astro-Insight Lounge, and on YouTube at the Professional Aquarian Channel.

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Replies to This Discussion

I cut this down from last year's version ... still comes in around 1300 words...

audio file:

also -- I don't know what happened with the formatting and haven't been able to correct the suddenly larger font size when editing...

Not a problem.

Kathy Biehl said:

also -- I don't know what happened with the formatting and haven't been able to correct the suddenly larger font size when editing...


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