What Is The Mercury Retrograde Shadow Period? Everything To Know

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Mercury is the planet that rules thoughts and communication, but during retrograde phases, it can play tricks with your mind and bring up past events that need to be dealt with.

Mercury retrograde itself occurs on average three to four times a year. The actual retrograde period only lasts about three weeks, but the shadow periods can often cause their own set of turmoil and challenges.  

What is the Mercury retrograde shadow period? 

Mercury retrograde shadow phases, also called retroshade periods, are the periods before and after Mercury turns retrograde.

Though Mercury retrograde only lasts about three weeks, the shadow periods before and after Mercury retrograde actually account for four weeks total.  

RELATED: 11 Ways Mercury Retrograde Seriously Messes With Your Relationships

There are two shadow periods of Mercury retrograde, pre- and post-shadow.  

The pre-retrograde shadow period refers to the two weeks prior to Mercury turning retrograde in which the planet begins to slow down before officially turning. 

In contrast, the post-retrograde shadow period lasts for the two weeks following Mercury turning direct in which it is gradually speeding up until it completes its retrograde transit and returns to its normal positioning.  

These two shadow phases of Mercury retrograde are a time when the universe is asking you to pay attention to the choices you have made in your life and what is currently coming up.  

Mercury retrograde never brings anything or anyone back into your life that is not meant to return, whether it is for greater clarity, closure, or even a new beginning.  

Both the pre- and post-shadow periods of Mercury retrograde ask you to take the time that you need to process, reflect, and then take action to correct what was previously left behind.  

Mercury pre-retrograde shadow period 

Mercury’s pre-shadow retrograde phase can make it seem like things that were progressing suddenly stop or what was once easy now seems incredibly challenging.  

During this time, Mercury appears to slow down to the point that it almost looks like it becomes stationary right before turning retrograde.  

Likewise, this phase is a slowing down not just in communication but also in the ability to think things through, especially as it relates to figuring out plans, seeing things clearly, and even aligning things for the future.  

When Mercury appears stationary, it is unmoving — which is literally what it can feel like is happening in your life during this time.  

It can feel frustrating that things at work or even in your romantic life are going so great but then suddenly seem like they stop progressing. Or, the biggest telltale sign of this shadow period, it feels like things are being delayed.  

Although it can be frustrating, the benefit of this retroshade phase is that you do not miss an important detail or opportunity.  

Instead of becoming disheartened that things seem to just fizzle out during this time, look for what the lesson is. It may be that you need to figure something else out in your life before moving ahead, or even that the direction you are heading in is not the one that is meant for you.  

Pre-shadow periods are meant to be a time to return to something that you have previously missed and not an opportunity for something new.  

It is advised against starting new jobs or relationships during this time but returning to something you previously were involved in is favored.  

While it is not necessarily always affected, holding off travel plans for now, especially if taking place during the retrograde period, can be extremely beneficial.  

The Mercury pre-shadow phase can also just be about that internal space within yourself and making sure that you are not rushing ahead, missing important steps along the way.  

Knowing the dates of each retrograde shadow period is incredibly important because it can help you adequately prepare by allowing you to get things done ahead of time or to have more patience for the things that tend to come up.  

Recognize that the purpose of this time period is to slow you down so you have time to review and renegotiate or revise your previous plans. Reflective writing, quiet time, and embracing the slower pace can all be of benefit.  

The worst trouble that you may get yourself into is when you try to force your timing instead of flowing with that of the universe. During this phase of the retrograde transit it is important to surrender, see misdirection as redirection and appreciate the time you are being given to truly make sure the path you are headed down is truly the one that will lead to the destination you are dreaming of.  

Mercury pre-retrograde shadow dates 2023 

  • April 8, 2023 to April 20, 2023
  • August 3, 2023 to August 22, 2023
  • November 25, 2023 to December 12, 2023

RELATED: Is Mercury Retrograde Bad Luck, Per Astrology?

Mercury post-retrograde shadow period 

The post-retrograde shadow period of Mercury retrograde can feel like things are happening too quickly as compared to the energy of the pre-retroshade period.  

This is because, after what felt like endless delays, life is starting to pick back up again.  

During the post-shadow period it is important to see that what is coming has been in the works for some time and, while conversations or even actions needed to pause during the past few weeks, you are now being given the green light to move ahead.  

One of the important things to remember during this particular retrograde shadow period is to trust the timing of everything. 

With the delays that inevitably have occurred in the previous weeks, it is understandable why you may be hesitant to make plans or believe in a career or past relationship that has come to the surface, but it is also important to trust that the pre-shadow and retrograde periods have all led you to this moment for a reason.  

Headaches are common during this time as your mental energy begins to pick back up. If that occurs, try to incorporate exercise more to help relieve that anxious energy. Lavender and spearmint essential oils may also help.  

If you had done any reflective writing during the pre-shadow, return to it during this time and see if any of the questions or issues that you had journaled about can now be answered. Mercury retrograde does not always provide the answers that you want, but it does provide the answers that you need.  

This is a tentative period though where you are being guided to start moving forward, but you should still exercise caution in the meantime.  

If a career opportunity for a new job or even promotion has stalled and now resurfaced, it means that it is safe to keep progressing with it. You can feel better about signing contracts, booking travel, and making new purchases at this time.

If a past love returned during the pre-shadow or retrograde period and is still present during this time, then it represents that this may be part of a new chapter in your relationship and not just a phase to find more closure, so allow yourself to embrace it.  

The biggest significance of this post-shadow period is to see if you can take what you learned during the previous month or so and now put it into practice.

It does not mean that everything has to be abandoned or that if it was delayed it is not meant for you, but only that you may have needed a few additional weeks in order to have everything finally come together.  

A good rule of thumb is that if something is still present in your life during this phase and has made it through the pre-shadow and retrograde phases, then it is meant to be a part of your current chapter. 

And if not, then it was the universe’s way of helping you pause before you moved down a path that may have caused more chaos than peace. 

If this is the case and something or someone was removed from your life during the last few weeks of Mercury’s pre-shadow and retrograde period, then try your best to allow it to.  

Embrace the quick thinking and return of energy during this time confidently knowing that you are wiser which means now, you can also do better.  

Mercury post-retrograde shadow dates 2023 

  • May 15, 2023 to May 31, 2023
  • September 16, 2023 to September 30, 2023
  • January 2, 2024 to January 20, 2024

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Kate Rose is a writer, spiritual astrologist, relationship and life coach, and motivational speaker. For more of her work, visit her website.