If there’s one thing gen Zers excel at, it’s deflection. We all pick our own poison—carefully selecting that one excuse, justification or ploy to divert attention away from the actual problem we’re facing. For me, it’s always been in association with my astrological inclinations. Feeling tired? I’m an Aries. Ignoring important deadlines? I have a Sagittarius moon. And the pièce de résistance when it comes to deflection? Mercury is in retrograde.
Now, as we come to a close on the current cycle—let’s take a moment to reflect on why this time can be so important but also how we’ve allowed it to dictate our every move.
Wrapping up in only two days, this year’s retrograde lasts from 29 December 2022 to 18 January 2023. Within this time, a number of netizens took to TikTok to share their best tips, tricks and tantrums about the cycle. For all our astrology novices, here are the most important things to remember.
Firstly, it’s important to remember that Mercury retrograde occurs three to four times a year and is supposedly designed to allow individuals to practise greater introspection and potentially revisit previous mistakes and decisions. Retrograde refers directly to the act of going backwards and so when Mercury is in retrograde, it corresponds to the act of the planet moving backwards in orbit (although scientifically it’s not moving backwards but simply slowing down).
However, because astrology is complex, each retrograde will mean something different for each person. For example, the current 2022 to 2023 Mercury retrograde is occurring in Capricorn. So, while overall the cycle relates to the general theme of authority—particularly in relation to any achievements and career aspirations—the retrograde will affect every individual differently depending on where Capricorn is in your houses.
Ok, bear with me here. Houses are the cosmic version of a crystal ball. There are 12 houses and each represent a key part of life, from health and money to relationships and everything in between. So, when you’re born, each planet would’ve been in a certain house—this can then inform you on what your sun, rising and moon signs are. I always keep mine jotted down in my notes app, just in case anyone questions my emotional stability.
Thankfully, hoards of astrology creators on TikTok took it upon themselves to warn those signs most at risk of having a rough three weeks. So, if you’re feeling lost, anxious, stressed and you’re a Taurus—don’t fret, it’ll all be over soon enough.
One of the most entertaining things about TikTok has always been its ability to bring out the most dramatic sides of people. Combine short-form videos that are easy to edit and upload with a cohort of emotionally unhinged internet obsessives and what do you get? An online temper tantrum with over 836 million views.
Football fans have their World Cup, astrologists have Mercury retrograde.
Now, if you receive any late night texts for your ex-partner begging for a second chance, do not fall for it. It may appear as though the stars have aligned but in reality, it’s the retrograde out to get you! Of course, meaningful relationships can occur coincidentally as the earth moves backwards. Still, it’s always best to keep an eye out for any suspicious sneaky links.
Also, according to Tarot, first dates during Mercury retrograde are never a good idea because it’s not easy to communicate, and there are too many opportunities for things to go wrong. So, if at all possible, save any exploratory online dating ventures for February.
I had to conclude with this one simply because it makes so much sense that Barbie would be an astrology girly. The Barbie TikTok account has dominated our FYPs over the past two years and it’s no surprise that it’s also now one of the pioneers of the horoscope community. Captioning the clip: “Raise your hand if you’ve been personally victimised by #Mercuryretrograde,” the recent video—which was posted during the 2022 October cycle—has already amassed over 880,000 views.
Some of the best comments beneath the video include, “I peed when Barbie Glitched,” and “Barbie is just so relatable.”
And remember, if anyone makes fun of you for your keen astrological insight or understanding, it’s probably just because they’re a Virgo.
“So what’s your star sign?” was a question I overheard at a pub recently. Yet it wasn’t one I rolled my eyes at, if anything I was just eavesdropping in case he said the words Gemini. So when Bumble announced that you are now able to filter your matches via your favourite star signs, I had to question how interlinked astrology, identity and dating had become.
Being a bruja (and putting it into your bio), cleansing your space with some sage, having crystals in your bag and believing in the stars all used to be seen as ‘new age’. It was for those on the fringe of society, who I envision always wearing tie-dye print, ra-ra skirts and speaking about ‘energy’.
But today, astrology meme accounts and horoscope pages have become normalised. Oh she’s such a Virgo rings a certain kind of bell. It’s similar to when a date is described as either a “fox” or a “mouse”. You know exactly what that means.
Though not a huge fan of dating apps, I’ve grown up in a generation where the key way to meet people is online and with the rise in popularity of finding out what your sun, moon and rising sign means, it’s no wonder dating apps are giving the option to vet future dates via the signs you’re supposed to align best with. We live in an era of ‘the identity’, so what’s better than finding out what fate has in store for you? With ‘ghosting, ‘orbiting’ and the illusion of limitless options when dating online being a blessing and curse, surely choosing who you’re supposed to be drawn to can cut to what you’re supposed to be looking for?
While understanding how to search for who you’re supposed to be romantically compatible with can be fun, astrologer Alicia J. Lochard actually finds dating apps that allow daters to filter via zodiac signs rather “useless” as “relationship astrology is incredibly complex and just filtering potential matches based on the sun sign alone is really useless in my opinion”.
On the one hand, though general astrological websites can tell you which sign you’re supposed to be more compatible with, they are not built for nuisance, nor are the infrastructures behind dating apps and websites. “Some apps I know take into consideration the entire birth chart, but from what I have seen even those tend to lack a solid analysis to help folks who aren’t as familiar with astrology,” explains Lochard. It’s like saying you don’t eat meat on Hinge, there are so many different diets so that could also mean anything.
By filtering via one’s zodiac sign, the experience can also be rather limiting as there’s no such thing as a bad star sign, it’s just the stereotypes behind each sign. This also gives into false hope as you pick who you think will be best suited for you instead of experimenting within your dating life. Illustrator Holly Gorne, who has also been reading tarot for ten years and in the past dabbled in dating apps also thinks we should be looking into our dating cycles more than looking for a certain partner. “I love astrology but don’t take it very seriously, especially when dating. I have, however, noticed a pattern in signs I’m really compatible with. I guess it comes down to whether or not I’m trying to repeat those patterns.”
Astrologer Lochard agrees, explaining that “When it comes to dating, I think astrology is best used to help someone learn more about their own romantic needs and patterns rather than a potential partner,”. She also adds that after partners get to know each other and their mutual attraction and interests, it may then make sense for them to sit down with an astrologer who can help them figure out how they can have the most harmonious relationship possible.
Whether you’re a Scorpio lover, attracted to an Aquarius or enjoy a Capricorn’s energy, what it really ultimately comes down to is the communication, commitment and honesty between whatever relationship (or situationship) you’re in. What you read about which signs you should go with may ring true to you, but in opposition to Bumble’s latest stance, it may not be what’s destined for you.