The month of December feels a lot like a summer Friday — or really, any point in time just before a major event or holiday. How can you possibly concentrate, plow ahead on ambitious undertakings, or be expected to be productive when there's so much joyfulness and anticipation in the air?
But December may also very well be the most mindful month of the year, given that we're more apt than ever to want to slow down and cherish festive moments with friends and loved ones. Even if you're more of an introvert, there's magic to be found in the last month of the year, whether that involves curling up with your favourite book and a cup of hot cocoa or spending quality downtime with someone near and dear to your heart.
This vibe is owed to December's sun-sign seasons: jovial, abundance-loving Sagittarius and grounded, tradition-loving Capricorn. And in 2023, finding more time to chill and be present this time of year is especially wise, given the timing of the final Mercury retrograde of the year.
When Mercury, the planet of communication, transportation, and technology, appears to move backward from our vantage point on Earth, we're nudged to review, reflect, and revise, as opposed to pushing forward on new endeavours. Occurring initially in Capricorn, the practical, goal-oriented cardinal earth sign, and continuing through Sagittarius, the wanderlust-y, knowledge-seeking mutable fire sign, Mercury's retrograde officially kicks off on 12-13 Dec. (depending on your time zone) and wraps up on 1 Jan., 2024.
Thankfully, understanding the themes of this particular Mercury retrograde can help you make the most of it. Here's what to know and expect for the final Mercury retrograde of the year.
What Does Mercury Retrograde Mean in Astrology?
To wrap your head around exactly what Mercury retrograde entails, it can help to understand how the planet functions when it's moving forward (aka "is direct"). Typically, Mercury, the messenger planet, speeds up our ability to connect, supports our mental energy, and keeps technology and transportation running smoothly. But three to four times a year, for three weeks at a time, it appears to slow down and move backward through the zodiac. And when this happens, miscommunications abound, transportation gets hairy, and our devices glitch out.
But again, it's not all doom and gloom. The planet of communication's frequent slowdowns encourage us to rest, recharge, reflect, reimagine — basically, take a step back and contend with the past in order to fully embrace the present and step even more confidently into the future.
The General Vibe of Mercury Retrograde in Capricorn and Sagittarius
Mercury is retrograde in Capricorn from 12-13 Dec. (depending on your time zone) until 23 Dec., then it cruises backward through Sagittarius from 23 Dec. to 1 Jan., 2024. As such, the overall tone of this particular retrograde will stir up thoughts around putting your nose to the grindstone to achieve and earn recognition, as well as nurture your most jovial connections and broaden your horizons.
Capricorn's influence actually makes this a lovely time to tie up loose ends on big-picture projects and reflect on pragmatic approaches to your next ambitious undertaking. And while the messenger planet is retrograde in Sagittarius, you could feel restless — wishing you could be (or actually attempting to be) jet set, but instead, setbacks, delays, and snafus could throw a wrench in your plans. On the other hand, it's possible you'll have the opportunity to revisit a beloved holiday holiday spot or enjoy relearning big-picture lessons that serve to bolster your joyfulness.
Mercury's retrograde through these two dynamic signs sets the stage for fostering better balance between listening to your head versus listening to your gut and contending with restrictions and limitations versus pushing boundaries. (Also FYI: around this time, you may find yourself revisiting themes that came up around 25 Nov.-12 Dec. when Mercury was cruising ahead through this same spot in the sky.)
To better understand how you'll experience these often confusing but ultimately enlightening three weeks, read on for your December 2023 Mercury retrograde horoscope, and be sure to read not only your sun sign but also your rising sign, if you know it.
How Will the December 2023 Mercury Retrograde Affect My Zodiac Sign?
Aries (21 March-19 April)
Until 23 Dec. Mercury moves back through your 10th house of career, which allows you a chance to reflect on your approach to long-term professional goals. Now's your chance to review and revise your game plan for making your mark and earning recognition for the grind. Then, until 1 Jan., the messenger planet's backspin in your ninth house of adventure can amplify your restlessness. Look for small but satisfying ways to satiate your wanderlust — even if it's just researching and reviewing ways to book a trip in the future.
Taurus (20 April-20 May)
The messenger planet will initially be retrograde in your ninth house of adventure, which may inspire you to hit the books, brush up on a particular skill set, or plan a trip to a beloved long-distance spot where you previously spent time. Yep, even though you always hear that travel is a no-no during Mercury retrograde, revisiting a place from the past could lead to personal growth. And while it moves backward in your eighth house of intimacy from 23 Dec. to 1 Jan, review joint resources and what makes you feel comfiest when physically and emotionally connecting with someone special.
Gemini (21 May-21 June)
Mercury retrogrades just about always f*ck with your head, because the messenger planet is your ruler, Gemini. This time, Mercury initially moves backward through your eighth house of intimacy, setting the stage for initiating tough conversations about past emotional wounds. This may not be the easiest thing to do, but it can be incredibly healing now. And from 23 Dec. to 1 Jan., its trip backward through your seventh house of partnership allows you to reassess which one-on-one relationships and projects are worthy of your time and energy and address any unfinished business related to serving as part of a pair.
Cancer (22 June-22 July)
Initially, this Mercury retrograde will spur lots of reflection and revision related to who you're aligning yourself with — whether platonically, romantically, or professionally — given that it's moving backward through your seventh house of partnerships. Then, from 23 Dec. to 1 Jan., the messenger planet's backspin in your sixth house of wellness and daily routine will turn your focus to health matters. If it's been a minute since you've gotten a particular checkup or you're itching to rework your fitness routine, now's your chance.
Leo (23 July-22 Aug.)
The messenger planet's backspin kicks off in your sixth house of daily routine, so reimagining your everyday hustle serves you well now. Counterintuitive but true: it could be that taking certain responsibilities off your plate is the best way to maximise your productivity and well-being in the long-run. And from 23 Dec. to 1 Jan., your holiday season will be all about revisiting pleasure-bringing pastimes and creativity-supporting endeavours you may have previously back burnered, as Mercury backs up through your fifth house of romance and self-expression.
Virgo (23 Aug.-22 Sept.)
You tend to feel Mercury retrogrades more than most people, because the messenger planet is your ruler, Virgo. But unlike the last Mercury retrograde, which was in your sign, this one begins in your fifth house of romance and self-expression, which can be a lovely chance to embrace spontaneity, prioritise bonding with loved ones, and really tune into and make time for creative activities that feel pleasurable and revitalising. As it moves back into your fourth house of home life from 23 Dec. to 1 Jan., you may be stirred to review the self-work you've done around past emotional wounds, which could serve to strengthen your overall well-being and enhance your inner life.
Libra (23 Sept.-22 Oct.)
Initially, Mercury will be retrograde in your fourth house of home life, nudging you to tend to any loose ends related to family issues or, quite literally, your home. This can also set the stage for enjoying time-honoured holiday traditions with an eye toward the past. Maybe you'll flip through old photo albums or watch a movie as a family for the first time in years. Then, from 23 Dec. to 1 Jan., the messenger planet's backspin in your third house of communication is a chance to slow down, practice mindfulness, and get centred even in the midst of what may feel like chaos at times.
Scorpio (23 Oct.-21 Nov.)
The messenger planet cruises back through your third house of communication, so don't be surprised if those classic retrograde tech glitches and misunderstandings rear their ugly heads. It's a reason to slow down and be more intentional about how — and with whom — you're exerting your social energy. And as it backs up through your second house of income from 23 Dec. to 1 Jan., reflect on whether or not you're being adequately valued for what you bring to the table in business endeavours.
Sagittarius (22 Nov.-21 Dec.)
Messenger Mercury kicks off its retrograde in your second house of income, so consider going back to the drawing board on moneymaking projects that fell off your plate. You could have a renewed perspective that sets you up for success. Then, from 23 Dec. to 1 Jan., the planet of communication lands back in your sign and first house of self, which can help you revise the way you're putting yourself out in the world. You might want to edit your résumé, rework your website, or refresh your wardrobe ahead of pursuing a major personal goal.
Capricorn (22 Dec.-19 Jan.)
With Mercury retrograde in your sign to start, you could feel driven to reflect on and edit passion projects that you've been pouring your mental and emotional energy into. Though you want to achieve so much, streamlining your efforts could maximise your efficiency now. Then, as Mercury backs up through your 12th house of spirituality from 23 Dec. to 1 Jan., building even more downtime into your usual hustle will be wise. Pay attention to your dreams, as they could be especially vivid and provide insight into what you want to work toward in the new year.
Aquarius (20 Jan.-18 Feb.)
As Mercury begins its retrograde in your 12th house of spirituality this time around, you might feel a bit stalled and sleepy. But you can also pour your energy into imaginative pursuits and mind-body routines you've previously adored. Once it's retrograde in your 11th house of networking from 23 Dec. to 1 Jan., you may find it's easier to reconnect with old friends and tie up loose ends on team projects.
Pisces (19 Feb.-20 March)
Mercury begins its backspin through your 11th house of networking, which can help you revisit collaborative undertakings, team efforts, and platonic bonds that'll have you feeling more connected. Sure, wires could get crossed with colleagues and friends, but you can reframe these moments as opportunities to hone communication skills in this context as well as your sense of teamwork. Then, from 23 Dec. to 1 Jan., it'll be retrograde in your 10th house of career, encouraging you to review and revise big-picture aspirations and leadership opportunities — and your game plans for reaching the peak of the mountain.