Are we in the shadow of Mercury retrograde?
Mercury will turn retrograde on October 31st (I hear you in the back weeping and wailing!! 😃). Mercury is retrograde for three weeks four times a year, inspiring us to revisit the past but not generally to begin something new. In classical astrology, Mercury is said to be “debilitated” when it is retrograde; it doesn’t operate as it normally does which is to facilitate communication and messaging, as well as daily routines, short distance travel and plans of all kinds. As most of you know, I don’t particularly care for these ideas of positive and negative as they cause us to miss out on the benefits offered by astrological factors that we normally consider negative such as Mercury retrograde and Saturn and Pluto transits. I view the retrograde phase of a planetary cycle as being a part of the natural ebb and flow of nature. The waves of the ocean flow towards the beach, and then they must flow back to the ocean before returning to the sand. The joyful warm days of summer give way to the bitter cold days of winter’s hardship.
When Mercury is retrograde, it’s not uncommon to run into problems. Contracts written when Mercury is retrograde often have to be renegotiated. Plans made often have to be revised. Travel reservations are often stymied. Communication breakdowns are common. Mercury retrograde periods are excellent fr some things though – they are perfect for review and reassessment. They are perfect for do-overs and repairs. It is said that anything that begins with the prefix RE- (from the Latin word meaning “again”) is ideal for Mercury retrograde periods, including REdecorating your home, REdoing your website or marketing plan, REwriting that chapter you’ve been putting off.
Before and after the actual apparent change of direction there is a period of time when Mercury stops behaving normally and we start noticing glitches beginning to occur. Some call this the “shadow period.” Some astrologers use the degree point at which Mercury will travel to when it is retrograde as the shadow period: for example, Mercury is at 11 degrees Scorpio today. It will reach 27 degrees Scorpio and then make the retrograde turn, appearing (from our perspective) to travel back to 11 degrees Scorpio on November 20. So for some astrologers, the “shadow period” during which things can be glitchy, would begin a full month before the actual retrograde and then last until Mercury has moved past the point at which it changed direction which in this case would be December 7th – nearly two full months of retrograde four times a year! If that were true we would never get anything done.
In astrology, and other sciences, we must distinguish between what is theoretically true and what is observably true. The idea that there is a shadow period that matches up between those two station points is a neat idea, but it doesn’t hold up in the real world. What I have observed is that the effects of Mercury retrograde begin to become apparent when Mercury slows down as it begins to change direction which is typically about a week before the actual station point; this month that “shadow period” will begin around October 24th.
It’s not too early to plan for this retrograde! Begin now to arrange your schedule so that if possible, new projects begin after the retrograde period starts on the 31st and instead plan to do all of those great projects which begin with RE that are perfect for this time. If you must plan a trip or sign a contract, go ahead and do it but just prepare yourself that there may be renegotiations and glitches. They will likely be minor annoyances and nothing to worry about.