August's Mercury Retrograde is about to seriously shake things up with its own unique planetary power, but what does that mean for you?

August 2023's Mercury in retrograde comes to teach us that getting organized is not the catch-all cure, because chaos can be useful too...

Mercury in retrograde August 2023
(Image credit: Getty Images)

We're still in the midst of Venus Retrograde 2023, and now August's Mercury Retrograde is about to shake things up with its own unique planetary power.

In Astrology, Mercury is known as the planet of communication. It embodies all aspects of communication, from idle chit-chat to social media, public speaking, songwriting, and anything that communicates one person’s ideas to another person. It is also the planet of information and the mind, contracts, opinions, and rational thought. Mercury rules the parts of our lives that are out there, connecting with others.

This is the planet that makes us come up with an idea and decide to share it. Mercury is the reason we keep raising our hand in class even when it’s scary, or get on that stage and sing into the mic. Thoughts and behaviours that call on us to let others know how we feel are rooted in our relationship with Mercury.

Neptune retrograde 2023: Solar system planets in a row, asteroid rain, comet, sun, dust and star. Giant luminous light ring. Science and education background. Elements of this image furnished by NASA.

(Image credit: Elen11/Getty Images)

What is the Mercury retrograde?

Mercury Retrograde is the celestial phenomenon that gets all the press. It is blamed as the reason for anything going wrong, from small misunderstandings to creative thunderstorms, and only some of it is correct, so let’s tidy up the whole Mercury Retrograde question.

Mercury is astrology’s chatterbox. It is the planet of communication, and as such, it rules anything and everything around personal connections. From the language we use to speak to our loved ones at home, to the way we email our bosses at work. Non-verbal communication falls under this remit too, so when we raise an eyebrow to let someone know we find them questionable or smile to make a new friend feel more at ease, that’s Mercury too.

During a retrograde, each planet’s fields of responsibility are seen as going a little upside-down here on Earth. So when Mercury, the planet of communication is retrograde, all forms of communication are likely to fail at different times.

The language we use to speak to our lover may be taken the wrong way, and misunderstanding may occur. That email we sent our boss could be lost in the ether, or include a typo that changes the meaning of the whole communication.

Social media may experience a technical glitch when Mercury reverses, and even non-verbal communication is at risk. We may wave at someone but the gesture would be a little off, and the wave might not look as friendly as we had intended.

Work contracts, shopping trips, university applications – so many different experiences involve Mercury and its influence over commerce, education, legal matters, and the publishing industry, that it will be hard to avoid each and every one of them. Be mindful of the Retrograde, but keep living life.


Neptune retrograde 2023: Conceptual universe and galaxies supernova concept.

(Image credit: kampee patisena/Getty Images)

The day that Mercury starts to reverse its course is 23 August, 2023. Mercury is in pragmatic, sensible Virgo, so the change will be linked with the disintegration of organisational structures.

The retrograde starts early into Virgo season. The Sun moves from Leo to Virgo on the morning of 23rd August, and the retrograde starts on the evening of 23rd August, so any uneasy feelings of unexpected changes will be doubled.

The pre-retrograde shadow phase starts from 4th August 2023. The shadow period is the time that Mercury spends going over the same journey which it will later retrograde over. During the shadow period, the retrograde discomfort begins, so the first few misunderstandings and typos will creep in.

Mercury will be going retrograde from the 23rd of August to the 15th of September 2023. The lessons of that period will cause you to think twice before speaking, before agreeing to anything or pressing 'submit' on any online form. If you’re very careful and avoid the worst that the retrograde has to offer, wait till after 15 September to see how this has altered your life trajectory.

Mercury goes direct on the 15th of September 2023. At that time, Jupiter, the planet of generosity, Saturn, the planet of karma, as well as the three outer planets are all still retrograde, so the euphoria of Mercury's retrograde end, 12 days after the end of Venus's retrograde, is slightly diminished. Cases of miscommunication and misfortune are still likely, but they won’t be Mercury’s fault.

The post-retrograde shadow will last until the 30th of September 2023, so prepare to breathe a sigh of relief from October, until the next Mercury reversal on 13th December 2023.


Mercury in Retrograde

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Mercury’s influence is literally everywhere, and impossible to avoid. It’s a planet charged with getting your point across, ensuring you’re not misunderstood, advocating for you, and making you feel heard. The planet is associated with conversations and written messages. Words and facial expressions. The retrograde can change things in a subtle way or an extreme way and may challenge our goals, or scupper them altogether.

When something as basic as communication is impacted, those relationships we have with people around us are put at risk. Sensitive friends may take things too seriously and feel hurt. Emails going to the wrong person may reveal business secrets and put careers in danger.

As the retrograde affects Mercury’s most natural, everyday actions, you may find that if you take your eyes off the ball even for a moment, you’ll trip up on something simple like forgetting to text someone back or pressing the wrong button at work, so a second’s lack of focus can have serious implications.

Even the most careful of preparations may not defeat this very tenacious retrograde. If it is determined to mess up your work life, it will. That mute button might look pressed, but can you be absolutely sure it is?

Embrace the chaos and just do your best. Careful planning and constant focus will nix most of Mercury’s shenanigans, but a cancelled train or a colleague on sick leave can’t always be helped, so be ready to accept a certain amount of disruption.

Virgo, a neat and organized sign which hates mess, is where the retrograde happens. Virgo is good at preparation but not so great at creative solutions to unexpected mishaps. A loss of control is not Virgo’s natural state so this Mercury retrograde in Virgo will be no fun if you enjoy order. Virgo is a good problem solver, however, so you may feel inspired to implement new ways of doing old chores.

How does Mercury in retrograde affect my zodiac sign?

Mercury in Retrograde

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Read your sun sign to see how the Mercury retrograde in Virgo of 2023 affects your love and luck. For the most accurate reading, look at your sun sign moon sign, or rising sign according to your astrology birth chart.


For the whole of August, both the communicative planet Mercury and your own personal planet, fiery Mars were in Virgo. Not only did you feel the influence of sensible Virgo on you, a calming, practical vibe, but you were also linked with chatty Mercury because it was occupying the same sign as your ruling planet. Then Mercury goes retrograde on the 24th, and Mars leaves Virgo on the 27th. The sense of abandonment and potential onset of chaos cannot be adequately described, and you feel a little lost. 


This retrograde happens in Virgo, a fellow earth sign, so you notice the practical ways that the retrograde shows itself. Things that you’re looking for are physically missing, your body is physically turning against you. It’s all earth – your health is unreliable, your wealth is questionable, and you feel this retrograde in a very tangible way. The uneasy way you feel may have something to do with your ruling planet, Venus, being in retrograde itself until 4 September. The following 12 days aren’t so bad, because your ruling planet is going direct again, at least.


Mercury is your ruling planet, Gemini, and you are a communicative sign for better or worse. Your way of communicating with others is chaotic at the best of times, so whether Mercury is going retrograde or direct, you don’t adhere to social norms in the way you talk to others, but if you unintentionally hurt someone, you’d be devastated. Use this Mercury retrograde period to practice self-care, so that you know your intentions are pure and proper, and when you’re self-caring, there’s a better chance that you’d be more focused on the positive, and you won’t get a chance to communicate the negative.


Your sign doesn’t have that much to do with Mercury, so the retrograde won’t impact you too much personally. But it will affect some people around you, and you love to help others, so you will experience this period vicariously, as everyone tells you about their difficult period. There’s one moment that touches you – on 31 August, Mercury is opposite the moon. The moon is your ruler, and on that day it happens to be full, and not just full, it is a blue moon. As it opposes Mercury, which is retrograde on that day, any white lies you may have told will be exposed.


During this entire Mercury retrograde, it just so happens that Venus, the planet of love and beauty, is in your sign. And Venus is retrograde itself for half of it! So your misunderstandings will be mostly around love, romance and the home. The combination of Mercury, the planet of communication, and Venus, the planet of love, affecting you at the same time, could cause you to feel as if your love life becomes hopeless.


This one is your own personal retrograde, your kryptonite. A fan of positive communication and a born organizer, nothing upsets you more than errors in communication and random chaotic twists and turns through life. This retrograde is in your sign, so you feel personally targeted, and since Mercury is actually Virgo’s ruling planet, the struggle is only too real. The sense of helplessness will exhaust you, please just focus on the shortness of the retrograde period.


You like keeping up appearances, so the time of the Mercury retrograde isn’t your favourite moment, as it makes mistakes go public. But during the time of this August-September 2023 Mercury retrograde, you have bigger fish to fry. Your ruling planet Venus is in retrograde itself until September 3rd, so you’re discombobulated anyway. And the fiery planet Mars is in your sign from 27 August, so you’ll have a lot of stress around you in general.


Mercury retrograde brings up exes from the past and allows secrets to bubble up to the surface. As a sign with many skeletons in your closet, expect the unexpected. From a chance meeting with a blast from the past in the supermarket to a new follower on Instagram who is suspiciously familiar - those ghosts are coming to get you. They’re not exactly preventable, so your best defence is offence. Appear happy to see them, and then liberally block them.


The next Mercury Retrograde, towards the end of the year, will be partly in Sagittarius, so save up your worries and concerns, because life may be more challenging for you then. This retrograde can interfere with some administration tasks you have, but since you prefer chaos to admin, you may actually enjoy the interruptions.


This retrograde is in an Earth sign, so it’s likely to impact practical matters - job applications, hospital appointments and online shopping. You’re an Earth sign yourself, so this retrograde’s misunderstandings could hit you where it hurts. The next retrograde in December goes through your sign, so that’s the one to watch out for - make sure you’re prepared for this next one.


You hold no special affinity with Mercury, but during this Mercury retrograde, there are several other retrogrades taking place, which influence you more. Saturn, your traditional ruling planet, is going backwards in the sky for the entirety of the Mercury retro, and for a few months before and after. Uranus, your modern ruler, is spinning back from 29 August onwards. So those two will make you feel ungrounded and confused, not Mercury.


Virgo is your polar opposite on the zodiacal wheel, so you complete each other’s qualities and characteristics. When Mercury is in Virgo, it challenges you, and asks you to look into things that you don’t value and to identify why they also matter. The full moon in Pisces on 31 August is a blue moon, and it is opposite the Mercury Retrograde in Virgo. You feel certain that romance matters, even when it’s hard, and that organisation is of no value, because it easily fails.

Inbaal Honigman
Celebrity psychic and astrologer

Inbaal is an Israeli-born Piscean Tarot reader and witch living in the UK.

Since the year 2000, Inbaal has been a prolific media psychic and astrology writer. She's given predictions on TV's Big Brother's Little Brother, and talkSPORT radio, has written the stars pages for Elle magazine UK, and Elle girl in Japan, along with a full chequered history of career highs.

She lives in England, on the Pennine mountain range, with her Pisces husband and their four noisy kids, three of whom are Pisces.