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How to survive Mercury Retrograde

“Mercury Retrograde holds no terrors… when all the unlucky stuff happens to other people.”

Mercury went Retrograde on December 29th 2022, and will station Direct again on January 18th 2023, in approximately three weeks time.

I find it supremely ironic that a no-mark of whom I had never heard before two days ago, chose the first day of Mercury going Retrograde to attack Greta Thunberg on social media. His reward consisted of not only being pilloried by the internet in general, and Ms Thunberg in particular, but his actions led to the Romanian Police detecting his presence in their country and arresting him. If you had doubts about the devastating power of Astrology, doubt no longer!

However, unless you really are a vile specimen of a human being, Mercury Retrograde need not necessarily be all bad: and indeed Hermeticism teaches us that by ascending to the right state of enlightened consciousness, we can survive the curveballs that this time of year throws at us. Furthermore, we ought to know that Mercury turns Retrograde around three times a year: thus because it happens with predictable reliability, we each can and ought to develop our own strategy or strategies for dealing with it.

As I wrote in my account of my own Abramelin Operation, 16th October 2020:

I had not paid much attention to the current stars and planets in the past few days, but I happened to remember that Mercury had just turned Retrograde (it had done so three days ago). It would not station direct until after I had finished the Operation. For one moment I felt uneasy that this had to happen now : would I have begun my Operation if I had realised ? But then I dismissed the thought. Given that it occurs three or four times a year, one inevitably cannot perform the Abramelin Operation without it turning Retrograde once during that time. Perhaps I had done well not to pay too much attention to the astrology of the situation, as otherwise I might have let superstitious dread cause me to miss this opportunity.

A lot of people fear this time of year, but as I discovered once after a supermarket cashier forgot to ring up a bottle of whisky in my shopping, Mercury Retrograde holds no terrors so long as all the unlucky stuff happens to other people. A sort of Schadenfreude view of the phenomenon. Besides which, I interpreted the message of Hermeticism to mean that ultimately one ought to develop oneself spiritually so that one can learn to stand apart from the influence of the planets, instead of remaining passively affected by them. This, I supposed, formed the whole rationale of the planetary magick of the Golden Dawn. Adverse astrological conditions might disquieten the great unwashed, but they should merely present a challenge to an Adept worth his or her salt.

Sumner (2022), p477 – see below for full bibliographic citation.

However: although practicing the Hexagram Rituals of the Golden Dawn, and by otherwise rising on the planes and raising one’s vibrational state does work, it only goes so far! The Curse of the Adept is that one has to continually deal with people who aren’t familiar with high Hermetic magic. E.g. as I recorded a few days later:

Later that morning : work continued awfully and threatened to spoil my day. Despite me being fastidiously careful, people tried to blame me for things which went wrong anyway. In other words, I had managed to transcend the effects of the Mercury Retrograde today, but my managers and co-workers had not, so I had to deal with their bullshit, nonetheless. In effect, I suffered from Mercury Retrograde by Proxy.

Ibid., p487.

In conclusion, my top tips for surviving Mercury Retrograde: DO

  • Spend time in meditation, and introspection. When a Planet is Retrograde, its energies are directed inwards. Hence although it is a bad time for outward expressions, it is a very good time for applying the power of Mercury to the inner life – through contemplation and cultivating one’s intuition.
  • Make plans for what you are going to achieve when Mercury stations Direct. The Retrograde period is a bad time for starting new ventures, however: it only lasts three weeks. Hence, this fact coupled with the idea of spending time on one’s inner life mentioned above means that it is an excellent time not for starting ventures, but for planning what you are going to start in the near future.
  • Try to remain calm: be compassionate and forgiving. Remind yourself that people who tick you off during this time are probably suffering themselves, and try to be as merciful towards them as you would want them to be towards you if you were in the same situation.


  • Start new ventures recklessly. Instead, if you can’t avoid putting it off, make an extra effort to make sure you have been especially careful. It would be foolish to say “never start something during a Mercury Retrograde” because that’s never entirely possible, so instead you should take this time to act cautiously.
  • Celebrate your return to social media by attacking the most popular climate change activist on the planet, disclosing public details when you are wanted by the police, or both.

Sumner, A (2022), Conjuring Demons for Pleasure and Profit: an Abramelin Memoir, Thoth Publications, Leicester, UK.

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