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Mercury Retrograde: Making It Work For You

By Katrina Rasbold

Author’s Note: For those who believe in magic but not in astrology, this post will hold no validity. Many of us use astrology and view the practice as a valuable and familiar magical tool. I wrote this post for those folks. The current Mercury Retrograde lasts from Dec. 13, 2023, to Jan. 1, 2024.

If you are a magical person who uses astrology in your practice, or if you have a Facebook friends list filled with magical people who use astrology, the buzz is likely about the Mercury Retrograde that hit Monday night around 9:00 PM Eastern time. Three or four times a year, because of the elliptical orbits of both planets and their juxtapositions, Mercury passes up Earth in its orbit and as it goes around the bend, from our perspective, it looks as though Mercury stops in its station and begins to move backwards. It is a similar phenomenon to when two vehicle are moving side by side and one appears to go backwards. The pace and direction of Mercury’s orbit is unchanged. It is our own view from an Earthly perspective that shifts. There is a metaphor in there for sure.

In astrology, Mercury governs communication, connections, meetings, technology, and travel. Mercury remains in retrograde for approximately three and a half weeks each time and during that period, all of those areas of life tend to go a little disproportionately batty. Meetings are rescheduled and missed, phone calls drop, faxes go unsent or re-routed, emails disappear into the aether, and miscommunications are rampant. Schedules go awry, technology spazzes out, and obstacles seem to arise out of nowhere. I know Mercury is retrograde when I begin to drop everything I pick up. For some reason, my motor skills are strongly affected by this phenomenon. No, neither I nor science have the answers for why that happens, only that there is a distinct energy shift. I could be a wise-ass and say something pious like, “Only the true initiates into the mysteries feel it,” but really, it is simply that it affects some people more than others and to date, there is no scientific explanation for why it happens.

According to the Hindustan Times: “The last Mercury retrograde of 2023 starts on December 13 and ends on January 1, 2024. Mercury moves between Capricorn and Sagittarius during this time, creating a bit of a back-and-forth motion. It began its ‘retrograde journey’ on November 25, daring you to dream big. Then, it switched to practical Capricorn on December 1. From December 13 to 23, it’ll be in Capricorn, and after that, it moves back to Sagittarius until January 1. Things start to settle by January 20.”

Just like a train does not suddenly change directions, the appearance of Mercury’s retrograde shift is not immediate. For two weeks before the time it is in full retrograde, Mercury appears to slow down. This is called its “shadow period” and we may experience some precursor effects as the planet’s movement from our perspective begins its transition.  A Mercury Retrograde in Capricorn challenges your relationship with money and your ability to communicate effectively with others.

Mercury governs Gemini and Virgo and those with heavy Gemini and Virgo in their natal charts will often feel the effects more profoundly. People born when Mercury is in retrograde often flourish during the times when others are struggling. There is a feel to the Mercury retrograde periods and if a person is at all sensitive to energy shifts, it is usually easy to connect the dots and figure out that Mercury is at it again even without predictive charting. Intellectually we know Mercury has not deviated from its usual course, but the fact that it feels different to us here on Earth is the key point. Just as we can feel the tides of the moon and the shifts in gravitational pull during its waxing, fullness, and waning if we are attuned to those cycles, so can we feel the influence of the Mercury Retrogrades.

Like any astrological event, we can use Mercury Retrogrades to our benefit rather than endure them as an obstacle to overcome. Sure, there are inconveniences associated with this time, but the most basic energy of the retrograde is revisiting the past as we go backward in our own tracks. Mercury Retrograde is all about “re-.” This is a wonderful time to reconsider, redecorate, renew, regenerate, and revitalize. Reschedule, renegotiate, rewrite, re-create, and revisit.

When you can, avoid new negotiations or contracts. Go back and touch any bases you may have missed as you sailed around the diamond on your last home run. Revisit old projects that you set aside for later. Reconnect with friends from the past and renew relationships that are dear to you but have lacked nurturing in recent times. Be ready to review your work more than usual, reconsider your actions, and repeat your important messages clearly. Keep communication simple and specific so as not to be misunderstood. Reflect on your place in the world and use this period of retrospection to consider how best to move forward when the time comes.

Avoid arguments whenever possible while Mercury is in retrograde. It is very easy to succumb to the irritation that comes from the poorly phrased communications and missed connections that are rampant, however, knowing that things like this occur during a Mercury Retrograde, always presume that the person did not intend to inconvenience you and that Mercury stuff happened.  Use phrases such as, “I realize I may not be communicating this well…” or “I understand we aren’t on the same page with this…” and table the conversation until well past the retrograde period if you can. Worst case scenario is that it cannot hurt any of us to be more gracious, open, and kind to one another.

Try to advance or postpone moving into new homes, starting new jobs, planning major events such as parties or ceremonies, long-distance traveling, or making primary life changes during a retrograde if you can. Polish up what already exists in your life rather than opening new doors.

In addition to giving us time to look back in this active, formative year, Mercury Retrograde also allows us a pause before we go through the open door of change that Winter Solstice and the new Year brings. Solstice, by its nature, brings the energy of “stillness” as even the Sun seems to stand still (from the Latin sol -“sun” – and sistere – “to stand still.” As the cold weather and limited light sends us indoors while the fields lay fallow, this becomes a time of review, contemplation, and forward planning. This ties in perfectly with the reflective time of Mercury Retrograde.

Use Mercury Retrogrades to your advantage rather than moaning with dread when they come into play. Help the retrogrades work for you instead of viewing them as something done to you. See them for the reminder that stopping to consider and reflect on where we have been is just as important as pushing forward into what the future holds for us.

If you ever want to know if Mercury is retrograde, you can go to this wonderful website.

Katrina Rasbold is a professional Witch, published author, priestess, and editor of Green Egg Magazine. She and her husband, Eric, are the creators of the CUSP spiritual path and owners of Crossroads Occult. She and Dahlia Rose host the popular livestreamed video broadcast “Crossroads of Cognizance” most Thursday afternoons. 

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