|Mars Disarmed by Venus and Three Graces by Jacques Louis David, 1824.|
January 23, 2011-April 14, 2012
Unlike Mercury retrograde, Mars retrograde is more subtle in its collective influence, correlating with a longer range process--impacting us on a physical and emotional, rather than mental and cerebral level. With that said, however, Mars retrograde is an important cycle to acknowledge, especially if you are considering the launch of a major project, business, or enterprise. Where Mercury deals with the mind and communication, Mars governs the initiation of physical action (Aries), catalyzed by deep emotional desire and impulses (Scorpio). Retrogrades often bring us "back" to things from the past--back to certain people, places, and situations. Perhaps this "going back" allows us to complete some karmic loop--tying up loose ends, completing unfinished business. More often, however, these retrograde cycles (especially among the inner or "personal" planets) redirect our attention to a specific area of our lives, so that we can make some adjustments and improvements--which, once the planet goes direct, we are able to implement and make use of.
It is often said that when Mercury is retrograde, that we should hold off from "moving forward" with important projects, plans, or business. In my experience, this has held true, because whatever you are moving forward with is inherently incomplete--it is a natural cycle in which the universe supports revision on all levels. Does this same principle apply to Mars retrograde as well? Somewhat, but not entirely. Whatever is initiated during Mars retrograde will likely dissipate energetically at some point in the future, after the retrograde is complete--it may not completely fail, but it is likely that things will not turn out as you expected, or initially intended--and this can sometimes lead to the explosion of repressed and unresolved anger due to attachment to a specific outcome. New ventures are often plagued with irritating setbacks and annoyances--it is generally advised to wait until Mars is strong and direct before implementing something entirely new. Used constructively, Mars retrograde allows us a process to strengthen or reinforce a preexisting structure we have already set into motion--whatever begins under this cycle will likely not be long lasting, but that doesn't mean it wont be rewarding. We may feel more compulsive/impulsive under this influence--but it is a conscious and objective analysis of these feelings that will provide the edifice for healing and integration at this time.
The inversion of the outward and penetrating influence of Mars provides us an opportunity to understand more deeply, what's really at the root or heart of our desires and impulses. We are all evolving and growing throughout the life experience, and as we go throughout our day, we are acting upon desires which emanate deeply from within the psyche. Normally, we are not conscious of why we feel compelled to do this or that--but while Mars is retrograde, we are provided an opportunity to go more inward and to allow ourselves time to stop and access the deeper motivations for why we do what we do. A specific understanding of what is being reinforced will come through an analysis of the house position(s) that Mars will retrograde through in the natal horoscope, or birth chart.
Be mindful of eruptions of anger due to frustration--it is very common that people find themselves pushing forward completely with something, doing everything they can, until they somewhat implode. This can be an excellent time to consciously express anger, to deal with it, and find therapeutic outlets for it. Anger is an extreme manifestation of self-assertion--which is a mechanism
within the psyche that allows one to establish boundaries. Anger often results because we are not actively asserting our territory and boundaries directly, letting things slide until the frustration builds to a boiling point, and we lash out. Mars retrograde is a cycle which equally allows us to reinforce boundaries, particularly involving the themes inherent to the house it is currently transiting in the horoscope.
It's important to understand that Mars retrograde is not an omen urging us to completely hold off from moving forward, or that we should avoid taking action--it simply means that whatever you begin, especially an entirely new venture, will not last as long as you think or believe it will--so simply take that into consideration, however it applies to your situation. For example, I once started a massage school while Mars was retrograde, and I had signed up for a full 1000 hour program. I never finished the entire program, because the school ended up going out of business that same year--I received a little less than half the training I anticipated--but, do I regret going, or "moving forward" with it? No way, this particular school was far more than massage training, it was a healing experience which completely changed my life (Mars was retrograde in my 6th house).
I can't imagine where I'd be if I hadn't gone, but it did dissipate energetically, and it did not turn out as I had originally anticipated. However, it did help to reinforce my own healing abilities--I learned entirely new modalities, methods, and philosophies which completely altered my outlook. Through the experience, I also learned ways of strengthening my boundaries--incidentally, I acquired a strong foundation for Tai Chi as well as having the experience of deep emotional release through holistic counseling. Just to note, Mars went retrograde right on my 6th house Transpluto, and in opposition to my natal Jupiter, ruler of my Midheaven--and transiting Jupiter was crossing my Ascendent. The primary motivation was the completion of the entire program, but the outcome was the brief accumulation of entirely new tools, training, experience, and perspectives.
Similar to Mercury retrograde, we may also experience technical or mechanical failures at this time; however, this is usually only when Mars is activating a personal planet, point, or major angle in the birth chart. If that same placement were active by other transits, then Mars retrograde will be much more eventful--otherwise it indicates a time of minor reassessment and strengthening--Mars retrograde is certainly nothing to dread or fear in and of itself! According to astrologer Lynn Koiner:
"During this cycle, never buy anything mechanical unless it is heavily insured! Office machinery and computers easily break down. A friend who owned a word processing service found this period to always be a disaster. During one retrograde cycle, the printer, the back-up printer and the rented printer all failed to work. When they finally got one that worked, the mailing labels printed but there was no ink! I often notice that the world needs a brake job when Mars in retrograde."Mars will be retrograde in the tropical zodiac sign of Virgo, between 23 and 03 degrees. On a surface level, this relates to an impulse to strengthen and reinforce overall health and well-being, and also one's "work"--how we are of service to the greater community. Here we can make many adjustments to various bits and details--and we can really gain an understanding of all the intricacies of a particular situation. It is likely that aggressive forward motion at this time may be hindered or bogged down by various details and fragments. In Virgo, Mars retrograde gives us the motivation to put things in order, and to compartmentalize various pieces so that their is greater unity and sense of wholeness.Take this time to find ways to fully assimilate and strengthen each fragment. Just because Mars is retrograde we shouldn't feel frozen by inaction, but rather, inspired to practice and repetitiously train ourselves so that we are more connected and ready for what we desire to put into motion. Once Mars goes direct, we will have more experience and confidence which will better support our future success.
If we move forward with less serious or major projects at this time, Mars retrograde will provide us a process of trial and error. If you are not attached to a particularly "successful" outcome, you can use this energy to strengthen certain abilities through consistent and dedicated effort. As they say, "If at first you don't succeed, try try again"--this is a major theme of Mars retrograde. We mustn't take it too hard if something does fail or even fizzles out at this time--take the opportunity look deeper at the reasons behind it all, and how the unfolding is actually supporting your overall growth and development. Under the influence of Virgo we may find ourselves, or others, rather critical--or making perfectionist demands. Be mindful of this, as you can constructively use this criticism to chisel and shape something to more closely resemble your ideals before taking drastic action--just remember that absolute perfection is an illusion. This particular cycle of Mars retrograde in Virgo could be an excellent opportunity to really connect with something, to get more in the moment so that we can focus on things we would normally overlook in a zealous attempt to move forward.
The constructive use of this energy is to reinforce what is already there and to make it stronger--and to also reinforce or reconsider the boundaries we have set up within a certain aspect of our lives. We may feel impulsed to go after some new opportunity leaving something else behind; however, instead of dropping the whole thing, one should be encouraged to understand why they feel compelled to do so--to look at what isn't working, and how one can go about changing it. This is the time go back and look at the deeper motivations behind our actions, and then to make the appropriate adjustments based on those realizations when Mars turns direct in motion. This "going deeper" while Mars is retrograde, exemplifies its co-rulership of Scorpio, the sign governing self reflection catalyzed by external circumstances. While Mars is direct, our focus is more on the vibration of Aries--but, while Mars is retrograde, it opens the door to a much deeper dimension.
Whatever begins now, whether it's a new experience, relationship, or opportunity--is likely a stepping stone of some kind--it is possible that it will not last as long as we envision it--but if we can accept that, we will have less attachment, and thus less frustration, when it dissipates into the background. This does not mean that the experience is meaningless, it is simply a fleeting opportunity which allows us to reinforce a specific aspect of our lives and to secure our personal boundaries. We may meet entirely new people at this time, and these relationships often feel "fated", as though we have known them before this life. It is possible that, much like Venus retrograde, Mars retrograde is some kind of karmic gateway, in which people from "past lives" reemerge. We may actually even rekindle past relationships with people from this life. Most often, these meetings are relatively brief--but sometimes they can last quite a while--but regardless of where on the timeline such individuals come from, they will assist in redirecting us in a different direction that will have a large impact on our life.
In conclusion, the effects of Mars retrograde are generally more subtle and carried out over a period of roughly three months. Hold back on launching new ventures--this is a time to store up your energy and to redirect it on things that need reinforcement. Sometimes this cycle correlates to sluggish movement in projects or plans that have already been put into action--but if you look closely, you will find that there are things that need further support and strengthening. Its effects will be most influential if it is transiting a specific planet, point, or major angle in the horoscope, and especially if that same placement is being activated by a transit or other indicator. Overall, keep an open mind, be open to revision--and watch out for people and experiences which could very much, however briefly, redirect and alter your life.
Mars Retrograde Cycle 2012
11-18-2011 03 Virgo 41' Enter Rx Zone (Shadow)
01-23-2012 23 Virgo 06' Stationary Retrograde
04-13-2012 03 Virgo 41' Stationary Direct
06-19-2012 23 Virgo 06' Leave Rx Zone (Shadow)