A Mercury Retrograde Depth Overview: revisiting strategies of control, creation, and expansion

Mercury stationed retrograde last night. I’ve been quite slow around writing or creating (for the public) because I’ve been in such an internal opening that holistically in the depth of my being I know is important to tend to. But I have already had an intimate experience with the Mercury retrograde and it feels like time to share something. 

I want to encourage you first and foremost (if you have this know-how) to take a moment to see what houses in your natal chart have Gemini or Virgo on the cusp. These will be the areas of life that you may feel Mercury retrogrades and Mercury transits in general, the most. If you don’t know how to do this yet, don’t worry about it. But if you do, it’s an insightful layer to add in.

Welcome back, or in case this is your first time here, I’m Sabrina Monarch and I’m a soul-centered astrologer. I love providing perspectives on the opportunities of transits and putting into words what the zeitgeist feels like at this moment in time, to support you on your path & open a dialogue between us and the cosmos. If you would like to receive these forecasts to your inbox and be notified of upcoming educational opportunities, sign up for my mailing list here.

Like really, sign up for the mailing list. I forecast often and people stay with me for years.

I rarely update this blog or website anymore – the mailing list is the best place to stay in touch, as well as subscribing to my podcast Magic of the Spheres and my YouTube channel Sabrina Monarch.

(Top image: source unknown – let me know if you know the artist? Image of Zeus/Jupiter)


One overarching theme of this Mercury retrograde to consider is that Mercury is traveling back and forth between Sagittarius and Capricorn (retrograding first in Capricorn, goes back into Sagittarius, and moves forward again). This creates some thematic possibilities of:

  • Going back and forth between boundless possibility and particular choices that collapse possibility into something concrete/particular. We engage the realm of possibility with Sagittarius, and we face the gravity of consequence in Capricorn. When we want to make things ‘real’, we of course need Capricorn. When we are trying to shape or build our lives, we need Capricorn. But these Capricornian choices can also be philosophical (Sagittarius) when we reflect on the reality we could be building many different things (and not all of them) and what do we really want to create?
  • Discerning whether our own story can meaningfully develop through optimism or realism, or some re-mix of both (perhaps differently allotted or considered than we have in the past). Positive or optimistic thinking, and imagining possibilities or even kind of imaginative ‘loopholes’ in reality is Mercury in Sagittarius’s gift here. Sometimes a bigger way of thinking that imagines that things are possible is enough for things to change. Other times, we have chronic issues that are rooted in some kind of ignorance or developmental ignorance (we have yet to understand) and there is a more concrete, Saturnian solution or approach that will help the situation develop. And there is some mix of both.

In this last year I went through a profound coaching program where I had to do an inventory of every single person starting from my earliest memory that I’ve ever had a crush on, hooked up with, or had a relationship with, and how I showed up to those encounters, what patterns I was running. Doing that kind of sober, facing-the-facts mapping work has helped me see some of my own errors that I can now more easily, not repeat, because I see them. I can tell you that just “wishing for the best” or doing magic to attract a magical partner, would not have been as helpful as the real talk, let’s face the facts, kind of process. If you are having a plumbing issue in your house, you would address it, you wouldn’t just pray for it to get better on its own.

On the other hand, sometimes people get so lost in the world and they are ‘practical’ but they have forgotten the magic or not left enough space for magic and possibility at the table. This Mercury retrograde may have us reflecting on our strategies, and whether there is pragmatism/reality-checks or greater imagination to be desired.

A few months ago, feeling frustrated for no exact reason, I looked up local healers and booked sessions with two people who had tons of 5 star reviews and I had profound, life-changing experiences with both of them. One was a sound healing and during the session I felt a very strong masculine spirit sit down with me and point out to me my errors and give me a very clear vision of a solution that was in my power to create. In a situation that was itself kind of magical/Sagittarian (someone doing shamanic bodywork, lighting herbs, playing singing bowls and singing to me), Saturn/Capricorn delivered a strong talking-to to me. In the time since then I followed the advice that came to me in that session and experienced a major positive development, chapter-turning, in a somewhat life-long struggle I’ve had.

I’ve outlined the dates of the retrograde cycle below with some commentary.

November 25, 2023: Mercury pre-shadow began

Mercury was in 22 Sagittarius, square Neptune in 24 Pisces

(Mercury pre-shadow is when Mercury enters the degree it will eventually station direct in. Mercury will retrograde from Capricorn, and go all the way back to 22 Sagittarius before stationing direct.)

You might consider what has happening cognitively during this time or what you were in conversation about. In the United States this time period was connected to Thanksgiving, which has helped me at least bookmark the time and think back on what was happening. It was actually during this time I noticed conversations were presenting a clear theme. I met a lot of new people during this time and everyone was talking about dating (Mercury rules my 7th house of relationships, and 4th house, personally) and these dating perspectives really opened my mind.

Mercury retrograde tends to offer some kind of ‘research project from God’ – like information is floating around that may not be what you set out to research or think about, but the particular information that is coming through is the trip you are taking, whether or not you know why you’re taking it. Especially if you’re open!

Mercury retrograde advice often entails double or triple-checking your plans to make sure you are able to do them smoothly. While there is some wisdom in this (for the things that you are really intent on doing), it also helps to leave space for the mystery and the re-routes.

December 1 ,2023: Mercury entered Capricorn

December 12, 2023: Mercury stations retrograde in 8 Capricorn

Mercury will also be:

-trine Jupiter in retrograde in 6 Taurus

-sextile Venus-Athena in 10 Scorpio

-opposite Vesta retrograde in 1 Cancer

The retrograde first pivots in Capricorn suggesting we may be receiving the invitation to re-think matters of cause and effect and essentially ‘the errors of our ways’. I say this with a lot of lightheartedness however because for many making mistakes can be such a grave or shameful thing and there’s not a lot of play in this. In reality though, we are here to learn, and we exist because we have karma, and we come to earth to experience creativity inside of limitations. When we realize we made a mistake, does it feel so incredibly shameful and like the end of the world? Or is it a learning opportunity, a place to pivot, a place to develop greater skill or wisdom that is only created from direct experience? The trine to Jupiter will suggest some access to buoyancy and ‘aha!’ revelatory moments where we access a bigger-picture sense of possibility through the realization of how cause and effect and consequence operate.

The Venus-Athena conjunction in Scorpio is nearly exact (they are just 3 seconds of a degree away from one another), and sextiles the Mercury station. As an omen, I see this as the retrograde having something to do with how we engage strategy (Athena) in relationship (Venus). There are many different types of relational strategies and they certainly are not equal and certainly do not all produce the same results. We will perhaps be thinking about the role of strategy in connection, for better or worse.

In my own life, I began to have deeper capacity to hold my own intense feelings because of the embodiment work I’ve been doing the last few years. Recently I turned back toward situations that would create those intense feelings (dating, to be clear, haha) and noticed the part of me that tries to control how I present myself in order to manage the situation instead of just allowing myself to be authentically expressed in the moment. This question of what is actually mine to process privately versus how can I just live in such a way that I have steady access to be spontaneous and expressed?  I’ve actually been de-armoring my egoic mechanisms instead of doubling down on them. There is strategy involved in how to de-armor parts of the ego & psyche, but this is way different than the strategy of trying to alter my behavior to in some sense ‘control’ my environment, which is how I adapted in the past to overwhelming feelings I did not know how to actually hold.

Rest be assured, Capricorn and Scorpio are both very intent and ‘bent’ signs (they can play a long game, they can strategically pounce or make moves at the right moment to facilitate their own desires) and some strategy sucks the very life out of us while other strategies help us deepen into intimacy with life… something to think about!

The opposition to priestess asteroid Vesta suggests something may also be brewing around how we cultivate, honor, and work with energy. We are always directing our life-force somewhere, and the question is what is the nature of it? Is our energy being invested? Are we extracting from our life-force? Have we stuffed it far down? If we approach life-force with reverence, how would we cultivate and direct it?

December 22, 2023: Sun-Mercury Cazimi at 0 Capricorn, on the Solstice

Mercury trines Jupiter retrograde in 5 Taurus.

The cazimi opposes Vesta retrograde now in 29 Gemini – out of sign, but very tight opposition.

The cazimi can be a time of information or insight coming into the light, so pay attention to your particular illuminating ideas, conversations, visions at this time. We may still be working with insights that have to do with cause and effect (Capricorn) and the nature and architecture of the game we are playing. We may think the rules are one thing, only to get deeper into our understanding of the game and see we were mistaken and that something else is coming into clarity.

It is a liability in the Capricorn experience to crystallize and harden. On the one hand this hardening allows things to take shape, but sometimes we lose flexibility here. The path to ‘success’ (however we are defining it within a particular game or venture) is not always replicable – variables change, and we have to also. More lasting truths or natural laws also have many nuances in their applications.

December 22, 2023: Mercury retrograde re-enters Sagittarius

This re-entrance occurs while the Moon and Uranus are conjunct in Taurus, and opposite Venus in Scorpio.

If we take the position of the Moon as an omen for this part of the story, we may be having breakthroughs in how we get ours needs met. Shoutout to my friend and colleague Suprasensory Shahir, who I believe offered this delineation in my advanced METEORITE container last year about the Moon and Uranus together in Taurus (innovating how we get our needs met) and this has stuck with me since.

The Venus-Athena conversation is still happening though Venus is now farther and separating from Athena, but they are still in orb. 

Sex, resource, money, and power (Taurus-Scorpio axis) are enormously sensitive topics and are places that we can develop a lot of complexes because the primal need for survival (or merging for survival) is so strong.

I’ll never forget a time in grad school where we were discussing the question of evil when it came to giant corporations who are destroying the earth for profit. My professor Brian Swimme then asked a question, something to the effect of, have we thought about how every organism needs energy to survive? (Thus, consumption, and to an extreme, greed.) This point always stuck with me because underlying the human questions of morality and immorality, are the biological pressures of survival. Perhaps we would have a different social reality if we didn’t actually need food, or our bodies weren’t woundable.

As long as we are incarnate in this earthly way, we need energy to survive, we need food and shelter and resources/money and we also likely need touch, connection, intimacy, belonging. It humbles me to remember that this is a shared condition of organisms on this planet, and even though people do some very weird, shady, etc. things to “get” what they need, it is our condition — that we need.

So the question to take it deeper is, can we innovate how we address our needs? How we hold them, how we relate to them? One of the higher octave possibilities of the Taurus-Scorpio axis is creating win-win situations and mutually enhancing situations as opposed to extractive win-lose situations or trauma-bonded lose-lose situations. Where are we empowered to hold ourselves better and thus offer more value? Where do we really need help and collaboration and how are we empowered to ask for what we need and desire? Are there ways to do this that respect and honor life as opposed to transactionalize/extract from life?

Cue Mercury in Sagittarius and imaginative thinking. Cue in the mutable magic (Sagittarius) for loosening up some of our most fixed (Taurus-Scorpio) mindsets that keep us in addictions and loops.

January 1, 2024: Mercury stations direct at 22 Sagittarius

Now Mercury is part of a grand mutable cross, square Neptune in 25 Pisces, square Moon-Juno conjunct in 19-21 Virgo, and opposite Vesta in 26 Gemini. Mercury will be conjunct Mars in 28 Sagittarius.

It may be that as we have been on some journey to open possibilities, that now the chaos of possibility enters the scene in a greater way – we may feel our energy ‘scattered’ to an extent or that its easier to be whimsical than it feels easier to focus or be traditionally productive. Mutable madness 🙂

We might at least remember that before anything gets crystallized and condensed as a reality that it was more chaotic. So a question might be what the chaos or realm of lots of possibility is meaning to teach us?

We might consider that structures serve a purpose, but they are not the purpose in of themselves. This may be a time where we are increasingly aware that some of our habits or control patterns or mechanisms from the past are not addressing the current reality, but rather were designed for some past wound/need. Before we rush to get it together, this moment might feel a little messy.

The Mercury-Mars conjunction square Neptune may relate to people (maybe even ourselves) being a little zealous, convicted, opinionated, of unusual takes or ideas, grand visions, something larger than life and out of the routine/ordinary. 

These altered states are important and helpful for our spiritual processes (they go well in ceremony!) but in mainstream culture there is not a lot of support for shamanic and spiritual openings and so mental illness is a way this energy can show up also.

This is why in addition to being in relationship to the magic, to astrology, etc. practices that help us know and understand ourselves and the natural world better, as well as embodiment, personal/psychic development, can be important supports when it comes to expanding into these beyond realms.

This would be a great time for play and ceremony, of engaging a ‘magical’ or ‘alternate reality’ state where one can explore what is coming through. How we choose to integrate these ceremonial realizations in our lives is another skill, too.

January 20, 2024: Mercury exits post-shadow at 8 Capricorn (the degree Mercury originally stationed retrograde from)

Mercury will be conjunct Mars in 12 Capricorn, sextile Saturn in 5 Pisces, and trine Jupiter in 6 Taurus (Jupiter now direct as well).

Also significantly, this is the same day as Pluto ingresses into Aquarius for the second time since Pluto last went into Aquarius and retrograded back out of it.

To me, the omen here is a “new world” – Pluto in Aquarius. Hopefully Mercury’s retrograde and dance between Capricorn and Sagittarius helped us play with the idea that reality is both REAL and NOT WHAT IT SEEMS.

Pluto in Aquarius is a whole other, massive, arena of “what is reality?” but with Pluto in Aquarius our most fixed mental paradigms or ‘matrices’ are highlighted. We go through the epic journey of freeing ourselves from the chains and limitations of these mental structures, as well as the potential creation or formations of paradigms that offer us rarified forms of freedom or elevation in reality. A person could free their minds from social conditioning, a person could free their nervous system from attachment trauma patterns, a person could free their nervous system from obsessing on lack/the negative, a person could free themselves from ongoing victimization – the list goes on. These processes will be both personal and collective.

The Pluto in Aquarius transit is a longer story (~20 years) and we will likely encounter technologies, personal developments, and cultural developments beyond our imagination.

(Images: Pilar Lesko, invite to check out whole brilliant post/carousel here!)

What I hope we may gain from the whole Mercury experience is remembering that our strategies and methods for building and dismantling our conditions are in themselves, flexible and mutable. Creativity and change-making is a process of constant learning, even if we gain reliable or sturdy frameworks that endure the test of time. There is always an element of mystery. If we forget to apprentice ourselves to the mystery, we fall liable to become overly attached to beliefs and structures, which are not in themselves, the essence of life. If we can loosen our grip on beliefs and structures, we can be more playful and creative with them and allow them to serve something deeper than themselves.

Want to work with me 1:1? I do astrology readings, or work with people in a longer term mentorship capacity. I also teach courses essentially year round with enrollment periods open several times a year. Send me an email sabrina@monarchastrology.com to start a conversation about mentorship or studying.

I have bookings for astrology readings available in December for new and returning clients (just a few left). New clients can book the Evolutionary Fusion reading (detailed below) while returning clients can book that same reading but have it be a year-ahead session where we discuss your transits, profection year, and solar return chart.

Evolutionary Fusion Readings: These sessions focus on the larger mythos and bigger picture, soul threads of your natal chart. These are 75 minute readings grounded in my decade-plus specialty Evolutionary Astrology (which resources Pluto and the lunar nodes to get a glimpse into the major themes and life of the soul). These readings incorporate other things I’ve been studying in the last few years, like Hellenistic astrology and numerous minor asteroids (though I scan for the ones that are especially prominent for you). The session ends with integration through EFT/tapping (a somatic trauma healing technique), Akashic channeling, or personalized visualization, depending on what came up in the session & upon your interest. Book an Evolutionary Fusion Reading here.

For returning clients only – Year Ahead Reading: Simply book the Evolutionary Fusion reading, but we will focus on your solar return chart, profection year, and year ahead transits, and end with integration through EFT/tapping, Akashic channeling or personalized visualization at the end depending on what came up in the session & upon your interest. Book a Year Ahead Evolutionary Fusion Reading here.

Note to new clients: in a first natal chart reading together we are working with the overarching mythos and patterns in your chart, and we do not have time for a thorough treatment on your year ahead transits, which is why I am offering that reading to returning clients only. 

with love,

Sabrina Monarch

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