The next round of Mercury appearing to go backward begins early in the morning of December 29, 2022, continuing until January 18, 2023. The reverse motion starts at 24°21’ Capricorn, descending to 8°8’ Capricorn. The entire retrograde cycle includes the “entry shadow,” when Mercury first passes through the retrograde range, from December 12, 2022 until its turning point on the 29th, and the final pass through the range (“exit shadow”) occurs from the January 18 forward-motion pivot until Mercury exits the retrograde degrees on February 7. That’s a long visit for quick Mercury in just one little portion of the zodiac circle. Capricorn is the sign of order, organization, structure, planning, goals and following the rules, any or all of which may be on your radar screen now.
If any part of your natal chart is in this area of the zodiac, Mercury will pass it three times. If you have something aspected from this range, such as in Cancer across from these degrees or in the other Earth signs, Virgo and Taurus, a third of the zodiac away, it will likewise receive a trio of hits. Usually the first contact is a wake-up call about what needs attention. The second one signals time to take action and if you do, the third one brings a conclusion or denouement. If you pay no heed to the call the first time, Mercury alerts you again at the second pass. Ignore that and you’re asking for a shove at the third hit.
ALL of the 2023 Mercury Retrograde cycles take place in signs of the Earth element, pushing us to deal again and again with practical matters in our lives (even if the retrogrades don’t touch your chart directly). There is even a certain small slice of the Earth signs that get hit every time, namely the degrees from 8° to 15°. Mercury is not the only planet emphasizing that degree area. Jupiter will make its Retrograde backtrack later in the year in the exact same slice of Taurus, 5°- 15°, where Mercury zigzags in the spring. This is rare! Jupiter enters the range in June and doesn’t exit until March 2024. The exact dates appear on Janet’s Plan-its 2023 On a Page. And if you look at the list of New and Full Moons there, you’ll spot a Lunar Eclipse on October 28 at 5° Taurus. Anyone with natal planets from 4° to 6° of any of the Fixed signs (Aquarius, Taurus, Leo and Scorpio) will have that part of the chart emphasized over and over, right until the end of 2023.
The top end of the doubly emphasized range, 15°, is significant because 15° of the Fixed signs are the degrees exactly halfway between the Equinoxes and Solstices, and they hold nearly the same power as the Equinoxes and Solstices, which are the key season-changing power points of the zodiac. Like those, the 15° Fixed positions have far-reaching influence and often bring news-worthy incidences.
Anyone with planets around 15° of the Fixed signs is also in the process of being strongly impacted by slow-moving and volatile Uranus passing through 15° of Taurus. It came close, at 14°, in the summer of 2021 (July to September) and reached 15° in 2022, in May and December, playing an important role at the Winter Solstice on December 21). It returns for a third visit in February to March of 2023. Uranus is famous for sudden, unexpected and often shocking turns of events. It certainly wants to force changes for whatever the affected planet represents in a chart. The 15° Fixed degree gets a n additional punch at the Lunar Eclipse at 14°58’ (nearly 15°) of Scorpio on May 5, 2023, during a Mercury Retrograde. Although neither Mercury nor Uranus is close to the eclipse degree, the Sun then will be about one degree from the midpoint of Mercury and Uranus, pulling their influences into the picture. This is a strong combination for fresh thinking and inventive ideas, and possibly jarring comments. The degrees of planetary turning points (“stations”) and eclipses are “sensitized” and respond when other planets pass through them. Thus when Jupiter comes to 5° and 15° Taurus, it is not only foreceful on its own, but it will bring us back to subjects that are important when Mercury is there in the spring. Similarly, the October 28 Eclipse may re-ignite topics that were highlighted earlier in the year by Mercury and Jupiter.
This Mercury Retrograde probably won’t be too difficult. It begins hand-in-hand with Venus, which it joins just 4-1/2 hours after it turns Retrograde. This sweetens the process or tunes us in to issues of fairness and balance. The repeating aspects Mercury makes with slow planets are more harmonious than discordant. Three times, Mercury is trine Uranus and sextile Neptune, stimulating the left and right hemispheres of our brains. We can benefit by using our intuition and imagination. Mercury is trine Uranus (at approximately 15° of Capricorn to Taurus) on December 17, January 8 and January 29. It’s sextile to Neptune (at 22-23° Capricorn to Pisces) on December 24, January 1-2 and February 6. The challenge comes from three squares to Chiron, December 15, January 11 and January 27 (at about 12° Capricorn to Aries). This likely requires us to heal or improve an idea, opinion, communication or document by revisiting it.
Astrologer Gary Caton has done extensive research on Mercury Retrogrades. His second book, Hermetica Triptycha: The Mercury Elemental Year, discusses the phenomenon of repetitions in a certain element, which is fairly common. A given year might have all the retrogrades in one element and the prior and next years have retrograde ranges that crisscross between two elements as the emphasis shifts. For instance, all of the 2022 Mercury Retrogrades had the higher degrees of their ranges in the Air element and the lower degrees of their ranges in Earth. After the Earth repetition in 2023, the retrogrades of 2024 will move between Earth and Fire signs, followed by primarily Fire signs in 2025, shifting to the Water element. Gary will lecture on this subject for the Astrological Society of Connecticut (on Zoom) on January 19, 2023, a day after the first Mercury Retrograde of the year ends. Non-members can attend by paying the $10 lecture fee by January 18 using the Donation button at myasc.org. A link for the Zoom will be emailed in the day(s) prior to the event.
For a better understanding of Mercury Retrograde, see my article by that name. And don’t fear Mercury Retrograde. It’s a good time to correct mistakes or deal with piled up paperwork.
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