Still in Shadow

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An Aries discovered this week that I’m an astrologer and wanted to know, as people usually do, what was going on with her. Mars had stationed retrograde on Monday, but things hadn’t gotten better yet. I understand where she was coming from, because this week wasn’t stellar for me either. If I didn’t know better, I could have sworn that both Mars and Mercury were still retrograde.

Astrology depends on accurate timing. A chart is a map of a moment, frozen in time. However, the cycles we track--aspects, retrogrades, lunar patterns--are moving, ever-evolving things. Most astrological patterns happen in a gradual way. Which means that while it would be nice to think that Mars retrograde frustration is all patched up instantly the moment Mars stations direct, it will take a little longer than that for you to recover. Charts are similar to photographs, frozen images, but when astrologers analyze charts we’re looking at something more akin to a video, with cycles moving forwards and backwards through time.

I don’t get into shadow periods a lot because I don’t want to make it seem like Mercury retrograde is six weeks longer than it actually is. It’s overhyped enough anyway. The shadow period is the period in which a planet moves (direct) through the degrees of the retrograde. This means that every planetary retrograde is effectively a three-part cycle. The pre-shadow period is a kind of preview of the themes that will come up. The retrograde itself is the main event. The post-shadow period is a time to integrate the lessons of the retrograde.

Think of a car slowing down from 80 miles per hour to a dead stop. That’s the pre-shadow period. The car slows gradually, not instantly. Once the planet stations retrograde, imagine for the sake of this example that the car has come to a full stop. Time to just sit, reflect and enjoy the scenery. When the planet stations direct, the car begins speeding up again. But it doesn’t go from 0 to 80 immediately. It happens gradually, over a short period of time. That’s your post-shadow period.

Your Mars car is revving up again, but you’ll have to give it a little time before it’s going full speed towards your desires. Mercury is out of shadow on September 2nd. Mars will officially be out of shadow on October 8th. In my experience, it’s the first few days after an inner planet stations direct that require your continued patience. The rest of the shadow period should be less intense. Don’t worry; your car will start moving faster!

As with everything in life, astrology has no silver bullets, and no instantaneous rewards. Astrology only allows us to see and work with continuous cycles. Expect that we will always be participating in a series of cycles, because the only constant here is change.