Mercury Retrograde has officially reached the mainstream—if it wasn’t already there. While Mercury Retrograde has long been a subject of memes, tweets, and jokes, this time around, even McDonald’s is joining in.

First, a brief astro-explainer: Mercury Retrograde is an astrological event during which Mercury appears to move backwards in its orbit from our POV here on Earth. This lasts for about three weeks and happens three or four times a year, so it’s not a rare event. Of course, Mercury is not *actually* moving backwards through the sky—it only appears to do so because Earth and Mercury have different orbits. If you were standing on the Sun (good luck with that), you wouldn’t notice anything weird at all. In astrology, Mercury is associated with transportation, communication, and technology, and therefore Mercury Retrograde is a period when these areas of life go kinda, well, haywire. You drop your phone, you miss your train, your ex texts you “wyd” out of nowhere—you get the picture.

As Harper’s Bazaar and Bustle have previously reported, all the hype around Mercury Retrograde is a relatively recent phenomenon. Mercury’s apparent backwards motion has been observed for thousands of years, but it wasn’t always seen as a huge deal—certainly not compared to, say, eclipses. Mercury Retrograde first started picking up in the 1960s and became more well-known in the ‘90s, making its New York Times debut in 1996. It continued spreading—digital marketer Kate Trgovac launched the website IsMercuryInRetrograde.com in 2009—but really took off in the 2010s (helped along by a Taylor Swift interview, btw). According to Google Trends, searches for Mercury Retrograde reached their peak in July 2019.

I’ve been covering astrology full-time for over two years and part-time for another two, and this particular Mercury Retrograde—which began on May 10—appears to have brought more Mercury Retrograde promos than any other. The big one: McDonald’s offered a free McChicken or McDouble with the purchase of medium fries for the first two days of Mercury Retrograde (May 10 and 11), plus live tarot readings to select fans from TikTok star Madam Adam.

#ad Comment your first name and zodiac sign to find out what the cards will reveal for you during my live with @McDonald’s on 5/10 #menuOfFate #ad #mcdonalds #madamadam #tarottok #tarotreading #mercuryretrograde #tarotok

That’s the Mercury Retrograde promo that’s gotten the most headlines, but it’s far from the only one. Some others: Marco’s Pizza is offering 20% off menu-price pizzas ordered online or through the app with promo code RETRO* throughout all of Mercury Retrograde, from May 10 to June 3. Vizzy Hard Seltzer fans can enter to win limited-edition Mercury in Retrograde Edition Cans and “Good Vibes” kits by submitting their “retrograde woes” at www.vizzymercuryretrograde.com from May 12 to June 2. Huda Beauty is offering 50% off its Mercury Retrograde eyeshadow palette until May 31. Other brands are using Mercury Retrograde references on social media; for example, Reyka Vodka shared recipes for astrologically-inspired cocktails.

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