Worried everything's going to go wrong when Mercury is in retrograde? Kirsty Gallagher, the woman who guides celebrities through it, is here to help

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From delayed trains to missed flights to arguments with friends – the chaos attributed to the three-week period when Mercury is in retrograde – can make it seem like staying in bed is the safest option.

And one of those periods will soon be upon us – mark your calendars for 1 April. Mercury in retrograde will roll around in August and December 2024 too.

In planetary terms, Mercury in retrograde refers to an optical illusion in the sky, when the planet Mercury appears to move backward. Its orbit of the sun is shorter than the Earth’s, so it ‘laps’ us, giving rise to the phenomenon for around three weeks, approximately three times a year. But it’s the spiritual teachings associated with Mercury in retrograde that steal the headlines.

In spirituality, Mercury governs communication, transport, and logical thinking. In retrograde, it’s believed all these things stop working properly meaning chaos is all but guaranteed. It’s like the cosmic equivalent of your wifi short-circuiting.

But before you stress too much (or do another eye roll, depending on your tolerance of all things woo-woo or 'horoscopey'), the Sunday Times best-selling author and spiritual mentor to Mel C and Fearne Cotton, Kirsty Gallagher wants to help.

Gallagher, 44, certainly believes in the cosmic power of Mercury in retrograde. She is one of the UK’s leading spiritual healers, offering astrology, crystal healing, Reiki, yoga, and even moon therapy to an exclusive black book of clients for over 20 years.

Kirsty's message is all about making the mystical more relatable, using her lunar teachings to guide you to make more productive decisions.

That’s a concept she explores in her latest book, The Goddess Path: 13 Steps to Becoming Your Most Intuitive, Authentic and Powerful Self , £16.99, a guide to using spirituality to reclaim your self-worth and establish better boundaries.

“I pride myself on taking what can be a little ‘woo’ and translating that into something that everyone can benefit from while still living their very normal, very busy lives,” says Gallagher (who you can see speaking with her clients Fearne Cotton and Mel C in the videos below). “In the spiritual world, there is quite a lot of fluff that makes things sound a lot more complicated than they are. But really it's all about how 'Sarah-down-the-road- with-two-kids' deals with Mercury in retrograde.”

Why Mercury in retrograde isn't all bad

When it comes to Mercury in retrograde, Gallagher doesn’t let fearmongering ruin her day: “I don't like the doom and gloom element that comes with it, because no planet has the power to ‘ruin your life’,” she says. Rather, she says, it’s all about mindfulness and self-awareness.

“What Mercury in retrograde actually wants us to do is slow down,” she says. “We live in a world where our minds are constantly racing and we're rushing from A to B. So, Mercury goes, 'have a moment; slow down and catch up with yourself'. But because of the fast-paced world we live in, we can find it quite challenging.”

For example, remember when Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp all went down in October 2021, causing panic? That was during Mercury in retrograde. Social media (when it is working) is abuzz with reports of cancelled trains, missed planes, and late buses during retrograde too.

This April, Mercury’s interference with communication could also be intensified, says Gallagher. That’s because retrograde will occur when the moon is in Aries, the zodiac sign is associated with quick reactions, lashing out and impulsive behaviour. So, if your conversations start to break down, it's an Aries and Mercury in retrograde double whammy. 

Panic not though. Gallagher is all about tweaking your perspective: “Mercury wants us to take the time to recognise, reassess, and reflect. For example, don't be that person that you always see running onto the platform as the Tube pulls out, acting like the worst thing in the world has happened. Never mind that there’s another one in one minute."

So go ahead, blame Mercury in retrograde for that missed train or argument – just don't take attach too much meaning to it. In fact, turn it into an opportunity for some much-needed R&R (that's 'rest and retrograde' for the uninitiated). Slow down, take a breath, and give yourself a little extra time for that commute. You might just thank Mercury (or your lucky stars) for it.

How to sail-through Mercury in retrograde this April

1. Be prepared

Even being mindful of when Mercury in retrograde occurs can help you manage any mishaps, whether you believe they’re aligned to the planets or not. Gallagher has this analogy: “If you’re going out for a walk and you're aware there's a big hill, start mentally preparing yourself before climbing it. That makes it easier to climb than the big hill you weren’t expecting. It’s about being forewarned not afraid.”

2. Take extra time for travel

Give yourself loads of time when you’re travelling – and check you have your passport with you before you head to the airport. “If you've got to be at a meeting by two don't get the one o'clock train. Get the ten o'clock train and get a coffee when you arrive. Don't rush and slow down.” It’s advice that’s worth bearing in mind 365 days of the year.

3. Don't raise your voice, use your Notes app

“Watch that you're not using your words as weapons and give everybody around you a permission slip to be a bit more frustrated or impulsive,” says Gallagher. That means if you notice your partner, your mother-in-law, or your boss has been a bit sharper with their words - take a pause, take a breath, and ask, ‘can we come back to this in a little while?’

You could also try scribbling down what you initially want to say in the notes app on your phone instead of airing it. Then return to it a little later and see whether your emotions have calmed or changed. Even if they haven’t, you’ll have had a moment to consider and plan exactly what you want to say to best get your point across.

4. Set a clear agenda for that big meeting

“If you do need to have a difficult conversation, for example with your boss, make sure you go into it with a clear agenda,” advises Gallagher. Having a clear, pre-planned idea of what you want to say will hopefully mean you don’t end up running away on a different or more emotional tangent.

5. Try a short digital detox

Even if it’s just for 24 hours, tackle technology potentially going haywire by scheduling some time off from your phone. By marking that time in your diary, you can negate the stress if something does go wrong and enjoy the benefits of limiting your screen time for a little while.

6. Don’t just dump your boyfriend

Gallagher advises against making rash decisions during retrograde, especially when it comes to relationships. Give yourself time to reflect. "If you suddenly, overnight, have the sense that you want to dump your boyfriend, don't take yourself too seriously,” she cautions. Give yourself a couple of weeks and see if you still feel the same way. TikTok creator Magdalena echoes that sentiment in the video below, emphasising a need for caution, especially as exes from the past might be cropping back into your life right now.

7. Be mindful of your workload

Gallagher recalls once taking on lots of additional work during Mercury in retrograde because it was "hard to say no ". But, it ended up costing her “far more in her sanity". Instead, try to find ways to reduce your work stress if you can. That might involve booking a staycation or having the courage to ask for a deadline extension for the project you are struggling with.

8.  Conduct a life review

This period is an opportunity for tying up loose ends. “Mercury retrograde is the perfect time for completing tasks that have been lingering; where you have started things and not finished them,” says Gallagher. Whether it's concluding a DIY project or having an overdue conversation with a friend, Kirsty recommends using this period to look back over the past few months, see where any unfinished business is, and move forward with renewed energy once the retrograde is over.

9. Ask for a second opinion on new decisions

Mercury’s promotion of impulsive actions may make you want to sign contracts or make decisions you regret. “We can't put our lives on complete hold and not make any decisions during Mercury in retrograde, but what we can do is make sure that we triple-check things, and that we maybe get someone else to cast their eyes over them,” says Gallagher. 

10. Schedule time for self-care

Gallagher is passionate about having time to unwind and, for her, Mercury in retrograde is the perfect time. “Even if you don't want to believe that Mercury in retrograde is going to affect you, wouldn't it be a really beautiful thing, if, for a couple of weeks out of every year, we just took the time to slow down and be a bit more present?” she says. “Even that could change your life in ways that you can't even imagine.”