Let’s just get the less-than-ideal news out on the table: The Mercury is about to go retrograde on Friday, April 21, 2023. That’s right — the beloved (and oft-misunderstood) planet is at it again. The figurative and literal bright side we can all afford to look on right now, however, is the timing. The weather is getting warmer and spring has arrived — both officially (at the end of last month) and within our souls (as soon as shorts-and-picnics weather arrived early). Of course, your social calendar may still be a little sleepy, given we’re quite early in the season. Rather than getting upset that Mercury is once again going to mess with everything, can we be grateful that this astrological event is occurring now and not midsummer, when we’re attempting to plan well-deserved vacations and attending outdoor events.

As mentioned, Mercury is going retrograde in Taurus for a little more than three weeks, beginning on Friday, April 21, 2023, until Sunday, May 14, 2023. It will appear to move backwards as we pass it on our 365-day trip around the sun, going retrograde from 15 degrees of Taurus to five degrees of Taurus.

Now, we can choose to shun Mercury and go about our lives normally, pretending it simply isn’t happening — this never works. Sorry, folks. Why? Because Mercury rules all communication, travel, and the exchange of money. It is a time when plans are canceled, dates get mixed up, computers die, and wallets are lost. In short, it causes the sort of chaos that an “ignorance is bliss” approach only makes worse. Instead, it may be wiser to adopt an attitude of acceptance, acknowledging that now is a time when the great communicator of the zodiac is taking a much-needed break — and we, too, need to take a break from relentless progress. It is a time for reflection, rethinking, and slowing down. Despite its reputation, Mercury retrograde is a chance to practice inner peace when the world around us is showing anything but.

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What is the date and time that Mercury will retrograde?

For those who like to get super-specific, let’s go over the details: Mercury is going retrograde in Taurus from Friday, April 21, 2023, at 4:34 a.m. (EST) through Sunday, May 14, 2023, at 11:15 p.m. (EST), according to the ever-trusty Farmer’s Almanac. It turns retrograde at 15 degrees of Taurus, then goes back to 5 degrees of Taurus. Mercury entered its shadow on Friday, April 7, 2023, and will leave its shadow exactly eight weeks later on Friday, June 2, 2023. 

Wait, what is “Mercury’s shadow”?

Feel free to skip over this part if you’re more interested in the emotional components of this shift, but I like to include it for those who enjoy getting deep into the nooks and crannies (a.k.a. the angles and aspects, among other specificities) of astrological shifts. We do not always speak about the shadow, as Mercury is not actually retrograde during any part of it, and it is not (as far as I know) in the astronomy lexicon. Still, I feel I need to mention it. I took my honeymoon when Mercury was in shadow — I know, what were we thinking? — and it was a learning experience. When Mercury is in shadow, now dubbed retroshade by cool people, it means it is going into the area it’ll be retrograding through pre-shadow, or it is going back over the area that it just retrograded over. The days that it turns to go retrograde or turns to go direct are called “stations,” and they are especially potent.

What does Mercury going retrograde mean, in a literal sense?

Astronomers at NASA call this an “apparent retrograde motion.” All the planets go around the sun at different speeds. It takes our planet, Earth, approximately 365 days. (Bet you didn’t see that coming, right?) It takes Mercury, on the other hand, just 59 days to go around the sun. And every time Mercury passes us it appears to go backwards. If you’re like me and find visuospatial ideas hard to grasp (which, by the way, is a little-known learning disability that deserves more attention than it gets), this video might help. 

How does Mercury going retrograde impact you, astrologically?

Mercury is the Roman name for the Greek god Hermes, who was known for his clever mind, mischievousness, and being a messenger. We say Mercury rules communication, but what does that actually mean? Last year, I attended a lecture by astrologer Maurice Fernandez, who put it very well, explaining that Mercury really rules the day-to-day pieces of life. Communication is the synapses firing inside your brain — it is the way you talk to a friend or even the way a computer talks to another computer. Money, including buying and selling goods and services, can be a form of communication. You can exchange money without saying anything, but you’re still saying something.

So, what happens when Mercury is going backwards? It’s not operating the way it normally operates. Everything requires more time, more effort. We are asked to think outside the box and rely more on our intuition. To gain a better understanding of Mercury, I recommend reading Jonathan Cook’s completely nonastrological analysis of why Mercury rules commerce through a quick overview of his myths.

How does going into Taurus impact Mercury retrograde?

Taurus is a fixed earth sign which likes to be slow, methodical, and practical about life. Mercury has been in Taurus since April 4, 2023, so we’re not new to the Mercury-in-Taurus energy. 

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