When you read your horoscope, there are a few phrases that tend to pop up fairly often. The one you will likely read the most often is that "Mercury is in retrograde."
We have all read that phrase dozens of times, but do you actually know what that means, how it affects you, or even why it affects you?
What does 'Retrograde' actually mean?
Well, the word itself is actually talking about the movement of the planet. In our solar system, all of the planets orbit the sun in a specific pattern. They all move east to west, in varying orbits, but every once in a while, this changes.
Mercury is unique in that three or four times a year it appears to switch its pattern, rotating west to east around the sun.
But, in reality, it's just moving slower than Earth is, so we pass by it. It's like when you drive alongside a vehicle moving much slower than you and it almost looks like it's moving backwards.
How does it affect us here on Earth?
Astrologists have believed for a long time that these brief periods of time where Mercury seems to change directions affects a lot of things.
Everything from communication with others to technology seems to become an issue when the whole world seems to be moving too fast.
Obviously, the science is out on how accurate this is, but astrologers find that there are some common threads that affect a lot of us.
What happens when Mercury is in Retrograde
Mercury's retrograde times tend to cause a lot of issues. Astrology For Awakening founder, Leslie Benson, explained why the change in Mercury affects us so much.
"In modern western astrology, Mercury represents the areas of life involving mental functions, attaining knowledge, communication, and short travels ... when this time comes along, it has a corresponding symbolism and indication in astrological meaning."
According to Benson, a lot tends to happen during this time period.
"Miscommunication, misunderstandings, fender benders, broken down vehicles, technical difficulties, malfunctioning electronics, lost mail. The list of possible mishaps goes on and on!"
Are there any good sides?
Don't worry, it's not all broken cellphones and car accidents, there are a few good things that can happen when Mercury is in retrograde.
"[There is a] deeply empowering and psychological dimension to this period of time, one that helps us understand, contextualize and work with the seemingly challenging circumstance.
"Mercury retrograde essentially encourages us to do a lot of which modern culture and society does not, which is [to] slow down, reflect on our inner state of being, rest, relax, re-prioritize what is of most importance to us, and bring extra care and mindfulness to each moment."
What should you do to prepare for it?
If you want to survive the retrograde months, Benson has a few pieces of advice for you, and not surprisingly, it involves slowing down.
"Listen to others carefully and communicate with extra mindfulness. Before you send an important email or submit that big proposal, double check and edit everything with a fine tooth comb. Backup your files and data. Build in extra time and space to commute and travel from here to there."
Don't worry, it's not going to ruin your life!
While some people may be overly cautious, Benson warns that it's not necessary to be afraid of it.
"These are generalities, and I like to look at them as helpful signposts and guidelines to help me navigate, rather than rules to live by.
"In other words, don't let Mercury retrograde rule you! It's helpful to be mindful of it, but if you have to sign a contract or buy a new computer during that time, it's not the end of the world, and perhaps is simply what is meant to be."
When is Mercury in Retrograde in 2018?
We've already passed by one of the periods of retrograde, but the next is right around the corner. This year these are the times that Mercury is in retrograde, and which signs will be affected most by it.
March 22 - April 15, affecting Aries
July 26 - August 18, affecting Leo
November 16 - December 6, affecting Sagittarius
Have you ever experienced any weird events? Were you able to identify them as a period of retrograde?
There's a lot that your zodiac sign can help you deal with, and knowing if it's going to be difficult can really help you prepare. It can also tell you how you deal with stress, anxiety, and worries, and how you can improve.
Zodiac signs can also help you identify who you are most compatible with, especially when it comes to romantic relationships.