Mercury Retrograde Shadow Periods: When Mercury Throws a Little Shade
You’ve heard of Mercury retrograde, everyone’s favorite time of crossed wires and mixed messages, but have you heard of “Mercury retro-shade”? Technically known as Mercury’s shadow period, these are the degrees that Mercury passes through directly first, then retrogrades back through when it u-turns, then passes through again at the end of the retrograde period once resuming a direct course. Imagine Mercury nervously zig-zagging back and forth over the same ground, before moving on:
Not Out of the Woods, Yet…
So not only do we need to be aware of the actual retrograde period, where Mercury (or other planets that go retrograde for that matter) appear to move backward in their orbit, but it is important to be aware of the shadow period leading up to the retrograde, and after. These are tricky passages where disruptions to communications are already starting to occur, or where we are still resolving the lingering effects. It’s only until Mercury is back on direct course and has completely passed out of this shadow, are we truly in the clear.
Read Me: Your Mercury Retrograde Survival Kit
How Long Are the Shadow Periods?
Since Mercury’s retrograde usually takes just under 3 weeks, we must take into account the 3 week period preceding it, and then the 3 week period after. The retrograde essentially is sandwiched in between these 2 shadow periods, highlighting the themes of the retrograde season for up to 9 weeks in total.
Courtesy of @dorianlegret
The Pre-shadow Period
This is where Mercury is still moving forward, but is passing through the degrees it will later retrace back through. It’s a sort of Mercury retrograde foreshadowing, where disruptions in communications are already beginning to show. This is a time to pay attention to specific challenges that arise, as these will likely be the very topics we need to focus on during the disruptive retrograde period. Sometimes, what we say, or send under this shadow, will come back to us during the retrograde.
The Post-shadow Period
This is where Mercury is moving forward again, retracing its original course, and ends when Mercury passes the same degree that it originally stationed retrograde on. This is a time of reworking what we began before the retrograde, with the new perspective gained. It can be a time to resolve any confusion from interrupted understanding, and an opportunity to put everything back in order. Chances are this re-do will teach an important lesson, and open up new awareness. Re-word, re-send, try again. As they say, the third time’s a charm!
If You Wanna Get Technical…
Mercury transits quickly, and covers about a degree per day. This means the shadow period spans around 20 degrees that can even overlap into the preceding sign, depending on what degree the retrograde station began. Knowing this can help you hone in on what area of your chart will be activated; the sign will set the mood, and the house will tell you what area of life will catch the rx hit.
Lead photo courtesy of @holistic_astrology