Here’s a little news that might not stuff your stocking: Just in time for the holiday season, Mercury has gone retrograde. Yes, again.
From December 3 to 22, the messenger planet will be in reverse, causing communication snafus, parcels lost in transit from the North Pole (or the Amazon warehouse), delayed flights, and scheduling mix-ups. Fun, fun, fun!
Please don’t freak out. Panicking about Mercury retrograde has become de rigueur since this ubiquitous cosmic cycle became the Pumpkin Spice Latte of astrology. Mercury retrogrades actually happen 3-4 times each year, and there’s just no avoiding them. Essentially, as the speedy planet passes the Earth in its (faster) orbit, it appears to be moving backwards from our vantage point. And according to astrological lore—and a wide sample pool of real-world stories—all things Mercury-related (communication, transportation, information) can go haywire during these three-week spells. We’ve seen it happen in our own lives, but the good news is, there are workarounds.
And while Mercury retrograde can halt the action, it also provides a blessed window of opportunity for all things “re,” like reuniting, refining, reviewing, and rejuvenating. No, it doesn’t jive with our progress-obsessed culture, but this celestial siesta can be a blessing in disguise.
Silent Nights = Heavenly Nights
When the communication planet is in reverse, careless words can rush out and do some collateral damage. Think long and hard before you speak, hit send on a message, text, or type 140 characters into the Twitter app. As Mercury retreats through the tactless sign of Sagittarius from December 3 to 22, we’re even more prone to those “open mouth, insert ankle boot” gaffes. Avoid a dumpster fire of drama by refusing to get sucked into topics like, say, the president or free education with certain people in your family. And maybe hold off on any non-essential visits until after the 22nd. Can’t avoid ’em? Bring a book or other quiet time activities so you can zone out and avoid getting dragged into any agitating debates. But even the most mundane conversations can get heated while Mercury’s in reverse. If so, insist on taking a cool down break in the name of de-escalation—and save your clapbacks to drafts so you don’t start a war on social media.
Attach a Gift Receipt
Are you sure you know your sister in law’s favourite colour and heritage brand of choice? Is that refurbished iPad legit? This Mercury retrograde could wreak a little havoc on holiday shopping by throwing our “gift-dar” off. Don’t take it personally if some of your selections are returned; in fact, do the emotional damage control and expect that it will happen here and there. Attach that gift receipt!
Pay for Expedited Shipping and Track that Order
Sending gifts by mail, or Prime-ing all your prezzies? Risky-ish business, so don’t be blithe about the boxes you tick. Mercury retrograde can muddle scheduling and cause parcel panic. If you absolutely must have these items by a certain date, spring for expedited shipping. Remember: If you’re ordering a speciality item (and from a smaller business) the company may need a window of time to produce the product. Don’t assume that selecting “2-Day Shipping” means you’re getting the item in two days. It might be two days after the order is fulfilled. But hey, how about lowering your holiday footprint (those delivery trucks do burn fuel) while supporting neighbourhood commerce? Shop local.
Delay the Sleigh
Are you the type who runs on adrenaline, always cramming in “one more thing!” and racing against the clock? Well, it might be time to develop different habits, at least for the month of December. Schedule-scrambling Mercury retrograde frowns on this behavior—and sometimes brings forced slowdowns to remind us that we should enjoy the journey as much as the destination. Road-tripping for Hanukkah? Check the traffic maps for construction areas, and don’t leave when you know you could hit rush hour and get the car tuned up in advance. You might even make a whole day of it, finding fun little attractions to check out along the drive. Hopping on a plane? Check the times on any connecting flights. If you’re cutting it too close, you may want to rebook one of the legs so you don’t wind up eating fast food in a random Holiday Inn while your family dines in Mauritius.
Rest Ye Merry iMessaging
Mobile devices have a way of being “uncooperative” during Mercury’s backspin—and despite the annoyance of your new iPhone X freezing intermittently, maybe there’s a silver lining. Snapping and Tindering around the Christmas tree means missing out on the people you’re with in real time. Return to a simpler time, where analogue dialogues were all the rage and conversations weren’t perpetually interrupted by buzzing, blings and beeps. Your virtual friends can wait!