Mercury is retrograde from August 30-September 22, 2016. Mercury’s shadow period begins August 10th and ends October 6th, 2016. Note that the shadow period begins before Mercury turns retrograde, when Mercury first passes over the degree that Mercury later returns to in retrograde motion.
The shadow period ends when Mercury again passes over the degree at which it first turned retrograde. The shadow period is different than Mercury’s storm period in astrology, which refers to the period when Mercury is moving especially slowly.
As the planet of communication, Mercury retrograde tends to breed a certain level of confusion. Mercury rules our “lower” mind–how we perceive and interpret information that we receive from our environment, and how we relay that information to others. Mercury has rulership over such things as speaking, negotiating, buying and selling, listening, formal contracts, documents, travel, the mail and shipping, and so forth. All of these areas of life are affected when Mercury is functioning in a sluggish state. Decision-making is challenged during Mercury retrograde. Needless to say, it is not advised to sign contracts, engage in important decision-making, or launch a new business. Delays and challenges are more probable with Mercury retrograde. It’s a time when being careless with money, our personal information, or paperwork can be costly.
There is absolutely a positive side to Mercury Retrograde. This period is best used for re-organizing and reflecting. We look at the world a little differently–through different filters–and can come up with some very important inner revelations. It may be difficult to communicate them under this influence, but not everything needs to be rationalized. Mercury retrograde periods can be times of heightened inner awareness, when meditation, benefiting from keeping a journal, reworking old plans, and reviewing past work are favored. Minor breaks in the mechanical aspects of communication can actually re-connect us to other means of communication, such as when there is an unexpected power outage and we’re forced off the computer and television, finding different and often satisfying ways to entertain ourselves.
It is important to note that there is absolutely no reason to suspend projects or anything of the sort during the Mercury Retrograde cycle. It’s not an ideal time to start new ones or to sign contracts, simply because a change of mind is very possible once Mercury turns direct. However, it’s a fabulous time to do some “outside of the box” thinking. Acting on our ideas, however, might be best left for a Mercury Direct period.
Pay close attention to what you say and communicate in general, particularly around the days of Mercury’s stations (August 30th and September 22nd), as well as around retrograde Mercury’s conjunction to the Sun on September 12th (midway between the start and end of the retro period). If you are itching to make a point with someone, especially, or if you are planning on “signing on the dotted line”, try to hold off. It is likely that you will have a change of mind once the station passes, and you can do some damage in the meantime. When a planet stations, its energies are very strong in our lives. When Mercury stations, communications have more impact, so that negative ones could have long-term implications at this time. However, if you are very clear within yourself and about what you are communicating, this can be a positive thing. Read more about Mercury retrograde.