Mercury retrograde brings your attention to unfinished business. We all have parts of our lives with loose ends, clutter and energetic blocks. Mercury goes retrograde three times (occasionally, four) a year, for three weeks each time. So, does it always cause mayhem in your life? Only if you have placements in the sign and between the degrees it covers during the retrograde. If Mercury, Gemini or Virgo are strong in your chart or ruler of the year for you, you may be affected by Mercury retrograde more than most. TLDR? Click here to jump directly to the hints and tips to survive the retrograde.
Four Flavours of A Retrograde
The pre-shadow period (two weeks) is when themes from the retrograde start to emerge and you get the chance to minimize any harmful effects. If you keep your spidey senses attuned, and do all you can to address issues before they escalate, you can avoid the chaos and embarrassment of the following phase.
The retrograde period itself (three weeks) is when you need to take extra care, because if things can go wrong, they will. Any decisions made now, are likely to be retracted. Don't start anything new now, it's safer to wait a little. Best to take the time to think things through from a new perspective, gather all the details, go within, ponder.
Look out for major epiphanies when Mercury is cazimi or "in the heart of the Sun", that is to say, within 1 degree or 17' (depending on your type of astrology) from the Sun. During the retrograde, the cazimi insights will typically be of an intimate, personal nature. Cazimi also happens when the planet is direct, and furthest from Earth, at which time the enlightenment is more universal in nature. In both cases, this is the most perfect time for a great Mercurial act, such as an announcement, launch, or important communication. Always check against your personal chart and current transits and progressions, however.
The post-shadow period (two weeks) is when life goes back to normal, some decisions are undone, problems resolved, and the lessons learnt during the retrograde are assimilated.
Mercury retrogrades within the same element for about a year or year and a half, and then gradually starts transitioning into a new element, until that element takes over fully the following year. For example, in 2023 all the Mercury retrogrades take place in the Earth signs, Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn; however, in December Mercury starts the retrograde in Capricorn but then enters Sagittarius, where it eventually goes direct. In 2024 the retrogrades are all in Fire signs, with an overlap in August between Virgo and Leo. In 2025 they start in Fire but with an overlap with Water. In 2026 they are exclusively in Water, and in 2027 they start in Water but end in Air.
When Mercury retrograde takes place in an element, you can expect themes associated with that element to be especially relevant that year. With Earth, the overarching topics are physical and financial security, practicality and work. With Fire, you get to push against limitations, by inspiring hearts and minds, taking on a leading role and promoting freedom and heroics. With Water the focus is on the inner life, mood, compassion, empathy and creativity. With Air it is thought processes, communication, technology and how we connect with others that flavour each retrograde.
Useful Approaches to Mercury Retrograde
So what do we do if our natal placements are affected directly? Cancel life, business, and relationships? Unrealistic, and unnecessary.
What we do is
What we can also do is
Sounds scary? NAAAH! There are worse things to worry about in the world. Just use humour and common sense and you'll breeze right through it. It's only three weeks, after all. How fast have the last three weeks gone for you? They've certainly flown for me...
Does this help? Do let me know if you have any questions. Or get in touch for a reading if you'd like more clarity. I'm GOOD at that. Even during Mercruy Gatorade...
Sending you CHILL VIBES for throughout the retrograde...