Mercury Retrograde and the Holiday Season: A Survival Guide

It seems like a little cosmic joke to have a Mercury Retrograde period during one of the most hectic holiday seasons of the year.  After all, Merc Retro is famous for causing delays and problems in things such as travel and purchasing expensive items and December is the month where most of us have to do exactly that! But have no fear, there is a way to survive both the holiday season and Mercury Retrograde.  

Mercury Retrograde in Sagittarius begins on December 3rd, 2017 (U.T) and continues until December 23rd, 2017.  After the 23rd, we will still be in Mercury’s shadow, those few weeks where Mercury climbs back to the place where he was before he went retrograde.  During that time we might still feel that our attempts to make linear progress in life are being slowed down or hindered a bit.  However, by January 11th 2018, Mercury will be restored to full forward motion and life will feel back to normal. 

Now, people who know me know that I do not like to encourage people to freak out when Mercury is retrograde.  People tend to fear what they do not understand and my view is that the general public tends to over-react and blame Mercury retrograde for things that it has nothing to do with.  (For more about my views on that you can see my previous article).  However, it is true that when not handled properly, Mercury Retrograde can be a potentially frustrating time for some people.  This is especially the case when your own natal chart interacts in a challenging way with Mercury during a particular retrograde.   Since the holidays are stressful enough even without interference from the cosmos, I thought I would write you some tips on how to keep your holiday/retrograde stress down to the lowest possible level.

Some Potential Trouble Spots in December and how to Handle Them:

Mercury during Retrograde:  Where Old Appliances Go to Die
washing-machine-2668472_1920Look around your home now, and also check over your vehicle. Anything on its last legs and about to go? Mercury Retrograde is a time when old or defective technology, machines or other possessions like to fall apart and die. So if your washer has been making weird knocking noises for the past month, you might want to make a plan about what you will do if it decides to finally konk out.  However, before you rush out to replace any Big Ticket item you own, see if you can put off the purchase until after the 23rd.  Here’s why:

Making Large, Important or Expensive Purchases 

Technically speaking, astrologers consider Mercury Retrograde to be an unfavorable time for making a purchase of any importance because the chance that the purchase will be faulty or defective is higher than usual.  As a result, retailers might see an unusual amount of returns and exchanges after the 25th.  If you want to avoid buying a defective or (otherwise unwanted) gift, try to get your really big purchases done before Dec. 3rd.  If you have to spend after the 3rd, then at least try to avoid making purchases (especially impulsive purchases) on the 10th or 11th (when Mercury trines Uranus and squares Chiron). If you can, wait until the retrograde period is over before making a major purchase.  It might seem weird but to delay the purchase you could give your loved one a card with cash inside and a coupon to go shopping on Boxing Day together for that awesome gift they always dreamed of.  Practical and thrifty people would probably appreciate the savings, too.

But if cash and coupons seem too cold to you, and you really want to buy a gift that they will open on the holiday, then by all means, go ahead and make the purchase, but be sure to check the return policy before you buy and save your receipts carefully in a safe place (stuff likes to get lost during Mercury Retrograde.)  Don’t be offended if the gift you bought isn’t right or the person doesn’t want it.  Accept the fact that you might have to return the item. and that the lineups will be long.  And if you have to assemble the gift, make sure you attempt the task when you have enough time and patience to get the job done because it might take longer than you expect.  Thanks to Merc Retro, folks everywhere will likely be pulling their hair out trying to get that gadget they bought for their kids/spouses/parents assembled and operating.  It might feel like pulling teeth this year.  Remember to chill and look at it as an adventure in and of itself rather than a goal!  


The Mysterious Vanishing Act:  Mailing Cards and Gifts

One of trickster Mercury’s favorite pastimes during a retrograde period is to send mail, messages, paperwork and other communications off to never-never land.  It is common for things to get lost in the mail during a retro, only to be found, if at all, weeks to months later.  Often this is a result of human error and rushing too much.  So if you have to send something important in the mail, make sure you write the address down very clearly and double check to make sure it has the correct postage on it.  Send it early (before Dec. 3rd) and also consider paying extra to have the package tracked.  (Prayer helps a lot too. )

How to Travel During Mercury Retrograde

Mercury Retrograde period is a time known for causing hiccups in local travel plans.  However, this year, Mercury Retrograde takes place in the sign of Sagittarius, which governs long distance travel, too.  So we get a double whammy in our travel plans.  But because we can’t avoid travelling at this time of year, we can still take precautions so that we will arrive at our destination safe and unfrazzled.  For starters, make sure your vehicle is in great shape before you travel.  Leave nothing to chance.  If it needs any work done, get it done before the 3rd of December. 

If you are travelling long distance, buy some really good flight insurance, leave your house early and don’t expect things to go quickly.   Make sure you have lots of time to catch lay-overs because everything might take longer than you expect.  Luggage loves to get lost during Merc Retro, and there might be mis-communications about tickets or departure times, so be aware.  Check everything twice.  Don’t take big risks when travelling, even though you will be tempted to (because you will likely be feeling reckless and optimistic).  Play it safe.  Perhaps the worst dates to travel might be the 10th and 11th of December, so if it were me, I would probably try to avoid those dates, if I could.


Family Matters:  Listen, Don’t Preach

During the Holidays, we end up spending a lot of time with family and loved ones, and we tend to get our buttons pushed more as a result.  Whether it’s your racist uncle Harvey or your nasty cousin Amy who insists on baking meals that she knows you are medically allergic to, we all have our challenges during the holidays.   With Mercury in Sagittarius, note that we will all be at our “preachiest.”   Our personal beliefs will matter dearly to us, even more dearly than usual, and so we are likely to end up squabbling.  Religion and spiritual beliefs might seem more important than usual this year.   Don’t be a doormat, but at the same time, avoid having to be “right.”  Let someone else have the last word.  It will not mean you are wrong or that they are right.  All it means is that you are trying to keep the peace while you are in close company.  Try to listen more than you talk.  And resist the urge to lecture.

Avoid sudden retorts or impulsive speech — especially around the 10th and 11th.  You could say something really hurtful and will have to deal with the same issue again on January 6th and 7th.   So think before you speak.  And the more you want to say something abrupt or cutting because you think it is really funny, the more you need to consider not saying it.

 Some Good Things to Do During Mercury Retrograde:

Chill  Try to take some time to just stop.  Breathe.  Relax.  

Mercury Retrograde is a time when we are all asked to slow down and breathe a bit.  To pause and reflect on our lives and where we have been.  To go back and address old issues and fix old problems (and old possessions) so that we can get a better foundation from which to move forward again once the retrograde period is over.  It seems to be a universal rule built into the cosmos that sometimes we have to take a step backward before we can go forward again. 

Mercury Retrograde is a time to stop trying to charge forward in life and expect things to always go in a linear fashion.  It is a time to play catch-up on old matters, not to try to start new matters.  Trying to go forward and to make new things happen will feel like you are attempting to herd cats.  So do it at the expense of your own sanity.


If you are not in tune with the energy of your environment and if you expect to keep making productive, linear progress at this time, you will likely feel the characteristic frustration and aggravation that Mercury Retrograde is known for because it will feel like you are fighting the wind.  This Mercury Retrograde is taking place in the sign of Sagittarius–an exceedingly goal-oriented sign.   So I figure that a lot of people will ignore all the signs around them and still try to charge forward–and will perhaps end up landing on their butts.  It’s time to chill, people.  Take some time in all the holiday frenzy to simply…accomplish nothing.  To re-group.  Re-organize. Re-flect. 

Other Good Activities to do during this Mercury Retrograde:

Charity work.  Volunteer at a soup kitchen or donate your time and energy to a good cause.  Donate money to charity.

Armchair Travel.  Watch documentaries about other countries.

Meet People with a Different Cultural Background than Yours See what you can learn from them. 

Teach and Learn.  Teach someone something (only if they ask you to!) or learn something new yourself.  Expand your horizons a bit.

Study.  Go back and learn something that you went over too quickly the first time.  This time, study it in a more in-depth way so that you really understand it.

Use your Intuition.  Because it will be on overdrive.  Seriously.

Plan, but Don’t Act.  Make big optimistic plans, but don’t carry them out until after the 23rd when you will be more realistic and ready to deal with details and logistics,  So plan a vacation.  Plan your finances.  Plan your New Year.  Just don’t act yet,

Reassess Legal Matters.  Take a pause in legal matters to chew things over.  Plan to resume or take action after the 23rd.

Write.  Writers — it’s time to write your heart out, but don’t publish till after the 23rd.

Hang out with Animals. (especially horses and cows or other big animals)

Hang out in Nature or the Wilderness.  Don’t have a goal in mind.  Wander at will and ruminate.


And perhaps most importantly — Laugh!  And then laugh some more.  Mercury in Sagittarius loves to laugh.  So rent a comedy and watch it with your loved ones.  Or play a board game that is big on laughs (and low on competition).  Humor can lighten up family tension, too.   And if that old trickster Mercury deals you an aggravating hand and bites you in the butt, and all your plans end up fizzling out, or you lose your luggage at the airport, or the Christmas gift you bought doesn’t work properly,  or you burn that special dessert you spent hours preparing, just sit down and laugh about the absurdity of it all.  After all.  With Merc Retro, t’is the season.

To find out more about what Mercury Retrograde and what it means for you this December, you can contact me for a personal reading.

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