We have a somewhat strange Mercury Retrograde occurring this December Rather than backpedaling through one sign (which tends to cause enough cosmic mayhem), Mercury, the trickster, is going to double the dose and transit through two signs instead: first Capricorn (until the 24th) then Sagittarius (until Jan 1st). Let’s look more closely at the aerodynamics of this retrograde to see what it has in store for us.
Retrogrades occur when a planet looks like it’s moving backwards in relation to us on Earth. Slower moving planets, like Saturn and Jupiter, have longer retrogrades, while Mercury, the fastest planet, has three to four reversals per year. In general, retrogrades are times of cosmic miscues, lapses, repetitions, delays, and glitches. In their more positive valence, we can think of them as periods to re-assess, re-consider, and re-work where we are at a given moment.
Mercury retrogrades in particular are pesky. They tend to involve problems with communication, commerce, cargo—things coming and going. This makes sense, as Mercury, also known as Hermes, was, mythologically speaking, the only God that could transit through all dimensions of the ancient cosmos, from Olympus, to Earth, to the dark realm of Hades. As such, Mercury is the planet associated with conveyances between things through words and wares.
Zooming in a bit more on the nature of a Mercury retrograde, we find that it might influence certain social types more than others. The Trickster Planet is known to be the protector of travelers, thieves, merchants, and orators. If you’re on the run or on the road, for instance, this retrograde might not be a good time for your travels or crimes. If you’re a professor, words might feel elusive during this period. If you ply wares, lost cargo and the like can be a problem, too.
Of course, certain signs will naturally be more impacted by this backspin than others. Mercury-ruled Gemini and Virgo will be more sensitive to its motion than, say, Taurus. It would behoove Virgos and Geminis to figure out where Mercury is transiting the next couple weeks in your individual chart to prepare for delays in those sectors.
These particularities aside, we will generally experience this retrograde as a moment where the brakes get pumped on big decisions (contracts especially) by astrological forces. How so?
At present, Mercury is in a harmonious alignment with Jupiter, marking a positive initiation to this retrograde phase. Despite both planets being in retrograde, their combination creates an intense surge of mental energy and profound contemplation. However, during this retrograde phase, the celestial mechanics prompt Mercury—and consequently, us—to exercise vigilance, urging a meticulous examination of details, whether we're inclined to do so or not.
Although the retrograde starts off on a positive and optimistic note with Jupiter's influence, as Mercury progresses through its retrograde phase and begins its journey towards Mars, the atmosphere might become more intense and potentially contentious. This shift can bring about more assertive, even confrontational energies, leading to situations that require careful handling and diplomacy. In essence, while the retrograde begins with a buoyant tone, it gradually transitions towards a more spirited and potentially challenging phase as it moves closer to Mars.
Looking forward from here, let’s prepare ourselves a bit because there will be three additional full Mercury retrogrades in 2024. They occur on April 1st to April 25th in Aries and from August 5th to August 28th encompassing Leo and Virgo. Later in the year, from November 25th to December 15th, Mercury's retrograde occurs in Sagittarius. Mark your dates.
In aviation, there is a phenomenon known as “mechanical turbulence” that perfectly captures this year’s Earth/Air retrograde dynamic. Mechanical turbulence occurs when something big on Earth–say, a mountain range–buckles the air that streams over it, producing a “mountain wave,” pushing turbulent pressure way high into the sky. In such moments, airplanes have nowhere to go to avoid atmospheric chop. It’s a situation that we, as terrified passengers, just have to ride out, digging our recently manicured nails into the sketch material of our seats. Think of the upcoming Mercury retrogrades this year as a kind of mechanical turbulence–they will be a bit rocky, but they will all smooth out eventually, chipped nails notwithstanding.