Mercury Retrograde in Virgo (08/23-09/15)
August 23rd to September 15th of 2023, Mercury Retrograde graces us with a visit again – this time, through the sign of Virgo. In general, Mercury Retrogrades through Virgo are particularly intense, but this article provides not just what to expect – but also, how to work with it.
Who is Mercury?
Mercury is the planet of communication, travel, information, the media, learning, thinking, and more fringe topics, like transportation, navigation, siblings, equals, daughters, teachers, spokespeople, and certain types of technology. Under Mercury Retrograde, all these topics are working differently than usually, which statistically speaking leads to a bunch of stuff going haywire… but “statistically” doesn’t have to mean that all that happens applies to you. That being said, being a bit more cautious with the topics above (as laid out by the rest of this article) may make sense. Before we go into it, let’s explain real quick what Mercury Retrograde even is.
When Mercury passes the Earth on our orbits around the Sun, a phenomenon happens where it looks like Mercury stops, changes directions, goes backward, and then stops and moves forward again. This is called retrograde: it’s an optical illusion, but it signifies a time when all topics related to Mercury work differently than usual.
This astrological event happens three to four times a year – each time for three weeks, plus another two weeks before and after the actual event where we feel the beginning of the energy/integrate what happened to us. This year, they all start in Earth signs which means that the Mercury Retrograde energy is more potent than usual – why? Because it impacts us in practical, tangible ways.
In the following section, we’ll dissect how to best work with Mercury Retrograde and what to expect. After each section, you’ll find a short list of zodiac signs that are MOST impacted by the specific topics according to the Sun and Rising placements. (This doesn’t account for other important placements in your chart that may be affected by this astrological event (such as stelliums) that I can’t know about.)
Plans Go Haywire
Plans have a tendency to go haywire under Mercury in Retrograde – but in Virgo, this is particularly prominent. Essentially, make sure that you don’t get too enamored with the plans you made for the three weeks (plus minus a week) of Mercury Retrograde and be willing to reassess your strategies. The advice is to stay as flexible as you can, make some backup plans, and to be willing to reassess your methods to reach a goal.
This is getting amplified because Mercury Retrograde starts out opposite Neptune and conjunct Pallas and Mars, which means that 1) lots of plans dissolve before your eyes, and 2) that strategies need to be rethought.
Most affected by this are Gemini, Virgo, Cancer, and Scorpio Sun and Rising, though ALL feel this to some degree. (Please remember that this doesn’t account for personal placements you may have in Virgo that I can’t know about without seeing your chart.)
The next important thing with this Mercury Retrograde is to slow down a little – not too much, as this Mercury Retrograde requires decisive action – but enough to be really sure you have the necessary information and that the information you think you have is accurate. Making time to meditate each day may help you stay flexible and calm, it may also allow you to have “buffer time” if you quickly need to react and reassess. So, the advice is to not fill your schedule to the very brim. Listening to your own body’s need rest under this transit (especially the last week) is also key here.
By doing this small thing, you take the intensity out of the entire transit. So, please – if you can, slow down.
This is most prevalent for Gemini, Virgo, Libra, Pisces, and Aquarius Sun and Risings.
Travel and Transportation
A typical Mercury Retrograde looks as follows:
You go on a trip you’ve done a thousand times, but instead of the usual journey, obstacles ensure – more than usual. Maybe your car breaks down, or you have to take another route that unexpectedly takes an hour longer than you planned. Maybe you forgot something and have to head back after a quarter of the journey, maybe you got lost – or maybe you go to the wrong place by accident because you thought you were meeting your friends in the hotel, not the motel they are currently waiting in. Maybe the avenue of public transportation you chose has a huge issue and is delayed or canceled… or your bag got lost along the way.
This may be a stereotypical picture of Mercury Retrograde, but these things happen a lot more often under Mercury Retrograde than they usually do. So, the advice is: again, stay flexible. But also, plan in such a way that things can’t go wrong easily – but that if they DO go wrong, you aren’t screwed.
Leave earlier than you have to, and double- and triple-check that you have all you need for the journey before you leave. If you have a trip that passes through a deserted place, make sure you have your phone with you (and charged!) so you can call someone if your car gets in trouble. Don’t rely on the possibility that the warning signal of your car is just a fluke, actually get it checked out – better be safe than sorry. Always drive safely, and don’t take unnecessary risks. Also, please try to keep your cool if things do go differently than planned.
When we’re talking about travel by car, this is less relevant, but if you are on public transportation, please take the usual precautions: don’t leave your stuff unattended, and look out a little more for thievery. Pack your carry-on in such a way that it has the most important things in it, plus a change of clothes, a toothbrush, and deodorant. Travel insurance may make sense, and so does taking a more serious stance on the usual travel precautions women should take for solo travel. (If anyone asks, you’re not alone – or you’re meeting your boyfriend and three older brothers at the airport who are ALL NFL linebackers. You know the drill.)
Most people try to avoid traveling under Mercury Retrograde altogether – this may, however, not be avoidable, or necessary. With Mercury Retrograde, it’s statistically likely that one or more of the precautions mentioned above may become necessary. That doesn’t mean you’ll run into everything I mentioned, or that you’re going to be completely screwed over.
The people most affected by this aspect of Mercury Retrograde will be Virgo, Cancer, Capricorn, Libra, and Pisces Sun and Rising though all feel it to some extent.
First of all, communication includes all types of communication: speaking, writing, signing, anything voice-related, and anything else that has to do with self-expression. But also, the relaying of information itself is subject to this issue. So, if you read about a speech in the newspaper, then the speech is affected by Mercury Retrograde as it was held, the newspaper is affected by it, and your reading ability is affected by it, too – so was the distribution of the newspaper, and so on. Even the ads you see are ruled by Mercury because they inherently wish to communicate something with you: namely, that YOU NEED THIS PRODUCT; BUY IT NOW! That’s also communication. Let’s start with you communicating something.
In Mercury Retrograde, you may think that you’re communicating information, wishes, desires, and so on clearly – but you may not. Statistically, this is the time when you think you made clear what you want, but spoke a lot more vaguely than you intended. This is also the time when communication you put out into the world has a different effect than you expected. Emails with sensitive information end up with the wrong person more often, well-intended messages may start an office war, and communication may plainly get lost.
The best advice for this is to double-check everything you write: first for clarity, and tone (things can easily seem rougher in written form than they would be if they were said in person), but also for whether the message was received in a timely manner.
Because things get lost or forgotten more easily, it makes sense to politely and friendly check in with people before deadlines are reached or when people/institutions are uncharacteristically quiet. For instance, a client was waiting for progress in her divorce case – after MONTHS, she finally followed up on why there was nothing happening… only to hear that there were three letters sent to her that she’d never received. It turned out that the letters had been sent during the previous two Mercury Retrogrades. She literally never got them. So, please: if you don’t hear back from people in a timely manner, follow up kindly and early. (The same goes for shipments that don’t come when they’re supposed to). Also, please make sure you don’t lose or forget correspondence, deadlines, memos, etc., and try to send or order things you need online before and after the retrograde as much as possible (rather than in the retrograde itself).
Next up, the second leg of communication: listening. Mercury Retrograde can make it very easy for people to misunderstand even “unmistakably clear” communication. You read a speech and come out of it with the opposite of what the speaker said. You could swear your grandma said “11 o’clock,” not “10:30” – but 10:30 is when she expects you. You read a text from your girlfriend and get extremely offended, only to read it again the next day to realize there was nothing in there worth getting upset over – what the heck? That’s the other side of Mercury Retrograde.
The advice here is to take notes on anything practical and to double-check them verbally. Your boss said to hand it in on Wednesday? Write it in your calendar immediately, while checking back verbally that you got it right. The next piece of advice is to read and listen more closely than usual, (and to re-read things slash to ask more questions). This is especially the case if a) you got confused, b) other people disagree with you, and c) whatever was said/written made you question yourself, and your relationships, or plainly made you angry. You can always explode after checking back that your information was accurate.
And also, as you may have trouble with keeping your foot out of your mouth at this time, so do other people. Have grace for people where appropriate.
Most affected will be Gemini, Virgo, and Cancer Sun and Rising, though all feel it.
Statistically speaking, more tech-stuff breaks or decides to go weird under Mercury Retrograde than at any other point in time. This is why it makes sense to back up your computer, tablet, phone, etc. before the retrograde and to also do maintenance before the astrological event starts. Beyond that, try not to rely on technology as much as usual, or to have a Plan B if your laptop breaks or the printer decides to create impressionistic paintings from the documents and pictures it was supposed to spit out. This is not the time to open emails from unknown senders or click on links random people send you that you don’t know.
This is also not a good time to share your password with people, launch websites or businesses, or buy new technology. It's always best to wait until Mercury Retrograde is over (it’s just three weeks!) as it’s statistically much more likely to buy something that’s broken/got problems, or to pay more than you have to.
Other than this, please remember that there’s not much you can do other than hoping for the best, keeping back-ups, having good security on your cloud and technology, and using common sense.
Personally, Gemini, Virgo, Aries, and Pisces Sun and Rising will be most affected by this, though all feel it.
Information Coming to Light
Information is the key to Mercury Retrograde. This is a time when new and surprising information enters your consciousness, where the stuff people lie about comes to light, where things that are hidden rise to the surface, where your intuition gets supercharged, and where you change your opinion or rethink your mindsets in massive ways.
Under this astrological influence, it’s EXTREMELY important to listen to what people tell you. Often, remarkably subtle or small things form a bigger picture that surprises you or makes you question things (the most obvious example would be an odd comment here and there from your partner making you realize that they have secrets from you). You may also stumble randomly over articles, books, podcasts, or other avenues of retaining information that guides you to important realizations: so please, pay attention.
It's also extremely important to listen closely to your body and to your intuition. Mercury Retrograde always enhances intuition, particularly this one. So, if you don’t yet know why you have a certain gut feeling and or why you’re getting “nudged” by your intuition a certain way, please still pay close attention. You may not logically understand yet, but the information will likely come to light later… it’ll come to make sense.
This is extremely important under this Mercury Retrograde as it’s trining Jupiter for the majority of the transit. Pay close attention to your body and intuition, it’s important.
Personally, Libra, Aquarius, Gemini, Virgo, and Cancer Sun and Risings will be most affected by this.
Mercury Retrograde can initiate changes that throw out your entire life’s trajectory. This can look like us seeing the necessity of change, or change coming into our life. This is also a time when things that needed to end do end – or when things from the past come back up again to be revisited or wrapped up for good.
There’s an ongoing joke in the astrology community that at the beginning of Mercury Retrograde, the universe calls all your exes and tells them it’s time to re-enter your life and cause as much trouble as possible. That’s a joke, not reality – but it can often be a time where “blasts from the past” show us where we need to make peace with what once was or close a door for good. Those aren’t necessarily exes, they can be any type of people from your past or even reminders of jobs, dreams, or choices you made in the years prior. So, they don’t even have to be people.
Personally, Gemini, Virgo, and Libra Risings are most affected by this.
Emotions Running High
Under Mercury Retrograde, people can get pretty stressed and emotions may run high. This is perfectly understandable, but obviously not great for staying practical. Try to give people grace for being a bit more emotional than usual, and try to stay as calm as possible yourself. With this Retrograde in particular, you may be more prone to irrational fears than usual: please try to take a breath, sleep on things, and listen to an outsider’s perspective before letting yourself get too scared.
Personally Pisces and Virgo Sun and Risings feel this most strongly.
I hope you enjoyed this article and that it was helpful for you!
If you’d like to learn more about how this impacts your own chart, feel free to book a session with me. Otherwise, here are a few articles that may interest you.
See you there,