What is Mercury Retrograde?
Mercury turns retrograde three to four times every year, for approximately three weeks each time. When a planet is in retrograde motion, it appears - as viewed from earth - to be moving backwards in its orbit. This is an optical illusion - no planet ever moves backwards in reality. It’s similar to when you overtake a vehicle in another vehicle, and the overtaken vehicle appears to fall backwards, even though it is still moving forwards. In astrology, symbolism is highly important, so this apparent backwards or retrograde motion is a significant astrological event.
Why Does Mercury Retrograde Matter?
Astrologically speaking, this period is significant because it provides a pause button, during which we find that life slows down a little bit, allowing us to reflect and to take stock of recent events. The planet Mercury rules our thought processes and our manner of communication, so people often find that it’s harder to make yourself understood during a Mercury retrograde period, or that communication becomes a little haywire. Delays and frustrations are common, but the irritations of the Mercury retrograde period can be offset if we understand its benefits.
What is the Significance of Mercury Retrograde in Cancer?
On this occasion in astrology, Mercury turns retrograde in Cancer, a very protective sign of the zodiac, so this retrograde period will be characterized by our desire to protect ourselves, perhaps putting up barriers we might otherwise not have felt necessary in our personal or professional lives.
This may sound like a negative thing, but in fact, these barriers may be very timely, and can help to prevent others taking undue advantage of us - especially useful for those zodiac signs which are less assertive than others.
Mercury retrograde in Cancer is also a period for honest self-appraisal. Cancer energy is very shrewd and perceptive. When Mercury is in normal motion, transiting through Cancer, we can be very discerning in our judgement of situations and other people; when Mercury is retrograde in Cancer, we can usefully turn that judgement inwards, and we will clearly be able to see our own strengths and weaknesses.
This retrograde period is also useful for self-care and self-compassion. In astrology, Cancer energy is kind and sympathetic, and when Mercury is retrograde here, we can learn to think more kindly and compassionately about ourselves, instead of focusing on others. This three-week period is a good time for nurturing the self. Effectively, it’s time for us to give ourselves a break.
How Does Mercury Retrograde in Cancer Affect Each Zodiac Sign?
Each zodiac sign will experience this Mercury retrograde period slightly differently, depending on the exact placement of Mercury in an individual’s natal chart. However, overall, there is a sense of slowing down and self-analysis which all zodiac signs will experience to some degree.
Aries Zodiac Sign (Aries Dates: March 20 – April 19) During Mercury Retrograde in Cancer
During this Mercury retrograde, don’t be surprised if you find yourself drawn to genealogy or to some other exploration of your roots. Finding out more about your distant past can help you to feel more secure and grounded in this current lifetime. It’s also a good time to indulge your memories of childhood - get back in touch with old school friends, or revisit old haunts. Focus on the joyful memories, and nurture yourself carefully as you reflect on what has passed.
Taurus Zodiac Sign (Taurus Dates: April 20 – May 20) During Mercury Retrograde in Cancer
Communication is more difficult for you during this Mercury retrograde period, Taurus, as this transit impacts your communication zone. You may feel tongue-tied and unable to get your point across, or you may find that others deliberately distort your words. Be careful with social media during this period. To nurture yourself, be sure that you express yourself in ways which cannot be misconstrued. Seek clarification that others have understood you, and that you have understood them.
Gemini Zodiac Sign (Gemini Dates: May 21 – June 20) During Mercury Retrograde in Cancer
This Mercury retrograde impacts your values zone, Gemini, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself questioning your own opinions, or the world view you have always taken for granted. Good self-care in this instance means understanding that it’s okay to change your mind - in fact, it’s a very good thing. It proves that you are strong enough to admit when you may have been wrong on an issue, and that you are flexible enough to adapt your views when new information comes to light. Be proud of your adaptability.
Cancer Zodiac Sign (Cancer Dates: June 21 – July 21) During Mercury Retrograde in Cancer
When Mercury retrograde in your own sign, you may suffer a sense of a loss of identity, somewhat. People may seem to take you the wrong way, or you may cause offense without ever meaning to. This can be a tricky astrological transit to handle, and since you are such a sensitive sign in any case, you may well take all of this to heart and feel personally depressed or anxious. It’s important to understand that this is just a blip. Seek support from those who love you and don’t worry if you feel less sociable for a couple of weeks. It will pass.
Leo Zodiac Sign (Leo Dates: July 22 – August 22) During Mercury Retrograde in Cancer
For you, Leo, this Mercury retrograde activates the most spiritual zone in your chart. You have given so much to others recently, but you’re now being asked to understand how to heal yourself - if you don’t start to nurture your own needs, you’ll soon have nothing left to give. The answers lie in quiet meditation, visualization or prayer, as you see fit. Draw back just slightly from the hurly burly of the world and give yourself some time and space to breathe. You will feel so much better - and stronger - in a few weeks’ time.
Virgo Zodiac Sign (Virgo Dates: August 23 – September 22) During Mercury Retrograde in Cancer
Think carefully about your friendships and your social life during this retrograde period, Virgo. There could be people in your life who are draining your energy - and it’s these people you should try to avoid right now. It may even be time to cut ties altogether, although you’ll want to wait to make that decision until Mercury turns direct again and your thinking is clearer. Essentially, this period is about making discerning decisions over who you spend time with - don’t give away your energy to those who don’t deserve it.
Libra Zodiac Sign (Libra Dates: September 23 – October 22) During Mercury Retrograde in Cancer
Mercury retrograde in Cancer affects your career zone, so this could be an uncomfortable few weeks at work, Libra. Communication difficulties and delays are almost certain, and you may struggle if you don’t feel entirely in control of what’s going on. However, there’s a valuable lesson here: it’s time to learn to value yourself for who you are, not just for what job you do. Separate your personal identity from your career identity. Yes, your work matters, but you are no less a person if work does not go well for a short while.
Scorpio Zodiac Sign (Scorpio Dates: October 23 – November 21) During Mercury Retrograde in Cancer
This Mercury retrograde period is all about seeking wisdom from within, Scorpio. You’re very good at seeking wisdom externally - you’re a lifelong student, whether formally or informally. However, the lesson of the retrograde is that you already know more than you think you know. Start to listen more to your own intuition and your own dreams and thought processes. Your quest for knowledge is laudable, but it will be incomplete if you don’t also incorporate your own internal wisdom.
Sagittarius Zodiac Sign (Sagittarius Dates: November 22 – December 20) During Mercury Retrograde in Cancer
When Mercury retrogrades in Cancer, it affects one of the most transformational areas of your chart. This is an important time for forgiveness. Seek to forgive those who have hurt you in the past but remember to also forgive yourself. You don’t need to be perfect - nobody is. This period is an opportunity to stop being so hard on yourself and instead to learn greater self-acceptance and self-esteem.
Capricorn Zodiac Sign (Capricorn Dates: December 21 – January 19) During Mercury Retrograde in Cancer
This Mercury retrograde period affects your love and partnerships zone, so you’ll want to watch out for communication difficulties in your love life, Capricorn. However, there’s more to this than meets the eye. Try to reflect on where or how you need to foster greater independence within your relationships, or how and where your partner might feel suffocated by your protectiveness. Small adjustments to your relationship can make all the difference, and this is your chance to figure this out.
Aquarius Zodiac Sign (Aquarius Dates: January 20– February 17) During Mercury Retrograde in Cancer
Staying organized could be quite tricky during this Mercury retrograde period, as this transit sows confusion and an excess of detail. To nurture yourself and to get the best results during this period, Aquarius - clear the clutter! Metaphorically and literally, the less mess you have to deal with, the easier you’ll find it to make good decisions. Clear your desk and clear your mind too; this is a very good time, counter-intuitively, for talking therapy of any kind.
Pisces Zodiac Sign (Pisces Dates: February 18 – March 19) During Mercury Retrograde in Cancer
Your creativity may feel stifled during this Mercury retrograde period, and your imagination may be drawing a blank, Pisces. That’s okay. The key to surviving this period is to stop putting so much pressure on yourself. More spontaneity in your life will help you to re-ignite the creative spark, especially during this slower period, but overall it’s not a problem if you just relax and take things easier than normal for a while. You’ll be back up to full speed again shortly, Pisces.
*Note: The exact date and time Mercury turns retrograde in Cancer differ depending on your timezone. This planet update was published the day before Mercury turned retrograde in Cancer in Eastern Standard Time (EST) in the year 2020, which was June 18, 2020 @ 00:59 AM.