Curious about the Mercury shadow period? Here's your astrologer-backed guide to Mercury retroshade

Consider the Mercury shadow period to be a celestial appetizer and dessert sandwiched between the main course

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(Image credit: Future)

As if the retrograde itself wasn't enough, the Mercury shadow period lingers before *and* after the transit, providing us both a sneak peek and send-off. How very generous!

While yes, the "r" term gets a bad rep, we'll be honest: Mercury retrograde 2023 hasn't felt terribly problematic. (If anything, Venus' backwards motion had us a bit on edge.) However, when the retroshade period starts to creep in, our senses are heightened. But the cosmic pros insist that this isn't a time for stressing—it's a time for learning.  

"The keywords for retrograde period as a whole is 're,' as in rethink, review, revise," astrologer Liz Simmons says of the Mercury shadow period. "It begins with the pre-shadow phase which is roughly a two-week period before the planet stations retrograde. Even after the planet stations direct once again, we still have to deal with a post-retrograde period for about another two weeks."

So, what else is so significant about this timetable? Allow the pros walk you through it all.

headshot of astrologer liz simmons
Meet the expert: Liz Simmons

Liz Simmons is a freelance writer, astrologer, and tarot reader based in Salem, MA. She views astrology and tarot as another tool in our arsenal to understand the cosmic interplay in our lives. Currently, Liz contributes astrological articles and horoscopes to StyleCaster, POPSUGAR and She is also the resident astrologer at ASCEND Get Lifted. Check out Liz’s Instagram @the__crone and her website, 

Everything you need to know about the Mercury shadow period

First thing's first, let's dig into the meaning of Mercury in retrograde. This takes place when the planet orbits in an opposite direction to other bodies within its solar system. Oftentimes when Mercury is moving backwards, we tend to struggle with connecting to one another and find ourselves misplacing items, as Mercury is the god of commerce and communication, according to ancient myths. 

The Mercury retrograde dates to look out for this year include: 

  • December 29, 2022 to January 18, 2023
  • April 21 to May 14, 2023
  • August 23 to September 15, 2023
  • December 13, 2023 to January 1, 2024

You can consider Mercury retroshade an opening act before the main event and the closing credits. Overall, pre-Mercury retrograde, the planet slows down; post-Mercury retrograde, it speeds up. Both the pre- and post-shadow periods—which occur for all planets, not just Mercury—come with their own astrological mysticism.

Leading up to the event, it's not uncommon to get a sneak peak of what's to come, which can definitely feel a bit unnerving. Conversely, when Mercury is in its post-retrograde shadow, it's reviewing the same zodiacal steps it took during the retrograde—only this time, it's moving forward and picking up speed, according to astrologer Nina Kahn

"You might find yourself dealing with some of the same issues that came up over the past few weeks and finally finding a sense of resolution," she says. 

Who doesn't love putting Mercury-related drama to rest? We are all for that resolution.

Nina Kahn

Nina Kahn is an author and mystical content creator, covering the cosmos for Bustle, and CosmicAF. Check out her books, Astrology For Life and The Joy Of Hex.

How to prepare for Mercury retroshade

Rather than worry about the Mercury retrograde effects and what will have pre-retrograde, as many of us are guilty of doing, now is the time to be mindful. 

"Pay attention to any breakdowns in communication and look for small nuances of disruptions to your peace and daily life to scratch at the surface of what Mercury may have in store for you as it moves backward," says astrologer Renée Watt

She also suggests taking a look at your birth chart to see how Mercury's shift, and other planetary shifts, will affect you personally. It doesn't have to all be a negative experience, but just in case, you might want to set aside a designated place for your house keys. (Better safe than sorry!)

Simmons, however, suggests another route. 

"I recommend meditating or journaling with crystals, especially if you don’t want to bring them out in public," she said. "That can help you set the intention with the stone. However, if you feel comfortable carrying a crystal on you, bring it with you whenever you need a bit of luck! Choose your crystal according to what you want to have a bit of luck with."

Renée Watt
Renée Watt

Astrologer Renée Watt has offered her expertise for a variety of publications, including CosmoInStyle, Girlboss and more. She hosts a weekly podcast called "The Glitter Cast" and is a cohost of the occult livestream  “Betwixt The Shadows.”

For an update on what's going on with all other celestial beings in the solar system, check out our guide to what planet is in retrograde right now. 

Danielle Valente
Digital News Writer

Need a TV show recommendation? Maybe a few decor tips? Danielle, a digital news writer at Future, has you covered. Her work appears throughout the company’s lifestyle brands, including My Imperfect Life, Real Homes, and woman&home. Mainly, her time is spent at My Imperfect Life, where she’s attuned to the latest entertainment trends and dating advice for Gen Z.

Before her time at Future, Danielle was the editor of Time Out New York Kids, where she got to experience the best of the city from the point of view of its littlest residents. Before that, she was a news editor at Elite Daily. Her work has also appeared in Domino, Chowhound, and amNewYork, to name a few. 

When Danielle’s not writing, you can find her testing out a new recipe, reading a book (suggestions always welcome), or rearranging the furniture in her apartment…again.