After three long weeks, the first Mercury retrograde of 2021 is officially ending. On February 20, the speedy planet goes direct in Aquarius. But don't start celebrating quite yet. Unfortunately, the woes of this transit aren't over just yet. Retro-shade is coming.
After Mercury turns direct, there's still a two-week post-shadow period, which is sometimes called a retro-shade. "The retro-shade period is the wonkiest time of the retrograde," warns Lisa Stardust, an astrologer based in New York City. "Mercury is passing over Jupiter and degrees of the retrograde, which is pushing us to understand matters on a deeper level." Stardust says that this energy will cause us to "re-evaluate situations and relationships that have been exposing their truest natures." Things that have long been hidden in the dark will start coming to the surface. This will continue until March 13, when Mercury finally leaves its post-retrograde shadow zone.
"The energy has not yet completely changed back to normal," adds Leslie Hale, psychic astrologer for Keen.com. "Unexpected changes can still occur, equipment can still break down and we can still feel confused or be dealing with misinformation." In other words, we're not out of the woods just yet.
Stephanie Powell, head of content for Horoscope.com, says that we’ll start to see themes and conversations that took place during the pre-shadow phase of this retrograde, between January 15 and January 30, reappear. "Mercury direct is the perfect time to integrate some of the lessons and learnings that showed up for us on a personal level during our retrograde journey," she tells Refinery29.
Did you miss meaningful plans or flub an important communication with your boss when Mercury was performing its backwards dance? Think of this time as a chance to make right our wrongs of the retrograde. Powell suggests asking yourself, "How do I want to move forward this time?" and "What needs to change with my approach or thought process?" Reach out to your friend and apologize, or step up at work and show your boss what you're capable of. Look back at how 2021 has been going for you so far — what do you need to do to make it even better?
Thankfully, luck is on our side because the Planet of Communication is in the idealistic sign of Aquarius. "Aquarius is an innovative sign that’s forward-thinking, and here we can apply some of these energies to our mental faculties," Powell says. Of course, still be on the lookout for those classic Mercury retrograde mess-ups — text messages may be misconstrued, and you may want to double check all of your important emails for any messy typos. But in general, Powell says that this is a grace period. "It allows us to revisit even the toughest of conversations or situations with renewed insight," she says.
Retro-shade is all about reflection, and working out the best ways to move forward. Once we make it through the post-shadow period of Mercury's retrograde, we can begin to relax. That is, of course, until the planet's next backwards dance begins again on May 29. As long as we're prepared though, we'll be sure to make it through.