Mark your calendars! We have dates for all the 2023 Mercury retrogrades. Plus: secrets for living glitch-free during these four, unavoidable cycles. You’re welcome.
In case you haven’t heard, Mercury is the astrological ruler of information, communication and our intellectual processes. The closest planet to the Sun, Mercury orbits through each zodiac sign for approximately three weeks. Each of these cycles shape our cultural interests. From the topics we buzz about to the ways we communicate, whatever sign Mercury is occupying plays a role.
There’s no avoiding a Mercury retrograde! Every damn year, Mercury turns retrograde for three full cycles, when it appears to travel backward through the zodiac. During these “reverse commutes,” the planet lingers in one or two signs for approximately 10 weeks, throwing every area of life that Mercury rules into a tailspin.
While the scrambled signals these periods are notorious for can be agonizing, they provide a chance to dive into deeper discourse. People from the past may reappear, like old friends, estranged relatives and exes with unfinished business.
The 2023 Mercury retrogrades are listed below, plus what it means in the zodiac signs they’ll visit, and how you can navigate to avoid inevitable hiccups in communication, technology and travel.
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2023 Mercury retrogrades: Dates and zodiac signs
Mercury begins and ends 2023 in retrograde, bookending the holidays with its notorious signal-scrambling effects.
Here are all the 2023 Mercury retrogrades:
No. 1: Mercury retrograde in Capricorn
December 29, 2022 — January 18, 2023
In the first of the 2023 Mercury retrogrades actually begins at the end of 2022, on December 29. In Capricorn, we attempt to set New Year’s resolutions while the cosmic trickster reminds us of the old adage, “Man plans, god laughs.”
For this reason, we recommend waiting to formally make your resolutions until January 21, when the first new moon of 2023 (in Aquarius) aligns your wishes with limitless possibilities. In the meantime, start with a vision board or a first draft of your intentions for the year ahead.
For more on 2023 goal setting, read our article: The 2023 New Year’s Mercury Retrograde Puts the Cork on Party Plans and Stalls Resolutions
No. 2: Mercury retrograde in Taurus
April 21 — May 14, 2023
Mercury, the planet of communication, technology and travel, makes a retrograde U-turn in money-minded Taurus, from April 21 to May 14, plunging the world into a global state of stubbornness.
Plans that were plodding along could sputter to a stop for the next three weeks as schedules clash and people dig in their heels. Don’t go charging through barriers like a temperamental toro. Instead, use this slowdown to streamline your systems and catch up on “boring” busy work.
You may not see the hidden blessing of this time-out just yet, but you will. Go easy on the spending, especially with luxury goods.
No. 3: Mercury retrograde in Virgo
August 23 — September 15, 2023
Mercury retrograde in Virgo is a good time to review your day-to-day systems and protect your important data. Cutting corners could have detrimental effects. Take your time to do everything by the books!
While the finicky planet is retrograde in Virgo, review everything on the finest setting possible. Enlist a third and fourth pair of eyes to edit documents before you hit “send.” Need to do more research? You’re in luck! This is one of the best times of the year to tumble down the search engine rabbit hole. Be an unapologetic purist when you go on your sourcing missions.
Can you find a greener solution that not only saves you cash but is also environmentally responsible? Watch the judgyness! Constructive feedback could come out sideways, so buffer it in a “praise sandwich,” starting and ending with the positives.
Virgo also rules health but with Mercury in reverse, you could get a false test result or misinformation. Getting a second opinion is a good idea. And ideally, wait until Mercury retrograde ends to have any medical procedures.
No. 4: Mercury retrograde in Capricorn and Sagittarius
December 13 — January 1, 2024
The final retrograde of the year arrives like an unwelcome Grinch at the holiday festivities. With chaos and miscommunications rippling through the rest of the year thanks to the last of 2023’s Mercury retrogrades, leave absolutely nothing up to chance with holiday plans.
On December 13, the messenger planet U-turns in Capricorn for the second time in 2023, turning traditions on their ear.
While Mercury backs up through Capricorn until the 23rd, set up an online hub with addresses, timelines and dishes and drinks everyone should bring to the celebration. (And plan on sending about five follow-up texts.) If you’re jetting off to ring in the occasion, double check your luggage to make sure you’ve got the essentials—not to mention an extra phone charger and a Kindle. Mercury rules the postal system, so get your packages out early!
Then, on December 23, Mercury backs up one spot in the zodiac, rounding out its retrograde in unfiltered Sagittarius before correcting course on New Year’s Day 2024. Not only is this a warning to avoid triggering relatives, but, since Sagittarius is the ruler of travel, expect disruptions to your journeys. Delays will be likely. Be sure to choose your fellow partygoers carefully. One divisive debater can ruin everything!
What to do during the 2023 Mercury retrogrades
When Mercury turns retrograde three to four times each year, there’s no need to panic! Sure the headlines are catchy and the Instagram memes are funny, but the 2023 Mercury retrogrades aren’t necessarily bad or meant to be feared. In fact, they can be helpful in evaluating many aspects of our lives.
We have some general advice we ourselves like to follow:
Pace yourself during the data-skewing, three-week 2023 Mercury retrograde cycles.
Focus on all things with the prefix “re,” such as:
Pay closer attention to your inner world and get in touch with your thoughts, which signal all your feelings.
Is it time to update certain beliefs? Mercury retrograde can help!
See more about how to embrace a Mercury retrograde in our article, Mercury Retrograde: How to Survive A Three-Week Communication Crisis
What signs will be affected by the 2023 Mercury retrogrades?
The short answer is: all of them! Everyone feels the effects of the 2023 Mercury retrogrades.
Every Mercury retrograde takes place in a different zodiac sign (like those listed earlier above for the 2023 Mercury retrogrades). Western astrology follows a system called the Tropical Zodiac that divides the sky into 12 equal zones, based on the seasons. Each zone is 30 degrees and together they add up to a 360-degree circle.
As a planet appears, from our vantage point on Earth, to travel through a sky segment, or zodiac sign, it is said to be “in” that sign.
In astrology, every retrograde will occur in a specific zodiac sign (or two!) Depending on the degree of the planet’s journey when it goes retrograde, it may backslide form one zodiac sign to its prior one (and that’s why some retrogrades are in two signs).
Check your daily, weekly and monthly horoscopes for your zodiac sign, during the 2023 Mercury retrogrades, and anytime you want to know how to navigate life by the stars!
What really happens during a Mercury retrograde?
Of course planets don’t actually move backward, they just appear that way from our vantage point on Earth. Earth completes its orbit around the Sun faster than other planets outside its orbit. Periodically, it outpaces them, and that’s when retrograde mayhem erupts!
Much like a speeding car or train passing a slower one, the planet that’s being passed appears to “stop” and move backward (the retrograde period). Then, once Earth completely passes this planet in its orbit, the motion appears “normal” again, and the planet is said to be “direct.”
If you’ve been in a vehicle that felt like it was moving in reverse when passed by another vehicle, you know this feeling!
Check out our article for more on this: Retrogrades in Astrology: What It Means When Planets Go “Backward”
The shadow period of a Mercury retrograde
The effects of a retrograde can linger for a few weeks after a Mercury retrograde ends. This period of time we long-ago coined “retroshade.”
To calculate the retroshade period of the 2023 Mercury retrogrades, you can loosely add two weeks from when Mercury goes direct/ends. If you have an emphemeris, you can get scientific down to the exact minute and degrees.
Read more about this in our article: Mercury Retrograde Shadow Phase: Decode the ‘Retroshade”
Was I born during a Mercury retrograde?
A lot of people like to consult their birth (or natal) chart to discover if they were born during a Mercury retrograde. If you don’t have a birth chart, you can do one for free here. Or use our calculator below to find out if you were born during a Mercury retrograde.
Retrograde planets in a chart, Mercury or any other, can serve up extra lessons. In fact, the retrograde symbol looks like an Rx—and this “prescription” is its own form of medicine. If you take the right dose, you can achieve mastery over an area that was once a struggle for you. You might even teach others how to heal their own issues around confidence and speaking up.
Learn more about what it means if you were born during a Mercury retrograde here.