Everything you need to know about this Mercury Retrograde and its shadow period

We’re already in the shadow period (Picture: Getty)

Everyone’s least favourite astrological event is dawning once again: Mercury Retrograde.

Blamed for transport issues, internet problems, exes returning and general misgivings, the occurrence gets a bad rep.

This time it’s taking place in the sign of Libra, which is associated with relationships – so that toxic ex lover or friend might just rear their head once again.

While the retrograde officially starts on September 27, ending October 18, we’re already in what’s known as the shadow period, so the effects of Mercury can be felt already.

What’s the shadow period?

Not to be ignored, the shadow period can be just as astrologically charged as the main event itself.

Bex Milford, astrologer and founder of Cosmic Cures, tells us it takes place two weeks either side of the retrograde.

‘It’s known as the “retroshade”,’ she explains. ‘Essentially, it’s the time when Mercury appears to slow down and then even pause, before catching up with itself and appearing to go direct again.

‘It’s not as chaotic as the retrograde period, but it is a good time for further introspection about what’s come up for you during retrograde.

‘If certain people have got back in touch, important conversations have been had, or issues have had to be faced, then during the retroshade we’re encouraged to be contemplative and slow down to ponder on things.’

Equally, in this first retroshade it’s good to reflect on the people, places and things you don’t want to get absorbed in, should they come up.

Mercury retrograde cheat sheet

Technology: Back up your files on a hard drive if possible, save all important documents in the cloud, don’t let your computer overheat/stay on sleep mode for too long, and try to avoid upgrading any systems.

Travel: If travelling during this time then double check you’re heading to the right airport or station and triple check the date and time. If booking tickets then do the same – don’t accidentally book for 2023 or put a wrong name down. Aim to arrive early in case of delays.

Communication: Double check emails – who you’re sending them to, what they contain, and how you’re signing them off.

Social media: Be really careful about the amount of time and energy you’re expending on social media. Don’t get sucked into scroll holes or succumb to the feeling everyone in life has it all worked out. Avoid stalking that ex partner or friend – set yourself strong boundaries during this time.

How does the sign of Libra change things?

Mercury retrogrades happen in different astrological signs, and they essentially colour the overall mood and feeling of that retrograde.

Bex says: ‘When planets appear to travel backwards, the themes that planet rules tend to go a little haywire.

‘This is exacerbated in the areas of life that are governed by the constellation that mercury is retrograde in.

‘Since Libra is linked to relationships, and two of Mercury’s associations are technology and communication, don’t be surprised to have an ex sneaking back into the picture.

‘You may hear from them over text, they could call you out of the blue, or you may just see them a lot more on social media.

‘Mercury is also linked to short-distance travel and our community, so you could bump into an ex locally.’

Retrogrades ask us to revisit old situations to either resolve an issue, or finally lay it to rest – this is why an ex reappearing might not be the worst thing.

Bex advises trying not to respond or make decisions too quickly, especially if you’ve had negative experiences with them in the past.

‘Use the energy of Libra – the sign of the scales – to remember the importance of seeking balance,’ she says.

‘Look back impartially at your past relationship and remind yourself of why it didn’t work. Was there a fair and harmonious exchange of energy? Or do you know in your heart (and your gut) that you’re better without them?’

For current relationships, expect more miscommunication.

Will some star signs feel the effects of Mercury Retrograde more?

Bex says certain signs will be feeling the energies more than others.

‘If your star sign is Aries, Capricorn or Cancer then you may feel this as more confusion, anxiety or overthinking.

‘Libra, Leo and Aries rising signs will also be more affected,’ due to the way the this retrograde aligns.

Capricorn risings should be careful at work especially.

How can you manage this period?

Rather than dread the retrograde, see it as a good opportunity for introspection.

‘Just as the planet’s energy is “spinning inwards”, we can take a period of evaluation,’ she says.

Use these as prompts for reflection:

  • Do I speak to myself with the same compassion, support and encouragement as I do my loved ones?
  • Do I receive the same attention, care and consideration in my close relationships in accordance with how much I give? Is it an equal exchange of energy?

Yogic poses to help release tension during mercury retrograde

Alexandra Baldi, founder of Compass Chelsea, a yoga studio with a focus on practices like manifestation, shares with her routine to off-set negative energies that arise from the retrograde.

Tadasana (Mountain Pose): ‘Tadasana will help keep you grounded during this tumultuous time. Stand at the top of the mat feet together or hip width apart, the crown of the head is nice and tall while your shoulders are melting down away from your ears, arms softly hanging on either side of the body. Have a slight give to the knees and one by one lift all ten toes and then place them back down on the mat feeling the grounding sensation beneath your toes. Close your eyes and breathe.’

Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose): During this time you will crave balance and stability so try the half moon. Start in Tadasana and bring all your weight into your standing right leg while you start to draw the right hand down to the mat (or a block) and the left leg goes up in the air. Stack your hips by keeping the left leg lifted and left arm and hand in the air, gazing at the left fingertips. A block under the right hand touching the mat can be really useful here in terms of helping you with balance, especially if you are newer to yoga. Switch sides. 

Pashimottanasana: This pose will help release any tension in the lower back or spine. Sit on the floor with your legs extended out long in front of you (slight bend to the knees if you like). Take an inhale and start to draw your arms up toward the sky; on the exhale reach forward and place fingers around your big toes, elbows coming out to the side. With each exhale focus on drawing the chest further down toward the knees and gaze directly in front. 

Viparita Karani (Legs Against the Wall): This will help you with any sleep you may be missing out on during this time. Lie flat on the floor/mat and place legs up against the wall. This pose enables you to relax completely, to settle any mind chatter and prepare the body for a parasympathetic state. Recommended before bed. 

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