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It’s thought that when Mercury is in retrograde, it can significantly influence your mood and actions. Find out when Mercury retrograde begins and ends each month, and what it all means.
What Is “Mercury Retrograde”?
Three to four times a year, the planet Mercury appears to travel backward across the sky. We refer to these periods as times when Mercury is in apparent retrograde motion or simply ”Mercury retrograde.” To those who practice astrology, these times were traditionally associated with confusion, delay, and frustration. Think undelivered love letters, email blunders, and frazzled travel plans! This is an excellent time to reflect on the past, however, and it’s said that intuition is high during these periods. Coincidences can be extraordinary.
What Is Retrograde Motion?
The astronomical explanation for retrograde motion starts with understanding that the planets in our solar system orbit the Sun at different distances and speeds. While we orbit the Sun ourselves, we can observe the other planets moving across our sky, following their own paths.
Sometimes, it can appear (from our perspective) that a planet has abruptly switched directions and has started to move in reverse across the sky. This is, of course, an illusion caused by the position of Earth in relation to that of the planet since a planet in orbit always travels in one set direction and can’t suddenly reverse course. This is why we call the phenomenon apparent retrograde motion, as it only looks like the planet is moving backward (“retrograde motion”)!
When Is Mercury in Retrograde in 2023?
In 2023, Mercury will be in apparent retrograde motion during the following ranges of dates:
December 28, 2022, to January 18, 2023
April 21 to May 14
August 23 to September 14
December 13 to January 1, 2024
Please note that dates reflect Eastern Time U.S., not Universal Time.
What You Should Do When Mercury is Retrograde
The planet Mercury rules communication in all forms—listening, writing, reading, speaking, and so on—as well as activities closely related to communication, like negotiations and contracts. It also rules travel, automobiles, shipping, and mail.
So, when Mercury is retrograde, try to remain flexible, patient, and understanding, allow extra time for travel, and avoid signing onto any new contracts that you’re unsure of. Double-check your email responses and check in with reservations before you take that trip. Take time to review projects and plans before making decisions.
You can’t stop your life, but plan ahead, have backup plans, and be prepared for people’s shorter fuses and miscommunication.
Take a Moment to Reflect
Some blame Mercury retrograde for all the chaos that happens in their lives. However, this is a good time to sit back and review what you put your energy toward.
For example, if family and faith are important to you, are you putting enough energy into them, or have you overextended in other areas such as your career or a hobby? Losing the balance between different parts of your life can cause them to suffer, so being aware of their connections—especially during Mercury retrograde—can help you maintain or at least better understand how that balance works.
Take a moment to reflect. Mercury retrograde can be an excellent time to take a step back and reanalyze who you are and what you are doing—but do refrain from making any drastic changes until after retrograde has ended.
When Retrograde Ends
When Mercury’s Retrograde ends, some astrologers believe there is a short “shadow period” of adjustment of a couple of weeks as Mercury moves forward again. Don’t rush. Let any miscommunication work itself out. Be prepared for electronic kinks to get resolved.
Stay calm, but start planning to move forward as well. Move into your routine and rhythm. Put the touches on that trip you want to take. Get the paperwork ready to sign contracts or sell your house. Use your energy towards intelligent changes.
Mercury and the Zodiac
The type of influence you feel also depends on which of the 12 zodiac signs Earth is in when Mercury goes retrograde.