What Is The Shadow Period Of Mercury Retrograde?

In our culture, the words "Mercury retrograde" can strike fear in the hearts of many people. "In the past few years, [it] has become a cultural icon as the astrological event we love to hate," writes spiritual counselor Bonnie Ho for Jumble & Flo. Mercury retrograde is an occurrence that happens three to four times a year in which Mercury appears to reverse its direction when viewed from Earth. Many believe that this retrograde period is the cause of communication failures, technology going awry, and a time when inconveniences are at their highest.

The phenomenon can sometimes work in our favor because we can blame every bad thing that happens on it. Flight canceled? Mercury retrograde. Overslept and are now late for work? Mercury retrograde. Got into a petty argument with your roommate over the last roll of toilet paper? Mercury retrograde. Still, it's easy to understand why most people would prefer to avoid its chaos.

But while we hear a lot about Mercury retrograde, we rarely hear anything about Mercury retrograde's shadow period. "In general, during the pre-Mercury retrograde shadow period, we feel things begin to slow down," astrologer Lauren Ash tells Popsugar. "On the other hand, the post-Mercury retrograde causes things to speed back up." And while these shifts may not feel like that big of a deal, as with all things astrologically based, there's more to them than meets the eye.

How the shadow period can affect you

As if the three weeks during Mercury retrograde weren't bad enough to go through, shadow periods exist for two to three weeks before and after the event. "It's like the lingering fumes of a bus or car after it's driven away," astrologers Ophira and Tali Edut, also known as the AstroTwins, told Mind Body Green.

The same chaotic energy that can affect you during Mercury retrograde can also affect you during the shadow periods, so it's important to take extra care to be mindful, not jump to conclusions, and communicate carefully. You can also use the time to prepare for the retrograde itself. "The pre-shadow period highlights themes, conversations, and topics that will come up for us during our personal retrograde journey," astrologist Stephanie Campos-Powell tells Woman&Home. "The post-shadow period offers us a chance to finish up and act on our retrograde story."

How you can deal with the shadow period

Unless you can flip the universe on its side and rearrange the planets, the best way to deal with the shadow period is to just go with it, according to astrologist Lisa Stardust (via StyleCaster). Focus on yourself more than anything else by practicing self-care, taking time to self-reflect, and don't let the chaos around you win. Relaxing bubble bath, anyone? 

It's important to remember that no matter how much you might feel like you're being rushed by the universe or it's trying to mess with you, the reality is that you're one step ahead now that you know about the shadow period. "Keep an eye out for potential messages from the universe, and take extra precautions around your technology and communications," astrologer Lauren Ash tells Popsugar. "You have the chance to shield yourself from unnecessary drama."

Of course, drama will always have its place. But when it comes to defeating the feelings that come with the shadow period, it's best to lay low and, as Stardust suggests, just put yourself above all else. There's no sense in wasting energy on things that are mostly out of your control.