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This Year’s Mercury Retrograde Cycles and Stations

Mercury is now direct (moving forwards), not retrograde.

Most recent Mercury Retrograde period:
December 29, 2022 to January 18, 2023
from 24º to 8º Capricorn

Upcoming Mercury Retrograde period:
April 21 to May 14, 2023
from 15º Taurus to 5º Taurus

Understanding the Mercury cycle is incredibly useful
for help in staying organized, running your office
and all forms of writing.

To learn how to maximize its usefulness,
See Pandora’s services page for a reading.

You’ve probably heard about Mercury Retrograde, the celestial event most discussed by the astrological layman. But what exactly happens when Mercury goes retrograde, and does it deserve its controversial reputation?

When Mercury, god of communications, connections, intellect and ideas goes retrograde, it can mark a period of tangles and confusion. But this period can also be a fruitful time to reorient and reflect, if you know how to handle it.

What is Mercury Retrograde?

Mercury goes retrograde in our skies about three times a year. When it does, it marks a three week long period of rest, reflection, and reorganization. These periods call into question our habitual ways of communicating, rushing around our daily activities, and our way of thinking.

Mercury Retrograde periods are usually marked by snarl-ups in communication and breakdowns of communications and office equipment, as well as networks, of all kinds.  When Mercury is retrograde, there’s an excellent chance that letters and packages will be lost in the mail and information will be delayed, leaving projects and lives in disorder. 

How Long Does It Last?

The Mercury retrograde period lasts roughly 3 weeks. It’s part of a grand Mercury cycle that lasts about 6 months. The Mercury Retrograde of December 2022-January 2023 cycle lasts for 23 weeks.

How Can I Use Mercury’s Retrograde Cycle To My Advantage?

Astrologers look at the position of Mercury to analyze the current mental chemistry of human beings.  Mercury tells us about how the day-to-day details of life will be handled, how communications will proceed and how office relations will go.  When Mercury is “direct” (moving forward) and fast, such things proceed swiftly with few obstacles.  Mercury is direct and fast for most of its cycle.

When Mercury is “retrograde” it’s moving more slowly.  While Mercury’s direct periods are best used for forward motion and starting new projects, Mercury’s retrograde periods are best used for contemplation, research and cleaning up old projects.

Let’s get deeper into how to plan for Mercury Retrograde and how to adapt to its demands.

1) Allow More Time For Everything.

Mercury is the god of mental activity, machinery, communication technology, everyday logistics, and commuting and travel. When it goes retrograde, technology breaks down, messages get lost, plans are derailed, trains are delayed, tires are flattened, and files are lost.  In fact, we tend to experience so many interruptions that our train of thought is entirely derailed and we can’t seem to get anything done.

It’s best to plan for this period of interruptions, misunderstandings, trouble focusing, and mechanical and logistical errors by padding your schedule thoroughly. Allow more time than you think you need for everything you have to do.  If there are things you need to accomplish and deadlines you must meet, be prepared to have to do things twice, perhaps even three times, to achieve your normal efficiency rate.

The best way to be fully prepared for Mercury Retrograde is to plan ahead. Meet your current deadlines and be as finished as possible with current projects before Mercury goes retrograde.

2) Be Extra Careful In Your Communications

Mercury is the god of communication. Therefore, when it is retrograde, we notice that our words are received in a way that is different from how they were intended.  Our words can be spoken hastily, and are subject to misinterpretation and mishearing. On the other hand, we may be so introverted with our thinking that we fail to communicate thoroughly and clearly.

Double check dates, details, and plans. Ask for clarification when discussing anything, but especially logistics and schedules. When speaking and listening, pay attention to tone. Try to conduct important conversations in person. Better yet, delay extremely important conversations that require great depth and nuance until Mercury is direct and moving at a decent clip.

Mercury Retrogrades can be wonderful times for righting communication gaffes, clearing old misunderstandings and going back to fix something that was already broken before this period began. All these things work best when you curb your irritation, maintain patience and express yourself with warmth and sympathy. Relating to people by focusing on their good intentions instead of their failures will help everyone get through it more smoothly.

3) Ditch The Productivity Mindset

Mercury’s retrograde cycle is often experienced as a frustrating time. That’s because our modern society has a bias that things should always progress forward without a halt.  When Mercury is retrograde, it is moving in apparent backward motion, reminding us that, regardless of our notions of how things should  be, life is actually lived in cycles of work and rest.

Rather than trying to get things done or finish current projects during a Mercury retrograde period, it is better to go back and pick up the pieces of something old.  People frequently find to their surprise that some long-shelved project gets finished effortlessly during this time, and that it blithely shoves more current things aside in order to do so.

Use this time as a period of introspection and reflection. It’s a great time to clean out closets, both of physical and metaphorical kind. In fact, doing so literally can be a very powerful exercise, so go ahead and clean that desk, closet, garage, basement or attic. Who knows? You might be surprised what you uncover and how much peace of mind results from the order you create.

What If I Just Can’t Plan Around Mercury Retrograde?

Unfortunately, many people work in a business where it is impossible to avoid deadlines and contemplate your navel for a significant amount of time. We may just have to deal with the fact that the business we are in goes against the celestial tide and requires us to barrel ahead, despite Mother Nature’s message to “relax, people!” 

In that case we will find ourselves largely dealing with the usual Mercury retrograde annoyances:  broken fax machine, lost messages, poor cell phone service and any of a hundred unexpected delays and miscommunications which force us to slow down. 

At best, we can enter retrograde periods with the awareness that nature is forcing not only us, but everyone, to slow down. Thats the key to avoiding emotional reactivity and taking it personally.

It’s not that we (or others around us) are inefficient or incompetent; it’s just that we are all trying to have a picnic in a rainstorm.  It makes no sense to complain that it’s raining—it just is.  It’s better to stay inside, but if you can’t, the least you can do is bring an umbrella.

What if I Have Mercury Retrograde in my Natal Chart?

Interestingly, a Mercury Retrograde period is usually enjoyable to people who have Mercury retrograde in their natal chart to begin with.  That’s because such people naturally prefer a slower pace. Additionally, they’ve already learned to field a wide variety of constant interruptions from their lifetime of experience with them.

If you are one of these natives, Mercury’s retrograde period can mark a time when the world is finally on your wavelength. And it can feel great!

The December 2022 – January 2023 Mercury Retrograde Cycle:

Mercury goes retrograde at 24º of Capricorn on December 29, 2022 and travels backwards to 8º Capricorn, turning direct on January 18, 2023. This brings up communication, contractual, and logistical issues which will not fully resolve until on February 7, 2022, when Mercury has again turned direct and passed the degree of Capricorn where it turned retrograde. On that day it’ll be fully sped up and back in normal functioning mode.

Mercury is traveling retrograde from 24º to 8º of Capricorn, so if you have anything at all in your chart between 8º to 24º of Capricorn, you will likely feel this transit strongly. And if you have anything in your chart in the same degree span of the other Cardinal signs (Aries, Cancer, Libra), you will feel this too.

Understanding the Mercury cycle can help you in all
of your business and contractual dealings,
as well as finding time for introspection and soul searching.

 
To learn how Mercury functions in your chart
and how to use the retrograde cycle to your advantage,
 contact Pandora Astrology for a Natal and Transits Reading.

Mercury Retrogrades of 2023 in Earth Signs:

Each Mercury retrograde period has a theme based on the sign or signs Mercury is moving through at the time.  In 2023, all Mercury Retrograde cycles occur in the Earth signs. This bestows a general focus on practical, tangible solutions and the need to grounded our thought-processes in the real, the physical and the practical (Earth).

Mercury Retrograde in Capricorn, Dec 2022 to Jan 2023Mercury Retrograde in Taurus, April to May 2023Mercury Retrograde in Virgo, August to September 2023

Click each diagram to read more about the Mercury Retrogrades of 2023:

December 2022 and January 2023’s Mercury Retrograde in Capricorn
April and May 2023’s Mercury Retrograde in Taurus
August and September 2023’s Mercury Retrograde in Virgo

The Mercury Cycle and Its Milestones

As shown in each diagram above, Mercury begins its cycle direct. It enters the Mercury retrograde period (shown by the red part of the line) in the few days before it makes the actual pivot. Mercury moves so slowly as it changes direction that those additional days might as well be considered part of the retrograde. The period, when a planet has ceased moving forwards and is in the process of reversing direction, is called a “station”. By the end of the cycle, Mercury is direct again and moving fast.

The entirety of Mercury’s cycle lasts about 4 months. Meanwhile, the retrograde part of the cycle lasts only 3 weeks.  Naturally, this means Mercury goes through this cycle 3 times a year.

Here are the (detailed!) stages of Mercury’s Retrograde Cycle:

1) Mercury Direct and moving fast:  Efficiency is high

Mercury is moving forward at a swift pace.  This helps us to handle details smoothly and stay organized.  It’s a great time for meeting deadlines, planning long-term projects and generally getting a lot done. Enjoy the easy ride by getting as much done as you can, meeting every deadline as efficiently as possible and staying organized as you go.

Mercury direct usually lasts for about 2 to 2-and-a-half months—more than half of Mercury’s total cycle. No wonder we feel this is how it should be!

2) Greater Epiphany Day—A day of illumination

At some point along Mercury’s headlong scamper, it catches up to the Sun.  The day this happens is a day of illumination.  It’s a day when breakthroughs are possible, new understandings emerge, and mental clarity is at its height.  I call it “Greater Epiphany Day”.

This is like a natural peak on a wave.  Therefore, the weeks leading up to it are a great time to push into that day of natural epiphany.

Surf this wave and take advantage of its rhythm by setting up your current projects so that the peak in mental clarity will be advantageous and well-timed for you.  Schedule your most difficult and detailed work for the weeks leading up to Epiphany Day. Plan to spend the dropoff period after it responding to the events that happen around that peak.

3) After Epiphany Day, Mercury still direct:  Post-peak and gearing down

Right after Epiphany Day is past, Mercury is still direct and moving fast. Efficiency will still be high.  You can continue setting and meeting deadlines, requesting rush jobs and generally getting lots done. Finish projects here and celebrate your achievements.

However, about a week before the retrograde day, Mercury begins to slow down—and you should too.  Start winding things down to prepare for the fallow Mercury retrograde period that’s coming. Expect less of yourself and others. Don’t take on more than you could handle if the lines got clogged. Any loose ends you tie up here will not return to bite you when Mercury goes retrograde.

It’s ok to start thinking about future projects you might work on after the current ones are complete. However, don’t set goals yet.  The Mercury retrograde period will be the perfect time for ruminating and meditating on those future projects, especially if you go into it with an already-clean slate.

4) Mercury turns retrograde:  Look backward instead of forward; clear the old instead of initiating the new

The day Mercury stations retrograde is a day of “getting it.” We realize that we’ve been moving too fast and skipping over important details. We realize that we need to slow down. 

It’s a great time to retreat into your shell, reexamine yourself, your life and your values.  It’s also a great time to clear up old messy communications between yourself and others, so be prepared—because people in your life who need to do that with you may present themselves.

Mercury retrograde happens only three times a year, so pull out some large garbage bags and get ready to move a mountain or two.  Imagine how sleek and streamlined your life will be after this purge.

5) Lesser Epiphany Day–A Day of Insight

For every time Mercury goes retrograde, it will also meet the Sun and conjunct it.  The day this happens will be a peak of epiphany during the retrograde.  Let your mind build up to it slowly and intuitively. As a result, you may find that on this day an idea occurs to you which solves the greater problem you’ve been ruminating on for weeks, or even months.

Alternatively, it may be a day when you connect with or meet exactly the right person to help you solve that problem.  Look for this kind of epiphany or connection anytime in the 5 days surrounding Lesser Epiphany Day.

6) Mercury’s retrograde period ends, Mercury turns direct

The day Mercury stations direct again—along with the few days leading up to it—may be characterized by a sense of urgency. We want to finish up any clearing and cleaning we haven’t done yet. That applies to your conversations as well as your closets.

When Mercury is finally direct, we leave the introspective period behind.  This is your last chance to get the most out of this retrograde period, so take advantage of it while it’s happening!

7) Mercury Direct, speed increasing:  Back to business

It’s back to the workaday world for the human race as Mercury slowly and gradually puts back together all the pieces mixed up during the last Mercury retrograde period. When Mercury first goes direct, it’s still moving slowly. That means that it’s a good idea to continue avoiding deadlines and contracts at this time.

Once the Mercury retrograde period is well over, Mercury speeds up and it’s “back to business.” At this point, we can set deadlines and begin projects with the healthy expectation of finishing them on time. We can also feel good about signing contracts, as they are less likely to need revising while Mercury is direct.

Within two weeks after Mercury turns direct, it is already moving swiftly. At this point, there are fewer obstacles and we are free to move forward with speed and efficiency.  It’s a ride with great momentum and I suggest you get on it!  You’ll find others are doing it too, and that meetings are easier to run. Mercury’s increasing pace sets a wonderful tone for beginning new 3-month projects.  Now is a great time to initiate, brainstorm, get started on those new ideas you’ve got.

8) Mercury Direct conjuncts the Sun—Greater Epiphany Day again

The last point on the diagram is exactly like the first point. It marks the end of one cycle and the beginning of another. A peak in mental efficiency comes on the day Mercury conjoins the Sun. Therefore, plan to expand on your projects until this peak. Also plan to begin trimming and contracting your projects after this peak, before Mercury’s next retrograde period.

Is Mercury Affecting You Right Now?

There’s no doubt you will feel this transit in the area of life corresponding with the house Mercury is retrograding through, as well as the house it rules in your chart. (That’s something you can find out about in a reading.) There’s also no doubt that if your Sun is in a degree along Mercury’s retrograde path, you will feel it too.

Generally speaking, here are the birthdates (in any year at all) that are most affected by the December 2022-January 2023 Mercury retrograde:

December 29 to January 14
March 29 to April 14
June 30 to July 17
October 1 to October 17

Go Deeper

Read about past Mercury Retrogrades…
Mercury Retrograde in Gemini and Taurus, May-June 2022
Mercury Retrograde in Libra and Virgo, September-October 2022

If you are feeling a current Mercury Retrograde period
and you want to understand its effect on your life,
request a reading on our services page.

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