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It’s a 21st-century cliché: Whenever anything goes wrong, you can trust someone in your group to mutter “Oh, [expletive], Mercury must be in retrograde.” We asked Los Angeles–based healer Sepi, who works with both humans and animals, for a little more intel about this one-size-fits-all explanation for mishaps...and learned this planetary occurrence can also mean good news.

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You’ll Have Misunderstandings (e.g., Fights with Besties)
Since Mercury is the ruler of communication, astrologically speaking, and since retrograde describes the apparent movement of the planet moving backward in the sky (it’s not really, but just stay with us here), Mercury in retrograde means your usual communication flow will be reversed. So take extra time to say exactly what you mean and listen carefully when you are communicating with everyone in your life, from family to colleagues. And if you can, save the big heart-to-hearts for after August 16, when Mercury is out of retrograde.

Expect Car or Phone Trouble
According to Reiki master Sepi, energetic disruptions are a hallmark of this time, so don’t be surprised if your car has mechanical trouble (that’s kinetic energy) or your iPhone suddenly won’t hold a charge (electrical energy).

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Your Pets Are Going to Want to Fight, Too
Mercury is not only the ruling planet of communication, it is also the ruler of our pets. So Mercury in retrograde actually affects them more directly than us. Additionally, they will reflect our own anxious energy more readily. This manifests as fighting with each other and not following instructions. To remedy this, Sepi recommends pet owners meditate to introduce soothing energy into the home and also play soothing classical music so that everyone just. calms. down.

Pets Will Be More Prone to Running Away
Dogs and cats may be domesticated, but they’re not meant to be stuck indoors. In the frenzied psychic energy of Mercury in retrograde, Sepi says, your animals might have the impulse to go AWOL because, instinctually, they know that paw-on-earth will soothe them (that’s why it’s called “grounding”). Be sure to keep tags on your animals and microchips correctly logged, just in case.

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That Ex-Lover or Long-Lost Friend Will Surface
Since Mercury appears to be moving backward in the heavens, this time period is one in which unresolved conflicts from your past may appear in your present. Wondering why an old friend suddenly decided to reach out, or why an old boyfriend is just now passing through town, or even (oof) why you just heard gossip about your ex’s recent engagement? Hello, heavenly humor.

Circumstances Will Present Opportunities for Growth
Here’s the silver lining of Mercury in retrograde, according to Sepi: You’re going to be given a chance to reflect on difficult people and history, and make your peace with them. Since communication is so potentially freighted during this time, take not just a moment but a few days to consider what you want to say and do, if anything, in your intimate relationship, community and work spheres. And maybe wait until August 16, when retrograde is over, for any major new ventures. Because what’s a few weeks when you’re dealing with the universe?

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