hands planting a seedling

Breaking New Ground, Planting Seeds

Mercury retrograde is again upon us! (stop that groaning) This time, Mercury is stationary retrograde in Taurus at the very powerful Solar Eclipse in Aries (April 20), and turns retrograde the day after the eclipse – and he's got plenty to say about it!

Inch by inch, row by row
Gonna make this garden grow
All it takes is a rake and a hoe
And a piece of fertile ground
~ Dave Mallett, The Garden Song

This Mercury Retrograde phase starts off with a bang! When Mercury stations retrograde, there is a lot of intense energy usually related to communication, mixed signals, disagreements and frustration, although this can also include new insights, ideas and piqued curiosity. In this case, Mercury starts his retrograde phase the next day after the powerful Solar Eclipse in Aries (April 20), and both Mercury and the eclipse add extra sizzle to each other's energy.

Mercury is doing his backward Moonwalk for a slightly shorter time – only 3 weeks (usually about 3½ weeks). (Note: Mercury doesn't actually do an about-face and go backwards in space. It's an optical illusion based on the fact that we're seeing him from Earth's perspective, but that illusion is significant astrologically. For more about how retrogrades work, read my article: Introduction to Retrogrades ~ Backwards in High Heels.)

Mercury is in Taurus for this entire retrograde cycle. Mercury's mental energy in Taurus tends to be paced, methodical, analytical, and very pragmatic, but is also extra receptive to music, art, poetry and pleasure. For example, during this cycle your mind might be intrigued by a money-making idea or a plan for building a nest-egg. April is tax time for many of us, so as you're preparing your tax return you might identify a strategy for saving money.

Taurus is also about our values. What do you consider to be worth whatever you have to sacrifice for it? It could be money, time, effort, energy, learning curve, ethics, integrity, aggravation, etc. Since Mercury retrograde is about rethinking, rehashing, revising and repeating, this particular cycle may see you revamping your value system so that your actions, preferences and standards align more closely with each other.

The major turning points in this Mercury retrograde cycle are:

  • Mercury enters the Shadow: April 7, 2023 ~ 05:50 Taurus
  • Mercury-Sun max elongation: April 12, 2023 ~ 11:08 Taurus
  • Mercury stationary Retrograde: April 21, 2023 ~ 15:37 Taurus
  • Mercury Rx conjunct the Sun: May 1, 2023 ~ 11:19 Taurus
  • Mercury stationary Direct: May 14, 2023 ~ 05:50 Taurus
  • Mercury-Sun max elongation: May 29, 2023 ~ 13:21 Taurus
  • Mercury leaves the Shadow: May 31, 2023 ~ 15:37 Taurus

For more about Mercury Retrograde in general, read my article: Alright... Who Stole My Brain?? For more about this Mercury Retrograde, keep reading!


Pullin' weeds and pickin' stones
We are made of dreams and bones
Feel the need to grow my own
'Cause the time is close at hand
~ Dave Mallett, The Garden song

Mercury Retrograde Stepping Stones

Mercury makes a number of repeating aspects while backpedalling on his retro-cycle.

Mercury conjunct Uranus

(April 20, 2:14 orb apart), June 4

Mercury Retrograde Conjunct UranusAt the time of the Solar Eclipse in Aries, and the Mercury retrograde station the next day, Mercury and Uranus are just 2:14 apart. But since Mercury is slowing down for the station, they don't exactly meet. Mercury falls back and doesn't actually catch up until June 4, well after Mercury leaves the shadow behind.

It's a bit like waking up after a vivid dream, and although you can't quite remember all the details, you get flashes of it all day. Therefore, pay attention to your thoughts, observations, ideas, body sensations, dreams, insights, expectations and surprises that come to you roughly April 17 to April 25, since these could offer seed ideas that you could grow into something greater. For example, you might have a brilliant, ground-breaking idea, but for now you have to put a pin in it and go collect all the materials, resources and skills you'll need to make it happen. So: delays. (grrrr)

Mercury parallel Uranus

April 9, April 29, June 10

Mercury Retrograde Parallel Uranus

Although Mercury and Uranus only make one exact conjunction, they do make 3 parallels by declination which strengthens their conjunction energy throughout Mercury's retrograde cycle. Typically, Uranus prefers to do everything spontaneously, immediately, and steered by intuition, so being in Earth sign Taurus (from 2018 to 2026) kind of cramps his style. Taurus prefers to do things slowly, paced, one preplanned step at a time.

Mercury's retrograde journey in Taurus, while conjunct and parallel Uranus, means you may feel a bit torn between wanting to leap into new ideas without hesitation, but there will likely be delays that frustratingly slow down the process. Think of it as a retrograde detour through the archetypal hardware store to pick up supplies will make the final result better, stronger and more enduring.

Mercury sextile Saturn

April 5, May 12, May 19

Mercury Retrograde Sextile SaturnIf Mercury has his super-practical hat on in Taurus, his sextile to Saturn nails that in place! Saturn in Pisces knows there's more to life than just putting the building blocks together. This Saturn help you write a complete list of all you'll need to make your dreams take shape – and to do it creatively and intuitively! Try doodling your list, or make up a song about it.

Mercury conjunct North Lunar Node

April 6, (May 14, 1:54 orb apart)

Mercury Retrograde Conjunct NodeAlthough this aspect is out-of-orb by the time the eclipse happens, it was within an 8° orb from April 1-12. And when Mercury stations direct on May 14, they're less than 2° apart and remain in-orb for 2 weeks before and after (April 30 to May 27).

So, those wild ideas and flights of imagination that tickle your brain during this Mercury cycle are likely to be more important and filled with potential than you might realize. Write them down! Brainstorm with yourself, jotting down crazy ideas, loony observations, and flashes of insight. They might turn out to be seed ideas that could blossom later.

Mercury sextile Mars

April 8, April 23, June 21

Mercury Retrograde Sextile MarsOh right, Mars again! (rolling eyes) This cooperative aspect allows these planets to dance well together. Mars is eager to point out things of interest to Mercury, which can make for some interesting observations of the world around you. Mercury likes to take it slow in Taurus and can obsess over one point of view. However, Mars wants to keep moving and is not above grabbing Mercury by the scruff of the neck to give him a shake and yell, "Pay attention!!"

By the time they make their last sextile in June, they have changed signs – Mercury will be strong in his own sign of Gemini, and Mars will be in a partying mood in Leo. This combination can provide an atmosphere of fun that celebrates what you've been developing throughout the Mercury retrograde cycle.

Mercury retrograde conjunct Sun

May 1

Mercury Retrograde Conjunct SunThis transit indicates the approximate half-way point in the cycle. It is considered by many astrologers to mark the beginning of a new Mercury cycle that lasts until the next one (starting in August). They move within an 8° orb from April 26 to May 6, and during that time you may find your energy is a bit low, your mind a little fuzzy, or your dreams are especially active.

On the exact day, Mercury will be Cazimi ("in the heart of the Sun") and your powers of observation might spark some flashes of insight or possibilities. Write 'em down! Go back and read 'em around June 24, when Mercury is direct and again conjunct the Sun.

Mercury sextile Venus

May 12, June 17

Mercury Retrograde Sextile VenusThis transit combines Mercury's communicative ability with Venus' love of beauty. You may experience the urge to listen to that song that popped into your head, or to write poetry. You might want to prepare a meal that's not only healthy and delicious but also pretty, colourful, and laid out in an attractive design.

In addition, Mercury in Taurus and Venus in Gemini are in Mutual Reception from April 11 to May 7 – they each rule the sign that the other is in. This strengthens their sextile connection, which invites creative writing, musical thoughts, artistic observation, beautiful food, and the ability to relay the facts in a gentle, caring way.

As with Mars, these two are in Taurus and Gemini for their first pass, but have moved into Gemini and Leo for the second and final pass. Again, as with Mars, this suggests that you could be recognized and celebrated for the creativity and playfulness you enjoyed during April and May.


An old crow watching hungrily
From his perch in yonder tree
In my garden I'm as free
As that feathered thief up there
~Dave Mallett, The Garden Song

A Few Considerations

With all these sextile aspects (60°), Mercury seems to have the support of the whole solar system. Certainly this Mercury retrograde cycle is filled with potential that can be developed for a long-term project or plan (i.e. longer than a few days, or perhaps even longer than a few weeks). While sextiles are considered "positive" aspects, full of cooperation and creative potential, there is a possible down side to them (as with all things in life).

The warning can be summed up as: Just because you can doesn't necessarily mean you should.

Sextile aspects show you what can be or what could be if you put some energy and intention into it. But sextile cooperative energy doesn't necessarily show you what the risks might be, what the costs are, or what consequences and implications could result.

Sextiles only see that the cosmic traffic light is green, not the pothole in the middle of the intersection or the car that comes out of nowhere to run the red light. All the more reason why Taurus' habit of taking its time with things can be an advantage. Those delays could be a blessing that help you avoid unexpected problems.

In Taurus we grow things – literally and figuratively. In the Northern Hemisphere while the Sun is in Taurus, it is a time to plant seeds and watch them grow and blossom. But before you plant, you need to break up the soil – and that's where Uranus comes in handy in this case.

In order to create something new, something worthwhile, you need to disrupt the status quo to make room for something new. And you need to take some time to go over your options and decide what kind of seeds you want to plant.

So, don't be afraid to get your hands dirty. Take your time, work cooperatively with the energy, pay attention, leave extra time to get to your appointments, and try not to carve anything in stone too quickly!

Grain for grain, sun and rain
Find my way in Nature's chain
Tune my body and my brain
To the music from the land
~ Dave Mallett, The Garden Song



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