The retrograde begins to impact long before the actual date Mercury turns retrograde though. There is a little phenomenon called Mercury shadow (which has more recently been dubbed retro shade). While Mercury retrograde only lasts for about 3 weeks, Mercury shadow lasts for almost 2 months. The next shadow period begins on October 11 and ends on December 7.
Let’s get technical for a sec. Mercury starts and ends its retrograde period at specific points in the zodiac. There are 12 signs in the zodiac, and each sign is made up of 30 degrees to pinpoint exact locations in each sign. Mercury shadow begins BEFORE Mercury retrograde starts when Mercury first comes to the position it will end the retrograde at. Mercury shadow ends AFTER Mercury retrograde ends when Mercury comes again to the position it began the retrograde at.
So, this Mercury retrograde starts at 27 degrees of Scorpio and ends at 11 degrees of Scorpio. Mercury first arrives at 11 degrees of Scorpio on October 11 and comes to 27 degrees of Scorpio after the retrograde on December 7.
Not everyone feels Mercury shadow. This is essentially when the retrograde is first casting its rays, but this isn’t on everyone. There are a few instances where you’ll be impacted by Mercury shadow. Let’s go through them:
When a planet is strong in your birth chart, this makes you sensitive to whatever that planet is doing, so if you have a strong natal Mercury, you can feel any and every Mercury shadow period (sorry!). Mercury is the natural ruling planet for Gemini and Virgo, so if you have many planets (like 3 or more, or the Sun and/or Moon and one or more planets), you can also be extra sensitive to what Mercury is doing.
The 1st house, Rising sign, and Sun all rule you, so they are very personal positions in your birth chart, and if Mercury retrogrades in your Sun or Rising sign or in the 1st house, this makes the retrograde energy super strong for you, so you can feel it during the entire shadow period. It often feels like a million little things require your attention, and you can be extra stressed out and in need of lots of breaks. Yet it’s also one of the best periods of all for second chances and do-overs!
An aspect is when two points are at certain distances to one another and can be classified as easy (positive) or hard (challenging). The conjunction, square, and opposition are considered hard aspects by Mercury retrograde. If the retrograde will make 3 or more hard aspects to your birth chart, or starts or ends making a hard aspect, this can be felt throughout Mercury shadow. If the retrograde only makes easy aspects (sextiles and trines), then you may actually have a positive period!
For this upcoming retrograde, if you have planets or points in your birth chart at 11 – 27 degrees of these signs, the retrograde makes these aspects:
If your planet or point in your birth chart is at 9 or 10 degrees of these signs, you’ll feel some impact at the end of the retrograde and at the start of the Mercury shadow period.
Managing the Mercury shadow period basically falls in line with how to manage Mercury retrograde. It just lasts for a longer period of time! The first step is to get prepared. It always helps with Mercury retrograde to be prepared! Know the dates to look out for (when the shadow period is starting and ending, and when Mercury is making aspects for you) and try to plan your schedule accordingly.
Mercury retrograde can drain energy, so the entire shadow period is excellent for taking time to slow down, reflect, and get in tune with your deeper self (even more true with this retrograde in Scorpio!). Retrogrades in Water signs like Scorpio can be great for strengthening intuition, and paying attention to dreams can be helpful for interpreting messages from the Universe. Keep a dream journal and make use of the Dream Dictionary!
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