Mercury Retrograde 2024: What Is It and What It Means for You This Year


Written by Dayva Segal

Published: January 1, 2024

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Even people who are not astrology enthusiasts have heard the phrase “Mercury is in Retrograde” floating around from time to time. It’s famous enough that it has even earned a few honorary silly meme names, such as “Mercury is in Gatorade” and “Mercury is in the Microwave.”

Periods of Mercury Retrograde occur three to four times per year, for around three weeks at a time. However, there are also a few weeks of pre-shadow and post-shadow, meaning that things can feel a little haywire for over a month each time.

Mercury Retrograde 2024 Dates

When Mercury is in Retrograde, it seems to move backward, but it isn’t.


December 13, 2023 – January 1, 2024

We will actually be ringing in the New Year under the last Mercury Retrograde of 2023, which goes from December 13, 2023, to January 1, 2024. It starts the retrograde in Capricorn and then moves backward into Sagittarius. During this time, all people, but especially those with strong Capricorn and Sagittarius placements may start to feel antsy.

Regardless of your own placements, you may go through a few weeks of disdain for the structure of work and business. You may come to desire adventure and may even start dreaming up a trip. The timing of this makes sense. Many people have at least a few days off from work during the holidays and New Year period. Be prepared for hiccups in holiday travel plans.

April 1 – April 24, 2024

The first Mercury retrograde that is fully in 2024 happens in the sign of Aries. This gives many, especially those with prominent Fire Sign placements, a sharp tongue that is likely to lead to some misunderstandings. During this period, watch what you say. Think before you speak, especially when it is a touchy subject. Tread carefully when you are dealing with anything delicate.

During this particular Mercury Retrograde, you might be prone to sudden decisions that you will regret later. Thinking and waiting to make a move to make sure it’s exactly what you want is best. Most astrologers would probably recommend waiting until after this period to make any drastic choices, especially if you have distinguished Fire Sign placements.

August 4 – August 27, 2024

As Mercury moves in retrograde from detail-oriented and critical Virgo to attention-loving Leo, there are bound to be some misunderstandings. Leo does not like criticism at all. The disagreements during this particular Mercury Retrograde are likely going to stem from perceived critique. You may say something that feels neutral, but the other person will perceive it as judgment. Try to have empathy and understanding for how others receive your communication. Remember, it’s not intent that matters, it’s impact.

November 25 – December 15, 2024

The last Mercury Retrograde period of 2024 is in adventurous Sagittarius. It happens when many are making travel plans for the holiday season. This period will largely affect travel. When making travel arrangements, leave some wiggle room for delays and changes. Don’t be surprised when holiday plans have to change altogether, or the holiday gift you bought for someone turns out to be the wrong size. It might be frustrating, but making joy out of whatever happens is the name of the game. Luckily, this particular Mercury Retrograde time will be really wonderful for exchanging ideas with old friends and family members, making for great conversation at holiday parties.

DatesPre ShadowPost ShadowSigns of the RetrogradeWho Will Be Most AffectedHow if May Show Up
December 13, 2023 – January 1, 2024November 25 – December 13, 2023January 1 – January 20, 2024Capricorn & SagittariusCapricorn & Sagittarius placements, people with holiday travel plansJob changes, feeling antsy (especially about work), disrupted holiday travel
April 1 – April 24, 2024March 18 – April 1, 2024April 24 – May 13, 2024AriesAll strong Fire Sign placements who are prone to impulsivenessImpulsive decisions, disagreements stemming from speaking without thinking
August 4 – August 27, 2024July 16 – August 4, 2024August 27 – September 11, 2024Virgo & LeoVirgo and Leo placements, anyone who has a hard time with receiving criticismMisunderstandings due to perceived criticism
November 25 – December 15, 2024November 7 – November 25, 2024December 15, 2024 – January 2, 2025SagittariusStrong Sagittarian placements, people trying to plan large events or complicated tripsDisruption to travel plans

Why Do Retrogrades Happen in Astrology?

Retrogrades are a phenomenon in both astrology and astronomy. While Mercury is the planet most talked about in terms of retrograde because it happens so frequently, every planet in the zodiac can go into retrograde. In fact, the North and South Nodes are almost always in retrograde.

When a planet is in retrograde, that means it appears to move in a backward motion. Typically, the planets and other bodies of our Solar System move counterclockwise around the Sun. This makes them appear to move from West to East in the sky. When a planet is in retrograde, it seems to move from East to West instead. However, it is not actually moving backward.

It appears to move this way either because the Earth is moving faster and passing the planet, or in the case of Mercury, the other planet is moving faster and passes the Earth. So, whenever Mercury “laps” the Earth, it appears to be going backward for a short period. There are so many Mercury retrogrades compared to other planets because a year on Mercury is only 88 days—just over 1/4 of an Earth year.

What Do Retrogrades Mean in Astrology?

In general, when a planet goes into retrograde, that means the function and qualities of that planet are lower than usual, exposing vulnerabilities in that area of life. A retrograde is not usually an ideal time to start a new venture related to the qualities of that planet. However, it is a good time to revisit how the qualities of that planet show up in your life, review the past, and come up with a tactical plan for the future. People tend to have a negative view of retrogrades, but like all natural processes and periods in astrology, there is always something to be learned from a retrograde.

What Does Mercury Retrograde Mean?

Mercury, the patron God of trade

The planet Mercury is named after the Roman messenger god.

©Al Zakh/

The planet Mercury primarily rules over communication and intellect in astrology. It also rules over related things such as language, technology, transportation, and certain aspects of day-to-day business. When it goes into retrograde, communications get jumbled, and learning may become disrupted. Technology tends to break, especially things related to communication, throwing things further into chaos.

The lesson of Mercury retrograde is to go with the flow. Travel plans may change rapidly, you might have a misunderstanding with a friend or partner, and your phone might completely break leaving you unable to communicate. However, if you get upset, you will just be needlessly frustrated. You can’t control the world; you simply have to find solutions to your problems and move on with your day.

Mercury Retrograde isn’t all bad. Did you ever have three exes randomly contact you in the same week? Chances are, it was Mercury Retrograde. This is a time when you may reconnect with people from your past. You may contact them purposely or they may pop up randomly. You may also find things you’ve lost more easily. It’s also a great time to reinvent things, whether they are physical items or old ideas. Mercury retrograde is the best time to evaluate your life and take stock of where you’re at and where you want to go.

What Does Mercury Retrograde Shadow Mean?

Before many astrological events, there is a shadow period before and/or after. When it comes to Mercury Retrograde, some trendy astrologers refer to these periods as “Mercury Retroshade.” Mercury Retrograde’s shadow comes two weeks before and two weeks after the actual retrograde period.

During the pre-shadow, you may notice things start to go haywire. This is when things can become chaotic. Some people feel the shadow more strongly than the event itself because this is when things start to shift. During the pre-shadow, the stage is often set for what will be the main focus of the mercury retrograde period. During the post-shadow, the threads that started during the pre-shadow and were developed during the retrograde are often resolved and put to bed.

What to Avoid During Mercury Retrograde

Multiracial couple holding keys and standing outside their new home

Astrologers do not recommend buying a new house during Mercury Retrograde.

©zamrznutitonovi/iStock via Getty Images

There are several things astrologers recommend avoiding during a period of Mercury Retrograde including:

  • Signing new contracts
  • Traveling
  • Buying new electronics
  • Moving
  • Purchasing a Home
  • Buying new things
  • Starting a new job
  • Planning events
  • Having big emotional talks with friends, co-workers, and partners

However, the reality is that we don’t always have control over when these things happen in our lives and it’s not always possible or desirable to avoid them due to the motion of the planets. The more honest and realistic advice for doing any of these things during a period of Mercury Retrograde is to be prepared and go with the flow. For example, if you’re traveling, make sure to have some flexibility in your schedule to account for delays and interruptions. If you buy new things, make sure to read the return policy. Things bought during Mercury Retrograde often turn out not to be quite the right thing. If you have a misunderstanding with a loved one, be extra empathetic and understanding.

Who Does Mercury Retrograde Affect?

Virgo Zodiac Sign. Abstract night sky background

Virgo is one of two zodiac signs that Mercury rules over.

©Allexxandar/iStock / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

Mercury rules over two signs of the zodiac: Gemini and Virgo. So, if you have strong Gemini or Virgo placements, Mercury Retrograde may affect you more significantly. However, Mercury retrograde occurs in a different sign each time. People with powerful placements of that particular Mercury Retrograde’s sign may feel it more strongly.

Mercury retrograde affects everyone differently depending on which house of your natal chart it is passing through and the aspects it forms to your own natal planets. For example, if Mercury Retrograde is passing through your 10th House of career and public image, you may have a social media mishap or miscommunication at work during this period. If Mercury Retrograde forms a square to your natal Venus, you may have a misunderstanding in a relationship or friendship.

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About the Author

Dayva is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering astrology, animals, and geography. She has over 12 years of experience as a writer, and graduated from Hofstra University in 2007 with a Bachelor of Science in Music and a Minor in French. She has also completed course work in Core Strengths Coaching, Hypnotherapy, and Technical Communication. Dayva lives in the SF Bay Area with her cute but very shy cat, Tula.

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