Mercury’s final retrograde movement for 2023 begins under the Sagittarius New Moon of December 12, promising us all quite a ride! There is every possibility of improving our ability to navigate complexity, hold opposites and grow our ability to communicate by engaging with retrograde Mercury’s capacity to rethink and revisit old ideas with a fresh perspective. However, mental Mercury makes a long stressful square with nebulous Neptune (exact December 26, January 8), aggravating our attempts to think in a linear fashion. Additional aggravation comes in the form of an extraordinarily long conjunction between the mind of Mercury and the aggression of Mars (roughly December 24 to February 4), signaling a need to navigate conflict rather than attempt to avoid it altogether.
Indeed, it has been a tense time for many of us, as the red hot planet Mars took much of the spotlight in the skies over the last six weeks or so, creating agitation, aggravation and motivation to drive forward on projects or aims, while running up against the problematics of Saturn for much of the time. Fortunately, many of us will now feel our forward momentum freed up, and the atmosphere will lighten somewhat as the Sun travels further into the optimistic, meaning-seeking sign of Sagittarius, where he dwells from November 22 to December 21. While we may enjoy an influx of big picture visioning, reflection and hope, we must also encounter our too-distant dreams or delusional fantasies as symbolized by the Sun’s square with dreamy Neptune (exact December 16).
We might try to roll with Neptune’s prominence by engaging with our intuitive capacities and the divinatory languages of art, tarot, and dance, which bring forth patterns from the seeming chaos. And for those experiencing the signal boost of Neptune as an increased connection to the suffering in our world, acts of service can bring relief, as can taking an appropriate distance or rest to support sustainable, long-term action.
New Moon in Sagittarius
New Moons are often accompanied by an ebb in energy and present an opportunity to quietly reflect and plant our intentions into fertile cosmic ground. The Sagittarius New Moon on December 12 at 3:32 p.m. US/Pacific offers the chance to imagine success as an inner quest as much as an outer journey of accomplishment in the world. This particular conjunction of the unconscious Moon with the consciously aware Sun forms a close, dynamic square aspect with the cosmic womb of Neptune, reminding us of the many layers of our being. We might strive to be as holistic as possible in imagining how we would manifest our intentions, as this highly energized New Moon emphasizes the importance of our emotional, physical, spiritual, and etheric well-being in achieving hopes and dreams. If we aren’t careful, focusing too much on external accomplishments could drain away the foundational health we require.
The dreamy and dissolving influence of Neptune is quite strong as he makes a final station in 2023 on December 6, turning direct at 24° Pisces. This amplification of Neptune is one reason to ensure that we are including the fullness of our well-being in any efforts to help ourselves or others. Yet Neptune’s prominence can also expand access to our intuitive capacities and the divinatory languages of art, tarot, dance, and all other modalities that allow patterns to emerge from seeming chaos. Neptune’s station might also indicate becoming overwhelmed by our empathy for others and for the suffering on the planet, and in this case would benefit from acts of service and also taking the proper distance or rest in support of sustained action and engagement.
The New Moon’s trine to Chiron in Aries puts a fine point on the need to find appropriate outlets for action and moving beyond imagined limitations while establishing our true limits. For those who have been running long and strong, an ebb in energy provides a valuable chance to regroup and restrategize in order to sidestep burnout or demotivation.
Mercury Trine Jupiter
Mercury Square Neptune
Mercury’s entry into Capricorn on December 1 will generally be helpful for realistic thinking, and tuning into obstacles and how to overcome them. However, Mercury that tricksy messenger is also heading into their final retrograde of the year, appearing to stand still in the sky and enter retrograde motion under the Sagittarius New Moon of December 12. The New Moon’s harmonious Mercury trine Jupiter blesses this retrograde, offering the possibility of improving our ability to navigate complexity, hold opposites and grow our ability to communicate. Indeed, this retrograde period features many very helpful and supportive aspects from graceful Venus (exact December 11), stabilizing Saturn (exact December 21, January 18), and beneficial Jupiter (exact December 7, December 18, January 19). We will need to call upon those more elevating and supportive energies to make the most of some other aspects of this retrograde, which will be far more challenging.
In general, Mercury’s time in retrograde motion can be fruitfully turned towards renegotiating contracts, rethinking agreements and plans, editing previous works, and generally redoing things. These periods can also feature a lot of confusion, missed connections, scrambled communications, crossed wires, and electronics frustrations. Making big purchases or significant agreements under these skies need to be approached slowly and methodically, because it is very easy to overlook the devil lurking in the details. Despite this, there are fantastic proactive uses of Mercury’s time in retrograde motion, yet one obstacle difficult to overcome is the long stressful square with nebulous Neptune (exact December 26, January 8). Practices like pranayama (yogic breathing), guided meditation, dream work and healing image work are strongly favored to harness the best of this potential, which can otherwise make it difficult to think clearly.
Mercury Retrograde Key Dates
Mercury Conjunct Mars
Remembering to breathe and connect to the body for calm, poise and patience are also practices to help us through an extremely long dance between the mind of Mercury and the aggression of Mars. Mercury and Mars will typically conjoin for a few days at most, but due to Mercury’s retrograde motion and Mars’s location, they will be activating each other from about December 24 to February 4, six very long weeks (exact December 27, January 27). This certainly brings a positive potential for finally addressing and settling long-simmering conflicts, as matters are brought out into the open. But this planetary combination is particularly difficult to manage, because the heat and urgency of Mars can overpower Mercury’s reasoning thought process and push us to think, speak, and act too quickly.
It is actually inadvisable to try to avoid conflict at this time, since it is likely to seek us out with increasing urgency until something finally explodes. We could all try our best to engage in a nonviolent manner, and not make assumptions about others’ intentions, seeking instead to understand the other and make ourselves understood. The key will lie in creating the space for empathy. A great deal of clarity could eventually emerge after a period of frustration or heated feelings if we make a goal of understanding the other, rather than convincing them to see as we do. In fact, some real epiphanies could be had after working through conflicting emotional states.
We will also need to watch out for things like road rage, transportation snarls, and delays over these six weeks, as it will be all too easy to get sucked into pointless hostility. We should be wary of hurrying in dangerous travel conditions under these skies, as the temptation might be great yet the consequences very costly. Slowing down to remember ourselves, to remember what is most important when we scope out to the longer term can help us discern the best path forward, whether simply traveling or in pursuit of larger goals in life. We may discover that centering care for the inner planes of emotional, physical, spiritual, and etheric well-being—both our own and others’—is not as distinct from external accomplishments as we might imagine.