OMG! What To Do - Mercury is Retrograde Again! :-D

OMG! Mercury is Retrograde Again! 

Dates left when Mercury will be retrograde in 2023:
August 23 - September 15, 2023
December 13 - January 1, 2024

actual photo of the planet Mercury
Let's talk about the energy of Mercury Retrograde - how to understand it and cope with it, as well as how to turn it into an incredibly insightful and productive time.

I've been quite surprised to learn through Facebook and other social media posts that anything that can go wrong in your life can easily be blamed on Mercury Retrograde! Yes, I have read and heard some ridiculous stuff about Mercury Retrograde.
So, instead of shaking my head and uttering a few naughty words, (like WTF!)
I decided to write - and rewrite and rewrite and then add to - this blog post about what I know on the topic. So here it is.

Who am I to think I could shed some light on this weighty subject? 
I started studying Astrology in 1973. I am not a world class expert, but after all that time, I am fairly competent - I know a few things about Mercury Retrograde that you might find useful and interesting.

I've aimed for simple and factual info about Mercury Retrograde. I hope that some of you are reading this with the hope of learning about the subject and how to use the energy, instead of blaming things that go wrong on poor little Mercury. :-D 

Learning to go with the energy, instead of against it, will allow a Mercury Retrograde time period to become an incredibly productive occasion, in a different sort of way than you may have thought about. There are easy ways to figure out what the probable issues are that each Mercury Retrograde time period will bring up for you.

By the way,  Mercury is not "in retrograde." It's either retrograde or it isn't. It can go retrograde, but it can't go "in Retrograde."

>>>> The next time you read something that says Mercury is "in" Retrograde, you'll know that the author is not an astrologer or astronomer - and take what they write about it with a grain of salt.
Now that you know this, pay attention and you'll see a LOT of writers on the subject do not refer to it correctly. 

I’ve had three excellent teachers in the 49 years plus that I’ve studied astrology. Each had a different approach, different insights, and different strengths and weaknesses. Each was valuable to my overall understanding of and views about Astrology. My first teacher had an MD, a PhD and was also a Chiropractic Doctor. I’d joined his class so that I could learn enough to prove it was baloney. He gently showed me how ignorant I was within the first few minutes I was in his class. I still laugh when I think about that. I learned and remembered a valuable lesson about how silly and self-important I was that night about something I knew nothing about
Self-importance and self-pity...they are two real stumbling blocks for humans. 

The nice thing about ignorance - it's easily fixable when you decide you will open your mind and learn.

I've been interested in the psycho-spiritual uses of Astrology ever since my ignorance about it surfaced - and it’s given me valuable insights into myself and others. These insights that have helped me become more compassionate and less critical about things I don’t know anything about.

 Before I start to explain a little about Mercury Retrograde, and how to deal with it, it’s good to understand that Mercury is Retrograde about 3-4 times per year. It's not a random or rare event; we know when it's going to happen. (Other planets retrograde, also.)

Mercury isn't really going backwards. No planet goes backwards. That's an optical illusion, created when the Earth and the other planet(s) move at different speeds. We can say that a lot of the info out there about Mercury Retro is also an illusion!
I have a list of dates that Mercury is Retrograde through this year, at the beginning and end of this article. 

I’ve never been interested in using Astrology for predictive (fortune telling) purposes or to do doomsday readings. I’ve seen many good Astrologers get totally invested in a certain outcome that they’ve predicted - only to find out they were wrong – and yet they refuse to back down from their “know all, see all” stance.  A lot of viral posts about predictions have been wrong way more times than they were right.

I’ve watched people I respect and love get all twisted up with fear by focusing on what the planets seem to be showing them. When you approach anything out of fear, it's usually lacking in clarity. 

In a certain way, Astrology is a calendar that can be useful in understanding life’s patterns. We are likely to do certain things and feel certain ways, during certain planetary transits. Astrology is a great tool to use, to watch for those time periods and increase your awareness.

I don't run my life by Astrological events: far from it. I don't stay in bed when the aspects are 'bad' or Mercury or any other planet is retrograde.
I don't pick my friends and associates by what their chart looks like. I use Astrology as an additional way to understand myself, others, the energy around me - and to get insights into probable reasons people say and do things that are otherwise incomprehensible to me.

In astrology, retrogrades can be thought of as periods of time, during which your life may slow down a little - or a lot.
During those times, we are prompted to revisit various patterns, issues or struggles we've had in the past.
We can figure out what that may mean, as what comes up will depend on which planet is retrograde, what that planet's energy governs in astrology, and where that energy connects to us, in our birth chart.
Some of these things you can easily figure out on your own. Others, you may want the help of a competent professional astrologer.

Here are some of the most common generalizations (and superstitions) about Mercury Retrograde.
I’ll list a few of them here. They are based on things that traditionally relate to Mercury. Remember, it’s the planet that rules communication, logic, information, movement, technology and commerce.
I keep these things in mind when the energy is retrograde, but if I need to do something, buy one of those things, etc. I do it - I just do it carefully, mindfully and plan to need more patience than usual. 
Here are some of the don'ts of Mercury Retrograde:
-Don't travel.
-Don't expect anything to happen according to schedule.
-Don't sign contracts.
-Don't start new projects.
-Don't buy electronics – especially communication devices.

I am not good at just stopping life while I wait for the right time to do the  don'ts! 

I’ve faced everything and done everything listed above, and more.
I’ve signed numerous contracts when Mercury was Retrograde and even (gasp) when the Moon was "Void of Course." (now that is a whole different thing!) 
I've bought new phones, started new projects and scheduled meetings that really couldn't wait.
I have before, and will again, travel often when Mercury is Retrograde and/or when the aspects are terrible for traveling. 
When I have a commitment to be in a certain place for a certain time period, I am going to be there, no matter what is going on with the planets!. 

I do pay attention to the energy - and I plan ahead.
For example:
- I bring extra funds with me for “just in case” weird emergencies - even if that means that I take my property tax money out of savings and have it with me.
- If I'm driving, I make sure I have my insurance cards and the AAA membership paid up - and that the card is with me. I bring a toolbox, two jacks, and have at least one extra spare tire and tools with me. |
I once had NINE flat tires during a cross country trip with Mercury Retrograde. No kidding! My advice is to only buy from a nationwide tire place, whenever possible and always buy the tire road hazard insurance!
- If I'm flying or taking a train, I make darn sure I know the schedule, keep on top of it, and verify that I am at the right gate or on the right platform way earlier than seems logical.

There are almost always unusual delays and changes that come up at the last minute when Mercury is Retrograde.
- I am careful not to make appointments that leave me no leeway with timing. 
- I communicate as clearly as I know how to and do it often, even if it annoys the people around me.
- I plan to take a nap whenever possible during that time period!

Sometimes I travel with groups of people and if Mercury is Retrograde, I realize some of them may not communicate, with me or each other, nearly as effectively as normal, during a Mercury Retro period of time.
Some will be late or forget about the timetables altogether.
Phones will break or we'll have no service...
Other techy things may break, also.
Buses, planes, trains, automobiles... any form of transportation may suddenly not be available, or break down, and their schedules may change or get cancelled.
I make sure to communicate with the people I am traveling with or meeting - and I do it as often and as clearly as possible about all of this. 
I tell the whole group on the first day that Mercury is Retrograde and then I explain what I think about it and how we can learn from it… I answer their questions over and over - I check, and double check, and do not assume anything.
There are always glitches, but so what? We always get through it and have fun!
Side note: I always try to carefully ask around to see if there are any astrologers in the group. If they know much about Mercury Retrograde they could be a real ally with the rest of the group... however, if they they start out saying Mercury is IN Retrograde, it usually goes downhill from there. I politely listen...and thank them for their opinion.
I refrain from asking them why they are on the trip if they expect nothing but disaster.
I understand this energy as well as anyone can, so I know that I'll be repeating myself a lot over the coming days of the trip and I prepare myself to be patient and have fun with it, if at all possible.  

Most of all, I take responsibility for my own thoughts, feelings and behavior whether or not Mercury is Retrograde. 

(I have more than a few stories about the strange things that have happened while traveling during Mercury Retrograde, while in many different countries, with many different people!) 

Instead of fearing a Mercury Retrograde period, I suggest you learn to be aware of it and then work with the energies!

Mercury Retrograde is not an excuse to be disorganized or irresponsible.
Here are some other situations that may come up:
Try to avoid making big commitments during Mercury Retrograde, unless it's about something that's already been set up beforehand.
If you have to sign a new lease, or a contract, or you are about to accept a new job - it's highly unlikely that you will be able to ask if you can wait to sign until Mercury is direct again! So... Confront your fear of what could happen and get clear about how you can mitigate the effects. 
For example, go over a contract or anything you have to sign more than once; become familiar with the details before you sign anything. Be responsible!
If you can afford it, get an attorney to go over it. You can also read it out loud to yourself or have someone else read it to you; hearing it uses a different part of your brain and this can be a very effective method of comprehending more precisely what you are signing. 

Mercury rules thinking and logic, so you may tend to over think things during a Retrograde. 
Catch yourself and try to monitor your inner self talk - be kind to yourself!
Re-direct any semi or full on obsessive tendencies!

Yes, sometimes things go wrong - but they can, and do, go wrong even when Mercury isn't Retrograde.

All of this having been said, some people do feel a Retrograde more than others. Knowing this is possible, remind yourself that there really are ways to mitigate the effects: you can handle it - this too shall pass.

Retrogrades of any planet - and especially Mercury - can be an incredibly productive time!

Slow down, review your past, and take a close look at the direction you are headed in.
It's a great time to stop and consider where you are going - maybe try to look at it from a new perspective. Your life will move forward anyway, but it can't hurt to take a good look at where you are going and decide if that's what you really want or not.

In a very real way, Mercury Retrograde represents “Bear Medicine.” 
(I've written about Bear Medicine in another blog post.)

Bear teaches us to go out into the world and gather as many life experiences as we like; but then to go back to our “cave” to take the time to process and integrate what we’ve experienced.

Without taking the time to “go to our caves” and take a break from rushing headlong into one thing after another, we cannot make full use of what we’ve learned. We need time to think things through.

Take time to reflect on your life and your direction.
Have a sense of humor about things. Try laughing at the blunders Mercury Retrograde brings your way. Mercury Retrograde doesn’t need to be a disaster - far from it!

An astrologer I once knew told me this:
Instead of saying:
"Oh no, with Mercury Retrograde everyone will be running late!"
Try saying:
"Hey, no problem. It's Mercury Retrograde, so go ahead and take your time!"

Mercury Retrograde could be the perfect reason to ease up on yourself: leave for work early - be aware that you might arrive late, and either be OK with that,  if it happens - OR leave early!

If you can, maybe take some time off and/or take a nap; or reconnect with old friends.
In any case, take time to reflect!
Rushing around won’t help a thing and you will be going WITH the energy if you are willing to allow yourself to slow down.

The stars don't hold some kind of absolute power over you. You have free will - so use it!
Mercury Retrograde doesn’t rule your life - I hope I've given you some ways of approaching these times - there is no need to have the mindset or fear that Mercury Retro takes over your life.
If you let your anxiety about Mercury Retrograde guide your behavior, you can make yourself miserable; your life could feel impossible and you might be fairly impossible to be around.

Live your life and do what you need to do: whenever and however you need to do it.  Think ahead and have a Plan B and maybe a Plan C or D! Things will work out - one way or another.

Because this is all about Astrology, many people want some kind of prediction. I’ve already said I’m not focused on predictions, but I know an interesting and effective “old school” way to get some clues about what an upcoming Mercury Retrograde may be about for you.

I’m talking about something called “Shadow Periods.” These are the times directly before and after a Retrograde period. They are arguably just as significant as a Retrograde itself.

“Shadow periods” aren't discussed much anymore, maybe because working with them takes making the effort to pay attention to the little things that foreshadow events in your life; it takes some increased awareness to make use of them.
These time periods can be incredibly useful if you know about them - and pay attention.

Simply put, the “pre-shadow” period happens before Mercury is Retrograde, about 2-3 weeks beforehand. The pre-shadow time period gives you indications or hints about what parts of your life you can expect to be dealing with during the upcoming Retrograde period.

The “post-shadow” period goes on for about 2-3 weeks after the Retrograde. It offers you an opportunity to tie up any loose ends, get clear about any lingering issues - or to reconsider situations you may decide to change.

In other words: the “pre-shadow period” reveals what the issue might be that is about to come about during the period of time that Mercury is Retrograde.
Then, the “post-shadow” period energy helps to resolve the issue.

Here’s something that might help you understand the concept – it’s easy to use the shadow periods, when you know what you are looking for.

The classic example of this is that you and your significant other start fighting a lot during the pre-shadow period. Then you break up, or come very close to it during the Retrograde.
During the post-shadow period you realize that you don't want to lose your relationship. You start to communicate more effectively with your partner to resolve it, and as a result, you get back together.

There is another thing that can give you some insights: the area of your life that will be effected and where you will take stock of your situation - depends on the planet that is Retrograde, and how it relates to other things in your birth chart. That starts to get a bit tricky for an amateur, so consult a professional Astrologer if you are interested in following up on this idea! 

Work with the energy - it will show you what you need to work on if you pay attention. It might seem too hard to do at first, but if you take the time to think deeply, then process and integrate what is really going on and how you feel about it, then it will resolve; the energy will support your hard work. 
In that same vein, here's an old saying that I've found to have some merit:
“Whatever you lose during Mercury Retrograde will be returned to you.”

Lastly, people who are born during Mercury Retrograde usually do very well - and even thrive - during a Retrograde period.
Maybe you are one of those people!
Google the Mercury Retrograde dates for your year of birth and find out. 

And if you do have Mercury Retrograde in your birth chart and you have been freaking out a little about Mercury Retrograde...well it may give you some reassurance and something you can feel good about from now on!!


If you don’t have an accurate birth chart and want one, I can help you with that! I offer reasonably priced (cheap!) accurate personalized Astrological charts and reports. You can check out the list of chart wheels and reports that we have available.


Here is something to look forward to:
Six planets will be Retrograde this year! 

Here is a bit about the other planets.
You can expect the energy surrounding these planets to get stirred up and even  "turned upside down" when a Retrograde of one of them happens! Some are easier than others... some you may feel more intensely. In general we could say that...
Mars is vitality, action, disagreements, energy, and passions.
Venus is associated with love, beauty, luxury, and the Arts.
Jupiter is the energy of expansion, philosophy, growth, and abundance.
Saturn is responsibility, structure, and duty.
Neptune is fantasy, inspiration, dreams, spirituality, illusion, and confusion.
Pluto is transformation, renewal, and rebirth.
Uranus is a rebellious energy, the unexpected, changes, and originality.


Upcoming Mercury Retrograde dates PLUS "pre and post" Retrograde Shadow times:
 August 23 – September 15, 2023 - Starts and ends in the Earth sign Virgo.
Pre-retrograde shadow will begin on August 3.
Post-retrograde shadow will last until September 30.
December 13, 2023 – January 1, 2024 - Starts in Fire sign Sagittarius and ends in the Earth sign Capricorn.
Pre-retrograde shadow will begin November 25.
Post-retrograde shadow will last into the new year ending on January 20, 2024.

Here is my little Chinese Crested dog, Greta Gayle.
Yes, she looks frazzled - because this was taken just before I explained Mercury Retrograde to her. :-D 
She is sleeping peacefully now - since she knows I will remind her of those Shadow periods she can make great use of!


  • Marilyn Ferraro

    Great article!

  • Rose Shuttleworth

    Thank you for this excellent article which has shown me we should be thankful for these times
    when we can be extra awake and truly take responsibility for what we are doing!

  • Katrina Carnagey

    I really enjoyed this article and it makes a lot of sense. I did go check if I was born in Mercury Retrograde and it does not appear that I was. I did find this little tidbit which backs up and puts into different words what you are trying to tell us. Hope this is ok:

    First, no retrograde period has “a negative affect on the calendar year.” Retrogrades are part of a cycle, it is only when we try to go against the cycle that they seem to express as negatives.

    For example, let’s take Mercury. During its retrograde, the universe is trying to get us to do all sorts of things that begins with the prefix re-. It is a great time to do REsearch, REstructure, REcharge, REfinance, REinspect, REopen, REpair, REread, REsurface, and in general, REdo things. Looking over things that were done before the retrograde period will often show up mistakes and problems you didn’t see then. It is only when we try to move against the flow that Mercury Retrograde comes across as negative.

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