Mercury Will Be Retrograde 3 More Times in 2023—Here’s What To Know, and How To Plan Accordingly

Photo: Stocksy/Alba Vitta
If you felt like 2023 started with more of a… fizzle than a bang, you can blame the cosmos. Mercury, the planet of communication and information, was already retrograde (aka moving in an apparent backspin) as New Year’s Day arrived, only returning to direct motion on January 18. Mercury retrograde transits tend to channel a higher-than-typical number of crossed wires and miscommunications—and we can expect the same thing to happen during three more of these events throughout 2023. But thankfully, we don’t just have to wait in dread; in fact, planning for Mercury retrograde dates can help you get ahead of potential havoc—and maybe even embrace the transit’s backward-leaning power.

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So you aren’t caught by surprise, here are the Mercury retrograde dates to bookmark in 2023:

  • April 21 to May 14
  • August 23 to September 15
  • December 13 to January 1, 2024

Wait, what happens when Mercury is retrograde again?

The slowed-down and backward-seeming motion of the planet can similarly slow your roll in the areas of life over which it rules, like communication and travel. This doesn't mean you're guaranteed to have flight delays and conversational snafus, but that in scenarios where you aren’t fully in control, or you may not have taken good care to prepare, snags are all the more likely. That’s why astrologers view Mercury retrograde not as the ultimate messenger of bad news and bad luck that it’s often made out to be, but instead, like a reminder from the universe to slow down, double-check the details, and embrace the throwback energy by revisiting and reviewing the past (rather than pushing forward something new).

The particular facets of your life this energy affects will depend on the zodiac sign through which Mercury is transiting while it’s retrograde. In 2023, Mercury is retrograde in all Earth signs (with the exception of a few days of the final retrograde, during which it will be in fire-sign Sagittarius). And as a result, you can expect the transit to stir up its typical chaos this year within Earth-centric realms.

“Mercury retrograde in Earth signs has us focusing on the tangible and physical world.” —Stephanie Campos, astrologer

“Mercury retrograde in Earth signs has us focusing on the tangible and physical world,” says astrologer Stephanie Campos. Right now, as Mercury retrogrades in Earth-sign Capricorn, it has us assessing the Capricorn-esque realms of work and career, thinking (and rethinking) about our material goals. Later this year, when the planet retrogrades in Earth-sign Taurus, it will “ask us to refine and reflect on our finances and values,” and after that, when it later backspins in Earth-sign Virgo, it’ll task us with “confronting our everyday structures and routines to see where they may no longer be aligned,” she says.

Before we dive into exactly what you can expect for all of these 2023 Mercury retrograde dates, Campos shares some reminders about general dos and don’ts for these transits.

How to get through any Mercury retrograde transit

First, it’s always helpful to expect the unexpected and minimize the fallout of any chaos by being proactive with your rest, says Campos. The more space and time you work into your schedule, the better you’ll be able to navigate any surprise mishaps, miscommunications, or travel delays. (Without leaving at least some wiggle room in your schedule for things to go wrong—which they very well might—you’ll risk an unfortunate chain reaction of issues.)

Having some extra downtime built into your schedule also makes it possible to engage in all the “re” tasks that astrologers suggest for tapping into the transit’s backward energy: reflecting, reconnecting, reviewing, revisiting, reimagining, reevaluating, and the like. Remember, Mercury retrograde is all about reconsidering the past, not pushing forward into the future. “The more you’re able to engage in the reflection process of what may be arising for you during this time, the easier it will be to make adjustments as necessary,” says Campos.

“This period of delays and revising isn’t meant to frustrate us. It’s meant to filter out what doesn't serve us.” —Campos

It’s also important to rethink how you view Mercury retrograde in general in order to see it for its long-term upsides (even if it’s inconvenient while it’s happening). “This period of delays and revising isn’t meant to frustrate us,” says Campos. “It’s meant to filter out what doesn't serve us.” And there’s an important lesson to glean from that message: “Mercury retrograde offers us a chance to be okay with stillness, to reconnect with our inner voice, and to appreciate the fact that slowing down is a necessary and healthy part of life,” says Campos.

What to expect from the 3 remaining Mercury retrogrades in 2023

1. Mercury retrograde in Taurus: April 21 to May 14

Taurus is the sign of all things material and natural, which could mean this particular retrograde may surface some previously buried issues related to our natural environment, says Campos. It’s also the sign of finances, values, and power, meaning we could find ourselves rethinking our relationship with all of the above, she adds. On a practical level, that means it’s a good idea to review your budget and see where it may be wise to make adjustments ahead of the typically high-spend summer months.

Some good news: Throughout this transit, Mercury also forms a few potent aspects with Saturn in Pisces, “and this blending of energies supports our mental faculties and helps with focus and determination,” says Campos. After all, Saturn is the planet of commitments, routine, and hard work—all of which will happen more smoothly once Mercury shifts direct in mid-May and forms a supportive aspect with Saturn once more. “By that point, we can trust that our judgment and decision-making will be firmly rooted in our values and compassion,” says Campos.

2. Mercury retrograde in Virgo: August 23 to September 15

Mercury retrograde in Virgo is basically textbook Mercury retrograde energy, given that Mercury is Virgo’s planetary ruler and Virgo is all about Mercurial themes, like information and communication. “You can expect miscommunications, delays, and disruptions with your schedule and work-life balance,” says Campos. Your best bet is to embrace Virgoan energy, and plan, plan, plan for those mishaps to occur. That means having a plan A, a plan B, and maybe a plan C for anything particularly important happening during this time. “This is also a perfect retrograde to kick outdated habits and reorganize your routine,” adds Campos.

Overall, though, this Mercury retrograde may not hit as hard as the others because it receives some cosmic support from Jupiter, which is nicknamed the “Great Benefic” for its power to lend a bit of luck to whatever it touches. As the two planets form a supportive aspect, “we will still be able to access a glimmer of hope despite any setbacks we may be facing,” says Campos, “and once Mercury turns direct, we will have more optimism as we move forward.”

3. Mercury retrograde in Capricorn *and* Sagittarius: December 13 to January 1, 2024

This final Mercury retrograde of the year is energetically reminiscent of the first of 2023: It’ll happen (primarily) in Earth-sign Capricorn. In fact, Mercury will station retrograde on December 13 at 8 degrees of Capricorn, which is the exact same degree at which it will soon station direct on January 18, says Campos: “This will bring us back to stories, conversations, themes, and topics that we’ve been sorting through during the Mercury retrograde happening now.” Which is all to say, if you feel like you’re making progress on something, but you haven’t quite nailed it, rest assured you’ll have another opportunity to do so come the end of this year.

Specifically, adds Campos, Mercury retrograde in Capricorn can make you “more aware of the concept of time, how much you have left of it, and how you’re making use of it.” Because the sign of Capricorn is all about hard work, success, and recognition, you might also find that you’re reevaluating your ambitions around what feeds your purpose and reconsidering the steps you need to take in order to leave behind a legacy of which you’re truly proud, she adds.

The energy shifts on December 22, when this iteration of Mercury’s cosmic rewind takes the planet into the adventure-seeking sign of Sagittarius. “This could encourage us to reconsider our perspective or worldview, or to reconnect with spiritual practices,” says Campos. “You may also find yourself curious about a foreign subject or revisiting something you used to study.”

In any case, it’s best to follow that curiosity on an intellectual level, or use this time to plan and plot adventures—but not to actually go somewhere far away, if you can help it. With Sagittarius being the sign of travel and Mercury retrograde being notorious for travel mishaps, delays are likely, says Campos. So, if you do need to go somewhere (looking at you, holiday travelers), your best bet is to assume anything that may go wrong will go wrong—and, again, to plan accordingly.

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