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Into the Hot Zone: Mars Retrograde and the North Node In Libra

Mars Disarmed by Venus and Three Graces by Jacques Louis David, 1824.

Stationary retrograde: March 1, 2014- May 19, 2014
Stationary direct: May 19, 2014
Enter shadow: October 31, 2013
Leave shadow: July 22, 2014
Sun/Mars opposition: April 8, 2014

The planet Mars is in Libra for roughly eight months this cycle, due to his most infrequent retrograde cycle.  Libra and Mars are two very antithetical archetypes, logically because Mars rules Aries, Libra’s opposite sign. But, antithetical isn’t necessarily a “bad” thing. It simply means that two elements are coming from two distinctly separate points of view.

The collision can be messy, wrought with hostility and resistance; or a meeting of two complementary pieces that create such sharp contrast that both ends of the spectrum are more dignified and interesting in the presence of one another.

Traditional astrology has a rather grim take on planets in the signs opposite their rulership. Those old crotchety astrologers see nothing but doom and gloom for Mars as he travels this most foreign and offbeat of territories. But, there’s a definite logic that supports that perspective. Put simply, Libra and Mars aren’t cut from the same cloth.

That mixture of two distinctly different textures presents us with a certain kind of challenge, one that urges us to become more aware and conscious than usual. It takes a little hard work and extra effort to make something beautiful or worthy of visual digestion—Libra’s modus operandi. 

Whatever Libra comes into contact with, there’s a certain aesthetic response from that element. Libra seeks to make things more pleasant for the world—tasteful, elegant, harmonious and dignified. In order to achieve that visionary perfection, lots of different options are weighed and contrasted. Trial and error and prolonged gazes, scrutinizing from extended distances are all a part of that process.

Libra thrives on a multiplicity of perspectives, options and opinions. Finding common ground and reconciliation can be a time consuming process. Libra equally wants everyone, in some way, to have their cake and eat it too. That’s not always possible, but if any sign can get close enough to meeting the needs of all involved, it’s Libra.

Mars is a planet that’s all about action, assertion, willpower and facing fears—boldly stepping up to any challenge and meeting it head on. Mars thrives on the power of initiation, and the prospect of the new, uncharted frontier. Mars prefers more simplistic decisions.

While walking through the woods and coming face to face with a bear, there should be very few options in that moment. To make things easier, Mars distills it down to two choices: fight or flight. Okay, maybe that or with a little knowledge we may choose to duck and cover or play dead. Anyway, the point is, in that moment Mars serves us best.

Primal involuntary instincts come under the Martian terrain. When we need them, they serve us well. We don’t have to think about it. We just, somehow, know exactly what to do. With the help of a little adrenaline, we’re one step (or leap) from solving the problem.

Libra is an air sign. That means we’re dealing with a more mental and cerebral landscape. And that’s what really underlines Libra’s problem solving and diplomatic talents. While Mars is in Libra, his catalytic initiatory powers get rather muddled—filtered through this more unified and holistic Librian perspective.

Needless to say, that process can be a little frustrating for Mars. His actions are conceded. His instincts warped and contorted. Spending eight months in this state of pause and reflection can certainly ignite some irritation. Those of us more Martian prone—with a strong planetary presence in Aries or Scorpio, are more likely to feel this particular response.

Now let’s throw the retrograde into the mix. It seems a hopeless situation for Mars indeed. The planet of initiation, action and forward momentum going backwards in this antithetical element doesn’t look good for poor Mars.

But, fear not. If anyone can handle it it’s certainly the Martian warrior. I’m sure he’s gone through worse. I mean, the planet has probably seen some pretty intense cataclysms and climate reversals-- enough to make Al Gore shudder in horror. Yes, Mars is a tough guy. Don’t let the perceived direness of the situation fool you.

NASA image of Mars taken June 26, 2001
by the Hubble Space Telescope.
NASA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
So what’s the point? Well with Mars in Libra we’re forced to become more conscious of impulses, desires and jerk-reactions. That means that mindless activities that usually work in our favor aren’t likely to while Mars is in Libra. We’re forced to deal with very differing and contrasting perspectives.

We either resist these perspectives, resulting in a messy battle of egos and willpower, or we choose to make some concessions; to broaden our perspective with the inclusion of these antipodal worldviews. It’s certainly not an easy task, but if successfully accomplished we have a more comprehensive awareness of the world around us.

Because Libra is also a sign that rules relationships, Mars in Libra is a time when our energy is more successfully channeled into this direction. Wherever Mars goes, that’s where we are expending the most energy at any given time, and also where we’re confronting fears and meeting challenges.

On a collective level, Mars in Libra is about funneling energy toward more diplomatic efforts--learning to acquire agility and compromise within complex social situations and putting intense effort toward creating harmony in the world around us. Before we go rushing into something, before we instinctively react to any given challenge or situation, we’re required to really pause and consider what is arising from deep within us.

This process will become even more ubiquitous once Mars actually turns retrograde on March 1, 2014. While Mars is retrograde, we’re dealing more profoundly with the pause and assessment of our actions. Of any retrograde cycle, the Mars retrograde cycle is the least conducive for initiation and confrontation.

That doesn't mean to go into hiding or to avoid implementing anything of value or importance. But it does mean that whatever you do decide to initiate should be very carefully assessed and reflected upon—particularly giving time to carefully implement all the factors and all the other people's involvement.

When Mars is retrograde, desperate acts of impulsivity rarely turn out favorably. The launch of some important matter often ends up losing steam and dwindling in momentum once the planet turns direct. But just because this is a likely manifestation, doesn’t mean to avoid action. It simply means that this is a time to be more conscious of your actions, and to anticipate a change of course or direction later down the road.

As with any retrograde, we are in a process that requires us to reassess and reflect. It is a very introverted type of cycle. But with Mars in Libra (a more extroverted sign), we’re reflecting and strengthening our capacity to deal with multiple perspectives within relationships and more complicated social dynamics.
Hans Sebald Beham,Mars,
from The Seven Planets with the Signs of the Zodiac, 1539
(Bartsch 116; Pauli, Holl. 118) , via Wikimedia Commons

Some other factors to consider: Anger is a common manifestation when the Martian energy is somehow blocked or stagnated. Finding a healthy outlet for the expression of anger is highly recommended. Because Mars is in Libra, and retrograde, this cycle is likely to bring up territorial issues or deeply embedded fears or unresolved anger within relationships.

Remain conscious of this reality. Do your best to deal with these issues openly and as civilly as possible. But do not suppress or attempt to hide what needs to be communicated or expressed cathartically. There is a fine line between consciously expressing frustration and allowing it to take over, resulting in violence or rage.

Because Mars is retrograde, it is actually much closer to the Earth than usual. This invariably amplifies this archetypal power within each of us. Be mindful that things may not go as you expect or anticipate. Projects launched are likely to encounter setbacks, delays or frustrations. Be wary of the fact that many people may choose to express the more unsavory aspects of the Martian energy; don’t be the one to set them off!

Mars retrograde is a time to strengthen and reinforce situations that have already been put into motion. Big initiations are best implemented once the planet has gone direct. With that said, don’t over think it. Go with the flow. Mars and Venus retrograde cycles are unique in that they often correlate with significant turning points and mile-stone transitions.

We sometimes meet new people, or come into contact with familiar folks who we have seemingly met in some prior lifetime. These karmic connections are often important, and will unfold and develop in synch with future retrograde cycles.

Follow the Libran North Node

Just prior to Mars turning retrograde, the North Node transitions (backwards) from Scorpio into Libra. This is an equally significant transit, since the North Node indicates our collective destiny and objective at any given time.

On Feb 19, 2014, a rather poignant conjunction of planets occurs here. The North Node conjoins Mars and Vesta in Libra and Ceres in Scorpio. This is a very interesting conjunction, foreshadowing the coming onset of Mars’ backward motion.


Mars is slowing down to stationary motion. That warrior-like initiatory drive is coming to a standstill. Our defenses are down. This is a point of tremendous vulnerability, but a moment that also provides us with a glimpse into relationship dynamics to point us toward things that likely need to be worked on and reinforced over the next few months.

Vesta’s conjunction with the North Node at the anaretic degree of Libra points to a critical turning point and transition, one that gives us a razor sharp look into how others think, to become more compassionately aware of where they’re coming from.

Ceres brings up issues of nurturing, compassion and nourishment. We are invited to make contact with others who may be of assistance to us in these areas, or who may provide important information that can help us to see ourselves or a specific situation more objectively.

The North Node will transit Libra until November 2015. While the North Node was in Scorpio, and Saturn in Scorpio, we have all been forced, in varying degrees of intensity, to face deeply embedded material that lay dormant in the unconscious. Fears, vulnerabilities, deeply buried emotions and issues surrounding death and joint finances were all prevalent themes that needed to be constructively integrated.

We are shifting our attention away from these deeply intimate and secret chasms, to redirect attention from seriously intense subject matter towards some semblance of calm and homeostasis. While the North Node travels through Libra, there is a collective need and desire to open ourselves to the perceptions and perspectives of other people.

There is a drive to seek out experiences and connections that can assist in creating cohesion, equanimity and balance. The North Node in Libra can help with integration and digestion of everything that has come up on a personal and collective level.

So, this is a cycle that allows us to transcend the limitations of personal and biased viewpoints, to gain more awareness of our place in the larger scheme of things. This North Node transit also helps us to realize that there is greater power in numbers and that by embracing cooperation and mutual understanding, a lot more can be accomplished with greater ease and efficiency.

Mars in the Cardinal Hot Zone

Because Mars is going retrograde in Libra, it is activating the Uranus and Pluto square, the sign of the times. On April 22-23 Mars will form an exact grand cross configuration involving Uranus, Pluto and Jupiter. This is known as a cardinal cross, involving the cardinal zodiac signs, which have been a rather powerful symbol of the current changes taking place worldwide.

With Mars retrograde, this will likely correlate with the rise of collective events that bring to our attention to the need to strengthen and reinforce our personal and collective willpower. It is a powerful opportunity that generates an impetus to make dramatic changes and transformations through the awareness of new perspectives or worldviews.

Due to the intense nature of this configuration, there is likely to be a lot of conflict and tension. It is through this overwhelming friction that the world can wake up to new realities and alternative points of view it was previously closed off from.

Whether this particular grand cross will correlate with a specific event or not remains to be seen. But one thing is certain: it symbolizes a significant milestone in the collective psyche, one that will likely put into motion massive cultural, political and economic changes.   

Of particular significance is the fact that this grand cross will be in aspect to the radix Sun in the mundane horoscope of the United States. Obviously we can draw from this the fact that the U.S. will be the most significantly impacted country by this event. This symbolizes the first exact contact that the U.S. will have with the Uranus/Pluto square—so it’s a little unsettling given the current circumstances.
Horoscope of the United States (Sibly) with transits on April 22, 2014. Note the grand cross hitting the radix Sun and Saturn.

Many astrologers are concerned that this may have a significant impact on the economy, since we’re already in the midst of much economic instability and uncertainty. I personally can’t say for sure whether it will or not. Astrology cannot predict the exact turn of events. But given the nature of the cardinal axis, this energy will not just affect the U.S.--it will have a broad and far reaching global impact.

Such is the reality of the situation. What happens in the U.S. doesn’t just stay here; it has many implications for the economies of other nations. Regardless of what happens collectively, of which we as individuals have little control of at this point, each of us will inevitably feel the need to look beyond our personal limitations and rediscover the power that is available when we integrate with like minds and souls.

Again, be on the lookout for rising frustration and anger that may manifest. Mars retrograde indicates that the collective willpower is somehow stuck and stagnant. This is not a time to incite a war of any kind; the momentum just isn’t there. This cardinal grand cross is more symbolic of an awakening, one that reminds us of the power we truly have and that has been there all along.

There is tremendous creative potential here, and regardless of the turmoil that may manifest collectively, we can each use this energy constructively and consciously toward more productive outlets. The Uranus and Pluto square is about dramatic, sweeping global changes—conflicts between an emerging new horizon and the powerful established order.

Jupiter in Cancer points to the past and to the collective desire to hold on to those nostalgic elements that support the foundation. Jupiter also expands whatever it comes into contact with.
With Mars retrograde, we can anticipate an explosive energy, one that creates many contradicting desires. There is the desire to break free and forge new frontiers, the desire to maintain the past and hold on to what has been proven to work (security), and then the desire to integrate foreign perspectives which can reinforce our current position.

If you feel yourself pulled into these multiple directions, you aren’t alone. A grand cross isn’t easy to integrate because it challenges the psyche to implement all ends of the square in such a way that neither one overpowers the other. I think that is really the whole point of this configuration, it urges us to implement massive checks and balances so that neither of these facets has more power over the situation.

Looking at all the planets involved, it’s easy to point out all the facets currently involved here. Pluto in Capricorn definitely represents the overarching government's invasion of our privacy, and amping up as a police state. It is symbolic of the all-seeing eye of the oligarchy and plutocracy that currently holds the reigns of the economy.  

But Pluto in Capricorn is also a symbol of the emerging wisdom of the ancient past; the unearthing of powerful secrets long concealed or forgotten by the world. As much as it symbolizes a clash with authority, it equally awakens the power of the people to govern themselves, equipped with this newfound secret knowledge.

Uranus in Aries is the nascent frontier; the spring Sun rising on the horizon, offering the hope and prospect of something entirely new. Technologically (of which Uranus aptly correlates), we are seeing the emergence of an entirely new paradigm of global communication which is greatly impacting the power of self-expression (Aries).

Uranus in Aries is entirely experimental; it also inspires us to forge new pathways in many unique and radical ways. It offers us the promise that there is always another way, a direction we’ve had yet to dream of or imagine. Jupiter in Cancer is the power pulling us toward the familiar elements of society that have withstood the test of time. It draws the collective into an introspective gaze, dreaming of the good old days.

Jupiter in Cancer is placing emphasis on the desire for security and economic stability. In many ways, it is resistant to the progressive changes symbolized by Uranus, and suspicious of the powers exhibited by Pluto in Capricorn. So as much as we want “change”, as promised by many politicians these days, we equally don’t want to rock the boat too much that it threatens the security of the floor beneath our feet.

Finally, Mars retrograde in Libra is the awakening realization of our collective power. It is the emerging awareness that we need help; we can’t solve all these problems by ourselves. As much as our collective ego has convinced us of our absolute independence, we must admit that input from foreign sectors is much needed now, and that with greater objectivity each of us will find that we have the strength and capacity to endure the hardships to come.

Onward Into The Great Unfolding….

In conclusion, there is a lot we need to consider over the next few months. Mars retrograde and the North Node in Libra urge us to consciously weigh the pros and cons. But don’t feel rushed to do so. Work with these cycles and allow the process to unfold in its own timing. Remember that Libra needs to take its time to consider all the perspectives it seeks to assimilate.

When in doubt, stop, pause and reconsider. Taking more time now to deeply reflect, and ask for the opinions and perspectives of those around you, will save you much time and pain in the future. If things aren’t moving in a timely manner, look to see what’s missing, or reach out for help when necessary. We don’t have to do this all alone. In fact, that would be completely counterproductive to the whole process at hand.

We are entering a very uncertain time politically and economically. Decisions and choices we have all made in the past, or that we have allowed others to make for us, are now revealing their consequences. The complexity of the grand cross reveals that the solutions to our current problems are not simple. They are incredibly complex and involve the participation of everyone on the planet, in some shape or form.

If you feel the call to break free of oppressive and stagnating circumstances, you are simply responding to the current energies flooding the collective psyche. How successful we are hangs on our ability to consciously and patiently work through these complexities and integrate all the conflicting desires arising from deep within us. But whatever we choose to experience, remember that it's all a part of the great unfolding. When in doubt, trust the process at hand, no matter how dire it seems.

Mars reminds us that we are far more powerful than we know. Awaken the power within you to shape your life and the world into something more aligned with your ideals and dreams. This isn’t an end, but rather the birth of a new beginning. Don’t fight the current, flow with it; you never know how things will eventually unfold.

Conscious travels.