What Is Mercury Retrograde? 5 Symptoms To Look Out For During This Tumultuous Time

Hold onto your hats and prepare for a few weeks of major malfunctions, absentmindedness, and irritability, because Mercury retrograde begins Sept. 17. Sounds like a treat, doesn't it? But, what is Mercury retrograde, exactly? If you don't already know, you're definitely in for a ride.

No, it's not an indie band or a new sci-fi movie that just hit theaters. Mercury retrograde is a scientific phenomenon that occurs three times per year, for about three weeks at a time. Basically, the planet Mercury slows down, and then appears to completely stop and start moving backwards. Of course, this is all one big, tricky illusion, but it's still enough to inspire chaos all over the place.

Why does this retrograde motion cause such pandemonium? Well, Mercury rules clear thinking, communication, travel, and truth. So, when it decides to go haywire, it's enough to throw a lot of things (including your sanity) for a loop. You're not going crazy — the planets are just majorly messing with you.

To put it simply, Mercury retrograde exists for the sole purpose of making our lives miserable. You know, kind of like PMS, or the DMV. I've never been a huge believer in astrology (isn't that such a Leo thing to say?), but even I can't refute the phenomenon of Mercury retrograde and all of the insanity that comes along with it.

According to the Old Farmer's Almanac, this Mercury retrograde cycle will last from Sept. 17 until Oct. 9. So, to help you through this frustratingly chaotic time, I've rounded up five ways that Mercury retrograde might affect your personality — just so that you can be aware of your crazy behavior, and immediately blame the universe. Hey, I'm just trying to keep you from losing friends.

1. You're easily annoyed

Because Mercury rules both communication and clear thinking, don't be surprised if you're particularly irritable and snappy during this time. If you're feeling ridiculously unpleasant, do your best to limit your interactions with your friends, coworkers, and loved ones. That's right, just hide until all of this is over. It's better for everyone.

2. You're indecisive

Here's that clear thinking problem again. Maybe you'll call in sick to work simply because you can't decide what the heck to wear. Or, perhaps you'll cancel dinner plans with a friend, just because you can't figure out what you're hungry for. Whatever it is — be aware that Mercury is messing with your decision-making skills, big time.

3. You keep forgetting things

Locked your keys in your car? Forgot your best friend's birthday? Left the house without pants on? Mercury retrograde will make you particularly absentminded and scatterbrained. If you're one of those people who's already forgetful? Well, you're just doomed.

4. You're emotional and irrational

You typically like to think of yourself as a somewhat rational and pulled together person. Well, you can kiss that perception goodbye for the next three weeks. You'll hop on your soapbox, and launch into a giant speech about respecting other people's personal space, just because your coworker asked to borrow your pen. You'll turn into a blubbering mess when a sappy peanut butter commercial comes on. You'll doubt the decency of humanity when the person in front of you has 11 items in the express checkout line at the grocery store. Don't they know they can only have 10?!

5. You can't get your point across

Are your emails an endless mess of sentences that don't really belong together? Do your text messages consist solely of emojis? Do you respond with a blank stare whenever anyone tries to engage in a conversation with you? That's Mercury retrograde messing with your communication skills. So, you can thank science for the fact that you look like a blabbering idiot.

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