Mercury Retrograde in Virgo Is Giving ‘Back to School’ Energy, Prompting Us All To Get Our Lives Together

Photo: Getty Images/vgajic
You may know Mercury retrograde—an astrological transit that occurs when Mercury appears to move in reverse—as a time when all chaos breaks loose. The transit is famous (perhaps infamous?) for putting all things Mercurial (like communication, transportation, and technology) on the fritz. But astrologers often see it as a cosmos-mandated slowdown, a time for us all to pause and reassess, and to work out the kinks before charging ahead.

That vibe shift will be especially apparent as Mercury stations retrograde in the meticulous sign of Virgo on August 23, where it'll remain until September 15. (ICYWW: This is the second-to-last set of Mercury retrograde dates for the year.) As luminous Leo season comes to an end, Mercury retrograde in Virgo gives us all a major opportunity to get organized. Consider it a star-sanctioned dose of "back to school" energy.

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Overall vibes of Mercury retrograde in Virgo 2023

Mercury retrogrades three to four times a year, and when it does, we tend to cross our wires in Mercurial realms; think: getting stuck in traffic, missing a key appointment because you didn’t double-check your planner, forgetting to mail an important letter, or playing phone tag with a friend.

As a result, the energy of Mercury retrograde tends to inspire "re" behaviors when it comes to Mercury-related activities, says astrologer Stephanie Gailing, author of The Astrological Self-Care Journal. That is, “you want to re-communicate [your needs and boundaries], reevaluate your priorities, reconnect with others, and reconsider your communications to find new approaches to understanding information you’ve gathered and new ways of sharing it.”

Because this particular Mercury retrograde occurs in Virgo, its energy will reflect the vibes of the organized Earth sign. Known for its meticulousness, Virgo is “analytical, observational, detail-oriented, and precise,” says Alexandria Lettman, astrologer and founder of spiritual wellness platform Jupiter Jewel.

Thankfully, that vibe is exactly what we all need to manage the crossed wires of a Mercury retrograde—which means this transit could feel a bit smoother than usual. Mercury is “very happy in Virgo,” says Gailing, noting that the planet is the sign’s planetary ruler. However, Lettman adds that this combo of Mercury and Virgo can still “pack a punch” because it challenges us to do what Virgo does best—that is, to create order—when chaos typically reigns.

“The focus is going to be on saying 'no,' putting up boundaries, and really being choosy about what we’re doing with our time.” —Rachel Lang, astrologer

“The focus is going to be on saying no, putting up boundaries, and really being choosy about what we’re doing with our time, whom we're spending it with, and what we’re saying 'yes' to,” says astrologer Rachel Lang. “It's a time of clearing your calendar and getting organized.”

How to handle this Mercury retrograde in Virgo

Generally speaking, Mercury retrograde is well-aligned for deep introspection and getting your internal affairs in order. “The common delays and miscommunications encourage us to put a pause on things and engage in that process of reevaluating our decisions and rethinking our lives,” says Lang.

Though this work can feel uncomfortable in the moment, it'll prove beneficial long-term. Lang likens the energy of Mercury retrograde to loading an arrow into a bow; pulling back further will launch the arrow a greater distance, and the same is true with the depth of self-introspection here. “The further in and back we go with our deep soul exploration, the further we can shoot and the faster we can move when we’re on the other side [of the retrograde],” she says.

Given the detail-oriented Virgo influence on this transit, that work might include sorting your feelings... or re-doing your filing system or spice cabinet. Virgo is concerned with “bettering things,” so tackle the internal work and any external projects with an eye toward establishing or discovering a better way of doing things, advises Gailing. That could mean considering how your current organizational systems aren't serving you and thinking on how to adjust them.

“Virgo is very much about the interplay between mind and body, so there’s also this notion of reconsidering your approach to well-being.” —Stephanie Gailing, astrologer

As you’re tuning up your mind and space, check in on your physical health, too. “Virgo is very much about the interplay between mind and body, so there’s also this notion of reconsidering your approach to well-being,” says Gailing. Maybe you’re currently going to early morning Pilates class three times a week before work, but skipping precious sleep to make it in time. Now’s a great time to reconsider whether that approach is working, and make plans to adjust if not.

While you’re doing all this self-reflecting, though, be careful not to tip into Virgo-esque perfectionism; don’t take the bait to pick at yourself or put yourself down for past mistakes. If you find yourself veering into that territory, consider how the high standards you hold for yourself might be reducing your self-image, says Lettman, and whether the way you talk to yourself might be due for a tune-up, too.

Which signs will be most affected by Mercury retrograde in Virgo?

Two signs, both of which are ruled by Mercury, will feel this retrograde most acutely, according to Lettman: Virgo (no surprise there) and Gemini. Mercury is retrograding in its sign, so Virgo may take any setbacks even more personally, and “will feel most frustrated when things don’t go to plan,” she says. As for Gemini, the deep internal work involved in Mercury retrograde can kick up some conflicting feelings, which Lettman says can spark confusion and restlessness.

With that said, everyone will feel this Mercury retrograde in some way, depending on the astrological house that this transit occupies in your birth chart. Read on for both your sun and rising signs to gather star-sanctioned insights about what Mercury retrograde in Virgo might especially have in store for you.

How Mercury retrograde in Virgo will affect every zodiac sign


With Mercury occupying your sixth house of habits and health, you have a very Virgo-like call to fine-tune your daily routine this retrograde, Aries. Think about how you lay out your days, suggests Gailing, and go over your organizing systems to see if they still fit your goals and needs. “You can really achieve a different approach to feeling well,” she says, especially if you review and reconsider a few well-being practices that might've worked for you in the past.


Taurus, Mercury is transiting in your fifth house of fun and pleasure. This is a great time to reconnect with your creativity and think about “how you’re expressing your unique light,” says Lang. Also, it's wise to reassess whether you’re truly happy in the romance realm, too, because you might find yourself reuniting with people from your past. (After all, Venus is still retrograding—and Mercury retrograde has a similar reputation for bringing back old flames.)


Family matters on the mind, Gemini? Now is the time to consider how you might mend any wounded familial bonds, as Mercury is in your fourth house of family, home, and legacy. “Maybe you go back to your sibling, cousin, or another family member with whom you had stalled communication, and readdress the relationship from a different orientation,” suggests Gailing. You may discover a new understanding of the situation, or at the very least, access closure.


Buckle up, Cancer. Mercury is in your third house, which corresponds to its exact ruling topic: communication. Lang advises “double-, triple-, and quadruple-checking” any details for plans or assignments. This extends past your calendar, too, and into your relationships; you might not be hearing or interpreting what others say to you in the way they intend, so take an extra beat to make sure meanings are clear and nothing is getting lost in translation.


Your second house of value, finances, and ownership is in Mercury’s path, Leo. Given that we’ve just wrapped up Leo season, now would be an ideal time to review any birthday expenditures you might have made and go over bank or credit card statements with an exacting eye to be sure nothing is amiss, says Gailing. “This retrograde is also encouraging you  to look at your money matters from a different orientation,” she says, so it's useful to consider if the systems or methods you've had in place for budgeting may not be the most helpful ones for reaching your financial goals.


You're in the hot seat, Virgo. After all, Mercury is retrograding in your sign, affecting your first house of identity. Translation: You'll feel this one intensely. Your task is to reimagine how you express yourself and conceive of your own self-image, says Gailing. “It’s not all about looks, but it is very much about the image you present to the world,” she says.

Whatever you do, however, don't commit to long-lasting or irreversible changes to your appearance (a double Mercury and Venus retrograde period is not the time for that). Instead, consider short-term tweaks; for instance, if you want to change up your hair, try a temporary dye rather than permanent.

This is also the time to re-evaluate how you're directing your efforts and energy, says Lang. Are you investing a lot in something that doesn't have a high return for you? There's no use sticking it out with an activity or hobby—even one you've done for some time—if you don't actually enjoy it.


Book some time away, Libra, or at least carve out some mental space for yourself to relax and reflect at home. Mercury retrograde in Virgo resides in your 12th house of the subconscious mind, which means this transit will “involve a lot of deep soul searching,” says Lang.

This is a time of big personal revelation for you. You could find yourself examining your belief systems, faith, and spirituality—which could be a vulnerable process. Take care of yourself by journaling and tapping your network of friends and loved ones for additional support.


Both your platonic and professional connections are in focus this retrograde, Scorpio. Mercury is in your 11th house of friends and groups, so Gailing says it’s key to watch out for any miscommunications or crossed wires with friends, colleagues, or others in your orbit.

You may uncover a different perspective on the dynamics of certain groups to which you belong, says Gailing. Also, be on the lookout for friends from the past or with whom you've lost touch reaching back out, adds Lang.


You have a big opportunity to reassess and rethink your life path, Sagittarius, as Mercury moves through your 10th house of purpose and career. Your adventurous spirit could serve you well in this moment: Turn your gaze inward, and ask yourself, "What's my purpose in life, and where am I heading?"

This simple pause for re-evaluation could change your perspective. “It could be a time of career change, or rethinking a career path you didn't take before,” says Lang. “In any case, it's a time of analyzing what you’re here to contribute.”


Long-distance travel may be on your mind, Capricorn, as Mercury retrogrades in your ninth house of exploration. When making any travel plans, Gailing says to consider how you might veer off the beaten path. Maybe you take a train trip instead of driving or flying, or you visit a small city or town as opposed to a popular one.

If you're traveling during the retrograde, you can expect delays and speed bumps—but Lang encourages finding adventure and opportunity in the unexpected (rather than getting caught up in logistics, as you may be wont to do). “Treat everything that happens as an invitation to relax, not take things too seriously, and give yourself a break,” says Lang.


It's time to evaluate your intimate relationships and make sure your communications are clear, Aquarius. Your eighth house of shared finances, investments, sex, and debts is at play during this Mercury retrograde.

“You might reconsider the communication system you're using to connect with your closest loved ones—including yourself,” says Gailing. She also recommends applying this introspection to your intimate desires, too; consider how you might adjust your approach to seduction as a means to experience more pleasure and intimacy in your life.


You could spend this transit digging through previous connections, Pisces. Mercury moves through your seventh house of relationships, bringing to mind people from your past, says Lang. Exes might pop back into your head (or life), or you might find yourself scrolling through an old crush’s social media feed. Still, it's important not to dwell on the past too much. Instead, let these reflections serve as a reminder of how lovable you are in the present, says Lang.

This transit can also affect your current relationships. “Pisces could face misunderstandings, as they learn to stop worrying about ‘fixing’ things and to just be a good listener,” says Lettman. The less you aim to people-please and the more you advocate for yourself, the better off you'll fare.

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