Mercury is the closest planet to the sun. Its orbit is much smaller than ours. This means that the little planet circles the sun in less time than Earth does. The orbital diameter is shorter because Mercury goes around the sun in 88 days, while the Earth takes approximately 365 1/4 days to make a revolution. If you drew two circles, one within the other, you would see that the diameters were different.

Because Mercury is closer to the sun, we see it move west from the farthest point of its orbit to the east until it is swallowed in the sun's glare. When it is past the sun, we see it continue west until it reaches the farthest point of its orbit in that direction. Then it appears to reverse direction and head back to the sun. This is the time when Mercury is said to be in retrograde.

What does Mercury signify in astrology?

In Roman mythology, Mercury is the winged messenger of the gods. He rules over travel and communication of all kinds: from love letters to business contracts to e-mail. Mercury in retrograde is Murphy's law of astrology. If anything can go wrong, it most certainly will, at least in the realms of travel and communication.

Your plane will be delayed so that you will miss your connecting flight. The only car left on the rental lot will be a Chevy Spark with manual windows and locks and no cruise control.

The important e-mail from your boss will never reach your screen and the love letter you wrote to your darling will be eaten by the dog.

Most of the mishaps caused by backwards Mercury are not major catastrophes, but they can ruin your day.

How can I protect myself from the effects of Mercury in retrograde?

1. Stay positive - here are several ways to increase your positivity.

  • Meditate for a few minutes every day. Focus on the good in life.
  • Exercise daily. You will feel better and have more energy. It's hard to be negative when you feel good.
  • Do something nice for someone every day. Pay kindness forward. The reward you will get is the warmth in your heart knowing that you made someone's life just a little better.
  • Smile. A lot. Whether it's sunny or pouring rain, smile at people. Wish them a good day, a cheery good morning. Spread light and cheer around you. You'll get a lot of it back.

2. Stay active

  • Keep your close friends. Talk to them often.
  • Spend time with your family. Those ties are the strongest.
  • Make new friends. Get out and enjoy life. Talk to people. Socialize.
  • Try to surround yourself with positive people, the ones for whom each day is an adventure.

3. Talk - don't text.

  • Texting keeps people at a distance. You don't see their faces. You don't hear their voices.
  • It is too easy to destroy a relationship by simply removing yourself.
  • Talk on the phone. Skype. Go home for visits. Be a part of the lives of those you love. You'll never regret it.

4. Watch out for negative thoughts and feelings.

  • Be on the alert. If you start feeling down, sometimes it takes a while to recognize the emotions.
  • If you need help from a professional, get it. There are psychiatrists, psychologists, marital counselors, school counselors, grief counselors. There are trained advisors all around you. Latch onto one.
  • If you cannot afford a private counselor, there are free clinics where you can get help.

5. Be very careful with interactions in your relationships.

  • If there's one thing Mercury in retrograde can mess up, it's relationships. Be careful.
  • Be patient. Keep your temper under strict control. Remember your partner is affected just as much as you are.
  • Be especially careful what you say. What's said cannot be retracted.
  • Spend extra time with your loved ones, keeping in mind that your frustration levels are high. Try to calm them down and ease their way.

6. Prepare your electrical devices for an onslaught.

You don't have to hide under a rock from May 29 to June 22 and then again from September 27 to October 18. That would be counterproductive. You need to get out and make the lives around you more pleasant. The happiness you spread will reflect back into your life and your life will ignore ol' Mercury creeping backwards.