What is the Mercury shadow period? Here's your expert guide to Mercury retroshade

The Mercury shadow period is like a celestial appetizer and dessert sandwiched between the main course (the retrograde)

mercury shadow period feature image silhouette of a woman outside with sun setting and shadow on a pink background
(Image credit: Future)

The Mercury shadow period is here to remind you of Mercury retrograde 2022's capabilities. 

One of the more daunting astrology events on our calendar, Mercury retrograde tends to make us feel a bit on edge, even though the pros insist it's not as horrible as we've made it out to be. However, before and after the event itself, the trickster planet gives us a little glimpse of its capabilities, which is known as retroshade. 

"It begins with the pre-shadow phase which is roughly a two-week period before the planet stations retrograde," astrologer Liz Simmons (opens in new tab) previously told My Imperfect Life. "Even after the planet stations direct once again, we still have to deal with a post-retrograde period for about another two weeks. The keywords for retrograde period as a whole is 're,' as in rethink, review, revise!"

Even if you start to feel jittery at the mere thought of extra helpings of Mercury, don't sweat it. This is a great time, as Simmons suggests, to review what's working in your life and what might require a few adjustments. There's no need to fear Mercury (after all, it is the smallest planet in the solar system). 

When you find that things are a little too overwhelming, have a look at our favorite crystals for Mercury retrograde to help calm your nerves (some of the best gifts astrology fans could ask for) or laugh through the chaos with our go-to Mercury retrograde memes

mercury in retrograde, mercury planet, cosmic background

(Image credit: Nerthuz/Getty Images)
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 Astrology.com. She is also the resident astrologer at ASCEND Get Lifted. Check out Liz’s Instagram @the__crone (opens in new tab) and her website, the-crone.com. (opens in new tab) 

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: 

  • January 14 to February 3, 2022
  • May 10 to June 2, 2022
  • September 9 to October 2, 2022
  • December 29, 2022 to January 18, 2023

A post shared by 🧿Mercedes💚 (@mshealthycanbegood) (opens in new tab)

A photo posted by on

Thanks to retroshade, these transits might feel a little longer than their initial time.

Mercury shadow period: what's Mercury retroshade?

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 (opens in new tab)

"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, Horoscope.com and CosmicAF. Check out her books, Astrology For Life (opens in new tab) and The Joy Of Hex (opens in new tab).

What to expect during the next Mercury retroshade

Mercury retroshade's fourth and final helping of 2022 will carry us in January 2023. (We know, we know.) It's going to be a combination of what we already experienced, so we'll be challenging ourselves to move away from familiar experiences, watch how we communicate and watch how we share the thoughts that are important to us. 

This cumulative experience is the perfect opportunity to get ready for the next 12 months, plus, it can show us how we might be feeling during the holiday season. Expect some reflection two weeks before and after the event itself as well.

space stock photo mercury image

(Image credit: Getty Images)

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 (opens in new tab)

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.”

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!)

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. 

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Danielle Valente

Danielle is a writer for woman&home and My Imperfect Life, covering all-things news, lifestyle and entertainment. 

The heart of her time at Future has been devoted to My Imperfect Life, where she's been attuned to the cosmos, new TV shows and relationship trends.  

Before her time at Future, Danielle was the editor of Time Out New York Kids and a news editor at Elite Daily. Her work has also appeared in Domino, Chowhound, amNewYork and Newsday, among other outlets. 

When Danielle is not working, you can usually find her reading a book, coffee at hand, or attempting a new recipe. (Recommendations always welcome!)