By embracing the lessons this intense Mercury retrograde period has to teach, the next three weeks could prove completely game-changing.
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Memorial Day weekend is generally thought of as the unofficial start of summer, which feels like the start of something new. But if the messenger planet has anything to say about it, we'll be focusing a lot on tending to old business. Mercury begins its second retrograde of 2021 on Saturday, May 29 in mutable air sign Gemini, symbolized by the Twins. (Its first retrograde was in Aquarius from January 30 through February 20.) Until June 22, the ruler of communication, transportation, and technology will appear to move backward through the sky.

Second 2021 Mercury Retrograde Explainer
Credit: Alex Sandoval

If you've heard anything about Mercury retrograde, it's that the astrological event is a total pain in the tuchus, wreaking havoc on communication, technology, and transportation for the better part of a month. Even before it "stations" retrograde — aka moves to nearly a standstill before turning backward — you'll likely feel at times as though things are totally out of your control. Calls drop out of nowhere, emails mysteriously disappear into the ether, it feels like no matter how hard you try, you can't articulate yourself the way you'd like to — or in a way people close to you will understand. But the messenger planet's backward turn isn't devoted exclusively to chaos, confusion, and delays.

Here's what you need to know about the second 2021 Mercury retrograde and how to not only ease its stressors but make the most of its opportunities.

A Quick Primer On Mercury Retrograde

Whenever your ex texts out of the blue, or you hit one traffic obstacle after the next every time you leave your house, it's easy enough to blame Mercury retrograde. After all, it feels like it's happening all the time. And the fact is that it does happen frequently: The communication planet goes retrograde approximately three to four times a year for three weeks at a time. In other words, Mercury is retrograde 18 percent of the time.

That 18 percent, however, doesn't account for the lead-in and lead-out periods, referred to as the Mercury retrograde storm, before and after every retrograde. During this period, Mercury has to put on the (figurative) brakes before turning retrograde and then rev back up after the fact. Because it's the speediest planet in the solar system — it moves around the sun every 88 Earth days, traveling at nearly 112,000 mph — it's easy to feel the messenger planet's slowdown and crank back up to speed. But the day you'll most feel its effects will be when it "stations" — aka actually moves — retrograde or direct.

We often paint Mercury retrograde with a broad brush, characterizing it for triggering tech glitches, 86-ed travel plans, and eyeroll-inducing, blood pressure-escalating miscommunications. But it's actually not that simple — or negative. Mercury retrograde also presents a chance to revise and reflect, to look backward and tie up loose ends on whatever you've previously started and need to address in order to more confidently and decisively move forward. Although we're conditioned to gather and disseminate information and go, go, go 24/7 — as fast as humanly possible — the planet that rules all that mental energy and communication actually urges us to take the occasional time-out from that exhausting pace. After all, life wasn't meant to be lived with your foot on the gas pedal every day. And by taking a beat to slow down and check yourself, you could get even further in the long-run. (See: How to Avoid the Burnout You're Heading for)

Themes of the Second Mercury Retrograde of 2021

From May 29 to June 22, 2021, Mercury is retrograde in Gemini, the mutable (also known as most flexible — or indecisive) air sign. Known for being curious, super-social, stylish, tech-savvy, and dualistic, those born under the sign symbolized by the Twins — or who have significant placements in Gemini in their natal charts — are natural born supercommunicators who thrive on soaking up and sharing information at every turn. That's in great part thanks to the fact that Gemini is ruled by Mercury. And the air sign is also the ruler of the third house of communication, neighbors, siblings, early education, and short-distance travel. (Related: Let Astrocartography, the Astrology of Travel, Guide Your Wanderlust)

The vibe of Gemini is quick, chatty, fun-loving, and adaptable. And while Mercury is in the air sign, you may feel the desire to move at the same lightning-fast pace as the Twins, change course on a whim, and have lively, engaging conversations that go on and on. The planet and the sign go hand-in-hand — which is why a Mercury retrograde in Gemini could feel more intense than it would in another sign. It may heighten the impulse to connect, but also make it more challenging to do so.

At the same time, the placement of this 2021 Mercury retrograde can help with ongoing issues that fall under Gemini terrain. You could be going back to the drawing board to research key details for your business, revising an important project, dealing with everyday paperwork or car maintenance you've been putting off, brainstorming ideas with colleagues or friends you've missed over the past year, or revisiting beloved places and people and intellectually-stimulating experiences. You'll also want to fact-check, as the origins of important info can vanish in the midst of airy Gemini's excitable energy.

It also bears noting that we're in the midst of the first eclipse season of 2021, which infuses this slowdown with a push to embrace change and contend with crises rooted in big, game-changing emotions. You could still be feeling the effects of the May 26 lunar eclipse in Sagittarius (opposite Gemini) while the life-changing tone of the June 10 new moon and solar eclipse in Gemini rolls in. The new moon forms a conjunction to Mercury, underlining the importance of recognizing the past and tying up loose ends before being able to charge ahead into the next chapter.

The Signs This Mercury Retrograde Will Affect Most

Because the retrograde is happening in mutable Gemini, the other mutable signs across all elements will feel this particular backward turn the most. That includes Virgo (mutable earth), Sagittarius (mutable fire), and Pisces (mutable water). Virgos, you'll feel it in your tenth house of career, Sagittarians, in your seventh house of partnership, and Pisces, in your fourth house of home life. (See: Guide to the 12 Zodiac Signs and Their Meanings)

Geminis will find this Mercury retrograde especially intense (in part thanks to the June 10 eclipse), but Gems and Virgos generally feel all Mercury retrogrades more acutely than others. That's because both signs are ruled by the messenger planet.

Tips for Thriving Through the 2021 Mercury Retrograde In Gemini

By leaning into the lessons of the second 2021 Mercury retrograde, you can absolutely find ways to make the most of the moment. Consider making the following moves.

Connect with People Who Offer Mental Stimulation

If you always have fiery, intriguing debates about politics, psychology, or relationships with your college bestie or you and your coworker always seem to come up with cool ideas for collaboration, now could be a time to revisit ideas you've batted around before. You could find that the slowdown allows you to consider all those copious, creative, intellectually-charged, Gemini-ish ideas through a lens that allows you to gain more clarity and create an actual action plan.

Catch Up with Siblings and Neighbors

Maybe you've been meaning to meet up with your sister for a catch-up dinner and your schedules have been clashing. Or you haven't had an actual in-person book club meeting or happy hour with your neighborhood besties since before the pandemic. This retrograde — informed by Gemini's third house themes — could lend itself to checking those boxes.

Take Special Care with Tech and Transportation

This is something you'll want to do every Mercury retrograde, but because this time around, the event's themes are magnified by its placement in Gemini, you'd be wise to back up all your devices. Knowing you'll have group text transcripts and creative brainstorm notes on an external hard drive even if your phone is on the fritz will give you lots of peace of mind. Similarly, consider tackling all of the things related to transportation — whether that's regular car maintenance or finally heading to the DMV — in order to avoid a headache in that Mercury- and Gemini-ruled department.

Gather All the Info, Then Prioritize Peace of Mind

In the midst of wires getting crossed and inevitable delays, you could feel like you're dealing with an overload of confusing, contradictory, overwhelming information. It can help to work with the unpredictability and airiness of this transit, so do your best to remain open-minded and flexible, field a variety of opinions, check your sources, and give yourself regular time and space to step back and practice mindfulness.

Ultimately, the best way to manage the frenetic, confusion-spurring vibes of this retrograde-eclipse season is to let go and find joy and — if at all possible — a sense of calm in the unclear and unknown.

Maressa Brown is a writer and astrologer with more than 15 years of experience. In addition to being Shape's resident astrologer, she contributes to InStyle, Parents, Astrology.com, and more. Follow her Instagram and Twitter at @MaressaSylvie