Mercury Retrograde Is Heading Into Its Shadow Period & Here's What You Need To Know

My dears, gather your bearings because on Mar. 22, 2018, Mercury will go into retrograde and make everything in your life feel so much more complicated. "Mercury retrograde" has become such a buzzword in recent years that people who might not even necessarily understand what it technically is knows that it's a time of complete mayhem. When this planetary conundrum goes down, we basically get a free pass to blame it for everything that goes wrong. Car broke down? It's that dang Mercury retrograde. Got in a fight with your boyfriend? Mercury retrograde's at it again! Lost your wallet? Oh Mercury... why must you be in retrograde? For those of us who take astrology very seriously, this is a period of careful maneuvering and slow introspection. A lot can go wrong... and they usually do. If you're stressed out enough as it is, take a deep breath because I have some news: it actually lasts a lot longer than you thought. What pre-shadow means in Mercury retrograde will have you mentally preparing way further in advance.

On Mar. 8, we enter what's known as the "pre-shadow" phase of Mercury in retrograde. I know it sounds like an ominous precursor to a ton of doom and destruction but I promise, it's not as scary as it sounds.

Before we get to that, you may be wondering: What is Mercury retrograde, exactly? Well, around four times per year, Mercury appears to be moving reverse in its orbit around the sun. This lasts around three weeks and since Mercury rules over communication, messages, coordination, and the way we think, its not unusual for things to fly by the wayside during this time. Important e-mails may be lost and forgotten in our spam folders, horrible traffic jams might drive a wedge into your day, your WiFi might start slowing down, and arguments with your S.O. that started over something insignificant become way more drama than they needed to. All in all, things simply do not flow as smoothly as they usually do. It's highly advised that you hold off on making any life-changing commitments during this time and just ride the wave as best as you can.

According to Astrology Miami, Mercury retrograde is distinguished by five separate periods: pre-shadow, Mercury retrograde station, Mercury retrograde, Mercury station direct, and the post-shadow phase. Way too much, am I right? If you're anything like me, these terms feel beyond overwhelming and you might be scratching your head trying to digest them. All you really need to know is that these "shadow periods" still have a huge impact on our lives, even though Mercury is not technically in retrograde during these times.

Basically, the pre-shadow phase is when the errors, tribulations, and miscommunications that tend to happen during Mercury retrograde are just beginning. But it gets even more interesting than that: What happens to you during the pre-shadow phase will shape the overall experience you'll have during Mercury retrograde. And these experiences are essential to our growth and help us reach our greatest potential. These hard times can only make us stronger.

During Mercury retrogrades, your whole life is essentially pulled apart and then reassembled. The routines that you cling to are tested and you are forced to discover new ways of getting things done. The comforts that you hold close are removed so that you can remember how to survive when the going gets tough. As hair-splitting as these periods may be, they're actually good for you.

The pre-shadow phase is essentially a teaser for the major themes in your Mercury retrograde experience. The texts you may receive from your ex, the road rage you'll have while driving to work in the mornings, the leaking ceiling in your house with a slowly expanding damp spot — all of these are clues as to what lessons you'll learn during this challenging time.

If you pay close attention to everything that's happening around you during the pre-shadow phase, you have the opportunity to protect yourself from further damage. You'll already know what battles are coming your way and you can pick your strongest weapon, wear your most impenetrable armor, and be the fiercest warrior you can be. The pre-shadow phase wants to let you know: You can do this!