Tag Archives: Mercury retrograde

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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Strange Days Are Here Again

Today marks the start of an astrological period in which five planets – Pluto, Jupiter, Saturn, Mars and Mercury – are all retrograde at the same time. Fortunately this will last only until May 8th, when Jupiter turns Direct.

When a Planet is Retrograde, which is to say its apparent motion from Earth’s point of view is backwards, then its energies are best directed inwards, rather than outwards. That is to say, whilst it may be a bad time for trying to deal with other people, it is however a good time for dealing with yourself, for example your mind, your internal thought processes, and your own spiritual development.

Going against the grain during a retrograde period is often thought not to lead to success – as is most commonly thought during a Mercury Retrograde period. This is not entirely true – it is only a bad time if the disasters happen to other people, otherwise one may be lucky enough to experience a certain amount of schadenfreude!

For those that are interested in such things, the crucial dates for the rest of 2016 are as follows:

Most number of planets retrograde at one time: 29th April to 8th May i.e. 5.

Most number of planets direct at any one time: 19th November to 18th December, then 30th December til end of year i.e. 1 – apart from four days at the very beginning of the year, there have been and will be no time in 2016 when there is not at least one planet retrograde at any one time.

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It’s Friday 13th, a Full Moon AND Mercury is Retrograde. What could possibly go wrong?

The Olsen Twins

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, born 1986, are celebrating their 28th birthdays on Friday 13th 2014. Oops 😦

First the good news. “Friday the 13th” as a superstition is actually a load of spurious nonsense. There are no historical indicators that people thought it superstitious before the late 19th century, and it only really took off just over a hundred years ago. The whole fuss of the Templars being arrested on Friday the 13th? A modern ret-con!

Insurance companies have found that often, Friday 13th is less unlucky than other days of the year – because people are going out of their way to be careful. So whilst 13 is allegedly an unlucky number generally speaking, I have argued on this blog that in Qabalistic terms, it is in fact quite the opposite.

That being said, however, I notice a lot of talk on social media that Friday 13th June 2014 (a date alleged to associated with bad luck) is occurring during a Mercury Retrograde (also alleged to be associated with bad luck) and on the same day as the Full Moon (associated with Witches etc). Speaking as an astrologer, I would say that the world is not going to end that day. However, the planets on that day do feature some “interesting” alignments (as in the old Chinese curse, “May you live interesting times.”)

Chart for 12 noon on Friday 13th June 2014, London, UK.

Chart for 12 noon on Friday 13th June 2014, London, UK.

In the above chart, which shows the horoscope for Friday 13th June 2014, all of the red-lines denote relationships which are potentially problematic. There are three main sets to consider here:

  • The Sun + Mercury retrograde vs Moon opposition;
  • The Saturn retrograde vs Venus opposition; and
  • The Mars / Pluto / Uranus “T-formation.”

As regards the first: a retrograde is where the energies of a planet are directed inward rather than outward. Mercury, however, being a faster-moving planet, is never retrograde for too long (it is actually turning direct on 1st July). Hence, the period of a Mercury retrograde is an excellent time for planning what schemes you will commence next month – so long as you make sure you don’t actually commence them until next month.

Unfortunately, retrograde Mercury, the planet of communication breakdowns, is opposed by the Moon, the planet of how well we get on with other people. This combination presages arguments, quarrelling, misunderstandings, social awkwardness, and major faux pas! This will be especially the case in relation to self-esteem issues (i.e. the Sun’s influence).

As regards the second: miserable and overly-cautious Saturn is putting a serious damper on favourably placed Venus in Taurus. Marital upsets or frustration of marriage plans ahoy!

As for the T-formation, irritable and impulsive Mars is likely to fly off the handle at Uranus being an awkward sod. Meanwhile, devious Pluto is offended by Mars’ bolshiness and is secretly stirring up Uranus to be even more contrary – thus exacerbating the situation! This may sound like bad news: however, one may console oneself by noting that these three are relatively slow-moving planets, which means that this description applies to the times generally i.e. this Friday may be shit, but it will be no more shit in this regard than what has been occurring recently.

BUT… do you need to be worried about any of this?

Generally speaking, no – unless it happens to be your birthday that day. For most people, the energies of that day will pass with that day. Best to be overly cautious, like the drivers who manage to cause less accidents when it’s Friday the 13th! However, for those whose birthday is the 13th June, there is a theory in astrology that the position of the planets at the exact moment that the Sun returns to its position in one’s natal chart point out what you have to expect in the coming year. Thus the Moon/mercury, Saturn/Venus oppositions and the T-formation will conspire to leave a long shadow over the forthcoming twelve months.

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