Legend tells of an unearthly, chaotic force that comes thrice or four times a year to sow widespread confusion and miscommunication, and make everyone drop their phone in the toilet: the dreaded Mercury retrograde. With astrology’s renewed popularity, this recurring astrological period has become so notorious that even adamant non-believers know its reputed effects: Everything will run late, misunderstandings will abound, and your awful ex will slide into your DMs, asking you if you “want to talk.”
But if you’re to (very reasonably) accept that a single planet can lay waste to your social life and various pieces of technology over three weeks or so, can we also expect that everything it messed up will kinda sort itself out once the retrograde ends?
According to the professionals, no. Lisa Stardust, an astrologer who’s been practicing for more than a decade, tells the Cut that if you went through a breakup during the retrograde, you won’t automatically get back together, and your bad emails won’t magically un-send. “There won’t be any big reversals,” she says, then delivers even more distressing news: Things don’t even get better after a retrograde right away. Instead, after Mercury goes direct, the planet enters a “shadow period,” also referred to by the ominous name “Mercury retroshade.” This transit, which typically lasts for two-ish weeks, can best be described as an astrological hangover.
“In this period, you’ll feel a steady release from the mess of November’s retrograde as things get back to normal,” Jessica Lanyadoo, a practicing astrologer for nearly 25 years and host of astrology show Ghost of a Podcast, tells the Cut. “But you may want to retrace your steps so that you can clean up any messes that occurred during the retrograde itself.”
Meanwhile, Catherine Urban, a certified astrologer who’s been practicing for more than a decade, says we may still experience “hiccups” during this shade period that we associate with Mercury retrograde: slow internet, misunderstandings in texts, etc. “Mercury is a little bit of at trickster,” she tells the Cut. “You think the retrograde is over, and then you get a little flick on the shoulder from Mercury, saying, ‘hey!’” Ha ha, suffering is endless.
It’s only after Mercury goes direct and pushes through its hangover that Stardust says we can anticipate life to become less unbearable: “We’ll receive emails on time, we’ll be able to think things through carefully and thoughtfully, and things that were confusing during the retrograde, like the future of a relationship of job, might become clearer.”
That is, if you have your life together in the first place.