2023 Mercury Retrograde Dates
- December 29, 2022—January 17, 2023
- April 21—May 14
- August 23—September 15
- December 13, 2023—January 1, 2024
What does “Mercury Retrograde” mean?
The term retrograde comes from the Latin word retrogradus, which literally means “backward step.” As the name suggests, retrograde is when a planet appears to go backward in its orbit, as viewed from Earth. Astronomers refer to this as “apparent retrograde motion,” because it is an optical illusion.
The opposite of retrograde is direct or prograde motion. Prograde motion is the term astronomers prefer, while astrologers are more prone to use the term “direct” motion.
Apparent Backward Motion
Every planet in our Solar System travels in the same direction in its journey around the Sun, and none of them ever pause and turn back in the opposite direction. Yet, all of them appear to do just that from time to time.
Because of the Earth’s daily rotation, the objects in the night sky appear to “move” from east to west in the night sky. While the location of the stars relative to the Earth is fixed, at least from our vantage point, the other planets in our Solar System all orbit the Sun at varying speeds.
The outer planets—Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune—take longer to orbit the Sun than the Earth does, because their orbits are larger. For this reason, the Earth often laps these planets in its journey around the Sun.
When the Earth overtakes an outer planet, that planet appears to travel backward, as compared to the stars, for a time.
Picture two cars on the highway going in the same direction in different lanes. If one car is driving faster than the other, the slower car will appear to go backward from the perspective of a person in the faster car, even though the slower car is still going pretty fast in the same direction.
For the inner planets, Mercury and Venus, the mechanism that causes them to turn retrograde is the same, but in reverse. Mercury and Venus appear to go retrograde when they lap us.
Because Mercury completes its orbit around the Sun in only 88 days, the Swift Planet becomes retrograde three or four times in a calendar year, for about three weeks at a time. Outer planets have less frequent, but longer-lasting, periods of retrograde motion.
Why Dread It?
So what does all of that have to do with people wanting to hide in their rooms for weeks at a time?
Astrologers believe that the Moon, stars, planets, and Sun affect happenings here on Earth and that each planet in our Solar System rules a different aspect of life. Learn more about this.
Like the Greek messenger god it was named for, Mercury is said to govern transportation and communication.
Those who dread Mercury’s retrograde motion say that, when the planet travels backward, its power to positively influence these domains is stifled, leading to chaos.
Believers in the malevolent power of Mercury retrograde blame the phenomenon for everything from arguments to lost mail or luggage to automobile accidents and technology issues, and warn people to hold back on conducting important business during this time.
The Bright Side
Mercury retrograde gets a bad wrap, but some believe it is possible to use these time frames to learn more about yourself, your community, and others. According to astrology, each Mercury retrograde involves Mercury traveling backward through a different zodiac sign. Learn more about this.
These astrological cards will teach you how to benefit from a retrograde!
Our “Moon Deck” consists of 52 beautiful watercolor cards that show how the planets, zodiac signs, and houses relate to each other.
You can also use them to understand the current position of planets or to decipher your natal chart.
The astrological information on the cards is kept simple with basic words and high-level themes. Great for beginners.
Join the Discussion!
Do you believe that Mercury retrograde causes disasters?
What is the wildest thing that happened to you during Mercury retrograde?
Let us know in the comments below!