Mercury retrograde • August 23 – September 15, 2023

2023 Mercury retrograde Survival Guide

It’s almost that time of year again– the often-dreaded Mercury retrograde. Dreaded why? Read on for a full exploration of what it means when the planet of communication appears to move backward. But you should know that every Mercury retrograde is not a nightmare. Sometimes they are quite helpful, as they help us pick up bits of information and useful nuggets that we missed in the past.

Mercury’s sign and connections to other planets help us tell the individual story of each of these three-week events.

Mercury retrograde forecast

August 23 – September 15, 2023

Regardless of whether it’s retrograde or not, Mercury tells us where the collective “mind” is. Mercury retrograde appears in Taurus, making it a “stellar” time to gather information about the practical matters in life. Does your home need repairs? Does your car need maintenance? Balance your accounting, schedule your payments, and run your numbers. Which activities are paying off, and which are not?

Mercury retrograde is not always the best time to make decisions and take action, but you can lean into its strengths by taking some time to review, edit, refresh, and reconnect with people and ideas you first encountered in the past.

Mercury retrograde Summer 2023 key dates

  • Mercury enters its retrograde shadow: August 3, 2023
  • 🟢 Mercury trine Jupiter (1) – August 9
  • Mercury turns retrograde at 21° Virgo – August 23
  • 🟢 Retrograde Mercury trine Jupiter (2) – September 3
  • Mercury turns direct at 08° Virgo – September 15
  • 🟢 Mercury trine Jupiter (3) – September 24
  • Mercury exits its retrograde shadow – September 30
  • get all the 🟢 and 🔴 dates for this quarter in a free PDF

How does Mercury retrograde affect you?

Mercury retrograde at work

  • Text-astrophe! Double-check all outgoing messages before you seal the envelope or hit the “send” button.
  • Errors, typos, crossed wires, and other communication glitches may pop up. Look for fixes on the days marked with ☆ below.
  • Connectivity problems, traffic, and schedule changes are typical of Mercury retrograde. If you can, schedule light on days marked with ☂ below. (there are none this time!!)
  • If you find it difficult to move forward on a writing or communication project, try going backward! Review, update, or edit your old work. This could be especially fruitful on days marked with ☆.
  • Look to the past notes and plans for answers. You may rediscover a valuable nugget in your old files, notes, and archives.

Mercury retrograde in close relationships

  • Common ground can be hard to find.
  • Communicate carefully to avoid misunderstandings.
  • You may reconnect with a partner or competitor from the past.

Mercury retrograde and your Health

  • If you are feeling unsure about a diagnosis or treatment plan, keep asking questions. Make sure you understand and agree with the plan before you move forward.
  • Use this period to research treatment options or get a second opinion. Especially on the days marked with a ☆ below.
  • Diagnostic tests may come up inconclusive or need repeating later.
  • If you’re sensitive to airborne toxins or allergens, change the air filters and take the precautions you need to protect yourself.
  • Mercury rules children, siblings, and pets– the kids and critters may need extra attention.

What is Mercury retrograde?

mercury retrograde - spilled coffee
I think Mercury retrograde is probably the number one “gateway” event that pulls people into the realness of astrology beyond the horoscopes. I have not done a formal survey on this. But it’s one of the easiest astrological events to witness in real-time. For one thing, its influence on everyday things is very apparent. So that even people who aren’t “into” astrology can get on board with it. And it happens regularly, every four months. Like a familiar friend (or frenemy).

In astrology, Mercury represents communication, logistics, and everyday, mundane details. Mercury retrograde is the time when little things can become big things. The computer barfs. The car barfs. The cat barfs. The internet connection goes out. There’s confusion about the schedule. You can’t find that piece of paper you need. The traffic is horrendous. The cat barfs ON the computer… There are literally a million little details that can blow up and cause you to slow down, adjust, and look at things in a new way.

Don’t think of this as a flashing red light, instructing you to crawl into a hole and do nothing. Think of it as a flashing yellow light. Slow down. Take your time. Mercury is the planet of communication, transportation, and ideas, as well as the day-to-day logistics of our lives. So be flexible.

Many folks will tell you not to sign any contracts of any sort during Mercury retrograde. That’s kind of silly. But you do need to slow down and take your time. Read the fine print, and write any contingencies into the contract before signing. Take your time with major equipment or software upgrades, too.

The Magic of Mercury retrograde

The “backtracking” experience has its benefits. Use Mercury retrograde to revise a writing project or artistic work from the past. Or review your notes. Revisit plans for your house, your garden, whatever. Or look up an old friend. This is a great time for catching up.

If you can find space to slow down, let go of expectations, and go with the flow, you can get some very important work done. You could pick up an important thread from the past. Then you’ll come out on the other side well-informed, rehearsed, and ready to move forward once again.

Retrogrades draw the energy to the past.

A retrograde planet retraces its steps, revisiting the territory it covered before. Retrogrades draw your energy to the past. In the case of Mercury retrograde, it’s your thinking, communications, day to day activities. You might find an object you thought you had lost, catch up with an old friend or colleague, or rediscover something valuable in an old notebook or computer file.

(You could even go back and touch up your astrology skills with a review of the basics.)

Fill in the frameworks you created in the past when things were moving along at a faster rate. Develop those ideas. This isn’t the time to write new chapters. It’s time for a round of edits on the ones you have.

Retrogrades draw the energy inward.

Reliable information may be difficult to come by during Mercury retrograde, but you make up for it with inner awareness! Pay attention to the deeper issues during Mercury retrograde. Let your dreams and meditations inform you. Go back and ask the “why” questions. Look past the surface chaos to the inner root causes of the thorny issues.

In sports, Mercury retrograde gives the underdog an edge. I think the “underdog effect” must apply in other matters too.

Recalibration, reorientation

Woman dancing backward

Imagine Mercury as a character who must walk backward for a time. Moving backward is harder than forward because the pattern is contrary to your usual. You have to slow down and pay closer attention to what you’re doing and where you’re going.

What’s the upside of walking backward? You gain a new perspective. You use different muscle groups and neural pathways. It is much easier to see where you have been, and what you might have missed or overlooked along the way while you were moving faster in the other direction, with a different part of your mind switched on.

So take your time when Mercury is retrograde. Don’t rush to a decision or “bang the puzzle piece” to make it fit. If you try to barrel ahead at the same rate of speed that you normally do, you might fall on your butt! But if you respect the energy and work with it, you can get a lot of good out of Mercury retrograde.

What does it mean that Mercury is in retrograde?

mercury retrograde pattern
Middle dot: earth
Black dot: Sun
Red dot: Mercury.
Image: Wikimedia commons

A planet being in retrograde means that it appears to be going backward from our perspective here on Earth. The opposite of retrograde motion (or Rx for short) is direct motion. Of course, Mercury is not really going backward. It is an optical illusion. Take Mercury retrograde for example. Mercury travels around the Sun faster than we do. Every 4 months, it passes us. Here on earth, we witness Mercury appearing to move backward for three weeks.

When you were a kid, did you ever go on long car trips, lie in the back seat, and stick your feet out the window? If a big car or truck passed you, it felt like you were going backward. Retrograde motion is kind of like that.

More info on retrograde planets with diagrams: Retrograde planets

Mercury retrograde 2023 dates

  • December 29 – January 18, 2023
  • April 20 – May 14, 2023
  • August 23 – September 15, 2023
  • December 13, 2023 – January 1, 2024
  • source: Molly’s Astrology Calendar

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2 Responses

  1. Hi Molly, there are lots of posts on working with Mercury retrograde, but this is the best I’ve read. You pick up on things that others don’t mention, and your tips are very useful and relatable. Thank you for your excellent writing!

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