Mercury is officially in retrograde. You may have heard people lamenting the astrological phenomenon, blaming their various woes on the planet’s movement. But what does it mean for Mercury to be in “retrograde” and how does this particular planet scramble up our day-to-day?
“If we didn’t have mercury retrograde who would people blame their disorganization on,” astrologer Wade Caves jokes.
Here’s what else Caves shared about the mystical properties of Mercury retrograde and which areas of your life might feel the greatest impact.
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Mercury retrograde dates for 2023
Mercury retrogrades more often than other planets, typically two to three times a year Caves says.
For 2023 Mercury will be in retrograde:
- From April 21 until May 14
- From August 23 to September 14
- From December 13 to January 1, 2024
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When does Mercury retrograde end?
The current Mercury retrograde ends May 14.
What is mercury retrograde?
For planets that are inside our orbit like Mercury and Venus – though most of the time they appear to be going in the same direction as the other planets – every once in a while they pull off an optical illusion.
When they circle back around and get between Earth and the sun, for a chunk of time it looks like they are traveling backward, Caves explains. This is when they are in “retrograde.”
If you were to zoom out, of course, you would never see a planet move backward, Caves says. But during the point when we are closest to Mercury (since it travels faster than Earth) it seems as if the planet is moving in reverse.
Despite it being an illusion, Mercury retrograde holds great weight in astrology.
“It’s a metaphysical principle that the way things appear convey meaning,” Caves explains, “it’s a subjective reality.”
More on Mercury retrograde:Mercury isn’t the only planet that retrogrades. Every planetary ‘step back’ and what it means.
What does mercury retrograde mean?
In astrology, mercury retrograde symbolizes movement against the tide, Caves says. “On a global mundane level when everything is distributed kind of equally, you’ll feel a little bit more institutional chaos than normal,” he explains.
People might experience delays, hesitations, things breaking down, or exhaustion of energy, he adds.
Since retrograde is the moment when Earth is closest to another planet, it also represents a time when we can think big picture or plan, Caves asserts. Instead, you might be brought down at moments to harsh practical realities.
How does Mercury retrograde affect you?
Mercury retrograde has a direct effect on transmission of information, Caves says. “It has a direct connection to networks, communication networks, mail,” he ticks off.
Getting things done might be difficult during this period. “Because things are moving backward there’d very often also symbolism of things returning to us,” Caves explains. He uses the metaphor of trying to swallow something and feeling it instantly travel back up your throat.
“Mercury retrograde isn’t the one causing it,” he cautions – if you find something kicked back up in your life it’s likely because it wasn’t sorted in the first place, and the universe always meant for your to settle the score.
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What is Mercury retrograde good for?
In kicking back up issues from the past, Mercury retrograde might force you to slow down and be more intentional, Caves says.
What should you not do during Mercury retrograde?
Don’t make big changes, Caves cautions – retrograde is the meditation period, not the action period.
“Avoid making new agreements or finalizing agreements,” he warns, “it’s good for revision, it’s not good for executing.”
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What signs are affected by mercury retrograde?
“Not every retrograde hits everybody,” Caves explains. It depends on the retrograde and your birth chart. In every mercury retrograde there will be some signs that have no connection to it, he says.
Mercury signs Virgo and Gemini will always be impacted, however. And this particular Mercury retrograde running from April 21 until May 14, Taurus will be particularly affected as will the other fixed signs: Scorpio, Leo, and Aquarius.
How was the solar eclipse connected?
The solar eclipse, which took place between April 19 and 20, is not connected with mercury retrograde despite their proximity.
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What is the mercury retrograde shadow period?
The illusion of retrograde shows the planet moving forward, then moving back, and then moving forward again. Anything within that zig-zagging period is considered the “mercury retrograde shadow period” Caves says. Some believe you will experience ripple effects of the retrograde during the shadow period.