What Are Mercury Retrograde Shadow Periods?

By Debbie Stapleton

On February 24, 2021

In Astrology, Mercury retrograde

What Are Mercury Retrograde Shadow Periods?

You’ve heard of Mercury retrograde, everyone’s favorite time of crossed wires and mixed messages, but have you heard of Mercury retrograde shadow periods? Also known as Mercury retro-shade, these are the degrees that Mercury passes through directly first, then retrogrades back through when it U-turns, and finally 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:

What Are Mercury Retrograde Shadow Periods?

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 Do Mercury Retrograde Shadow Periods Last?

Since Mercury’s retrograde usually takes just under three weeks, we must take into account the three-week period preceding it, and then the three-week period after. The retrograde essentially is sandwiched in between these two shadow periods, highlighting the themes of the retrograde season for up to nine weeks in total.

mercury retrograde shadow period

Courtesy of @broken_isnt_bad

What Is Pre-Shadow Mercury Retrograde?

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.

What Is Mercury Retrograde 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!

What Are the Effects of Mercury Retrograde Shadow Periods?

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 retrograde hit.

When Is Mercury Retrograde in 2021?

In 2021, Mercury will retrograde three times, all in air signs: Aquarius, Gemini, and Libra. Below are the dates for 2021’s Mercury retrogrades:

What Are Mercury Retrograde Shadow Periods in 2021?

Lead photo courtesy of @holistic_astrology

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