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The secret to surviving Mercury retrograde.

By December 1st, 2023No Comments

Last updated for Mercury retrograde 13 December 2023 to 2 January 2024.

Mercury retrograde is nothing to fear, so you can stop panicking.

Just because the messenger of the Gods is retracing his steps through the heavens, it does *not* guarantee that your phone is going to blow up, your car will get a flat tyre or your mail will mysteriously get redirected to a cattle station in the outback somewhere…

Want to know how I know?

Because we have on average three or four Mercury retrograde periods per year – and your phone doesn’t blow up three or four times a year.

Poor Mercury gets blamed for everything that goes wrong during its retrograde and it’s a little unfair.

When Mercury goes retrograde it’s actually a gift – an opportunity to really learn a lesson and nail an area of your life that’s particularly important to you right now.

That said, I will always recommend backing up your phone, checking your tyre pressure and triple checking any document before you sign it during Mercury retrograde (I mean, these are just good practices retrograde or no retrograde, right?) but there’s something else very easy and very practical you can do to help you make the most of a Mercury retrograde period.

First though, it might be useful to understand what Mercury retrograde actually *is* so that we can understand how it affects us… and therefore how to survive it.

What is Mercury retrograde?

Mercury retrograde is when Mercury appears to be going backwards in the sky from our viewpoint here on earth as we pass each other in our orbits around the sun. Mercury doesn’t actually travel backwards, it just looks that way because the earth and Mercury have different orbit speeds around the sun.

It’s kind of like when your train passes a slower train and the slower train looks like it’s going backwards, even thought it’s not.

There are three or four times per year that Mercury ‘goes retrograde’.

First Mercury will travel across a section of the sky (and therefore through a section of your natal chart), then it will appear to pause before moving backwards through the same part of the sky it just covered during a roughly three week period.

Finally, it will appear to pause a second time before once again moving forward, retracing it’s path for the third and last time.

How to survive Mercury retrograde.

Because of retrograde periods, it looks as though Mercury covers the same stretch of sky (and our charts) three times – once direct, once retrograde and then again direct.

This re-winding, re-tracing and re-visiting process is actually the key to surviving Mercury retrogrades.

The section of our charts that Mercury traverses when it’s in retrograde motion indicates the area of life that we will feel this ‘re-wind, re-trace, re-visit’ energy.

The secret to surviving Mercury retrograde season therefore, is to pay attention when Mercury *first* crosses the part of the sky it will then retrograde over. 

This is also called the retrograde shadow (or as some call it, ‘retroshade’).

Whilst the re-visiting and lessons will mostly fall during the retrograde period itself, you can think of the shadow period like a chance to get a sneak peek into what themes and issues may pop up during the retrograde period. 

It’s a good idea to make notes on what themes you notice during the pre-retrograde shadow in the area of life your sign will be affected by during the retrograde (see below) to get potential insights into how the retrograde may manifest for you and prepare accordingly.

Dates for the next Mercury retrograde.

Pre-retrograde shadow: 26 November 2023 – 13 December 2023

When Mercury first travels across the stretch of sky it will then retrograde over.

Mercury retrograde: 13 December 2023 – 2 January 2024

When Mercury appears to be going backwards through the sky – and your chart, re-tracing the path it already took in the shadow period.

Post-retrograde shadow: 2 January 2024 – 21 January 2024

When Mercury re-traces its steps back through the same part of sky (and chart) for the third and final time.

If you have a copy of your natal chart, Mercury will station retrograde at 08°29′ Capricorn and stations direct at 22°10′ Sagittarius so you can look to see the exact houses and areas of life it will be retrograding through for you personally.

Mercury Retrograde Survival Guides for each sign...

Look for your ascendant (or rising) sign below to find out which area of life to pay attention to in the pre-retrograde shadow period to indicate potential lessons the Mercury retrograde beginning 13 December 2023 and ending 2 January 2024 may have to teach you.

If you don’t know your rising sign, you can create a free natal chart at or simply look at your sun (or star) sign instead.

Aries & Taurus

Double check any travel arrangements – especially if it’s long distance, international travel or travel for business or to a conference or course. Hold off on finalising any business agreements or making big decisions at work as your career sector is under the spotlight. Take your time to think things through and make sure you’re getting what you asked for.

Taurus & Gemini

Pop your credit card in the freezer and avoid borrowing or getting further into debt as other peoples’ money is highlighted during this retrograde. If you’re waiting for money to arrive, there may be delays so be patient and make a backup plan. Secrets or taboos are also highlighted, so be careful who you speak to and what you reveal as it may not stay secret.

Gemini & Cancer

Relationships as well as contracts are lit up this retrograde, so be careful who you go into partnership with – be it business or romantic. Mercury is known to be a trickster, so be vigilant that some things (or people) may not be as they seem. It doesn’t mean you have to hide away like a hermit during this time, just employ a little extra caution.

Cancer & Leo

Your daily routine is likely to be impacted this retrograde – this may mean nothing runs according to schedule, crossed wires with coworkers, sleep disruptions and minor health setbacks. So re-confirm plans, double check who you’re sending that email to, triple check your alarm and remember to breathe.

Leo & Virgo

You may feel more than a little frustrated that you can’t seem to properly express yourself – or that when you do, the words all come out wrong or people take them the wrong way. Creative projects may be put on hold or delayed or you might catch a serious case of writer’s block. Be sure to be kind to yourself and if at first you don’t succeed, you can try again tomorrow.

Virgo & Libra

The past and home life are affected by this retrograde, which might bring up feelings – or people – from the past you thought were long since gone. Emotions are likely to be running high, so employ a little extra patience and understanding with your nearest and dearest and remember that if things don’t work out as you’d hoped the first time, you literally get a re-do.

Libra & Scorpio

Communication and community are the theme of this retrograde. You may run into literal roadblocks and setbacks on journeys and/or with trying to get your message across. So give yourself a little extra travel time, double check your appointments and be sure to check in with your siblings or oldest friends.

Scorpio & Sagittarius

Your finances, self worth and security are under the microscope this retrograde, so think twice before making that seriously expensive purchase – especially if you’re shopping to make yourself feel better or impress someone – or you may just find yourself digging out the receipt to make a return or feeling some serious buyer’s remorse when the bill comes in.

Sagittarius & Capricorn

You might be feeling a little self-conscious, unsure of your self and either feeling lonely in a crowd or crowded and wishing for alone time as this retrograde puts the pressure on your sense of self. Take time to check in with who you truly are, what you truly want and what’s truly important to you – not just what others need you to be.

Capricorn & Aquarius

Whatever you’ve been avoiding or hiding is likely to surface during this retrograde in order for you to face it, heal it, learn from it and maybe even lay it to rest. You may find yourself in a ‘time out’ from family or friends or need some time away to re-connect to yourself and process the lessons Mercury wants you to integrate.

Aquarius & Pisces

Friends and groups, causes, hopes and dreams are all under the spotlight this retrograde. A generous offer from a friend many not be all it seems, so be sure to read the fine print or clarify exactly what’s expected in return. Your future plans may experience hiccups, but remember Mercury gives you a re-do so look closely at what you may have missed the first time.

Pisces & Aries

Your career and ambitions take centre stage this Mercury retrograde. You might find you’re not making quite as big an impact as you were hoping for, that offer at work wasn’t quite what it first seemed or you’re simply not getting the recognition you deserve. Remember these setbacks are temporary – what are you being given a chance to re-visit and improve?

Want more personalised advice for this Mercury retrograde season based on your personal natal chart? Book in a one on one reading with me here.