Kosmic Mind Astrology

Mars Direct+Mercury Square Jupiter

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Strength, vitality, willpower, and momentum will return over the next few weeks. Mars is stationing direct in Capricorn, which might feel like our actions aren't manifesting the concrete results we so desire. Transient frustrations are possible, but use this time to double up your efforts and sharpen your focus. Life will return to its normal pace soon enough. 

Mars in Capricorn is helpful for specifying a target, enthusiastically prepping for future challenges, or revitalizing ambitions. If you want to get to the mountaintop, adequate preparation is required like gathering essential supplies/resources and physical conditioning. So yes, some effort is needed, but nothing pays like the satisfaction of knowing you're primed and well adapted. 

In the midst of the earth element influx (Mars in Capricorn, Virgo Sun/Grand Trine), efficient strategies prevail, but more innovations are coming soon. In looking back since Mars turned retrograde in late June, how has your trajectory/target been altered? More alternations are likely in the latter half of Sept. via the third Mars/Uranus square. The Mars retro narrative continues. Set up a stable foundation for your initiatives now so they'll withstand the unexpected. 

But some potent Mars-like vigor is surprisingly available to all, even those who might feel exhausted. For anyone that has been running on pure adrenaline, the now waning Moon will assist in calming down. In two weeks time, the New Moon in Virgo is a rest/destress milestone, so adjust your schedule accordingly. 

Mercury's third square to Jupiter can feel a little redundant. As was the case earlier this month, watch for ideologically charged ego battles, or inflamed debates over who's right or wrong. Question all positions, assumptions, and dogmas, even your own. You can constructively refine beliefs, theories, and opinions in light of knowledge previously concealed from view. However, now that Mercury is direct, big ideas have greater impact and outreach.

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Shifting Tides: Full Moon in Pisces 2018

Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park, Sedona, Arizona; photo by Chad Woodward

Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park, Sedona, Arizona; photo by Chad Woodward

Full Moon @ 3 Pisces 12'

August 26, 2018

4:56 AM Los Angeles

7:56 AM New York

12:56 PM London

7:56 PM Beijing

9:56 PM Sydney

After the crossfire of three eclipses plus Mercury and Mars retrograde in July/early August, this Full Moon in tropical Pisces is a welcome reprieve. Complications which arose over the last few weeks finally get an opportunity for resolution. Devoid of challenging aspects to the Moon itself, this lunar culmination is helpful for pulling projects or situations together or otherwise reclaiming confidence in a larger purpose.

Mars is stationing direct in Capricorn the following day, which magnifies a willingness to engage in prolific productivity. Finding an endpoint becomes more relaxed with this lunation, especially with an earth grand trine formed between the Sun, Saturn, and Uranus, all supporting the Full Moon. The strong presence of the earth element is helpful for concrete actualization or for acquiring tangible results from consistent efforts. 

Neptune is currently transiting with the Moon in Pisces, which excites the waning Jupiter/Neptune trine from the previous week. Outer planet aspects have a longer shelf life, so this lunation certainly has mystical, creative, and visionary elements. In mutable Pisces, this Full Moon is a definite marker of shifting tides. Real, tangible transitions are now afoot, and with Mars turning direct, hurdles and hesitations will soon cease in the following two weeks.

Pisces evokes contemplation, compassion, and the desire for self-transcendence. The culmination of this Full Moon is helpful for detaching from excessive worry or self-doubt and engaging more fully in what fuels passions. While the Full Moon energy is often outer-directed, this lunation carries a robust inner calling. If you require some time to yourself to reflect or focus in on what matters most, these symbols are highly supportive. 

The main point of tension is Venus' applying square to Pluto which adds an element of intensity to relational interactions. Venus/Pluto suggests working to create authenticity in stable relationships, as opposed to giving in to the temptations of drama or fleeting seductions. The Sun in Virgo and its earth grand trine with Saturn/Uranus, however, serve as a powerful grounding point, which may correlate with a need to engage more fully in pragmatic tasks or endeavors.

The interplay between both the timeless archetype of Pisces and the earth elements suggest that this is an optimal Full Moon for getting wholly consumed in some work, practice, project, or duty which fuels the heart. Yes, the earth grand trine can incite an obsessive focus on what needs to get done or accomplished to the point of losing sight of other needs or obligations. Pisces' negative face might lead to escapism through productivity. 

But after the many setbacks of the last few weeks, it might feel good to dig into something concrete. Look around for things that are reaching culmination or completion with this lunation. Perhaps you'll see the tangible results of a daily practice coming to fruition, or a plan you've been mulling over finally coming together. And trust that within the next few weeks, the usual pace and momentum will return, so reap any benefits of this Full Moon and prepare yourself for larger initiations just after the Virgo New Moon Sept. 9. 

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Virgo Season & Earth Sign Synergy

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Virgo season has arrived. For northern hemispheric dwellers, summer is on the wane, though you will notice that nature has begun to transition and change (the signs of spring have emerged also in the southern hemisphere). As the Sun enters Virgo this year, it comes into a grand trine with Saturn and Uranus, exact Aug. 25. The synergy between Sun/Saturn/Uranus in earth signs is incredibly palpable, synthesizing pragmatism, ingenuity, and precision. 

For adding a unique touch to the daily grind, freshening up an otherwise monotonous task, or giving the overly radical a more credible look, this earth grand trine can do it all. With the Sun in Virgo until the equinox Sept. 22, consider those things in life which desperately need more clarity. Virgo season is a time to get coordinated in daily routines, emphasizing duty, service, and contribution to others. And this year, the productivity flow is almost effortless.

Yes, Virgo is known for its potential obsession with perfection, but at the heart of that lies a commitment to the ideal. Getting better at something always motivates the path toward self-improvement. And improvements can always be made. You might notice shortcomings more than usual, but don't lose sight of the need to do your best and move on. Getting hung up on the fact life doesn't exactly match up with the ideal can be problematic.

The Full Moon's culmination (Aug. 26) following the peak of the earth grand trine is incredibly motivating for taking on or tackling critical projects. The earth element is all about making mental constructions concretely manifest. Consider what you need to materialize the next few days, and what needs improvement and augmentation. Getting closer to health and fitness goals, gaining more competence in your job/calling, or just taking care of anything that needs tending, this is an optimal time. 

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Mercury Direct & Jupiter Trine Neptune

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Alongside the first quarter Moon in tropical Scorpio, Mercury stations direct. While this is the end of Mercury's retrograde cycle, obstacles, setbacks, detours, miscommunications, and irritations gradually fade out and get resolved. Still, residual glitches and frustrations are likely the next several days. 

With Mars retrograde until Aug. 27, we don't get a clear and unhindered push until about mid-Sept. Of course, do what you usually do, but if you're considering a full-on barrage into some new terrain,  next month is far more ideal. But now that Mercury is direct in this waxing gibbous phase, we can regain our strength and willpower, and put the pieces back together. So stay focused, but still, take your time. 

Jupiter trine Neptune encourages a faithful adherence to our vision or spiritual practice. And this waxing Moon increases our engagement with any current process. Leaps of faith, however, require extra caution/consideration now. The Moon through Sagittarius over the weekend kicks up idealism and spontaneity. These Jupiter/Neptune vibes can arouse compassion and sensitivity, but can also tempt us into avoidance of duty. 

Jupiter's trine to Neptune is the final of three aspects since last Dec., but its correlations are prominent until Jupiter enters Sagittarius in early Nov. Under Jupiter/Neptune, there's a tendency to ignore the nitty-gritty reality of things and favor the bigger picture or how things could be. Idealism is helpful for creative innovation, but problematic when we apply it to situations requiring a sober assessment. 

Still, Jupiter/Neptune gives us increased access to a belief in ourselves or what we're currently doing. For empowering those who have lost their faith, this has been helpful. This weekend's peak energy allows for opening ourselves up or cultivating a holistic perspective of life in general. If you can remain skeptical and discerning, this Jupiter/Neptune trine can feel enjoyable and affirmative of a larger purpose. 

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Trust Your Bliss: Partial Solar Eclipse in Leo 2018

By Zeynel Cebeci [CC BY-SA 4.0  (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Zeynel Cebeci [CC BY-SA 4.0  (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

New Moon/Partial Solar Eclipse @ 18 Leo 42' 

August 11, 2018

2:58 AM Los Angeles

5:58 AM New York

10:58 AM London

5:58 PM Beijing

7:58 PM Sydney

This month's New Moon is a partial solar eclipse in the tropical sign of Leo. It occurs against the backdrop of both Mercury and Mars retrograde. If you've felt like you've had to maneuver around extra obstacles, setbacks, or delays lately, you're not alone. Technical, mechanical, and communicative glitches are ubiquitous during the backtrack of the tiny and flighty planet Mercury. 

And within this potentized field of eclipses and Mars' retrograde cycle too, life can feel more unpredictable and less willing to agree with our expectations. Random annoyances are part of the deal. However, this is also a prime season for profound life shifts and changes of perception. And this Leo New Moon/eclipse can help us see a new path forward that we didn't know existed. 

Leo has a reputation for drama and excessive audacity. Leo's ruler is the Sun, the King/Queen of the solar system after all. Leo's emphasis is on the expression of creativity and affirmation of one's existence. Leo wants to be acknowledged, but not always the center of attention. Indeed in its negative face, Leo can become overly self-absorbed or addicted to applause/validation. If there were an archetype for pathological narcissism, Leo's bad side comes somewhat close. 

This New Moon/eclipse in the vibrant sign of Leo encourages visibility and self-expression. Occurring near the lunar North Node, it represents a profound shift in confidence and creative potential. This eclipse is profoundly bound up with a desire for more acknowledgment, respect, recognition, and of course, fun. With Mercury retrograde closely conjunct the New Moon/eclipse, it helps us make critical revisions and adjustments while breathing new life into ongoing creative projects. 

Jupiter's square to Mercury and the eclipse represents an optimistic thrust forward, but be mindful of arrogance or over-confident, leaps of faith. It is still the dark of the Moon, so tread carefully. Fact check, read the fine print and discuss things before jumping in. Don't indulge in more than you can process. Consider seeing yourself and your creations through a new lens or perception. Experiment with fresh approaches for communicating yourself to the world at large. 

When it comes to pushing forward with current projects or situations, remember to take your time and go with the flow. Both Mercury retrograde and eclipse season require patience and flexibility. Often, the greatest ideas come to us when we aren't actively looking for them. Consider the mantra of legendary, Spanish painter, Pablo Picasso, "I do not seek. I find."

Open yourself up to the joy of discovery with this eclipse, which requires less attachment to results and more engagement with the process. Yes, Mercury retrograde induces some second-guessing, and this eclipse can undoubtedly feel overwhelming, but it invites us to bring some new element into our lives and reconsider how we playfully participate in the creative, evolutionary flow of the cosmos. 

How are you feeling the eclipse? Feel free to comment below. 

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Close Encounters: Earth, Sun, Moon, and Mars

Photo by  Georg Slickers  via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Georg Slickers via Wikimedia Commons

Mars is nearing an intimate flyby with our home planet soon. Intimacy in astronomical terms is about 35 million miles, but if you've been paying attention to Mars lately, via the night sky, you've seen that's quite a statement. On July 26/27 (depending on your time zone), Mars will make its exact perihelic opposition to the Sun. 

If you looked down from above the solar system, you would see a straight line formed between the Sun, Earth, and Mars. If you could somehow perceive the orbital paths of these objects, you'd notice that both Earth and Mars run along an ellipse and that both planets were at their closest points relative to one another. 

This opposition of Mars and Sun is one of three rare and significant events at the close of this month, and all of them involve the infamous, red planet. Following the Sun and Mars' exact opposition, a total lunar eclipse occurs July 27/28, entirely or partially visible for much of the globe except North America and Greenland. 

This eclipse occurs in conjunction with Mars, as the red planet emits its orangish-red beams just beneath the eclipsed Moon. This eclipse will also be the longest lunar eclipse of the 21st century, lasting about an hour and 42 minutes for those on the direct path, such as Eastern Africa and the Middle East. 

And finally, on July 31/Aug 1, Mars will make its closest approach to the Earth, crossing that roughly 35 million mile mark. Mars hasn't been this close to Earth since 2003, and before that, nearly 60,000 years. We are speaking of a few million miles difference for some other Sun/Mars perihelic oppositions, but when it comes to astronomy, numbers seem to count. 

In astrology, Mars is a challenging planet to integrate. It's not a "bad" planet, that is, it doesn't always portend tragedy or crisis, but its emergence into both the personal and collective field is often uncomfortable. I believe that's because Mars is a catalyst, and whether we're responding to pain, anger, or fear, something is prodding us into action. 

Mars' perihelic opposition to the Sun always occurs during Mars' retrograde cycle, every two years. When Mars is retrograde, it's a chance to make adjustments to our aggressive, sexual, and passionate nature. But this cycle, Mars is a little bigger and brighter than usual, and perhaps that physical closeness relates symbolically to a heightened sense of passion, lustiness, aggression, or a willingness to fight. 

As an astrologer, I think that the archetype of Mars exists within us all, but that everyone's response to it is different. Mars has a "primal" vibe, in that it relates to thoughts, feelings, or compulsions which are seemingly beyond rational control. As Mars makes its opposition to the Sun, that primal wave will take over the ego momentarily, and we are given a window into that unfiltered, and untamable void. 

It's what we do with our passion, rage, or fear that matters most. Some things are beyond our control. People may trigger us, a health issue can arise, or an accident. Perhaps nothing so serious shows up for you, but you're feeling fed up with the way things presently are. Catalysts can arrive both inwardly and externally, but what we do with them, how we let our experiences define us, is indeed the most critical work. 

The synchronicity of a historical lunar eclipse and Mars' closest terrestrial encounter is both beautiful and intimidating. Always, on the global stage of political/cultural changes, we see the most cartooned version of astrology, such as a building aggression surging out of control. But with Mars retrograde, something different might show up, a critical adjustment or shift in the tide of war. 

With Mars on the lunar South Node, we know that some karma has ripened, some past, unresolved or unexpressed frustration seeks closure and release. With the Sun now in Leo, nearing the lunar North Node, we can only do our best to take the higher road, to stand confidently and courageously in our power while acknowledging the heart. 

Leo's positive face is that of generosity but also humor. Taking things too seriously could blow up in our faces. The higher road might also suggest the lighter path, where laughter is good medicine and reminds us of our humanity. Beware of the pitfalls of extreme alienation or "higher than thou" attitudes. Remember that a unique feature of humanity is the necessity of community. 

The negative face of Aquarius, the tropical zodiac sign both Mars and the lunar eclipse will reside, is anti-social-like apathy or the rebel without a cause. A Mars-like field as potent as this reminds me of Carl Jung's hypothetical enantiodromia, which warns us that when we polarize against an evil other, we risk eventual assimilation of that which we fight.

In looking at the astrological clock, it's evident that we could all use a catalyst, so let us be thankful for the reminder that life is worth living and that there are things worth fighting. Mars is the warrior after all, but a warrior defends what is sacred and vulnerable. There are harshness and injustices in the world, but Mars inspires us to protect what matters. 

In our fighting, let's not lose sight of compassion, or fall into the trap of making our enemy a literal embodiment of evil. There are profound lessons in a moment of terror, and immense strength acquired through every battle, no matter how small. And when you look out into the world, realize that everyone is in the midst of a personal crusade, even if you can't see it. Use that insight to connect yourself to the greater whole, and perhaps not feel so alone. 

Life feels overwhelming when faced with things outside of your control. Understanding yourself is key to finding your power and place in the world. While you can't control fate or the chaos of life, your destiny belongs to you, something you can always strive for to gain command of your life path

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Free Yourself: Full Moon/Total Lunar Eclipse in Aquarius 2018

By Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve (Lunar Eclipse, Star Dune, and Elk) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve (Lunar Eclipse, Star Dune, and Elk) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Full Moon/Total Lunar Eclipse @ 4 degrees Aquarius 45'

July 27, 2018

1:20 PM Los Angeles

4:20 PM New York

9:20 PM London

July 28, 2018

12:20 AM Dubai

4:20 AM Beijing

6:20 AM Sydney

8:20 AM Auckland

At the end of July, a total lunar eclipse will be entirely visible from the Middle East, Central and East Africa, Central Asia, and Antartica, while West Africa, Europe, Austrailia, New Zealand, South America, and the Eastern Caribbean will see a partial lunar eclipse (Iceland and West South America will catch some of the penumbral phase). Pretty much everyone except those residing in North America and Greenland will witness some or most of the longest lunar eclipse of the 21st century. Totality will last an hour and 42 minutes for those first regions listed.

But even more uniquely, this long-lasting lunar eclipse will conjoin the planet Mars while at its brightest since 2003. Those lucky enough to see it will witness a diminishing of the Moon's reflective light and the piercing, red glow of Mars beneath it. In fact, during a lunar eclipse, the Moon turns a reddish orange hue. So, both the Moon and Mars will be distinctly red beacons in the night sky. 

If you're unable to see this historic event, you can still witness the extra brilliance of Mars as it makes its peak opposition to the Sun on July 26/27 and then closest approach (and brightest shine) to Earth on July 31. Mars is currently retrograde, which happens when the red planet reaches its perihelic opposition to the Sun every two years. Read more about that in my article here. 

Okay, now for the astrology. Cue the shrieks of terror! Mars is not a friendly planet. It's the God/Goddess of war. War is not pleasant; it's divisive and hostile. But divisiveness is an essential part of life. In fact, tension, frustration, destruction, even combativeness can be healthy and appropriate at times. Have you ever been in a relationship with a sociopath, malignant narcissist, or otherwise abusive person? Have you had a tick attached to you, gleefully enjoying your blood? The best solution to those problems is a fundamental Mars function. Cut your ties! There are situations in life when peace and love are not useful options.

By Farhan Perdana (Blek) from Jakarta, Indonesia (Lunar Eclipse: Umbra) [CC BY 2.0  (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Farhan Perdana (Blek) from Jakarta, Indonesia (Lunar Eclipse: Umbra) [CC BY 2.0  (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

In astrology, a lunar eclipse is an extra-potent Full Moon, and when total, it's even more powerful. So a lunar eclipse is a dramatic peak, culmination, crisis, or ending. Something has reached its furthest state of growth and achievement. As mentioned, Mars is also reaching its peak of brightness just as the Full Moon/eclipse culminates. Coincidence? I'd like to say it's a byproduct of synchronicity and an intelligent universe. We have two peak experiences reaching their peak at about the same time. 

As always with astrology, significant events like this are not massively substantial for everyone. If you have planets or critical placements around four degrees of tropical Aquarius, you should pay more attention. And for those residing in the regions where the eclipse is most visible, we may see some significant events develop around these themes in those places in the following weeks or months. 

With the lunar eclipse/Full Moon in Aquarius conjunct Mars retrograde, and in square aspect with Uranus, these are some seriously volatile and rebellious vibes. Confrontations as a result of diminished freedom, autonomy, or individualistic expression are all highly possible manifestations of this eclipse. "Enough is enough" is a potent phrase for this eclipse, especially with both Mars and the eclipse conjunct the lunar South Node. For those that have been oppressed, dominated, or kept silent, this lunar eclipse provides an empowering surge of retaliation and rage. 

If this eclipse speaks to you, and it will speak to us all in some way, it encourages a fight for individual rights. It stimulates the bravery needed to demand freedom and to liberate oneself from stagnant situations. As an air sign, Aquarius expresses itself through thoughts, ideas, and information. Perhaps this eclipse empowers us through knowledge or an enlightening, objective perspective on reality. However, with Mars retrograde, and the Moon at its peak, this is not necessarily an ideal start for a revolution. Those seeds were planted in the distant past.

Chart for the Total Lunar Eclipse July 27/28, 2018. 

Chart for the Total Lunar Eclipse July 27/28, 2018. 

Here, at the Full Moon phase, we are reaching the peak tension, and the consequences of our actions will come upon us soon. As the Full Moon/eclipse culminates, it would be wise to be extra cautious with overly risky endeavors, or intentionally putting yourself in situations where danger is a high possibility. Pushing yourself or others past reasonable limitations might not go too well. Using the mind's power of reason, and cool rationality, take a good look at your feelings, impulses, and reactions and assess whether or not you should indulge them. 

Consider long-standing situations which have caused you to amass frustration, anger, or resentment. Consider in what ways you've been held back or not allowed the freedom to be who you are or to follow your unique path in life. Notice how those situations are reaching critical points of crisis or culmination, and how you can handle the situation the best way possible. Perhaps, you'll need to cut ties, or maybe you'll need to set firm boundaries and divisions. Either way, Mars is assertive, and this Full Moon is not your usual lunar culmination. 

Conversely, as mentioned, this is a South Nodal eclipse, which brings up the past in a dynamic way. And given that Mars is retrograde, unresolved, past conflicts, or the eruption of unexpressed frustration could be a major theme of this eclipse. The karma has ripened, as the saying goes. With the lunar North Node in Leo, conjunct the Sun raging and roaring in its home sign, the eclipse opens a pathway forward which requires increased visibility, self-expressiveness, and passion for following through. 

And sometimes, an excessive focus on rebelling or being different can be alienating. The North Node in Leo conjunct the Sun suggests coming into the light and moving out of isolation, which takes courage. The Sun in Leo says that it's time to speak up and be heard. This eclipse requires more than embracing individuality or jumping onto the next revolutionary bandwagon. It's an invitation to create a bridge into the real world to allow yourself to be an effective truth speaker or freedom advocate. After the war is over, life must go on. Free yourself. 

Life feels overwhelming when faced with things outside of your control. Understanding yourself is key to finding your power and place in the world. While you can't control fate or the chaos of life, your destiny belongs to you, something you can always strive for to gain command of your life path

CLICK HERE FOR PERSONAL READINGS

Defying Boundaries: Mars Retrograde 2018

Base jumpers; photo by  Xof711

Base jumpers; photo by Xof711

This year, Mars turns stationary retrograde on June 26/27 (check time zones below). On this day, the red planet will stop moving, reverse direction, and appear to move backward for about two months. It'll pause again around Aug. 27/28, returning to its usual west-east path and ending its retrograde cycle. 

Mars retrograde happens every two years as it reaches its perihelic opposition to the Sun. When this happens, Mars is closer to the Earth and appears brighter in the night sky. In fact, when Mars is retrograde, it's visible throughout the entire night due to the Sun's opposition. 

This July and August, Mars will outshine Jupiter, making it the second brightest planet in the sky (except for the Sun and Moon, of course, which are considered planets in astrology). For skywatchers, this is an optimal year for viewing Mars, whether with naked eye or telescope. 

Mars will reach its closest approach to Earth on July 31, a few days after reaching maximum brightness at the exact opposition to the Sun on July 26/27. This year is the nearest approach Mars has made to Earth since 2003. Mars will be roughly 35 million miles away from us, compared to its average distance of 140 million miles (though still incomprehensibly far).

And before 2003, Mars hadn't been this close in nearly 60 thousand years. Will Mars' closeness to the Earth this year give us some extra juicy Mars drama? Perhaps. In looking at 2003, there were some interesting Mars-like events like record-breaking heat waves in Europe (causing 35,000 deaths that summer), historic wildfires in California and Germany, and the initial stages of the "War on Terror" via the Invasion of Iraq (which reached its 15 year anniversary earlier this year). 

Did I mention that Mars has a 15-year cycle? Mars will be retrograde in both Aquarius and Capricorn this year and turning stationary retrograde near the lunar South Node. The last time Mars turned retrograde in Aquarius was in 1971. Just days before its retrograde station that year, then U.S. President Richard Nixon certified the 26th Amendment, lowering the voting age to 18. 

Also, the Apollo 15 mission, the fourth manned mission to the Moon, literally goes to the Moon and back within this retrograde period. The 1971 Mars retrograde cycle was the first time the lunar rover drove on the Moon's surface. I want to point out that sending some guys in a rocket ship to the Moon to drive around in their new all-terrain vehicle is hugely Mars-like. Interestingly, the first manned-lunar mission occurred just 13 days after Mars stationed direct in 1969 (that time, at the first degree of adventure-seeking Sagittarius). 

Dave Scott on the rim of Hadley Rille at Station 10 during the Apollo 15 mission; photo by  NASA .

Dave Scott on the rim of Hadley Rille at Station 10 during the Apollo 15 mission; photo by NASA.

How Will Mars Retrograde Effect You? 

I don't believe that Mars' closeness to the Earth has any physical effect, which is to say that just because Mars is closer to us, doesn't mean that it's causing anything to happen. I view astrology as having a correlative or symbolic significance. So how will Mars retrograde correlate with changes in your life?

Unlike Mercury retrograde (which occurs quite frequently but isn't always significant for everyone, every time), Mars retrograde is rare, but its most notable impact likely happens when it stations retrograde or direct on prominent places in our horoscopes. 

You might read that Mars retrograde isn't a good time for starting a business, a new job, sexual relationship or otherwise living your life as you would typically do. We could probably find evidence to corroborate some of that, but honestly, I wouldn't stick to that view dogmatically. 

When Mars is retrograde, you can still have great sex and launch into new directions, but you need to be extra mindful of acting solely on impulse. When Mars is closer to the Earth during its perihelic opposition and retrograde cycle, the Mars archetype gets louder. If we imagine that Mars is the archetypal warrior and trailblazer, then those impulses within each of us get a bit magnified. 

Perhaps, you'll find yourself or others feeling extra lascivious. You might notice the rise of inner assertiveness or less tolerance for those who infringe on your boundaries. You might see some usually timid people feeling audacious, more willing to make bold moves. Controlling a temper could be a problem. 

And with Mars stationing near the lunar South Node around June 26, you might find yourself needing to release some unresolved anger, anxiety, aggression, or face some unresolved conflict or fear you couldn't deal with before. Mars dares us to live and defend our right to do so. 

Living doesn't stop just because Mars is retrograde, though because it appears to be moving backward, we might find ourselves reviewing or reconsidering how we're utilizing our inner Mars. During this time, we're collectively building up momentum and giving our actions, desires, and impulses extra thought and attention. 

Also, since Mars is opposing the Sun during its retrograde cycle, it's making a somewhat rebellious statement. Since the Sun is the ruler of the solar system, and Mars is in opposition and retrograde, Mars is less restrained by the Sun's rule and control. Thus, during Mars retrograde, we might find ourselves or others more likely to break the rules. This rebellious theme is especially pertinent this cycle because Mars will backtrack into a square aspect to Uranus.

Sometimes those rules were self-imposed or enforced on us by family, society, community, culture, or authority figures. When Mars is retrograde, we are tempted to break free of restraints or restrictions to forge new paths for ourselves with either positive or negative consequences. When Mars is retrograde, we're more prone to crossing new boundaries and thresholds which once contained us. 

If Mars stations or is retrograde near critical placements in your chart, especially if making difficult aspects, you might need to be extra cautious about pushing yourself too hard, trying to force something to action prematurely, or seriously watch your temper or immediate, automatic reactions (violence represents the negative extreme of Mars energy). 

While this Mars retrograde cycle might not be a good time to start an actual war, rebellion, or revolution (those instigating the fight aren't likely to succeed), its a good time to check in with how we've allowed others to control our actions. And observe how we have silenced ourselves or kept our inner warrior from getting what it wants and deserves. 
 
Mars retrograde, especially at the stations (June 26 and August 27), can limit or even slow down our momentum. While sometimes frustrating (or amplifying repressed or unacknowledged frustration), it gives us a chance to reconsider our current trajectory or gain more clarity about our ultimate target. If you find yourself losing steam or unable to act with confidence, utilize this retrograde period to regain your strength, courage, willpower, and passion so that you'll be ready to launch when the time is right for you. 

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True color image of Mars taken by the OSIRIS instrument on the ESA Rosetta spacecraft during its February 2007 flyby of the planet; photo by  European Space Agency & Max-Planck Institute for Solar System Research for OSIRIS Team ESA/MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/RSSD/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

True color image of Mars taken by the OSIRIS instrument on the ESA Rosetta spacecraft during its February 2007 flyby of the planet; photo by European Space Agency & Max-Planck Institute for Solar System Research for OSIRIS Team ESA/MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/RSSD/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

Mars Square Uranus, Mercury Retro, and Eclipse Season

Due to its retrograde cycle, Mars will square Uranus three times this year. It made its first square on May 16, one day after Uranus entered Taurus. The second, retrograde square occurs on Aug. 1, and the final square happens on Sept. 18. The most problematic square is likely to be in early Aug., with both Mars and Mercury in retrograde. 

Taking significant risks at that point without full consideration of the consequences, or lacking a very carefully laid out strategy could lead to problems. If you find yourself unable to move forward at this point with specific plans, intentions, or ambitions, step back and reassess. 

If you intend to move forward with some important matter in the first weeks of August, be prepared for unexpected changes, detours, delays, setbacks, or breakdowns and plan accordingly. The combination of Mars and Uranus is highly volatile and unpredictable.

On another level, however, this combination of planets in late July/early August gives us an opportunity to define and defend who we are on a deeper soul level. While you can expect considerable resistance from others, the tension inherent to this aspect can be helpful for strengthening a commitment to a unique path or destiny. 

Working at a higher level with Mars/Uranus will likely require upsetting other people for the sake of being true to ourselves, but ignoring our authenticity can be equally painful. With the Mars/Uranus square occurring alongside Mercury retrograde, don't resist the flow if you feel obstructed. Sometimes, the best thing to do is wait things out, at least until after Aug. 18/19. 

Also, consider that from July 12-Aug. 11 we'll be in a triple eclipse season, so this will be a profoundly transformational period for many of us. Both prominent retrogrades and eclipses often lead to significant changes of direction, focus, and perception. Consider that your current plans or intentions are likely to change in the coming months quite suddenly, so remain flexible.  

Johannes Kepler's depiction of the geocentric motions of Mars, from  Astronomia Nova  (1609).

Johannes Kepler's depiction of the geocentric motions of Mars, from Astronomia Nova (1609).

Mars stationary retrograde @ 09 degrees Aquarius

June 26, 2018

2:05 PM Los Angeles

5:05 PM New York

10:05 PM London

June 27, 2018

1:05 AM Dubai

5:05 AM Beijing

7:05 AM Sydney

9:05 AM Auckland

Mars stationary direct @ 29 degrees Capricorn 

August 27, 2018

7:05 AM Los Angeles

10:05 AM New York

3:05 PM London

6:05 PM Dubai

10:05 PM Beijing

August 28, 2018

12:05 AM Sydney

2:05 AM Auckland

Life feels overwhelming when faced with things outside of your control. Understanding yourself is key to finding your power and place in the world. While you can't control fate or the chaos of life, your destiny belongs to you, something you can always strive for to gain command of your life path

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Inner Spirals: Full Moon in Capricorn 2018

Ortler Alps in Italy; photo by  Friedrich Haag

Ortler Alps in Italy; photo by Friedrich Haag

Full Moon @ 6 degrees Capricorn 28'

June 27

9:53 PM Los Angeles

June 28

12:53 AM New York

5:53 AM London

8:53 AM Dubai

12:53 PM Beijing

3:53 PM Sydney

5:53 PM Auckland

As the Sun sails through the sensitive and perceptive sign of tropical Cancer, the Moon reaches its cyclic opposition in the cool, hard edges of Capricorn. For the Moon, Capricorn is not a comfortable place. As this Full Moon culminates in conjunction with Saturn, we might find ourselves meeting some vast limitations through which we can more clearly define and prioritize goals and objectives. 

The crises end of this lunation might look like an awkward confrontation with a world that doesn't readily cater to our deepest needs. Collectively and personally, we might significantly feel the enormity of things a bit more than usual. Saturn doesn't give anything away. It suggests to us that even in following our heart, we must sacrifice and discipline ourselves if we want to find success. 

For some of us, depression,  pessimism, and self-doubt are some possible manifestations of this Full Moon energy. No matter how you respond, a significant level of pressure arrives with this lunation like the inevitability of reaching a critical deadline. And Mars' retrograde station alongside this heavy, lunar culmination gives each of us a lot to contemplate. For some of us, this Full Moon could quickly put the brakes on things or act as a symbolic obstruction. 

If you find yourself holding on to anger, agitation, hopelessness, or fear at this lunation, trust that you can move through these feelings and find a way forward as the Moon begins to wane. As the Full Moon culminates, it invites us to take a moment to look inwardly and acknowledge some deep places constructed from our pain. This lunation offers us the harsh implication that hardship is an inevitable part of the human experience. 

Saturn reminds us that discomfort is a natural part of maturation which is the engine of life. One of the most difficult of truths is that death feeds life. We are intricately entwined in this sacred dance: as one life ends it spirals into yet another. This month's Full Moon stands at the gateway of some challenging but profoundly transformative astrology in the following weeks. 

The Sun is applying to a wide trine with Jupiter which offers hope and some building confidence. A water grand trine formed between the Sun, Jupiter, and Neptune in the first week of July will help to shatter the heaviness and constriction of these Full Moon vibes, opening new doors, expansive frontiers, and rekindling the imagination. 

Trust that as you move forward, you'll soon discover new paths and perceptions. Embrace the reality we all have a mission and some significant work to do in this world, but that it just takes time to chisel your way through. Take some time with this Full Moon to fully contemplate your choices and sit with any surfacing discomfort. Growth is hard, but not growing is even harder. 

Life feels overwhelming when faced with things outside of your control. Understanding yourself is key to finding your power and place in the world. While you can't control fate or the chaos of life, your destiny belongs to you, something you can always strive for to gain command of your life path

CLICK HERE FOR PERSONAL READINGS

Shine On: Total Solar Eclipse in Leo 2017

Total eclipse of the sun taken in Chita, Russia on March 9, 1997; photo by  名古屋太郎  via Wikimedia Commons. 

Total eclipse of the sun taken in Chita, Russia on March 9, 1997; photo by 名古屋太郎 via Wikimedia Commons. 

 

Total Solar Eclipse @ 28 tropical Leo 53'

August 21, 2017

11:30 AM Los Angeles

2:30 PM New York

1:30 PM Chicago

7:30 PM London

2:30 AM Hong Kong

4:30 AM Sydney

6:30 AM Aukland

*The U.S. times above are for the precise conjunction of Sun and Moon as measured from the center of the Earth, not the times for the maximum phase of the eclipse if you plan to view it. Also, NEVER watch a solar eclipse without using eclipse glasses or a special filter. For eclipse safety and viewing times, please read this article. 

This much anticipated total solar eclipse in tropical Leo is here (much anticipated for those visiting or living in the United States, especially those on the path of totality). For thousands of years, eclipses were viewed by many cultures as negative omens, often feared and revered by those who witnessed them, and for obvious reasons. Especially with a total solar eclipse, the experience is mesmerizing, visceral, and eerie. In a little over an hour, the Moon passes over the Sun, creating a darkening of the sky, a drastic drop in temperature, and during the few minutes of totality, spectators witness spectacular visual effects such as the appearance of the solar corona, the emergence of stars and planets typically hidden, and sometimes, in rare cases, shadow bands (which appear as shimmering, wavy shadows on white or very lightly colored objects below). 

It’s no wonder that our ancestors viewed eclipses with terror and came up with various superstitions about them. Science has done much to dispel this superstition, and has given us a more precise technical understanding of why eclipses happen, but science has also stripped the magic and archetypal reality away from the modern mind. Those who witness a total solar eclipse cannot deny their own experience which is profound and unforgettable. In that moment, a beauty and power that’s hard to describe overtakes you. Even the most staunch materialist will be consumed with awe by the sheer magnificence and mystery of the experience, even sometimes drawn to tears. Something primal inside of us responds to this, even if it’s just a mechanical fluke of nature. As an astrologer, I avoid making outlandish claims and speculations when it comes to astrology, but I also study the subject and observe its relevance in my life and the life of friends, family, clients, and notable figures.

And because of that, I can say with much certainty that eclipses, like any other astronomical event, have a direct correlation with human life. There is convincing evidence that throughout history, eclipses that occur over a specific region perceptibly impact that place in significant and notable ways. Aside from their historical implications, they can accelerate interpersonal changes, life transitions, and amplify emotional and psychological constructs within us. And collectively, a rapid series of events begins to unfold. What will happen with this particular eclipse? I don’t know concretely, and I won’t pretend that I do. Eclipses are hard to understand while they happen, and because they tend to develop weeks, months, and even years after the event itself, they’re more discernible in hindsight. But, especially with a total solar eclipse, the symbolism speaks volumes. The Moon, a symbol of the irrational, unconscious, and hidden dimensions of life experience, momentarily overtakes the light of the Sun. 

The Sun symbolizes the rational, apollonian archetype related to the visible world we see and interact with. A solar eclipse is a powerful New Moon, which is a symbolic death and rebirth of the lunar cycle. Thus, what I can say with confidence is that a large shadow will be cast across the United States and a powerful, unconscious narrative/mythos will overtake the collective mind of this country. Many people will be swept up in a collective drama with origins lying deep within the collective psyche, or what psychologist Carl Jung called the collective unconscious (the repository of repressed psychic content within a given culture). We will also witness some very drastic external changes happening in this nation from here on out, especially since the U.S. is nearing its first Pluto return alongside a conjunction of Saturn and Pluto in 2020, and will also witness another total solar eclipse in 2024. What that will all look like, I don’t know exactly, but I think we are already seeing it emerge on the world stage as I write these words. It is a dynamic process of death, rebirth, and an upwelling of contraction.

A viewer of the Solar Eclipse on Aug 11, 1999 in Paris, France; photo by Arnaudh via Wikimedia Commons. 

A viewer of the Solar Eclipse on Aug 11, 1999 in Paris, France; photo by Arnaudh via Wikimedia Commons. 

I’d suggest looking into the work of scholars who specialize in studying historical and economic trends, as well as mundane astrologers with that kind of analytical expertise for a better understanding the unfolding historical narrative. My focus is more so on the personal dimensions of astrological application. For a more mundane perspective on this eclipse, do read my article here. This New Moon/total solar eclipse occurs at the final degrees of Leo. Leo is a fire sign of yang polarity. The solar eclipse also creates a fire grand trine between Saturn in Sagittarius and Uranus in Aries. The trine to Uranus is particularly significant in its precision, and can empower the rebellious, revolutionary, and unstable elements surrounding this eclipse. Personally, it can feel like a dramatic, passionate, and creative uprising within each of us (as well as collectively). This solar eclipse seeks to awaken within us a renewed desire for life, vitality, and self-expression which serves to liberate and free us from limitations and past constraints.

As always with Uranus, previous barriers and obstacles are suddenly and unexpectedly cleared, making way for new avenues of experience and opportunities to express individuality. For good or ill, this eclipse is empowering individuals to step out and gain more visibility in the world. The wider trine to Saturn can help us gain more traction, as well as bring forth the fruits of hard work, discipline, and sacrifice. If you’re feeling motivated to bring forth your creative energy now, you should feel a sense of greater confidence and courage to do so. If you’re unclear of what you want to create or express exactly, this eclipse can help catalyze movement by igniting inspiration and motivation to make some drastic changes within yourself and within your personal life. These changes will unfold and develop in the coming weeks and months. 

With the south nodal lunar eclipse in Aquarius just two weeks ago, we crossed a threshold of accelerated release and dissipation of past patterns, attitudes, and behaviors that have been limiting the flow of life force, creativity, passion, and vitality in our lives. This north nodal solar eclipse in Leo is like a great awakening of excitement and zeal. While certainly we can take some positive steps, and gradually begin expressing our talents and willpower, there’s a negative side to these symbols too. Leo can indicate a blindness as a result of overt subjectivity and egocentricity. It can also incite an over dramatization of the ego (or false self) which can empower others to overstep boundaries and impose themselves tactlessly and harshly. Be mindful that what you’re expressing now is actually in alignment with your authentic self, not something imposed on you externally. Eclipses can also relate to a difficult transition or even a sudden fading away of the past, which can be painful for some.

The positive side of Leo is the ability to bring forth our creative, child-like self in healthy ways which helps to inspire and enliven others. Tantrums and misguided revolts are an expression of the fear based components of the inner child and will work to harm or otherwise keep us from fulfilling our true potential during this eclipse. Remember, that the greatest of all revolutions are within. Uranus’ close trine to this eclipse encourages us to liberate ourselves and gain more autonomy and independence to be who we are. If you’re feeling the need to step into this fire, do so. This eclipse will express both the positive and negative faces of these energies. Seeing that western culture is rather unconscious of its own myths and demons, the demons are likely to run amok here. But you have the power to face your own, and by doing that, you’ll be creating not only the life you want and deserve, but also helping to bring us all back to wholeness.  

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Life feels overwhelming when faced with things outside of your control. Understanding yourself is key to finding your power and place in the world. While you can't control fate or the chaos of life, your destiny belongs to you, something you can always strive for to gain command of your life path. Evolutionary Astrology can help.

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The Gift You Truly Are: Full Moon in Virgo 2016

A silhouetted man facing the Sun in Israel;
image from PikiWiki-Israel free image project.

Full Moon @ 3 Virgo 34'
February 22, 2016
1:20 PM Eastern
10:20 AM Pacific

As the current lunar cycle comes to its full expression in the tropical sign of Virgo, the Sun has just transitioned into Pisces and approaches the planet Neptune. Thus, this Full Moon is in opposition to Neptune, the nebulous and mysterious planet residing in its home sign, the mystical Piscean sea. As always with a Full Moon, there is a sense of building energy and potential within the collective psyche. Full Moons are symbolic moments of blossoming and culmination. What we have intended and set into motion at the New Moon begins to manifest. The power of this Full Moon highlights, first and foremost, the archetype of Virgo.

Virgo is a symbol of service and the humble contribution of one’s talent and competence to the greater community. In the western world, this is something that we strive to do, but greatly under value. Our western, cultural conditioning places achievement and “success” over the value of service.  We value more the result of our service than we do the service itself. Success in the western world often equates to making a lot of money or achieving a notable status or prestige. But true service requires an attitudinal shift that places helpfulness and competence over the fruits of one’s labor.

When we truly help another person, when we are effective at what we do, there are rewards that transcend anything material. When we give in the spirit of heart centered giving, of truly desiring to be helpful, we create something far more meaningful than the acquisition of personal, material wealth. This is the highest expression and potential of Virgo: to be useful and practically helpful. And always with Virgo, there is an emphasis on constant improvement. To become good at what we do, we need to constantly be mindful of how we can get better.

This Full Moon highlights these ideals. The dark side is striving for the unrealistic goal of perfection along with obsessive fault finding. Also, be mindful of the trap of presenting yourself as some unrealistic, puritanical symbol that no human being can entirely embody. Neptune’s opposition and the Sun’s presence in Pisces are reminding us that behind appearances lies a deeper meaning, a higher purpose to what you seek to do and become. It’s possible that what you put out into the world comes back to you on another plane of existence—one that you do not see in your normal waking life.

I think that the western world has reached the apex of existentialism. So many people live, unwittingly, in an existential universe where life is ultimately meaningless. Such an attitude has resulted in the pandemic of planetary exploitation and mass escapism. When life has no meaning, the best we can do is live for the moment (YOLO: You only live once) and distract ourselves until we die. That sounds depressing. I think there is another alternative. Maybe we have to utilize our will to make something of our life, but I think that our purpose already exists. The template of your potential awaits your conscious activation of it. Astrology proves that to me daily.


I don’t live in an existential universe. I live in a magical universe, endowed with incomprehensible intelligence and creativity. All it takes is a shift in perception and an openness to allowing life to reveal its playful and magical side. When you invoke this intelligence, it will begin to communicate and reveal to you a larger plan through the unfolding of each moment. I think, when we’re ready, that all we need is humility and an ability to surrender to the genius of the cosmic mind. You are more than a number, a statistic or a commodity. You are a servant of the universe, and your purpose is to be who you are and shine. As you shine, you bring wholeness and blessings to your community. What a gift you truly are. 


Building Momentum: Mars Retrograde 2016

Archers in East Timor; author unknown via Wikimedia Commons. 

Mars Retrograde in Sagittarius/Scorpio April 17- June 29, 2016

Feb 17      23 Scorpio 03'       Enters Shadow

April 17    08 Sagittarius 54'  Stationary Retrograde

June 29     23 Scorpio 03'       Stationary Direct

Aug. 22    08 Sagittarius 54'   Leaves Shadow

On the days surrounding April 17, the planet Mars will appear to completely stop, turn backward for a little over two months, and then stop again to resume its normal west to east direction on June 29. This is known as a Mars retrograde cycle, and it happens roughly every two years. Unlike Mercury retrograde (occuring three times a year) Mars retrograde is a rare retrograde event, the rarest of all. The last Mars retrograde occurred from March through mid-May 2014 in the tropical sign of Libra. This year, Mars will backtrack through two signs: Sagittarius and Scorpio. That gives us two distinctly different archetypal themes through which Mars retrograde will find expression.

But first, let’s learn a little bit about Mars. Mars is associated, in Roman mythology, with the God of War. To the Greeks, it was known as Ares. But the Roman perception of Mars was more than just a war god; Mars was a source of virility; it was a life-sustaining impulse needed to bring crops to fruition. From the Roman perspective, Mars was also an agricultural guardian. The planet's bright, red color evokes a sense of passion, lust, desire, stamina, assertion, competitiveness, and very often anger, hostility, and violence. If we view the solar system as an archetypal depiction of the structure of the human psyche (the basis of astrology applied psychologically), then Mars, as an inner planet (that is to say, within the bounds of the asteroid belt, preceding the gas giants and other outer planets), it is symbolic of an archetypal construct that is close to the ego and individual identity.

But where Mars differs (from Venus and Mercury), is its ability to travel further away in the zodiac from the Sun’s position at any given time. Venus and Mercury are never too far away and are incapable of forming certain aspects or geometric relationships (such as a 90 degrees square or  180 degrees opposition) to the Sun—the symbolic core of personal identity. As an archetype, Mars has the ability to challenge the Sun, the center of gravity and heartbeat of the solar system. Mars is the first archetypal symbol of tension and confrontation. This corroborates with its ancient association with the warrior archetype and its relation (in its entropic expression) with violent or hostile compulsions.

But ultimately, Mars symbolizes our ability to defend ourselves and our right to existence. Mars embodies a philosophy that we must act, with courage and intention, to get what we want from life and to defend our right to live. From Mars’ perspective, actions are the path to freedom and the attainment of desire. But Mars is equally a source of passion and life force. Mars symbolizes vitality and vigorous life force that animates all sentient beings. For whatever lives, desires to do so, and desires to defend its right to existence. When a planet turns retrograde, first, we experience a change in the flow of archetypal energy related to that planet. In the case of Mars, our ability to defend ourselves, fight for what we want, to attain our desires, and to cultivate the will to exist goes through a shift or change of direction.

Mars is also associated with physical exercise, stamina, libido, sexual lust and the building of strength to enhance one’s capability and confidence to withstand challenges. My view of Mars retrograde is to imagine that throughout the duration of the retrograde, it’s as if you are building momentum that will, once the planet turns direct, catapult you onto a new path of decisive action. That path or direction will have the flavor of Mars and will be seasoned by the sign(s) which it retrogrades through. Throughout this process, we must step up to a new challenge and rediscover strength, courage, and stamina that we didn’t know we had.

 Mars retrograde can also work to renew our life force energy and our desire to exist. We may discover the passion for something we left behind or something we have pushed aside. The house placement of Mars in your natal horoscope will provide a deeper understanding of where this process is likely to take place and the sign it's in will flavor it.

Imagine yourself as an arrow placed against the string of a bow, and as Mars turns retrograde, that string is getting pulled back, further and further, until it reaches its point of maximum tension. And when the planet turns direct, if we have worked cooperatively and consciously with this process, we are flung forward and our efforts throughout the retrograde will carry us far into the future. This is the most practical understanding of this cycle and one that you will find most useful. Many astrologers would caution you to reconsider launching major projects or pushing forward with the initiation of anything you deem important.

I think the reasoning is that Mars retrograde is a time to build momentum and that the launching pad will ideally be when Mars has turned direct. Consider that when a planet is in retrograde, its archetypal function is going through a revision process. But the mistake is to suggest that we will not have the energy, drive or desire to push forward with important matters, and that is simply not the case. Mars is Mars, retrograde or direct. Its retrograde cycle highlights the reality that the archetypal current associated with Mars is undergoing a change in its expression, and for Mars, that expression is always related to actions. However, consider that Mars, depending on where it is in your chart, may relate to actions taken outwardly or inwardly. It takes courage to face your inner demons just as it does to face the “demons” in the outer world.

But like anything in astrology, we have free will. A Mars retrograde cycle will not force itself upon you. Often, during these times, we are responding to an inner need to change something. But the choice is yours to make. When we fail to respond to a Mars moment, it is often because we allow fear to keep us from moving forward. What scares you the most is usually something that could greatly strengthen you. Often, this cycle will reveal an opportunity or will generate a desire to accomplish something challenging, or to finally step up to something or someone you fear. It is simply the season for this to happen, and if you take this time to build up strength and a strong foundation; you’ll be tougher and more resilient in the future.

The Changing Face of Mars

This brings us to another layer of a retrograde process. Interestingly, all classical planets that turn retrograde (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn), have dual sign associations. Traditionally, they are said to “rule” two signs. In modern, evolutionary language, we prefer to say that these planets have a resonance or archetypal association with these signs. In the case of Mars, it is associated with Aries and Scorpio. Aries is Mars’ extroverted function, and Scorpio is its introverted function. When a planet turns retrograde, its archetypal face often reverses. We are going from Mars’ introverted expression to its extroverted function, or vice versa. 

However, this does mean that the initiation of action is hindered in some way. As I said, Mars is Mars, retrograde or direct. It is simply changing the way that it expresses itself. The Aries side of Mars places an emphasis on outward action; Aries relates to the optimum expression of willpower to initiate change, to push forward, to face stress and challenge, ideally, in healthy ways to build the strength we need to assert ourselves. The Aries side of Mars seeks new adventures outwardly in the world. The Scorpio side of Mars places emphasis on the acquisition of courage to face the inner dimensions of our own psyche and intimate lives.

As I said, it takes courage to face our inner demons. Scorpio is a sign that also relates to deep intimacy and connection with another soul—certain individuals whom we can be vulnerable enough to share ourselves with fully, to reveal parts of ourselves that we do not share with those we do not trust as deeply. This takes courage and bravery to do. It takes courage to be vulnerable and real with someone as well as ourselves. And it takes the ability to assert our will to enter that kind of deeply intimate space. Intimate relationships can be a battle ground, just as the outer world can be.

If we have been primarily outward prior to Mars turning retrograde—seeking new, external stress and adventures, fighting for freedom and independence, then Mars retrograde can indicate a time where we may need to turn inward and channel our Mars energy into the intimate chasms of our personal lives. Conversely, if we’ve been in that deeply intimate space prior to the retrograde, we may find ourselves switching to a focus upon challenges and stress seeking in the outer world. The retrograde will change the face of that Mars function. And as we build momentum throughout the retrograde, we will be placed on to the pathway of a new phase of Mars’ expression as it transits the zodiac.

Karma and Serendipity

There is a curious association with Mars and Venus retrograde cycles relating to profound shifts and turning points in our personal lives and relationships. The rule of thumb here, however, is that often this is most notable when the retrograde planet stations on an angle of our chart, or a significant planet or focal point. The station is the degree of the zodiac where that planet will stop and change direction (either move from direct to retrograde or retrograde to direct). In the case of this particular Mars retrograde cycle, Mars will station and turn retrograde at 8 degrees of Sagittarius. It will station and move direct at 23 degrees of Scorpio.

Look to those areas of your chart. If an angle (the first, fourth, seventh, or tenth house cusps), or if a significant planet is placed there (or in the general vicinity, within 1 to 2 degrees, possibly more), then this particular cycle will likely be more pronounced for you. Also, if the retrograde happens to take place in an angular house (first, fourth, seventh, or tenth), it may also be more meaningful. Venus retrograde can often correlate with a period of serendipitous encounters with individuals that end up having a major impact on our lives. We often look back on these people as having profoundly inspired us in some way or were involved in a major shifting of our values and priorities.

Sometimes, these relationships last a long time and develop in complexity. This is, of course, because Venus is the most potent astrological symbol for relationships. Mars retrograde, however, carries a different archetypal function, due to its ability to challenge and break free of the Sun, which carries an association with relationships. In its Scorpionic face, Mars connects us to experiences of deep intimacy. Thus, we associate Mars with life force, libido, and sexual energy. Mars’ sexual expression is related solely to the act of intercourse, typically related to the release of primal, sexual energy. Put simply, Mars is our desire for coitus—but not particularly lovemaking in the romanticized sense.

Consider that when Mars turns retrograde, we are revising the way that we assert ourselves, and how we go about getting what we want—attaining our desires. Mars turning retrograde in a sensitive zone of your personal horoscope can indicate a time where you must defend yourself against someone or a situation, break free of situations that limit your boundaries, or finally recover the courage to take action and make some much-needed change in your life. This can often involve serendipitous encounters with others, or circumstances that involve you shifting in such a way to catalyze the initiation of action. These can be significant moments in our lives where we can forge new pathways and set ourselves on a new course of action.

Retrogrades also take us back to situations or experiences from the past. We often encounter individuals that we’ve met before in this lifetime. From the evolutionary viewpoint and hypothesis, most, if not everything in life, is the result of our karma. Thus, many encounters may, in fact be the residue of some past experience from a previous lifetime. With Mars retrograde, we may be brought back to a situation where we must defend ourselves or muster the courage to overcome it or to finally take some action we didn’t take before. And this may be particularly significant if Mars retrograde is hitting you in a personal way.

Sagittarius/Scorpio

From April 17 to May 27, Mars will retrograde through Sagittarius. Signs flavor or add a certain texture to anything placed inside of them. During this portion of Mars retrograde, there will be an accentuation of the things in your life that have become too predictable and habitual. Mars may ask that you take a risk and stretch yourself beyond what is too familiar. Sagittarius seeks adventure and exotic, foreign experiences. It deals with adventures in the real world as well as adventures in the mind. There is also a philosophical, spiritual or ideological nature to Sagittarius. The momentum that you build during this cycle will likely correlate with these themes.

Perhaps you will find yourself thinking in much larger or abstract ways. Maybe you decide to travel somewhere that seems extremely familiar—a foreign place you may have been before (in another lifetime?). During this portion of the cycle, you are rediscovering the courage and strength needed to make your life more interesting and inclusive of perspectives that challenge your current worldview. It’s time to face your fear of the unfamiliar. However, try to remain practical and mindful of reality. Don’t confuse your need for new adventure with the need to throw all safety and caution to the wind. Don’t leap without looking first. Healthy reality testing is needed!

From May 27 to June 29, Mars retrograde will enter Scorpio. As I said before, it takes courage to face our inner darkness. During this phase of the cycle, you are gathering the momentum needed to make meaningful connections. You are finding the strength to step up to new challenges surrounding intimacy and honesty. Scorpio is an archetype that deals with everything we culturally subjugate or attempt to deny—often by making fun of it. Death is one of those things, and so is sex. Imagine that throughout this portion of the cycle, you need to rediscover your ability to step into that dark morass of repressed subject matter. Whatever new challenges you take on, will likely feel uncomfortable and may ask you to reach beyond certain boundaries.

But if you take on the challenge, you will be set on a new course of deeper self-knowledge. You’ll find that from here on out, you’ll have strengthened your capacity to be honest with yourself and with others. There may be intense experiences and encounters you avoided in the past but need to face now. There may be particularly “karmic” situations with individuals coming into your life. There may be a need to release pent-up or repressed desires. But try not to lose perspective. Don’t get too caught up in your own issues or inner darkness that it makes you moody and depressed. Come up for some air when you need to. But if you keep up the momentum, this will be a highly transformative cycle. 

In conclusion, don't confuse a retrograde for a time of inaction. It's simply not true! And when it comes to Mars, inaction is the last thing you should consider. A retrograde cycle is a time of transition and often an opportunity to make some kind of breakthrough. It may not be the most significant moment of your life (it happens every two years), but if it triggers a potent portion of your horoscope, it just might be. This is time to build new strength and momentum. It's like positioning yourself before a great wave of immense force. But you have to be willing do this by responding to your desires for change. As always within the paradigm of astrology that I practice, trust and follow those impulses and desires for positive change. If you do, you'll find yourself stronger and readier for the what lies before you.