What Is The Mars Retrograde Shadow Period? Everything To Know

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Mars is the God of War, the planet that rules passion, action, and ambition. It lights a fire within you helping you to achieve anything you desire, and it burns in the throes of passion. 

Normally, Mars is here to simply help you move ahead in life. To take charge and in most cases to take no prisoners. 

This energy is responsible for the courage and drive that forces you to move ahead even if you do not know how or even if your knees are shaking because that is what it is meant to do.  


During Mars retrograde though, everything changes.  

Mars retrograde occurs every 26 months and lasts for about 60-80 days. However, the couple of weeks leading up to and following Mars retrograde can extend its effects.

What is the Mars retrograde shadow period? 

Mars retrograde shadow phases are the periods before and after Mars turns retrograde. The Mars retrograde pre-shadow phase begins roughly six weeks before Mars goes retrograde while the post-shadow phase ends about six weeks after Mars retrograde.

Mars only turns retrograde every two years. It usually occurs opposite Venus retrograde, its cosmic lover, representing the shifts between the two planets and what they represent.  


RELATED: How Mars Affects The Way You Love, By Zodiac Sign

When Mars turns retrograde it means that it appears to move backward in the sky. Although it is just a trick of the eye, it still ends up having this backward effect on you and your life. 

The Mars shadow period is the time before it turns retrograde and after which it has not returned to its regular orbit and speed. 


This does not necessarily mean that from the pre- to post-shadow phases it is time to hide under the covers, but it is something to be aware of because of what Mars does represent.  

During the pre-shadow phase of Mars retrograde, Mars appears to slow down, tends to overthink, get frustrated, create complications, and also tends to become quite angry about it. 

Decisions made can be poor and there is also the risk of not seeing what is really there. 

But there is also another side that this planet represents, one that is actually of great benefit. 

Normally Mars knows how to move ahead but also keeps its tongue in check, often keeping things inside when angered. 


But this planet represents the primal part of you and of even life itself. 

It is the part that refused domestication, that lives wild and has no qualms about expressing itself. 

This is where the fun lies because, with Mars' retrograde and shadow phases, you never know which it is that you will get.

Unlike Mercury where usually the worst that will happen is an errant email or mixed-up travel plans, Mars holds a lot of weight. 

Not only does it only occur every two years, but it is also an immensely powerful planet. 

So, this energy is one that could have you blowing up your entire life because suddenly you become unable to stomach it.  

Have no fear though, because like everything in astrology, it does all happen for a reason, and sometimes the only way to have space for something else to grow is to completely disintegrate what already exists.  


Mars pre-retrograde shadow period  

Unlike Mercury’s shadow period which begins only a couple of weeks before turning retrograde, Mars begins its pre-retrograde shadow phase approximately two months before it officially turns.  

This is the point that the lessons of Mars retrograde begin to become clear.

During the pre-retrograde shadow period, the rate and orbit of this planet appears to slow, which means that those areas that it governs within your life will slow as well.  

This will mean that projects, ideas, and even home purchases that were full speed ahead will begin to slow down during this time and even likely seem like they are hitting some obstacles. 


Mars retrograde is not to damage anything that you are supposed to achieve, but you are being given some extra time. 

The purpose of this is to have you reflect on if your feelings are in alignment with the course of action that you are taking. 

Mars is an action-oriented planet which means that normally it is not particularly concerned about feelings. 

However, during its retrograde and the pre-shadow period, this becomes incredibly important.  

Not just in terms of making sure that it is what you really want, but also as to whether you are suppressing any of your feelings to make it happen.  

This is the primalness of Mars that becomes more apparent during the pre-shadow phase. It is as if the niceties that govern society suddenly become lifted and everyone is feeling more connected to their truth and less tolerant of accepting anything else from those around them. 


This is to help you learn and understand your own truth and that of those around you so that when the post-retrograde shadow period is over, you will know precisely what action to take.  

Mars pre-retrograde shadow period dates 

  • September 3, 2022, to October 30, 2022, in Libra 
  • October 4, 2024, to December 6, 2024, in Cancer to Leo 

RELATED: Which Astrology Matches Are Perfect For Love, By Mars And Venus Signs

Mars post-retrograde shadow period 

The post-retrograde shadow period is one that lasts from the time Mars turns direct until it appears to resume its regular speed and orbit, usually a period of about two months.

The Mars post-retrograde shadow period is vastly different than the energy of the pre-shadow. 


In the pre-shadow, you are just coming to understand the many feelings, especially anger, you have repressed and how to express them

Now, after the pre-retrograde phase and the actual retrograde period has come to an end, it is time to start putting the pieces back together in your life. 

Mars retrograde is fiery. Its ruling sign is Aries, so there is a guarantee that something came to a head and exploded or was just completely decimated during this period. 

As much as that can cause challenges, it is also always for the better because it means that you are being more honest with yourself and also have more space in your life for what it is that you truly need.  


Post-retrograde shadow phase is a time of greater calm but also more determination. 

This is because you have been able to express all those pent-up frustrations and now are feeling clearer in grounded on which direction to move at this point in your life. 

You have been able to see who stays around when you speak your truth and who runs. 


You have been able to see the truth of any romantic relationship as to whether it was something that was ultimately for your highest good or if it was only serving the benefit of learning a lesson.  

In the post-retrograde shadow, you are no longer under pressure about to burst but have been able to express your emotions and dealt with the wrath of those doing the same to theirs. 

This phase is one that is about rebuilding. 

It does not mean jumping back to what you were originally doing before the pre-shadow began, but it does mean testing the waters and seeing what feels supported by the universe and what feels like it is not.  

You do not have to feel that you cannot move ahead during this time, but just make sure you are not keeping anything inside and truly taking in all that you learned during the pre-shadow and retrograde periods. 


Because the point of Mars retrograde is so that you can finally begin to do better, in all areas of your life. 

Mars post-retrograde shadow dates 

  • January 12, 2023-March 15, 2023, in Gemini 
  • February 23, 2025-May 2, 2025, in Cancer to Leo 

RELATED: How Your Mars Zodiac Sign Defines What Motivates You The Most, According To Astrology

Kate Rose is an artist, writer, passionate yogi, spiritual astrologist, relationship and life coach, and motivational speaker. As a spiritual intuitive, she practices the religion of astrology and love. For more of her work, visit her website.