Why does Mercury always seem to be in retrograde? Out of all the planets, it retrogrades the most—three times a year to be exact. Being the closest to the Sun, Mercury is an extremely personal planet, ruling our mind and communication. So when Mercury appears to travel backward in the sky, we sense it. Not just during Mercury retrograde, but in its pre- and post-retrograde shadow period too. This is also known as Mercury’s retroshade.
What Is Mercury’s Shadow Period?
Mercury’s shadow simply refers to a two-week period before and after Mercury Retrograde. Most people tend to notice the shadow a bit more than the retrograde itself. This is probably because Mercury is still moving direct during its shadow periods, and its influence is a bit stronger. Think of the shadow as the introduction and end of the retrograde.
How Is Mercury Retroshade Calculated?
Planetary movements are tracked by a degree system. The zodiac wheel consists of 360 degrees, broken down by 12 signs, each sign covering 30 degrees. Mercury typically spends three weeks in retrograde, where it will backtrack by 15 degrees, leading the messenger planet to cross this 15-degree span a total of three times. Mercury is thought to be in a pre-retrograde shadow the first time it crosses this span. When Mercury starts moving forward again, it’s in a post-retrograde shadow until it reaches the degree where the retrograde started.
For example, the first Mercury Retrograde of 2021 started at 26 degrees of Aquarius and will end at 11 degrees of Aquarius. Its pre-retroshade started in mid-January, and its post-retroshade will last until it reaches 26 degrees of Aquarius again on March 12.
What are the Effects of Mercury Retrograde?
A planet’s energy still functions in retrograde, but it is somewhat suppressed. That is why Mercury retrograde is blamed for mishaps at work, communication problems and transportation woes. It’s typically our own inability to think clearly or pay attention that can lead to these sorts of things. Crucial details are easily overlooked and this is the reason why many astrologers advise against making major purchases, signing important documents or starting a new endeavor.
Mercury Retrograde is best used as a time of review and reflection. Ask yourself what is no longer serving you. Figure out what needs to change and brainstorm a plan of action, but don’t take any just yet. The past may come back to haunt us during this backspin or missed opportunities from the past could come back around, giving us a cosmic do-over.
Mercury’s Pre-Shadow Period
The pre-retroshade typically foreshadows what the retrograde personally means for you. During this time you should follow any random inclinations you have, no matter how small. Retrogrades get messy when you don’t follow your intuition while your mind is still clear. The pre-shadow is a time to prepare for the retrograde. The AstroTwins recommend backing up data, updating your cybersecurity and getting your bills in order before Mercury Retrograde begins. If you are traveling or signing a major contract soon, this would be the time to triple-check all details. This is also an ideal time to take stock of your affairs, routines and mindset. Weed out anything that isn’t working in your favor and consider your options over the coming weeks.
Mercury’s Post-Shadow Period
This term sounds a lot scarier than it actually is, however, Mercury’s post-retrograde shadow is the wrap-up. Slowly implement the actions you want to take and integrate whatever lesson the retrograde brought up into your life moving forward. If we’re unwilling to let go of the things that need to be released, the post-shadow period will be difficult. Accepting the consequences of our actions leaves an empowering ripple effect. After acceptance is achieved, we can move forward wiser than we were the day before. This energy is all about tying up loose ends.
The retrograde energy may bleed into the shadow period, so many astrologers advise taking the same measures you would during the retrograde itself. It’s not a cease and desist notice, just a warning to proceed with caution. Snap decisions made in post-retroshade haste might still garner unfavorable results.
Mercury Retroshade in 2021
This year’s Mercury Retroshade will be a little more intense than usual. These transits are occurring in all Air signs, and these elements are all about intelligence, communication and expression. During the retroshade and retrogrades the collective will be shifting viewpoints, changing our identity and making mental health and peace a priority. During the current retroshade in Aquarius, many people will have the urge to rearrange their networks and try to find the right balance between socializing and me time.
When Mercury repeats this transit in Gemini, the retroshade lasting from May 14 to July 2. This time around will be more about acclimating to changes in your immediate environment and lots of miscommunication. The last Mercury Retrograde of the year is in Libra, the shadow will last from September 6 to November 2, During this time relationships are up for review, and a radical shift could take place. Yes, 2021 will be a wild ride, and this time you can absolutely blame Mercury Retrograde.
Want to know how the Aquarius retroshade will affect you in 2021? Check out your February horoscope.
Main Image via Getty Images.